As the roller coaster reached the dizzying heights of its trajectory, I gathered within myself the last bits of my escaping courage and gave a pep talk to my rather fragile heart. I suffer from the very common acrophobia. Then what induced me to go on a roller coaster, you ask? The malady of the heart, I say.
KP, my husband, loves amusement parks and their crazy rides. For someone who avoids looking down from the first floor balcony, who cannot get down from a slide without making a total fool of self, it could only have been love that would have forced me on this perilous path. I knew on the other side lay total annihilation of pride and yet to prove my love I accompanied him to the ‘Ride-of-Death’.
Long ago when I was newly married and still bedazzled by my man in the uniform, I asked him why do faujis yell and scream when they attack dummies in their training. It wasn’t random yelling, he explained. The trainee shouted ‘Ghop. Nikaal’ with as much firepower as his vocal cords could muster. The fauji logic is that the strength of the screams is inversely proportional to the amount of fear felt. Loud screams provide the necessary shots of adrenaline and strengthening of self-assurance to kill the enemy. They bring focus to the aim at hand and call upon your fighting spirit to prevail against the odds, he said.
As the ride began its descent, this long-forgotten conversation about ‘Fear’ surfaced in my mind. I came down the roller coaster, screaming like my life depended on it. I caught not just my husband but everyone around with surprise. The subconscious noticed that as the ride reached the water point marking the end of its journey, everyone had turned to look at this banshee on the loose.
As the fountain of water shot up when the ride hit the hitherto placid surface, in my being I felt an equal buoyant exhilaration. Through my incomprehensible screams which had no other purpose but to get the noise, no matter how garbled, out of my system, I was able to last the ride without having a heart failure.
Would I willingly get on another roller coaster? No. However, recently for my daughter’s birthday, I took her to a kids-amusement park and on one of those airplane rides which keep changing their altitude, it was me holding on to my four year old’s arm. On the upside, I walked in to the lion’s lair voluntarily. One step at a time.