As a child I suffered from insomnia, but at that time I didn’t know that there was something wrong with me.
What I remember about those days were the fear I felt. I remember laying down in my bed and listening to every little sound that to me sounded like the giant steps of the bhootham
The shadows of leaves moving in the wind were nothing but the bogeyman waiting there to come and catch me and eat me alive. I wondered if I would be eaten alive and if so, then would I be like Jonah in the whales’ tummy? I spend agonizing hours trying to figure out if it is better to be eaten alive or killed first and then shredded to bits and eaten. I worried if it was the latter how my parents would feel when they wake up and find my bones licked clean by the bogeyman. How would they bury me?
Sometimes I would feel so thirsty, but my limbs wouldn’t move for fear of attracting the attention of the bogeyman hiding behind the door/inside the cupboard/under my bed.
The bogeyman was created by mother to instill fear in me and make me listen and follow her rules. If I didn’t, then the bogeyman came to devour me at night.
I am 41and I know there is no bogey man. Sometimes I forget to close the chook cage in the evening and it would occur to me in the middle of the night that I didn’t close the cage. Though I know there is no such thing as bogeyman and that if I switch on the floodlight, I can see all of the back yard, I still can’t bring myself to go out and shut the chook cage..and the morning after, the first thing I do is to hold my breath and run to the chook cage and do a head count. I know there will be a day the fox will get my chooks and I will not forgive myself when that happens.. but the fear of something so unreal is very much real.
I was determined to raise my children without instilling bogeyman/pillarey piduthakar ( child snatchers) pishashu ( devil himself)..
If they are thirsty, they can go to the kitchen without fear and get some water. If they need to use the washroom, they can without having to check behind the door to make sure that the bogeyman isn’t hiding there.
I was thinking of how to deal with my son..and wondered how my mother would have handled the situation.
She would have used something that instilled fear for sure. Most likely religion..And I couldn’t. First of all I am a practicing atheist and secondly I wouldn’t have had any answers to ” really mom? did you not read that the jails are full of priests arrested for paedophilia and you are telling me it is a sin to watch porn”
I couldn’t try the cultural basis either for surely I would be asked if I had heard of Kamasutra.
I couldn’t really try emotional blackmail either for I am a doctor and I studied human development. sexuality and behaviour.
There was no point trying to enforce censorship guidelines at home when I know he has free reign at his school and when he meets his friends after school etc. I refuse to fight a losing battle.
All I could do was to sit and talk to my son..I told him ” there is a time for everything, don’t rush through your childhood because it is a one way street. Sex will happen eventually..and that whatever he feels..the attraction of looking at a girl etc are normal”
There were so many things left unsaid..
But I guess between the choice of instilling fear of the unknown..and being honest.. I chose the latter..