Slay your fears

By Suma Varughese

May 2013

If fears are stopping you from living your life, get ready to start confronting them. But start small, says Suma Varughese

 It was a wonderful spring day in Mumbai in early March. The Sathe family as usual had gathered for Sunday dinner but in order to make the most of the weather, they had taken their plates to the open balcony and were sitting around, enjoying the play of the cool breeze on their hair and clothes. Dinner was light – a soup and salad to offset the heavy lunch at a local eatery.

“We should have such meals more often now that summer is soon going to be here,” said Dad, taking an appreciative bite of the apple and walnut salad.

“Sure,” beamed Mom. “Much less work for me.” Nisha, meanwhile, was glowering into her plate. Avijit nudged her with her with his elbow and said, “Sup?” “My friends are all going for a picnic to Aksa beach next Sunday,” she said curtly.

“So?” said Mom. “You can go too as long as you don’t wade into water beyond knee level.” (The Aksa beach is a treacherous beach which has claimed the lives of several people).

“Mom,” yelled Nisha. “You know I can’t go. I have a thing about water!”

“Sorry, I forgot.” “I’m so tired of not being able to do this or that because of my fears,” Nisha burst out. “I don’t know why I am such a scaredy cat. I am scared of the lift, scared of flying in planes, scared of dogs, scared of the stage, scared of saying no to people, and so many other things. How am I ever going to lead my life?”

“Ssh, sweetie,” soothed Mom, “Everyone has fears. You are not the only one. And you will find that as you grow, it will be easier and easier to confront your fears. Why I was such a frightened thing at your age. You young ones are leagues ahead. I dared not speak back to my parents, I used to be such a frump because I was afraid of attracting attention, and I never ever spoke in class even though there was plenty I wanted to say.”

Nisha looked a little better. “How did it all change, Mom?” she asked.

“Well, you know, little by little I began to build on my confidence. But the definitive moment came one day when I decided, just like you, that my fears were holding me back too much and that I was not willing to put up with them. At that time, my big fear was of speaking on
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