Here's to 22 May, 2010!!!
And to 'Them'!!
I was scared, nay, petrified. I would perspire at the very thought of it. The minute I stepped close to one, my heart skipped not one, but 75 beats a minute. I would look, and stare at them, as they surfaced, and then vanished, moved either up and up or down and down. Ceaseless. That motion had me on the edge. All exercises to bring on the 'calm', failed! Big time!!
I remember creating quite a mess for those who tried I get the hang of them. Unabashedly, I would tell them that they would only end up making a fool of themselves and the entire effort would embarrass them in the bargain.
When I entered spaces and facilities that would qualify as little less than high rises, I would scurry to spot fire exits and elevators. I would excuse myself and run on the hunt. I would cite excuses to the tune of 'being health conscious' (yes, I can almost hear some of you grimace and sneer ;) ... so hush, hush!!). I would even quote the last deadly encounter I had with them...almost 10 years back.
One day, I found myself desperately seeking the fire exits, so much so, that my younger brother patted my back with a congratulatory pat, and said, "now that's what we call 'survival instinct!'
Nay. I was not embarrassed, for I was sure I could never ever do it again.
I was so very petrified of getting onto escalators.
Then came the 22nd of May, 2010.
Three of my pals from college and I went gallivanting. Agenda: to loaf around. We stepped into a shopping mall and my heart started racing. While the rest of them headed towards the escalators in the basement, I ran to the nearest fire exit.
They were sweet enough to follow suit and climb the stairs with me.
Each time they obliged. At times they waited while I hunted for exits and elevators, and then waited until we got the chance to step into a relatively empty one. Soon, 'twas time to return.
No, they said, they would not let me run to look for fire exits or elevators now. My heart stopped beating and I looked as if I was freshly out of some high end sauna. I coaxed them with my smile first and then cajoled them with a thousand 'please-s' and more.
No. They were not going to listen. Not today. I had to do it they said. My usual reasoning that they would waste their time and I would embarrass them, took me no where today. They were simply not going to listen to any of my pleadings.
I remember their words, "we can wait for you Vasu, for an hour, for two...even more. Today, however, you have to step onto it!"
"You must conquer this fear". Nay. I did not give in. I did not budge. We stood their. five minutes passed, and then ten. It was soon twenty minutes of pleadings and encouragement...and then thirty. People passed by, watching in amazement, for each time I would step closer to the escalator and then inch backwards. After uncountable "please excuse me-s", and constant you-can-do-it encouragement from the trio, I stepped close to it again. Then ran right back.
It was an hour later that they said, "okay, let us make a deal...one of us steps onto it before you, and one after. One will be right next to you, holding your hand." Again, we stepped closer to it, one of them stepped onto it. I shied yet again.
Finally, they said, "what are you afraid of?". "Of falling and tripping onto it," said I.
"We will not let you fall. One in front of you , one behind, and one by your side. We say step, and you just step. Don't fail us then. Again, we will not let you fall, Vasu", said they.
Finally, all said, " trust us. We will not let you fall.".
The last of their so many words got me thinking. Here were three friends, who had been patient long enough. If that day, I would not have stepped onto it, they would not have said any thing. Yet, I would have lost. This struggle against myself, and the fear of escalators. Also, some amount of respect in my own eyes.
One stepped. The one next to me held onto my hand. "Step", said the friend, and I did. I lost a beat, and while the third stepped after us, I felt comforted, and reassured. It was a moment of mixed emotions. Of having conquered this ten-year-long fear, of being blessed with friends so patient and kind, and of the knowledge of being in safe company. Then there was this feeling of , "what a fool I had been all of these years.
They then made me practise. Twice and then thrice, and finally a fourth time, before we left for home. They 'yay-ed' me throughout. They patted me on the back. They celebrated my little victory. I can never ever forget the alertness with which each would be perceptive the minute I would step onto the escalator, for they knew, that I was scared.
I am no longer scared of getting onto one. Albeit holding hands. Yet, there always is a first time...and always a first step. Thanks to the trio! I feel so precious and blessed!!
P.S.: Could not help keeping this one short. They merit the details. :)