My hands shook as I wiped away the beads of sweat which had formed on my forehead. I could hear the hammering of my heart, as it held a duet with the chaotic rumblings in my mind. I tottered to the window and stood there, tracing random designs over the glass pane with my finger. Was I hallucinating? Or did the walls seem to close in on me? I closed my eyes, and raised my moist palms to cover my ears.
I let out a whimper when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around slowly, quaking. He had an ordinary appearance. Fair-skinned. Black hair. Those brown eyes held no warmth, as they locked with mine. A thin moustache rested above the blackened lips. But it wasn’t the stain that bothered me. I recoiled as he pursed his mouth in a loathing smirk. It was then I recognized him!
“Are you going to make a fool of yourself?” he drawled. “Some n…n..new found c… courage, I guess!” he giggled.
Tears threatened to cloud my vision, as he tore through the confidence I had painstakingly built up. Days of standing in front of the mirror and reading newspaper articles aloud slid into obscurity. Why did I take up this challenge?
“Kanna! Come and meet Mani uncle!” my amma beckoned me.
Wobbling, I came out of my study room, and took a seat next to uncle, dreading the moment he would ask me about my class.
Uncle ruffled my hair. “How fast you have grown up! You must now be in Class V! Am I right?”
The furious pace of my heartbeats slackened. With a smile, I nodded and got up, and made a dash for the comforts of my room.
He threw back his head and laughed at his own joke. “By the time you introduce yourself, the chief guest would have had his dinner!”
If only I could obliterate those memories! I had refused to talk to strangers out of fear that they would mock me. I continued to wallow in low self-esteem, until it eroded every shred of confidence I owned. When did I snap? I don’t recollect that epiphanous moment. But it had taken every ounce of willpower to overcome my impediment.
Amma’s assuring words echoed in my ears. “Conquer your fear, kanna! Only then you will soar like an eagle!” I couldn’t give up so easily!
“Enough!” My loud voice startled him, and he took a step back. I took a deep breath, and looked him in his eyes, as they widened. “Just shut up! I don’t want you to wreck my life again!” The words came out of my mouth at the pace of a ruminating cow. A pregnant pause ensued. I could hear the rhythmic sounds of my breathing.
“So how about you buzzing off!” I gently nudged him out of my way, and with steady strides, proceeded to the conference hall. I was ready to pitch my cost-cutting ideas to the CEO.