Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.
Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.

Manu Devassia



Manu Devassia


A Mask-free World Again

A Mask-free World Again

6 mins

It was a winter morning. I was a bit irritated with my mom for waking me up from bed even before the sun smiled at the earth. 

 "Who invented this school system?" I murmured.  

"Have you done your homework, Eric?" mother enquired. 

" I don't know if Dad was busy yesterday. He had promised me," I said promptly. 

 "What had he promised you?," Mom enquired.  

"Doing my homework," I said louder with authority. 

 "Do you expect your Dad to write your examination for you?" she scolded. 

 "It's time for the bus," I ran out as I had no convincing answer to give her. 

English class is the only subject I'm interested in, not because I was a Shakespearean but because my aunt, Emily, was our English teacher. She has a special consideration for me.  

"Open your textbook, page number 23," instructed Miss Emily.  

"Ma'am can I read the chapter?" Ashton asked politely.  

He is the encyclopedia of our class. I don't like boys like him.  

  "The Virus War," he started reading.  

I wasn't actually listening to what he was reading. I heard the sounds of opening and closing of desks. I was so intelligent to understand that the lesson was over. I came back to my senses. 

"Eric is going to present the summary of the story now," I heard the teacher saying looking at me. 

It hit my eardrums like a thunderbolt. I had nothing to say except my usual answer 'I don't know'. So, she asked me to write a story using the same title. I felt pity for my Dad. Maybe, he hasn't tried writing a story.  

In the evening I brought the matter to my Dad.  

“I’m not your Genie, Mr Aladdin!” he resisted this time.  

I suspected my mom. She must have warned him, I suppose. So, I decided to write my own story.   

I went to my room with a cup of coffee determined to use my own brain for the first time. I began jotting down some words. But I wasn't happy with the storylines my stupid brain offered me. So, I went to bed casting these thoughts into my mind. I had never expected that my subconscious mind was so powerful to give me a beautiful story in my dream. I have never seen 5.00 am before this. My Dad and Mum weren’t awake then.  

“You are great!” I congratulated myself lavishly.  

The next morning, I sat looking out through the window and ideas started flowing into my mind. My hands ran on the paper like the tongs of a machine.  

It was a dream come true to have an opportunity to begin my scientific research at SRDI, one of the famous laboratories in China. I was appointed Dr. Siang Lee’s apprentice. Dr.Lee had been nominated for the Nobel award several times. He was on his next invention that would make him worthy of an award.   

“What’s your biggest dream?” he asked me once while he was busy with his work.  

“My dream…my dream… Working with you is one of my dreams,” I said with an appealing smile.  

I’m sure he knew it was flattery.  

 “If you have a dream, then leave this place,” he said with a clouded look. 

I didn’t know why he made such a comment. I sensed he had some issues there. I started watching him keenly.  

One day as I entered the lab, I heard someone’s voice from Mr.Lee’s office. I eavesdropped everything through the office window.  

“We have given you ample time to complete your invention. If you don’t keep your word, you will have to face its consequence.” Someone was shouting arrogantly.  

It's a serious issue and that ‘someone’ commanded with authority. I heard the sound of footsteps approaching me. I ran to the washroom close by. When I approached Lee, he was in tears. 

 “Who was that man, Dr. Lee?” I insisted to speak.  

“He was from the office of the defense ministry. They want me to invent a virus…. the most powerful weapon the world has ever seen…, “he said with trembling lips. 

 “But, for what?” I asked.  

“They haven’t told me about their intention. But it's obvious…..It's for their selfish crave to establish power over the enemy nations,” he said in a low voice. 

 I was shocked and couldn’t utter a word again. He continued with his research without rest. 

After a few days, I saw him going with a glass cage with a few white rats. I had no idea what he was going to do with them. After a few days, I heard him shouting with joy. 

” I made it. Hurrey…,” he shouted with joy.  

“Congratulations, Dr. Lee!” I appreciated him for his achievement without even thinking about what his invention can bring on earth.  

But the next day, he wasn’t found happy as I had expected. Maybe, he knew that his invention was a thousand times destructive than an atom bomb.   

Days passed. Newspapers and TV channels reported news of a fatal disease called Covid 19. The devastating effect of the pandemic was beyond what was imagined by Dr. Lee.  

“Medical science failed to find a cure for the new Virus,” newspapers reported. 

 Experts had no idea how to tackle it. The whole world stood trembled in extreme shock. The new virus took lakhs of innocent lives across the globe. Medical science came up with temporary practical solutions to prevent the transmission of the virus. Social distancing, wearing masks, and disinfecting ourselves with sanitizer and soap became the slogan of the whole world. The nations that took the matter lightly suffered the most. The world saw the scariest face of death. Lockdowns were declared; people were scared to come out of houses. The earth was terribly shaken. I thought it would the end of the world as the religious scriptures had foretold. Many came to faith, and many others forsook their religious faith and Gods. Everyone learned to share and care. Many discovered their inner strengths and weaknesses.  

 No human on the earth knew what exactly the reason for the transmission of the new virus infection was. Lee wept for a whole day confessing his mistake.  

“You shouldn’t let others know this,” I advised him. 

 “You are helpless, I know….and God knows it,” I tried to console him. 

His prick of conscience haunted him day and night. I saw him wandering through the corridor a few nights. He was found disturbed during office hours.  

One day as I was leaving the office, I noticed Dr. Lee injecting something into his veins. I asked him what it was for.  

“I will find a cure for it,” he said.  

His determination was visible in his eyes. He was experimenting with his own life. He warned me not to come to his office the next day. He was going to be exposed to the virus he gave birth to and trying out the new cure he found on himself.   

The next day, when I woke up, there was a letter on my table. It read. 

"Dear Fredric,  

Finally, I am going to put an end to this pandemic. One day the world will come to know of its source and I will be caught a traitor by the same authority that forced me to invent it. I cannot undo what has happened to the world. I’m now convinced that it's man’s greed for power and authority that will put an end to the world. The new virus I created has already started its mission from the time I write this letter. The world will be cured in a few days. A bright dawn will soon be seen and the world will be mask-free again. Let smiles spread happiness again. Don’t look for me nor tell anyone about this letter. May this secret die with us. 

                                   By Dr. Siang Lee 

I took my seat after reading my story to the whole class. There was silence for a few seconds in the class. Then, a thunderous applause followed the silence, making me confident and happy. My strength was masked for years and from this day I'm going to enjoy my mask-free world. 

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