The Nobel Covid-19 pandemic was not likely to abate in the near future. Rob began to wonder how he could make both ends meet. He had a wife and a young son to support, and his savings had reached rock bottom. The company he worked for had not paid him for four months, in spite of announcing a cut of 10% in salary each month. Now there was the likelihood of his services being dispensed with altogether. Rob was desperate. He had to think of alternate means of sustenance. He explored the Internet continuously for job opportunities where his digital skills could be utilized. But no company was hiring staff.
A long time ago, Rob had read an article of a man in Malaysia who practised telepathic medicine and minted a lot of money. Perhaps he could do the same and bring in some money to tide over his crisis. People were wary of going to doctors or to hospitals for fear of contracting the virus. But locked down in their homes, many complained of depression. Suicidal rates had spiked, marital conflict and domestic violence had increased, and fear was spreading. Doctors with little knowledge of this new virus that had infected humanity were recommending all kinds of medication. Quacks all over the country prescribed their own concoctions of ginger, garlic, basil leaves, curcumin and all kinds of herbs.
Rob decided that he could advertise his more sophisticated “drugless therapy.” He would claim to cure people with psychological, mental and even some physical disorders. It would be at affordable rates. He made a study of telepathy, the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas from one person to another without any physical interaction. Of course he knew this was a pseudoscience. But he intended to use it to his advantage.
Rob advertised on the Internet about his drugless therapy for all kinds of maladies. He was soon inundated with queries. He scrutinized each letter carefully. He picked out ten who he thought were the gullible types. They were mostly middle-aged women. To each of them he sent out a friendly e-mail asking them to send him a list of their complaints together with a photograph. Most of these women complained of loneliness, depression or marital discord due to being cooped up at home for months. They missed their social activities with friends and their trips into town.
Rob gave each of them appointments on different nights as he could only deal with one at a time. He chose midnight he told them, because this was the time everything was quiet and he could concentrate on his meditation. They were to come online on Zoom. He warned them that there would be no oral communication as he was under deep meditation. They had to focus on his eyes for twenty minutes, so that brain to brain communication could take place. He would send out to them telepathic rays which had mysterious powers that could cure them of their ailments. He called these powers ‘psych rays.’ After that, he would give out mental suggestions on how to overcome their problems.
Rob chose midnight because his wife and son would be fast asleep by then. He did not want them to know what he was up to. He took care to lock the door of the room where he was working. Rob was pleasantly surprised at the results.
“How easily people can be fooled,” he thought. “No wonder crooks can make money by duping people. Cyber-crimes have been escalating during this lockdown.”
Of the ten people he was treating, some said they were completely cured of all symptoms within two sittings. Others asked for a third session. Only one replied that she was not able to focus on his eyes for twenty minutes as she had dozed off in between. So telemedicine had not worked on her.
Rob charged each of them an exorbitant fee. When the money had all come into his bank account, he decided to stop this knavery before he was caught. He was afraid that his patients would spread the word and he would be inundated with requests for treatment. There was the danger of someone exposing him as a fraud. So he deleted his e-mail ID and registered under a new name. He was satisfied that the money he had earned, would tide him over the next few months.
(c) Eva Bell