Fairytales we read often tell us stories of damsels in distress who either mid or end of the story are rescued by the princes and swordsmen alike ,it’s rare you find it the other way around where the princess herself saves the day.In real life everyday isn’t as glamorous,or filled with magic as we hope it to be,the just purchased goodies in a now very heavy shopping bag,or the just flat tyre in your snazzy new car leaving you stranded in the midst of nowhere form similar save me scenarios too,ones where there isn’t anyone to save you.
When young, dad and mum ,the older siblings or cousins become your heroes,they help you with school work,projects,permissions and unprecendented coverups in times of need.Yet as you get older,and by that I mean gaining maturity ,the same heroes of previous years grow old and perish ,or move on to better places to help themselves ,in places far away from you.Then you are often left alone to face your storms and problems,with rarely another kind soul to provide help or even assist your problem.
My father was a very principled,self made man,he was firm about teaching both me and sister about independence and self reliability,cleaning the dishes after our meals,sorting out admissions,covering the books for school,doing our own projects,even being in time for the school bus at the bus stop about a kilometre away from home.At a point in my lazy moments,I did want to be dropped off by car to catch the bus,and would detest the running and panting to catch my just leaving bus, I often felt hurt that he didn’t want to to drop us off directly to school(like princesses) and like most other dad’s at my school did,it was only a few years later when he wasn’t around that I understood his strict principles of childhood,a little too late.
Dad lost his father just before his tenth standard exams,it was a car crash miles away from home,and he told me how he felt his whole world crash in a span of seconds,things weren’t easy for his family then on,he had to change career paths,homes and even a bit of his childhood way young,he learned to fend for himself when he could have lived a life of comfort and luxury with his dad around.It was what he faced at that young age that he feared us facing some day in our lives.
The moment I knew my dad was gone last year however,along with the emptiness that suddenly rose in my heart,I also knew that I no longer had a hero to fall back onto,and all those years when I had protested ,cried when he pushed me to do things for myself ,and the meaning behind those situations then were suddenly and unfortunately realised.
Probably one of the most reasons I called dad when he was alive was for help whether it was problems with my car,the call from work to pick me up(from the flu on a bad day),or just solving some doubt I had on my mind,dad would save the day,always.He was my hero who didn’t need a cape to prove his powers.
My new car was one of the most saved items by him, excluding me,it was often forgotten in the parking lot with lights on,batteries dead,and flat tyres,and the only person I turned to was him.In early June last year after driving a good distance home,and being told by people and police alike on the road,that my car had a flat tyre,the feeling hit like a lead bullet in my gut,how could I fix it without dad? He always helped me when I needed him,what now?He wasn’t there anymore,my lifelines had perished, what was I supposed to do?
And for the first time since his death,I almost heard my dad saying ”Go Esha,its finally time to do it yourself!”.Hence after reaching home ,I relunctantly pulled out the car manual,searched the respective gear,and wearingly got to work.It wasn’t easy ,mom willingly offered to asisst ,but of course it wouldn’t be,ask anyone doing a complex job like this for the first time! I sweated and huffed,and puffed for an hour or more,passerbys assumed a girl couldn’t do it and needed help(on any other day I would have certainly said yes),my neighbour uncle too came to politely ask, why hadn’t I called him?I stubbornly refused all help given that day as silly as a mule,but I assure you there was a big lesson I learned.
It did come to my mind during the hours (around an hour actually for a single tyre,not bad actually for a first timer!) why hadn’t I accepted help from those who had asked,but the truth is I now knew a different scene altogether,this was why dad had wanted me to be independent and self taught in the beginning and not fall back on someone else for anything ,he learned it young when he did and probably in his selfless way wanted me to be aware of a similar scenario.
We all have our days in the sun,when all is good and well,and we have our people to help out,parents,siblings,a best friend or a kind passing stranger.Its only when calamity strikes you truly know how capable you are to take a stand and fight alone,the multitudes of a problem as tiny as an ant or as big as a boulder. When it does you may be in a different place unlike home,a time with unknown people beside you,but you have to know that sometimes you just have to be your own hero.
For me it was just the tyre change that day,asissting dad do it once or twice earlier didn’t make it any easier,but once I was done ,the tyre firm in place and quite the level of triumph in my heart, I looked into the sky,and it was almost as if,I could see him proudly smiling down at me.I got my lesson of independence that day,a small step in my everyday,a big step in my lessons for life.And I knew from that moment on that I just had to take the courage to fight my problems on my own,and I just had to become both damsel and warrior together,i.e. be the hero for the day.
We have strong people to look upto ,we have heros and heroines in real life all over the world,some fighting warzones at the borders,some fighting for their human rights,and some just at the daily task of fixing a leaking faucet at the kitchen sink .Some bravery recieves awards and are recognised for their gallantry,others not noticed don’t.But the feeling of being self reliable and being capable to fight your own mini daily battles,is a feeling like no other.It forms in you a rock solid form of faith,a strong form of self motivation to face your day to day problems ,and its one I’m proud to hold.Its nice to be the damsel in distress when wanted,but being the hero of the day has glee of its own kind.