By Mishita Jethi
My baby brother fell sick when I was in the 7th grade. Real sick! Now the funny thing about a member of your family falling sick, and that too the little baby you love most in the world, is that you’re mostly in a state of denial. So when people around me used to ask me how he was doing, most of the times I felt like telling them, ‘Why, he’s fine. He’s just a little unwell and the doctors will fix him in a jiffy.’ Instead, I would end up giving them all a watery smile and mumble a few words, and walk away in brisk steps lest my eyes give away my real answer. I’m reminded of a particular incident as I lie down shaking up more than two decades worth of memories! I remember being extremely angry one day. I was all of 12 and refusing to understand that my parents needed to be in the hospital for days together because my brother had to be looked after. I was being troublesome and difficult. I rebuffed doing my homework, would not eat food or go do my own work-basically I was making the day worse for my dad, who had come back from the hospital as my mom went to be there. Finally my dad ordered me to change into my night clothes and go off to sleep. In particular defiance, I chose to put on a fancy t-shirt (something I was to wear mainly to parties) and came back to my dad’s room just to show him that I would not listen to him. And that’s when something happened which changed the way I looked at myself and my anger and fears. My dad came up to me and gathered me in his arms. He said, ‘I know you’re scared. So am I. But we can either choose to accept our fears and fight them, or continue ignoring them. And I can tell you that if we continue ignoring them, we’ll never really find out what we were really scared of.’
Years later, as I sit separated from that little kid (who has since then grown into a very loving young boy) I wonder what really went behind my state of denial? Why are most of us afraid to face our fears when it comes to things most close to our hearts? I am yet to find an answer to that question. But the question itself has manifested in me thinking a lot about the feelings that we keep bottled deep inside ourselves. I have that pink t-shirt kept safely even today. Its no longer fancy. It no longer can be worn in parties. It is close to wearing out fully. But I’ll save it for as long as I can. I’ll probably give it to my daughter someday when she’s scared of thunderstorms or ghosts in her closet. And I’ll teach her that its ok to be scared because if we accept our fears, we can fight them off. And if we’re unable to fight them alone, they’re will always be a hand to wrap us close, and to give us that hope, that all will be well! It will be. I just know it. Till then, I’ll wear the pink t-shirt again and regain some of the hope that I’ve lost in the last few months!