Fear of the Unknown

What is fear?

And why do we fear anything or anyone?

Fear is simply an unpleasant emotion that you experience because of a dangerous situation, a painful incident or someone you find harmful to you or your loved ones.

All in all fear occurs because of a threat. A threat that many a times is imaginary. We fear something because we worry imagining about the worst that can or might happen. For example, you fear an illness because you fear losing someone to that disease. You fear because you’ve already seen someone suffer and die of that illness. What you don’t realize is this fear that is there in your mind affects you as well as people around you in a negative way. You’ve got to overcome this fear yourself. Stay firm, store up energy to fight the worst.

When I was 13, I saw one of my uncles (a BSF jawan) suffer an acute case of abdominal cancer. His elder son, a toddler, was in a hostel in a different state and his wife underwent a C-section in Kerala on the same day when uncle was undergoing a lengthy surgical procedure at Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi. I still remember how the aunt flew to Delhi with the elder son and the newborn just to get a glimpse of her husband. Treatment and destiny prolonged his life for another year that he could spend with his family. This incident made me so scared that whenever anyone at home fell ill, be it a fever or a simple stomach infection, I always dreaded the worst and kept worrying and praying. I was always worried that I might lose all of my loved ones to some illness or the other.

Another example. You’re well aware of what a particular friend thinks about you. You know what they talk about you behind your back. But you’re afraid to confront them. You fear telling the truth to them because you fear losing them. You’re afraid because you value that relationship much more than anything else. You don’t want to let go of those beautiful moments that you shared with them. But the truth is the rope connecting you with them has given in to the tension that’s there on your mind. Your self-respect and your self-esteem have been hurt. You both start getting vibes that help you understand what’s brewing. The more you ignore these vibes, the more harm you’re doing to yourself and to the relationship. It is always better to talk it out. But you must be prepared to face the worst. Most of the times a positive confrontation at the right time may save the relationship. But sometimes when you delay the confrontation, your pent up frustration, helplessness, and fear explodes. Thus burning whatever little remains of the once beautiful relationship. The burning up is still a lot better. It frees both of you from the unnecessary stress. And you won’t hate each other. You’ll rather accept each other for who you are. A lot of courage is required to attempt this and this is extremely painful.

Having been through the worst in some of these cases, I now feel that the amount of time I wasted ‘fearing the outcome’ was immense. I could have put them to better use. At the end of the day, nothing remains but this day. So stop fearing. I know I am sounding philosophical. But then I have to say what I actually think and feel. And this is my space.

Fear troubles you only till you have entered that particular door. Once you’ve been through it, irrespective of whatever be the outcome, you come out as a much more simpler, calmer and mature person. The fear of the worst once experienced vanishes forever. Well, almost. You now know that there’s nothing worse that can happen beyond this. It’s just like your first swimming class. Or the first flight for a baby bird. Yes. I have experienced that on my first paragliding experience in Goa. I started yelling, screaming and crying as soon as the balloon shored up along with me. I cried my lungs out with my eyes closed. And once I was up there in the air and was sure that no one could hear me and no one could know what I was undergoing, I stopped. The tears dried up within no time. And then I slowly opened my eyes and learnt to enjoy what I saw from up there. Dolphins, mountains, the crystal clear waters. I must say one of a kind experience it was. More because I’m scared of heights. Once in there, you come out as a winner. May be not perfect. But with a lot more clarity in thoughts.

I’m not sure why I have scribbled down all of this balderdash. May be the pain still remains. Or maybe I still value the people and the relationships that I lost .

 

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An Early Morning Visitor

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Dawn was breaking.

I simply love the loud chirping of the different varieties of birds early in the silent mornings. The birds were all fluttering out as if their mothers had cast them out of the nest to go to school or to earn their bread. I could imagine the little one whisper to herself, “All Mammas are alike. Always shouting and always angry.” It looked like a crowd of schoolchildren gathered together in a playground after a full day of struggling around with books and pencils.

A little later, I could hear the azaan (the Islamic call for prayer) from a slightly distant mosque and the temple bells ringing from a nearby Shiv mandir.

The auntyji residing on the top floor in the building adjacent to ours was already up and running on her terrace. Yes. She uses her terrace as a jogger’s park for her morning walk. With the hose pipe in her hand and a datun (neem twig) in her mouth, she keeps running from left to right and right to left. In between she stops to check if any of the overhead water tanks are overflowing. “Namaste aunty!”, I said a little loudly so that my voice reaches her hearing aid. “Namaste Beta!”, she responded with a lovely toothless smile. She was yet to wear her dentures. I wondered what the datun was for. Must be the poor gums.

