Children

Courageously fearful

Sometimes, you come face-to-face with your fears in the most unexpected places. That is what happened to me when we went tree climbing. It was Rashmi who began it, infecting us with the idea till we were discussing climbing trees and sitting on branches as if it was our one ambition in life.

I too had talked yearningly about it when there was no chance of us doing anything like that. I mean, where would we find trees? Our school had a few, but, can you imagine the fuss if we had tried to climb them? Then, like a wish-granting godmother, Arohi announced, “Guys, my uncle owns a mango farm. He’s invited us to a tree-climbing party.”

Mixed feelings

I had joined in the shout of joy that went up. Now, here I was, walking slowly through the trees on the farm because I had just had a terrible shock and needed time to process it. After all the talk about climbing trees, I discovered that I was terrified of climbing them. Absolutely terrified.

In the past, I had looked at trees without really noticing them. But, now that I was going to climb them, I found myself noticing all sorts of things. Like how tall they were. And how far the ground was from their branches. “Come on,” Arohi called out, “pick a tree and climb it.

“Sujit,” someone called. It was Rashmi, so dizzyingly high in a tree that I had to shut my eyes. “Climb!”

“Yes, yes,” I said, pretending to examine the trees. They were beautiful but all I could think of was how much it would hurt if I fell. By now, my friends had finished climbing up a tree and were slithering down, already discussing which one to climb next.

“Sujit,” Geetanjali said, “why haven’t you climbed one yet?”

The big reveal

Suddenly, all eyes were on me. Should I say I wasn’t ready? Or that I hadn’t found my perfect tree? But what I said instead was, “I... can’t!”

“Why?” my friends demanded, amid an anxious buzz of questions.

“I am... I am too scared to climb trees. I can’t,” I said

There was a little silence and I looked at my friends. They were probably laughing at me and calling me a coward in their minds.

“Wow!” someone murmured. “That’s so brave of you, Sujit.”

What? I looked around and saw only admiration and understanding on their faces. Then, they raced away, eager to find their next tree and the next one. I stood there, ready to encourage and applaud them, feeling ridiculously happy and light.

Sometimes, I thought, you meet your courage when you least expect it. It put a smile on your face. Almost as if you had just climbed to the top of a tree.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2022 12:56:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/children/courageously-fearful/article65682437.ece