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Watch TV serials and read crime novels, they suggested. Those give clues on how to be a murderer. If I watched closely enough I would learn to get away with it, too.

But, I wasn’t a murderer. I didn’t dream of killing or the act itself. Or for that matter even death. I was just somebody fascinated by the fear people felt when they knew death was near. The fear that paralysed the body and mind. The fear that focussed on bare emotions. I wanted to linger around them and grasp that energy. I lived off all kinds of fear. Fear others had. Fear I smelt. Fear I saw in their eyes. But when death was at the door, the fear surmounted. Few people were ever really ready to lose their lives. Everyone spent time, money and energy avoiding it.

I was drawn to fear. Everyone who knew my obsession called me sick and creepy. Personally, I knew it was a certain kind of madness. So, I decided to spend a lot of time in hospitals, waiting for the elderly and sick to depart. That is where I met the man. He was on his death-bed doctors said. But he hardly smelt of fear. Even the morning before he died, he was smiling and chatting with the nurses. His death was not sad. It was not even painful. He died in acknowledgement of his life’s work. I was disappointed. I thought this was the beginning of the end. People were feeling satisfied, happy and at ease. Fortunately, minutes after his death, I smelt fear down the corridor. He was just an exception. Hardly the norm.

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He could taste fear when he approached his prey. They usually shivered before they finally caved in to his terrorising tone. Watching them cower gave him strength apart from a deep sense of pleasure. He was a maniac. But no one was crazy enough to dare catch him to commit him into an institution. No one could believe he devoured human meat. He walked on Park Street in the wee hours of the morning hunting for his victim. The inhabitants of the slums in that neighbourhood were terrified of him; they were the only ones who knew about him. They locked up the women and kids to protect them; the men ran quickly or travelled in large groups. He never approached when there were more than two men. He would be out numbered and he was careful to never be outnumbered. Every night, I would hear his gruff voice screaming:

Come out now
Let me eat
your soul
and a little meat.
Come out now
it’s time for dinner
your flesh
calls out to me, today.

His off-key singing sent many scuttling into their houses. An odd drunk soul every once in a while fell into his dirty hands. He didn’t spare any of the body parts. He consumed whatever he could and enjoyed a bonfire of the rest. On those nights, there would be no singing. No. On those nights, a shrill, high-pitched laughter shook the neighbourhood. Following subsequent victorious nights, his choice of words would change. He taunted the neighbours through his songs:

Scared of my voice
scared of my touch
scared I will bite too much.
Scared I am mean
scared I am not human
scared I will eat you even.

Nobody called the police. For the police couldn’t care about a mad man in already bad areas. He was just another nuisance they had to tolerate or rather ignore. Nobody ganged up on him together. A fear rushed through their blood when they were close to him. Everyone stayed silent. The families of his victims were less tolerant of his ways; they threw stuff at him from the safe distance of ten feet. Often their weapons included chairs, tables, and sometimes even guns. He was never injured though. For nobody took proper aim and shot. Madness like his others did not possess. There was always a feeling that no one would believe he ate humans. He didn’t look eccentric. Perhaps, he could pass off as a regular older man.

Mad they call,
I have heard the screams
Mad I am not,
I promise you now.
I am a terrorist
I fill your minds with fear
I am a terrorist, yes
A terrorist is who I am.