I went inside to get my cup of coffee. As I stepped out, the newspaper fresh from the press landed bang on the main door. I went and picked it up. I saw Srini Anna sweeping the front portion of his flower shop that he runs in one of the garages in the adjacent building. “Namaskaram Anna (Greetings elder brother)!”, I said. “Namaskaram Akka (Greetings elder sister)!”, he shouted back with the most content smile. It makes me wonder how in India we can so easily make so many relatives without any blood relation. Bhaiya, beta, uncleji, auntyji, bhai sahab, didi, bhabhiji, babuji, mataji…the list is endless. I stayed on to watch Srini Anna sprinkle water mixed with turmeric powder all around the shop. I love the speed and precision with which he sprinkles the water. Every single drop falling on the ground almost at the same time and with the same distance between them.

That’s when I saw Khannaji panting for breath while holding his paunch from falling down. He was climbing up the stairs after his jogging routine. Mrs. Khanna was waiting for him outside the door of the house with a towel and a huge blender bottle filled with full-cream buffalo milk. I am sure she would have already made preparations for making his favourite simmering hot aloo ki paranthi with dahi and aam ka achar. The thought made me drool at this wee hour of the day. The love story of their arranged marriage makes me envious. When he returns in the evening, he calls Mrs.Khanna to the nearby market and they have 2-3 plates of Gol Gappas. Isn’t that love? Of course, I’m not jealous like his mother who at 78 rushes out in competition, snatches the bottle from the daughter-in-law and offers it to her son. Ufff!!!

As I sit back on the chair in my terrace garden to sip my cup of coffee, a cute little guest arrives. A lovely mix of green and blue with a long beak. It was the size of a tennis ball. Ney…a little bigger. May be the size of an orange. I think it was either a sun-bird or a humming-bird. Whatever! It went from plant to plant and finally perched on the white hibiscus which was in full bloom. The humming sound it made was just divine. It went from one flower to the other a sucking out nectar. I simply couldn’t blink for I feared that I might lose track of it. The white hibiscus acted like a perfect background to reflect the rich colors of the bird. What a lovely sight it was! Within seconds it just vanished into thin air. And here I was getting ready to capture a glimpse on my ‘smartphone’ camera. I think they should now invent something really ‘smart’ that helps our eyes capture every single glimpse before a blink. Don’t you think so?

All I could capture was this flower on which it sat for the longest time.

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The mobile phone alarm buzzed and the screen read, “T-Rex, will you get up please! It’s 5.30 a.m. Rush!

I speedily gobbled up the leftover coffee and rushed into the house to get on with the day’s chores.

 

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Roots to Wings

An uprooted tree lying in the middle of the road leads to this conversation between the mother and her five-year old daughter.

 

Lil Love: Mamma, why is this tree sleeping on the road?

Me: It is not sleeping. It got uprooted due to rain and storm.

Lil Love: Ok. So, why are they cutting the tree? It’ll get hurt. Won’t it?

Me: They are cutting the tree to remove it from the road. It won’t hurt because the tree is already dead.

Lil Love: They can pull it up and remove. Why do they need to cut it into pieces?

Me: The tree is huge and heavy. They cannot pull it up easily. And these being hills, cranes can’t reach this place easily. So they are cutting it down into smaller logs and will remove it to clear the road.

Lil Love: Hmmmm….*sits back nodding her head in her very own Dadi Amma style*

 

A little later.

Lil Love: The tree might not be having strong roots.

Me: Why do you say so?

Lil Love: That is why it got uprooted naa…?

Me: Wow! And how did you analyze that?

Lil Love: My tooth came out because it didn’t have strong roots. Right? Dentist uncle told me.

Me: True that.

Lil Love: If we don’t have strong roots, we’ll fall down on the ground.

8-year old Anu jumps in: Dumbo, we don’t need roots to stand tall. We need earth’s gravitational force.

 

I enjoy such simple conversation with the little ones that leads me to think further. I am amazed at how easily Lil Love gathered her share of knowledge about how important it is to have strong roots for survival. All this gyaan because of a tree that we saw lying in the middle of the road on our way up the hills and a milk tooth that got extracted recently. She made me realize how very important it is to give wings to the little angels to spread them, fly and explore, but it is equally important to help them grow stronger roots to stay strong, stay grounded, be firm and not be pushed around during times of adversity.

Strongest Oak

 

“The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”

~Napoleon Hill

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