Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anjali - Going Through Fear

Daksha school announced a vaccination drive against measles and rubella. The vaccine would be administered at the school and all kids were asked to come if they wanted a vaccine. Anjali asked me if she was to take the vaccine and we checked her vaccine chart and consulted her paediatrician and the good Dr. Sriram said it was a good idea to take it.

There was a bit of banter at home.
'It will hurt Nanna,' joked Anjali. 'I don't want it.'

Shobha and I reminded her about a nursery rhyme she had where a small animal character who is scared of an injection runs away making all kinds of excuses until the kind doctor animal tells it to sing a song where she has to say ouch and that is as long as it needs to take the injection. It all ends well of course. In fact after reading that Anjali actually would go up to the doctor and tell him she wanted an injection. But that was years ago.

Anyway jokes apart, Anjali and I set out to school to join many others who were already queued up. Some of her classmates came out. 'Hi Anjali, it does not hurt at all,' said Harshvardhan as he left. Anjali looked at him suspiciously. Some small kids came to our crying and she looked worried. Then she spotted her friends Mansi, Keertan, Saket and went to play with them.

'Mansi does not like injections,' she came and reported. 'But Kushal, her brother, he loves injections.'

This was confirmed by Mansi's father. After a while we got our turn and both friends, Mansi and Anjali walked in holding on to our hands, apprehension writ large on their faces. Mansi went first and started to cry even before she sat on the chair. Anjali who was with me, held my hand tight and her eyes welled with tears.

'I don't want the injection,' she said. 'Let us go away Nanna.'
I told her it would be over in a minute. But she was inconsolable. The teachers got worried because she is pretty strong otherwise. The doctor took a moment and quickly finished the poke. Anjali would not stop crying. Nor would Mansi.

'It hurts Nanna,' cried Anjali.

I led her away to the car. As we walked away her friends came and tried to cheer her up. Saket, Keertan and others. Saket's father also tried to cheer her up. But she was distressed. I let her cry. Obviously she was hurting. Once in the car she calmed down. So did Mansi, who was also coming home with us. In a short while they started laughing and joking and things were back to normal.

There were several children who did not come that day. Some, mainly because of the fear of the injection. I was glad Anjali and Mansi found the courage to go to the school despite their fears and apprehensions, and went through it, crying, sobbing, and perhaps feeling foolish about their crying. But they did it. And that is what was most important. Like Mandela said, courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but the one who conquers it.'

So well done you two, Anjali and Mansi, sniffling and crying, wanting to go away but holding on, steeling yourself against the poke but hanging on, and getting done with it. I could see the other parents and teachers looking with concern at their tears, but me, I felt nothing but pride. They did it, despite that fear. And if they could do it once, they will find that courage again. When they need it. And that thought is most comforting.

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