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I told Niel that whenever he is afraid during his swimming class he can also call Gopal. “He will come to help you only if you call out his name.”
Niel did not want to go to school the next day. The excuses that came my way were like “Maa stomach ache ho raha hai”. I said don’t worry I’ll rub in some hing (asafoetida) on your stomach. Then it was “I think I’m going to vomit”. Some more weird and wild things did come to his mind later, but he realised that Maa will have some very bitter solutions for all his problems. I listened to all his excuses patiently. I knew his reason for not going to school, was the weekly swimming class, and I was used to these tantrums once a week.
I tried to divert his mind in a different direction by narrating a bedtime story. He loved this story time and thankfully for a while he forgot his fears and slept peacefully. Next day he woke up in a bad mood and was very reluctant to go to school. He knew though that I will never allow him to bunk school because of his fear of water. I was also not happy about forcing him to go to school. He was too young to face his fears all alone, but then I knew if he didn’t face them today he’ll never be able to overcome them ever.
Niel was a very obedient and well-behaved child. Just like any five-year old boy he loved and trusted his mother completely. He blindly believed everything that was told to him. Usually he loved going to school everyday, except Wednesdays when they had to attend the weekly swimming classes. I tried to reason with him by telling him how and why it was good for him to learn swimming. Trying to share my own experience about how I learned to swim, how I fought my own fears. But none of my preaching was able to remove his fears. Since this was a compulsory extra curricular activity introduced by the school, every child had to participate in it on the scheduled days. I was desperately thinking of finding some way to tackle this situation.
While on our way to school I told him the story of Shyam that I had heard from my grandmother.
Shyam and his widowed mother lived in the forest. Everyday Shyam had to cross the dense and dark forest to go to schoo. Every day while crossing the forest Shyam could hear various animal cries. One day he came back from school running, his eyes were full of tears and there was fear on his face. Embracing his mother tightly he said, “Maa, I don’t want to go to school ever. I am afraid of that creature who keeps following me in the forest…. he will eat me up” His mother held him close to her and told him, “Don’t be afraid Shyam, I’ll tell your brother Gopal to accompany you through the forest everyday” “Who is Gopal Maa? Do I have a brother?” Shyam was delighted to know of his brother from the jungle. His mother then told him “If you’re feeling afraid, call Gopal. Shout out his name several times and he’ll come to help you”. He slept peacefully that night. Next day while crossing the forest, he called his brother just like his mother told him to. And lo!, Gopal actually came to meet him after he called for help several times. After that day Gopal accompanied him through the forest everyday.
I told Niel that whenever he is afraid during his swimming class he can also call Gopal. “He will come to help you only if you call out his name.” I could Niel in deep thought while he entered the school gates that morning.
That day on our way back from school, I could see Niel in a joyful mood and he told me that he enjoyed the swimming lessons that day. When he revealed that Gopal had actually come to help him in the swimming pool, i was shocked and surprised. “Maa, inside the water I was feeling afraid so I called out for Gopal, and he actually came and pulled me out of water” “Gopal was with me all the time and today I didn’t feel afraid and I didn’t even cry!
I was delighted to hear his words and see his happy face. With tears in my eyes I hugged and kissed his forehead. I was overwhelmed with the blind faith Niel had in me and that had helped him overcome his fears. I thanked God immediately for coming to help me and my little one and keeping my child’s faith intact in his mother. This incidence reinforced my belief that faith can help us overcome any difficult situation of our lives.
Image source: pixabay
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