Fear is the key
By Rajini Mahalingam
I cannot find anyone more eligible than me to write about fear. There is no other shortcoming in me which has pulled me down so much in life as fear has. The doorbell, the landline ring, and even the cooker whistle make me jump out of my skin. Doing medicine was my passion, but I did not; not because I had to cut corpses, but because of my fear of doing Record work for Practicals. I can’t draw a straight line straight. Somehow my fingers turn into chicken legs when they hold a pencil.
Within the family, I was so timid that I ended up doing all the chores, only because I could not say ‘No’. The little social life I was part of, I was loved because I was a humble, down to earth person. They didn’t know I did not possess the courage to blow my trumpet. I would prefer Peace to being cut to pieces in any confrontation.
I am scared of the dark, I hate thunder. I don’t watch horror movies and fast forward action sequences. The word Death itself is enough to send my pulse racing, not like in a romance, but more like the war drums. At my age, I should be ashamed to say I am scared of police vans and ambulances.
Given my background of ‘Can’t say Boo to a Goose’ nature you would have guessed my reaction to Corona scare. I hid my head under the sand like an Ostrich and did not step out of my house since March 2020. Washing my hands constantly like Lady Macbeth washing off her sins, I stopped the newspaper because the virus might transmit from it, did not even chance to cross the living room when the News channel was on. This put me in a lot of embarrassment when my peers discussed current events. Being called stupid is better than being dead, I consoled myself. I even took up to fight with friends who posted scary news with gory details in their Whatsapp messages. Great!! I threatened to Exit the group (not that anyone cared); I dared to confront.
By the end of July, I longed to read the paper (online reading is somehow now satiating), solve So-Do-Ku, and meet friends. I had so much time on my hands and I also realised that the virus was here to stay. I wanted to prick the bubble of fear I was encased in, all my life. What if I turned and said “Hello’ to the Ghost called Fear, following me?
I remembered what one of my bosses told me. Fear is nothing but a rush of adrenaline. If you face it, you can turn it into an adventure, an achievement. If you cow down, there will be more coming your way. I was deliberating on this piece of advice and braced myself to call the newspaper agency to deliver my paper. Of course, I continued all the precautions and preventive doses of kashayams to boost my immunity.
Come on Corona, I am not going to lose my sleep over you. A tidbit I read said, the word Corona means a crown, and if you give that dimension to that word when you think or speak of it, you will change its negative energy. Such a positive thought. Why am I wasting my life and drawing my head into my shell?
Break the barrier I said to myself and walked like a warrior into my balcony that morning. I was shocked to see policemen, youngsters, and officers, all with masks on their faces. (I can’t see masked men even in a movie). I ignored the slight churn in my abdomen and asked what the matter was. One fellow yelled at me saying, “You go inside”.
I overheard the whole drama. The people living downstairs were tested COVID +. We were not supposed to step out of our house and a volunteer will help buy essentials. I took down the numbers, made enquiries about what to do in an emergency, etc., and made a great effort to let the adrenaline flow. Don’t stop it. All this is a part of life. Grow up, lady.
I woke up on Day 2 and sailed smoothly to the kitchen as if nothing has changed. Suddenly I heard the small child downstairs crying. I dared to peep over my balcony. Corporation workers were sealing all our three entrance gates with tin sheets; there was also a huge banner saying something to the effect of ‘this house is haunted’. We were aliens shut out from the world.
The reality hit me. I have become a neighbour of Corona. I am actually sitting on its head. This shook the armour I was trying to wear. Jelly legs, grumbling belly, and a spinning head triggered a chain of events. A call to the doctor, an oximeter check which showed a pulse of 110, a homeopathy medicine to bring down the panic, a concoction to improve immunity, a turmeric water steam, and a little curd rice sent me back to my bed, no, no, back to my bubble.