Tuesday, 17 June 2008


My earliest memories of fear are those of a 2 year old me, standing on a beach, on the Southern shores of India, wailing when my parents were entering the water, and watching as huge waves swept into land, where I stood. I vaguely remember the feeling of desperation at the thought of my parents being lost to the engulfing waves. A panic, an enormous sense of peril and a feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything. I did what any other infant does, bawled my eyes out! I remember crying so much and so loudly, that eventually mom and dad had to get out of the water, and stay away from it!

Nineteen years later, with new fears of my own, the emotion rather intrigues me. As a cynic and an alleged pessimist, I constantly keep an eye out for weaknesses. Whether they are faults in houses, countries, families, friends, colleagues, teachers, or just some random person I meet somewhere, I tend to notice the faults almost subconsciously, and keep them in some corner of my mind. I figure it works sort of like a defense mechanism, that I use to stop myself from being intimidated and overwhelmed by the close-to-perfection around me. Don’t get me wrong, I would never hold these weaknesses against anyone, I would maybe not even think consciously about them, but I know that some corner of my mind gets comfort knowing that this weakness exists, and makes me accept and possibly even love, the people or the places even more. Since I see fear as a weakness, it always interests me knowing what might scare people, what is the one scary thing that scars their seemingly (to me) perfect lives of contentment? So, I ask.

After getting a lot of, “I don’t know”s, and “Oh, I never think about that”s and “Umm, you’re random”s, I finally managed to get a bunch of people to spill out their deepest fears to me. My best friend, Mr. Adorable (a-d-o-RABLE!), aka Mr. A, told me the thing that scares him the most is loneliness. Very similar to my own fear of abandonment, the feeling that the people around you are going to go away (somehow, with some deep dark magic), and you’re going to be left alone, all by yourself. Writing this out is nearly giving me the chills and the expected shiver down my spine, so i’ll swiftly move on.

Another close friend, Goofy, fears fights, huge disagreements and arguments, specially the ones she’s involved directly in. She’s scared of everything from the beginning to the outcome, and it doesn’t surprise me. It take so much effort to lead an uncomplicated life these days, that any glitch is enough to break the facade of perfection. So, it’s understandable that someone would fear these triggers and sparks, and the unpleasantness that comes along, since it puts all the efforts of simplicity in scrutiny and unwanted risk.

Then again, most of us are so scared, that we somehow create a barrier for ourselves to live our lives the way we want. Mr. Self-Assigned Misfit (SAM), told me that the thing he fears the most if putting yourself out, opening up to people, and then not being taken seriously, or worse, rejected for who you are. While I can completely understand his fear, and partly relate to it, I also feel that there’s this tiny bit of risk that people should take, just because without this, fear will be the only ruling factor, leaving less or no room for freedom of just being who you are.

My friend, Ms. Biker, has a very strong fear of failure. She’s excellent at nearly everything she does. She’s ambitious and determined and knows how to get what she wants. I can’t remember the last time that she actually failed at anything, and that this possibly because of this pulsating and beastly animal called fear, which crawls inside her and inhabits the very core of her consciousness.

Over the years, my fear has found new meanings, new targets and an entirely new set of reasons. They have grown into obsessive, almost psychotic, tangibles, which have sadly but surely, become an integral part of my being. My life is engulfed around them, and I spend most of my conscious time trying my very best of evade or avoid facing them. But then come times, when you just cannot ignore the so-called “elephant in the room”. What do I do in those terrifying moments when my fears challenge me to a face-to-face combat? I cower initially, but then regretfully stand up and face them. At that point, it doesn’t matter anymore whether I win or lose. The simple act of standing there, facing the sea of my fear, with its monstrous waves of terror, and physical reactions of trembling, shaking and overall disintegration of any sense of calm, remain the only relevant factors. The result becomes insignificant in that moment, since the process itself drains me from any ambition or goal.

I still see myself, somewhere on a beach, still crying and fearful...the only difference is that I take my fear with me, and enter the water. I’m scared to my very core, but I enter...and hope that someday, this fear will just go away....and i’ll be left to enjoy the softness of the sand and the waves brushing gently on my legs...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Life is an Act

Disclaimer: I wrote this piece for an acting class of a friend of mine, when she asked me for some last minute help! But I liked what I wrote, so posting it here. Enjoy!
I think it was Shakespeare who said, the whole world is a stage, and we’re all mere actors in the play, directed by some higher power, some force. I’ll take that a bit further and say that not only are we in a play, it almost feels like we’re all puppets in a show, and there’s a hand, of fate I think, which is controlling our strings, making us dance to a tune which we neither understand, nor can clearly hear. We just move, unable to decide what to do, when to do it. All we have to do is to move according to where the strings lead us, and obediently play the roles in our life that have been pre-decided for us.

We all go through our lives playing different roles, and not even realizing that we’re playing different parts. We’re friends, family, guides, supporters, leaders, liars, promoters, believers, lovers, haters, fakers, consolers, workers...and many many more. From morning to evening, I play different parts of the bigger play, and not even realize how inconsequential my movements really are.

I start my day as a liar. Isn’t it lying when I open my eyes and wish that this day will bring something new to my life? Isn’t it superficial to hope for something which I know wouldn’t happen. When the first flicker of hope sparks in my mind, it’s the lie of ignorance which keeps it alight.

The day goes on, the hand up there decides to jiggle a few new moves. Unexpected happenings, new emotions. I’m now a supporter, a consoler, for a friend who has just realized that her ex-boyfriend does not love her anymore, and there is no chance of ever getting back with him. I want to be there for my friend, I want her to feel protected and loved, I want her to know that her life has not finished here, that this is just a phase and the next one will be better. I forget all about my other roles, and in that moment my only reality lies in knowing that I have to be supporting of a friend in need, and am going to be there, no matter what it takes.

Another moment passes, and another unexpected move has been made by that mysteriously mischievous hand. I have done badly in my project, again. Now I change roles instantly, and become the vulnerable victim, looking for consolation and support myself. I am now the seeker, the troubled soul, the target of a minor tragedy. I need someone to tell me that my life does not depend on a grade, and that it does not matter that much.

The real cruelty of that patronizing hand is that, just when you start to get comfortable in a role of life, it squiggles and squirms, and you find yourself in some entirely new situation, in an entirely different costume, in an completely new act. The best you can do is to shed your old costumes and apprehensions, wear the new make up, tie the new strings and dance to a brand new tune. The more you change roles, the more you start to understand the tune that the hand is making you follow, and with time passing and experience you become slightly more accustomed to the sudden movements, and adjust your strings in such a way so they don’t hurt you. And yet, those unexpected surprises evoke strong emotions, and become catalysts for the change of scenery. Such is life, I suppose.

End of Act 1.

Act 2....still not sure about!