The startling sound of my alarm broke the stillness of my room, at precisely half past five, knocking me out from my deep, sweet slumber. I made a face at my mobile, and as always caught myself wondering how quickly, almost cruelly time flies by when we are asleep.
‘Ignore the alarm and go back to sleep, honey’ I heard a husky, alluring voice whisper.
“Wake up! You should be heading to the park!” barked a loud, hoarse voice.
“It’s okay if you miss…”began the alluring voice. I muted it and crawled out of my bed grudgingly. I splashed the cold water on my face in an attempt to wash away the imprints of the hangover. I changed into my walking outfit and tied my hair into a ponytail. Then I wore my watch, took my mobile and stepped out of my house.
Nearly fifteen minutes later, I reached the park. It felt refreshing to be in the park after a long, strenuous week. As usual, I focused on anything but my walking. My eyes swept across the park capturing few kids chasing each other, senseless adults on the swings which are meant for only children under ten, the familiar good looking uncles exercising vigorously and a group of elderly men engrossed in a discussion about politics.
Half an hour later, when I was done with my walking, I left the track and began searching for a place to sit. I noticed that most benches were wet owing to last night’s rain. I walked towards a particular bench. I was too busy viewing the bench that I didn’t notice how muddy the ground was. It is hard to explain what happened next… My left leg was firmly fixed on the ground, but my right leg skated away without really getting the consent from the other leg, leave only from my other body parts… and so, my left leg eventually gave in and I landed right on the muddy spot. Balancing my weight on my right palm, I quickly retrieved myself from that awkward position and sat on the bench.
I looked around to make a quick survey of people who might have witnessed my fall. Nobody came rushing towards me to lend a helping hand, no ‘Are you okay’ from anybody. Thank god for small favours. Such actions would have only added to my embarrassment. I looked down at my right palm which was smeared with mud. I wiped it with my kerchief, gingerly. Then I wiped my tracks in quick, calculative movements so as to not catch anybody’s attention. I studied the muddy ground and wondered if I could have avoided the fall had I been more careful. I tried to act normal; wore a casual expression on my face, trying hard to ignore the tornado of embarrassment that was uprooting my self-confidence.
After a while, I glanced at my watch. I had spent fifteen minutes sitting, which meant it was time to leave. That was when I encountered a new, unique problem.
I couldn’t lift myself from the bench. No, I didn’t break a bone, no bruises, not a body part in pain. Yet, I couldn’t accomplish that simple task.It was solely because I didn’t have the courage to do it. Okay, I know this might seem kind of funny to you. But step into my shoes for a moment and you know why exactly I felt that way. The moment I stand, the stains on my track pants would be clearly visible to the people around, they would start wondering how I got it stained, and the ones who had seen me fall would actually smirk at me and keenly watch how I walk, hiding the embarrassment, and of course, I would certainly receive a lot of unwanted glances from the others too.
But I refused to give up so easily. I kept telling myself ‘Act like an eighteen year old, act matured!’ That did some effect on me, because I began setting countdowns. ‘Okay, on the count of three, rise up! And then I tried a different approach… ‘When the seconds hand reaches ten I will stand up’, I promised myself. The countdowns ended; and the seconds hand never failed to reach the number I specified, but the task in hand remained unaccomplished.
After around ten minutes, I realized I was fighting a losing battle. So, I called my dad and narrated the incident and told him about my inability to stand up. He offered to pick me up, and I reluctantly agreed. I felt slightly better, but couldn’t kill the nagging sensation that kept reminding me how I was being such a pain in the neck all the time!
For the next few minutes I kept contemplating on why I was always running into trouble and acting like a jerk.
After what seemed like ages, my dad turned up. He looked sort of tensed and upset. He certainly had misinterpreted my problem of not being able to rise up; He and my mom had conjured the image of me being in severe pain and had thought I had probably fractured my bone.
“No, dad, I just fell down and got clothes stained badly. That’s all…” I told reassuringly.
“What actually happened?”
I quickly narrated the incident on the way home. I apologized profusely for being such a nuisance.
Once we reached home, my mom started yelling at me for frightening them unnecessarily. Dad, who had been relatively less agitated, got inspired by my mom’s temper and started yelling, too. I stood still, nodding at their suggestions, grudgingly. No, things didn’t end there.( Not so fast!)
Apparently, they had been talking to my brother (who is in US) while I had called to inform about the mishap. So, this meant that it was my brother’s turn now. My brother began by pointing out to how I had overreacted for such a silly issue. I grunted. ‘Why can’t anyone empathize with me… why do the dearest ones not understand my feelings?’
At one point of time, all three of them were shouting suggestions. ‘Ugh! The stains on my track pants are way better!’ I thought.
But, as my brother continued to talk, it slowly dawned upon me how I should have dealt with it in a more sensible manner. I felt small waves of peace gently hit the shore of my mind. If anyone is capable of having a calming effect on me, despite being a few thousand miles away; it is my brother! No, he doesn’t use sugar-coated words, nor does he tell a few harmless lies to make his little sissy feel better. Instead he uses logic to do the magic! Yes, he very calmly, very sensibly tells the facts… Not always the ones I want to hear, but the truth no matter how ugly it might be, certainly is transparent and simple. Transparency brings a sense of serenity to our minds. He very clearly told me how I should have thought about the possible alternatives instead of freaking out, how I can’t possibly sustain in the cruel world out there if I’m going be affected by such petty issues.
However, after around five minutes, we were discussing books and movies. When he hung the phone, I had almost forgotten that embarrassing incident!
But, we always have these ugly reminders around to haunt us, don’t we? I stared at my dirty pants, making a mental note to wash them later.
Nevertheless, I felt my usual self returning. In fact, after breakfast I showed my parents a deliberate demonstration of my fall. They had a hearty laugh over it…
Later, when I woke up from my afternoon nap, I realized how I learnt two important things from that incident. One; not to freak out for anything. Because when we start freaking out, we stop thinking, when we stop thinking, we can’t come up with appropriate solutions. So, instead think like an outsider, as in, isolate yourself from the situation and think what you would do if you were an outsider. This approach helps you to calm down, and enhances your problem solving skills.
The other thing that I realized was, how important it is to care less for what others think of you. I know, this is really hard. But take a moment to recollect how many times you had refrained, from wearing an outfit that you have never tried before or from sporting your favourite, funky hairstyle, out of the fear of being judged or hearing an undesirable comment. Remember, if you mend your ways according to standards set by others, you will cease to live, you will merely survive…or worse, you might end up destroying your real self in the process. Okay! I think I have deviated a little too much from the main plotline (I do it more often than not!)
So, yeah, coming back to the incident, it certainly can’t keep me away from the park…However, I wouldn’t mind staying away from the benches for a little while…