The Night I Overcame A Longstanding Fear

Are you afraid of the dark, deserted areas, living alone, and embarrassed about it?

Do you have a family member or friend who is?

It’s human nature to be fearful. We all have unique fears we grapple with as we grow up; sometimes, they linger longer than we’d like them to.

Take my case, for example:

While some friends had shed their fears of living alone or venturing out in the dark, I clung to mine like a security blanket. It’s impossible to predict when those fears will dissipate, but they eventually do.

As I entered my teenage years, I continued to fear living alone or stepping out unaccompanied at night. It was a source of embarrassment because it seemed like many of my peers had already conquered these fears. I often prayed to God, hoping for the strength to overcome these anxieties. Whether God didn’t hear my pleas or chose to procrastinate, it took some time to address this issue.

So, how did I finally deal with my fear of the dark and solitude? My story begins now. But before that, here’s some context that for perspective.

I was born into a family that lived in our ancestral home at Nimchouri in Cuttack. It was lively, with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins all residing nearby. Our house was nestled where residential and commercial properties coexisted harmoniously. Life was vibrant, and fear was nowhere to be found.

When I was born, my father purchased a piece of land at Tulsipur, a sparsely populated residential area near the Mahanadi riverbank. This plot was situated along a stretch of road known as Gorakabar Road, a name that had eerie origins dating back to the British colonial era.

The area was notorious for stories of ghosts and eerie occurrences after sunset. It didn’t help that tales of unearthed bones and skeletons during land excavation circulated among the locals. An elaborate prayer ritual was performed to ward off malevolent spirits lurking before constructing what became our family home for 25 years.

When we moved into our new home, a few more houses had sprung up, but the area remained relatively desolate, especially after nightfall. The only sounds that broke the silence were the chirping of insects in the backyard and the occasional passing vehicle on the road out front. The houses were spaced out, offering ample privacy – so much so that you had to shout to make yourself heard by a neighbour.

Growing up in such an environment, I feared ghosts, evil spirits, and the pitch-black darkness that enveloped our surroundings at night. I couldn’t even muster the courage to walk up to our front gate unaccompanied.

Then, one fateful night, my life took an unexpected turn. It was midnight, and I woke up to my mother crying and my father in shock. My uncle, just a year younger than my father, suddenly died from a heart attack. He was in his early 50s and had no history of illness.

The following day, I had my Class X pre-board exams. My parents made the difficult decision to leave me at home. They assured me I could pay my last respects to my uncle after school the next day.

As my parents left, urging me to get some rest before the exam, I could not sleep. Thoughts of my beloved uncle and our time together swirled in my mind. I couldn’t focus on studying but I knew I needed to prepare for the exam.

Summoning every ounce of courage, I decided to face my fear head-on. I was alone in a large bungalow for the first time, and it was nighttime. Our family gardener lived in an outhouse just a two-minute walk from the main house.

Courage in the Midnight Hour

The darkness outside was palpable, and every rustling leaf cast eerie shadows on the ground. Fear coursed through me, but I refused to give in to it. I ran as fast as I could, holding my breath until I reached the outhouse. Startled by my arrival, the gardener opened the door, surprised to find me there at such an hour.

I asked him if he could stay inside the main house so that I could study. To my relief, he agreed.

Two remarkable things happened that night:

Firstly, as I revisited the chapters I had struggled with, they suddenly became crystal clear. It was as though a newfound clarity had washed over me.

Secondly, and even more profoundly, my fear of the dark and of walking alone at night vanished without a trace, just like that.

I took it as a parting blessing from my beloved uncle Kamal Lochan Garabadu – a gift of courage and strength to face the darkness.

Facing Fear and Finding Strength

If you’re grappling with similar fears or have a member in your family who is, I want you to know this: there will come a time when these feelings would fade away. You may not be able to predict when it will happen, but it will.

In some exceptional cases, fear may persist into adulthood, but remember, courage can be found in the most unexpected moments. So, keep faith, confront your fears, and you might discover a newfound strength you never knew you had.

Fear not! It’s only a matter of time.

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