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Sayandeep Das

George hastily drew the curtain to cut off the sunray that filtered through the drawn blind. He tried to find solace in the darkness and the loneliness. In his mid-forties, he felt that he was inching towards the inevitable fate to which most of his family members succumbed. His granddad, his dad and his brother — all became crippled and eventually died around their mid-forties. It is like a family curse which had hung upon them. Yet nobody in the family talked about it —as if trying to hide from it, a vain attempt to escape.

George squinted his eyes, as if trying to pry open the past. Had he not tried his best to overcome the fear that he also would fall victim to the dreaded family disease? Did he not study hard to get the management degree from the university? Did he not work hard to steady his family business after his dad and elder brother died? He was ever so busy with his business and with his with his wife and his little girl. George sighed; he cannot deny that at the back of his mind he still dreaded his family curse. However, the laughter of his little girl and the love of his wife gave him the strength to ward it off from his mind and to enjoy life.

George shut his eyes tight and tears rolled down his cheek. How cruel is life! How fortune changes! His strength, his family suddenly vanished when his wife and daughter died in a car accident. George turned on his side — he didn’t even feel any pain, his mind felt completely numb. Life was a foggy listless affair since then. He thought himself lucky to dodge the family curse, but the curse took his beloved family. He hated sunshine, bird songs, laughter and tried to escape from life by staying indoor, preferring to spend time in darkness. George was afraid that his family curse was going to get him too and to the inevitable crippling end…He buried his face in his hands and sobbed….

George turned to a familiar voice … his brother was calling him. He was in his wheel-chair, small and helpless but his eyes were bright and smiling… ‘Georgie, don’t live the life of death while you are alive … enjoy life. You cannot change your fate, but you can conquer the fear of death’…. George tried to reach out to him, but his brother vanished …

George pulled himself up from the armchair, he must be dreaming…. the words of his brother still ringing in his ears. He took a deep breath …. he will overcome the fear of death.

He pulled the newspapers that were piling up for weeks. There was the news of a strange viral fever in Africa killing people in droves. Urgent help is needed to fight Ebola. George started to dial the number to volunteer — he will fight death to overcome his fear of death.