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I was seven years old when a dog bit me. My dad had got transferred to a new city and literally everything in the house was packed, toys and comics included. Nothing in the house could have been improvised to serve as a toy and boredom was at it's peak. All this is essentially my explanation to the series of events that followed. So during one such evening the neighbor's dog happened to wander inside our house and was quietly sitting in one corner. So please remember, I was bored. I proceeded to play with the dog who obviously didn't want to play. I sat in front of him and pushed a peanut towards him. I told him to go ahead and eat it. He was not interested in the peanut. I then pushed the peanut towards his mouth and prodded him to eat the peanut. He had had enough. He just bit my finger and ran away.
Strangely enough there was not much pain, just a tiny little scratch on my index finger. And to my horror the scratch resembled the letter S. This S obviously stood for the 16 injections that I would be given. The terror of this eventuality slowly swirled in the pit of my stomach. (Those days every little kid knew that a dog bite would give you 16 injections in the stomach). The fear of the injections made me decide that the whole dog bite incident would be my secret. I vigorously washed my hands with soap and prayed to God to save me from the injections. The next day morning I was not scared but I just could not keep this big secret all to myself. I decided to share it with my sister. I told her, "Look, you can't talk about this to anyone, this is going to be our secret. I was bitten yesterday by the neighbor's dog, but I am fine, I washed my hands." What happened next is a regular feature of the day time soaps that we watch today. My sister started crying, "You will be scared of water and start barking like a dog." I knew then that my big secret was no longer going to be a secret. So I joined my sister's uncontrollable crying. My mother came from the kitchen to find both her daughters wailing but for different reasons.
To cut a long story short, I was taken to the doctor immediately and first given a tetanus shot. While I was contemplating the big sixteen and begging Hanumanji to save me, the doctor gave us some good news. It was going to be just five injections. Some new vaccine had come into the scene and 5 doses would do. And best part was that the prick was like an ant biting you. So the following five days were spent bidding farewell to friends and visiting the doctor for the ant bite. Besides being a good transfer anecdote this incident also was a life lesson to me. I remembered this lesson while watching a movie called 'Princess diaries' recently. The father of the princess in his letter to his daughter says, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." Meg Cabot has wonderfully defined courage. My fear of the injections was preventing me from doing the right thing. My health was more important but I did not have the judgement to see that. Post that episode I have been reasonable brave. I have maintained a respectful distance as far as dogs are concerned and have not tried to force feed them.
Where does one get courage? Could genes be responsible or the life experiences that we have while growing up. Majority of babies are not afraid of anything. Once they experience the falls, the loud sounds, the animals, they learn to fear. So if fear can be learned can we learn to be courageous. Of course sounds simple but it is a long process. To this day I have a fear of public speaking. But then if I follow my earlier principle, I overlook the fear and go ahead and speak anyways. The rush of pleasure, satisfaction and joy that you get once the speech is over is amazing. And that is what helps me to decide that speaking is more important than fear. And today I am trying to teach the same principle to my daughter. What is more important than fear of dark corridors? You want to get your toy/book from the other room. Focus on that and the fear will go away. Courage and fear essentially go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Courage also does not mean being reckless and an idiot. So teach your children that getting scared is absolutely fine. What is important is how you deal with it.