Mum could not understand how she could have brought such a classic case of a
scaredy cat into this world.
According to Mum, when I was born, I was one of
those smiling, good-natured babies who would not cry or whimper and would sleep
the whole night through. She herself had a peaceful confinement month unlike her
colleagues who were kept on their toes the whole night. Mum was so pleased with
But immediately after my first birthday, there was a drastic change, I became
the most irritable one-year-old monster. I cried at the slightest whim, at even
the softest whisper. I whimpered when the lights were switched off. I wanted
brightness and darkness was my forsworn enemy.
The electricity bill rocketed with my unreasonable demands to have lights in
every room. Mum and Dad despaired. They prayed it was a passing phase but the
nightmare continued into my kindergarten years.
Grandma had to be my constant companion when I first attended kindergarten and
she had to follow me everywhere I went. Even the teasing and the boos of my
little brave companions did not shame me in the least. I was just plain scared
to be alone, without a familiar face, although there were twenty other chubby
cherubic faces who were sheer daredevils.
When I turned seven quid was enrolled in a co-ed school, my parents had
practically to drag me, with hands and legs bound, to school. In those days,
there were no rules of child abuse and they escaped scot-free. To make matters
worse, I was sandwiched between a dark-skinned Indian girl with white teeth and
a fair-skinned yellow-haired English class. Could you imagine the horrors that
haunted my first year in post-kindergarten? My parents just ignored my
rantings, protests and tears in the mornings
and I had to be in school, rain or shine.
An unforgettable incident occurred when the imp
in the class sneaked a black harmless spider down my collar. I was paralysed
with fear, my face turned chalk white, my hands and legs trembled lifelessly, I
was screaming as though I had been murdered. My Year One teacher, a young
inexperienced greenhorn, was petrified that
her face was whiter than mine and she was transfixed to the ground. Fortunately
for all of us, the mischief-maker had the presence of mind to run get the
Headmaster who summarily returned the situation to normalcy. Whenever I meet
this Year One teacher, there is an instant rapport of those days and should we
be witness to any such scene, both of us would be amused now but on that fateful
day, it was no laughing matter at all, not to me.
To say that I was afraid of my own shadow, was an understatement. I soon grew
out of these unreasonable fears: afraid of the dark, sudden loud noises,
unexplained rattles and shakes, a shout out of the blue and numerous other silly
fears. As I grew older, wiser and more logical, I relegated these wild
imaginations to the recesses of my mind. Frankly, I must admit, occasionally, I
swing into unconscious panic attacks. However, I believe them to be the pains
and joys of growing up.
I hope that as I mature into a gracious adult from this insecure untutored
teenager, I will look at my own shadow and play hopscotch with it.