“,I LEARNED THAT COURAGE WAS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR , BUT THE TRIUMPH OVER IT. THE BRAVE MAN IS NOT HE WHO DOESNT FEEL AFRAID BUT HE WHO CONQUERS THAT FEAR”,. ……………………………………….Nelson Mandela .
There’s a picture that often haunts me. Though its a small, insignificant episode of my life but my life is gravely covered with its invisible blanket. Its one of those childhood memories which is permanently fixed somewhere within me, and it never fails to sail out in front of my eyes like one rolling movie shot. The very remembrance of it makes my heart beat fast. Though I cannot see any particular reason for it to remain within me after so long time, but it still keeps on lingering. Then I was only ten and now thirty three.
It was a November evening, approximately five. I don’t remember the actual time, but it has to be somewhere near five because it was the time when the bell rang. The bell rang, it was time for the students, who were already in the pool to get out and make way for a fresh batch to jump on the pool. Yes, I was in the new batch. It was my first day of learning swimming in a professional swimming school, in Kolkata.
It was a large area and the whole pool was divided into four parts. The centre part was an entire big area for expert swimmers. And it was surrounded by two parts each. One entirely for kids, one of girls, one for boys and the last for handicapped ones. The entire pool area was covered with large stadium kind lights, which always brought a kind of chill within me. The reflection of those lights in the slow steady waves of water under the evening sky with the whole space filled with the smell of only water made me skip many of my breaths. I hated it, I hated it all, mostly the watery smell. Till now it kind of chocks me. I have always wanted to run away from that place. I always used to make unsuccessful attempts of pretending to have fevers and all kinds of aches, my brain of ten year could have figured out. But none would have worked with mommy as she would always won to drag me to that horrible class of mine. Oh, I hated her for that.
As I slowly climbed down the slippery steps, with each step taking me inside the water like a fire, with its wide notorious smile, openly inviting a firefly towards it only to burn him out. I kept on moving inside and inside to where our trainer asked us to stand. The level was enough not to drown my head. I struggled, struggled hard to stand. I couldn’t get my feet steady in that slippery floor. I was unable to breath as the water smell blocked my nose, my head, my every part which stood above it. To my shock , I was the only one to have been struggling there. Others stood there with great expertise and their eyes were fixed on my awkward movements. They were giggling and making fun of me. I felt so ashamed of myself. Everything about it was so self discouraging,.
I experienced a new feeling right there, and that was the feeling of fear. It was a three month course. And for the rest three month, I just managed to hide myself somewhere among the crowd within that horrible pool. In the first day only, I gave up learning swimming and vowed to make myself invisible for the rest 3 month.
It was like the water hated me more than I hated the water.
“Hate” was not the right term. I feared it. I feared the water. I feared the smell. The smell remembered me of all the negative experiences of my life. There was something about it which made me fear it instant. There was no particular reason but there was “IT”. Maybe it was just not right for me to be there .
But somewhere deep down me, I wish I could have overcomed that fear. My consciousness often questions me , what would I have done, if I weren’t afraid? …………..May be today I would have loved water and somewhere I would have been preparing myself for a gold medal.. At least I would have overcomed the fear that still haunts me. Maybe today I would have been more confident.
Somehow, even remembering it today makes me struggle to find my breath. I end up with goosebumps and an air filled with fear and discouragement.
I curse myself to have let fear win this battle. It would have been different if I would have dared to live it in.
It has been rightly said by George Addair “Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear”.
And I somehow lost this gamble…