When I took the mic, I traveled back to the year 1997. Hundreds of kids were staring at me. I was shivering from head to toe. I had surrendered myself to the Fear Dragon. The Fear Fire emanating from his mouth spread through me, destroying every single ounce of courage I had within me. I thought I will faint. But, I had a task at hand. If I didn’t finish it, I will be scolded by the class teacher. That would be even worse.
With shaky hands I took out the piece of paper from my pocket & stood before the mic stand. Tears threatened to trickle down from my eyes. I realized that the Fear Fire was so intense that I wasn’t able to breathe!
“Read it quick! And finish this” Screamed my sub conscious.
I was so choked that no sound came from my throat, even though I was trying my best. I thought I was reading out loud but someone at the back prompted me to be louder. It seemed nobody was able to hear my voice in spite of me standing near to the mic.
The Fear Dragon became stronger & bolder. His Fear Fire grew in intensity. He was laughing and I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away, away from this madness. I was ashamed of myself. Tears started running down my cheeks.
I tried to be loud. But I could hardly recognize the voice which came out of my mouth. It was not mine. It was the voice of Fear. I tried to see what I was reading out but the tears clouded my vision.
The Fear Dragon roared with laughter, which sent more tears down my cheek. I blinked & blinked to clear my vision.
Here is what I had scribbled on the piece of paper, which I was trying to read for the morning assembly in front of the school:
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Where there is a will, there is a way.
It means that if you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if it is very difficult.
‘Just 3-4 lines and that too to be read from paper’, smirked the Fear Dragon. I read as fast I could, simply because I could no longer tolerate the heat within me. I could feel myself burning inside.
When I was finished, I looked up. I saw my class mate standing in the front row, she looked concerned. I couldn’t hold our eye contact for long & turned my gaze down. I felt ashamed.
Even though my part was over, I was still reeling under the attack of Fear Dragon. It was as if I was cut off from the rest of the world. I was physically present but mentally I was fighting a losing battle with my inner demons. I lost track of what was happening around me. It was only when my classmate put her hand over my shoulder after the assembly that I came out of my reverie.
“Are you OK? You were shivering? Are you sick?” she asked.
“I am OK” I mumbled not looking at her.
I come back to 2008.
I am holding the mic. Some 40 faces are looking up at me. The Fear Dragon was amused about the fact that I had volunteered myself to be the anchor for a paper presentation competition. I was determined to defeat the Fear Dragon this time.
And so the battle began. I was welcoming the students who had come from other colleges, when the Fear Dragon attacked my right hand which was holding the mic. My right hand started shaking. I tried my best to control the shaking but the right hand; it appeared to me, had suddenly acquired a mind of its own. So I shifted the mic to my left hand. I quickly ended my welcome speech & requested the first participant to start the presentation. This way I thwarted the first strike by the Fear Dragon.
Even though I was still burning from the Fear Fire inside, I had managed to gather enough courage to lower its intensity. By evening, I had completely doused the Fear Fire within me and I felt proud of myself. Just then, the Fear Dragon glowered, “Being an anchor, you just had to call out the participant’s name! It’s no big deal! If you have so much guts then give a 10 minute presentation next time.”
“Challenge accepted” I shouted back to the Fear Dragon, still glowing under the accumulated courage.
It’s 2009. I am about to start my presentation. The judges & the audience are looking at me. I hold the mic with both my hands. But this time, the Fear Dragon doesn’t attack my hand, he goes for my throat. My throat gets dry & I am almost choked. The voice which comes out is hoarse. I could hear his sinister laughter ringing in my ears. I take deep breath & cough a little, and then I begin.
I knew that the Fear Dragon would try to blank me out during the presentation, so I had prepared my power point presentation in a smart way. I had prepared well for this battle & hence courage blossomed inside me in spite of the Fear Fire.
The claps from the audience & the smile on judges’ face filled me with warmth, warmth not from the Fear Fire, but from joy of the battle won within. I along with my friend, who jointly presented, eventually won the paper presentation competition. Of course, I was overjoyed!
I realized that, if it had not been for the Fear Dragon, I would not have worked so hard. The trick is in taming the Fear Dragon. If you let it loose, it will wreak havoc inside you, making you weak. But if you are able to control its intensity with your will, it can aid you in bringing out your best.
It’s 2016. As I look back, at the little girl, who had tearfully read the thought for the day before the school assembly, I wish I could tell her that one day she will exercise her will to find a way to tame the Fear Dragon.