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Curse of the number 4 and the dance of death

Suresh Pattali/Dubai
Filed on May 1, 2020 | Last updated on May 1, 2020 at 01.19 am
coronavirus, irrfan, rishi kapoo, fear of number 4

(Reuters)

The number 4 is numerologically the mother of all bad lucks.

For a change, the world isn't battling a nuclear missile. We are battling a 65-125nm microbe that has killed over 200,000 people. With a vaccine to terminate the invisible enemy still months or even years away, crossing the year 2020, with maximum efforts to minimise the damage to humanity, seems to be the best solution - numerologically speaking.

Heard of triskaidekaphobia, or fear of 13? If the number 13 is synonymous with misfortune, the number 4 is numerologically the mother of all bad lucks. For instance, add up the digits 1 and 3 in 13, what you get is 4, which is homophonous to the Chinese word si, which means death. Hence some people would consider the number 4 as porte-malheur.

Tetraphobia, or the practice of avoiding the digit four, is a superstition prevalent in several East Asian nations. The Japanese word shi and Korean word sa for the digit 4 sound similar or identical to death in their respective languages. That explains why in places like Singapore and China, fourth-floor apartments are a bargain; there is no elevator landing on the fourth floor in traditional buildings; No 3 is invariably skipped in the sequence of hotel rooms, and the calendar date 4 is avoided for auspicious occasions like weddings.

Covid-19 may have been titled so because the virus was first reported in the year 2019, but its fury was first felt in the year 2020, whose digits add up to the deathly number 4.

The number 4 has been haunting the world for a while, eliminating great leaders of all time. Princess Diana died in a car crash on August 31 while Indira Gandhi and John F Kennedy were assassinated on October 31 and November 22, respectively. They all add up to 4. Martin Luther King Jr fell to an assassin's bullets on April 4 while Israel's Yitzhak Rabin was killed on November 4 and Kyrgyzstan's Sultan Ibraimov on December 4.

In this haunted year, we lost a galaxy of celebrities, including Joe Diffie, Terrence McNally and John Prine, to coronavirus. Bollywood suffered a double whammy when it lost Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, two of its most liked and talented actors, to cancer in a matter of two days. We watch helplessly as the Danse Macabre by the possessed numeric 4 continues.

suresh@khaleejtimes.com





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