Saturday, January 22, 2011

Strange Phobia

When my son was born I wanted to name him something he can live up to! So I chose the name Abhay, meaning one who knows no fear or fearless. As the days went by, I discovered my supposedly fearless son was petrified of seemingly harmless things around him. He grew out of most of his phobias except one – the dreaded whistle of the Indian style pressure cooker! As everyone knows, a pressure cooker is a must-have for any Indian household and my son is still traumatized by its shrieking siren! Here’s my daily ordeal- When I decide to use the cooker, the protocol demands that Abhay be duly warned of the impending danger of staying in the living room. As soon as he hears the announcement, Abhay rushes to the kitchen to ascertain the gravity of the situation – whether the cooker is on the stove already and if so, whether the cooker top is in place which means he is just seconds away from the first whistle!!! Clearly in a race against time, Abhay hurriedly gather up his stuff and shift his play to his room with the doors carefully shut behind him. If for some reason, I am constrained to enter his room, while the cooker is still on, his hands immediately cover his ears, as if in a reflex! He even knows the exact number of whistles it takes to cook rice, dal or vegetables and promptly asks me turn off the gas stove once they go off. His legendary pressure cooker phobia may seem hilarious to everyone else in the family but is a matter of serious concern to me! I even brought this up with his pediatrician during his wellness check up, but she was only amused!
Anyway, I was reading Abhay a book from which I thought I could a draw a parallel between the story therein and his ludicrous mind-block. “Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully” by Julianne Moore and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a sequel to “Freckleface Strawberry” by the same author. Freckleface strawberry is a little girl who loves going to the Early Birds hour at her school on a sunny day when she can play outdoors. On a rainy day however, she is forced indoors and dreads the prospect of facing the dodge ball attack by a bully called ‘Windy Pants Patrick’. On one such rainy day, she finds that she is the last kid standing ready to be preyed upon by the dodge ball bully. As she ducks her head and crouches down, bracing herself for the nasty hit, the dodge ball touches down with mere plop and rolls over. Freckleface is pleasantly surprised that she hadn't even noticed it and realized that there was hardly anything to be frightened of! The brave little girl then roars with triumph in turn scaring Windy Pants Patrick!! As I read to this to Abhay, I attempted to explain to him that most scary things seem more sinister in our minds than they actually are!! In the end, I asked him if he is ready to overcome his fear just like Freckleface – he is poker faced! I can only hope for change!!

1 comment:

  1. He doesn't like even shriek sound. I remember he has this phobia right from his childhood. He never liked the sound of toy flute or mouth organ even when he was just 2 years old. He used to cry the moment we bring the instuments near him.
    Hope his aversion is now limited only to cooker whistle!