We all have certain fears which we try to overcome but fail miserably at time and again. It is not, as if, only certain people have fears; we all suffer from various fears knowingly or unknowingly. Some realise it early in life whereas for others, it takes considerable time to discover their inhibitions.
I discovered one such phobia over a closely contested game of football. Playing this sport remains a favourite activity for me. As an avid sportsperson, I never missed games hour in school regardless of prevailing conditions. This part of the day helped me overcome stress to a great extent. Whenever I stepped onto the football field, I felt motivated. And one such ‘match to remember’ took place when I was in grade ten.
Football is usually played during monsoons in India and it was no different for us in school. On the day of the said match, I vividly recall the commentator announcing, “I would like to call Mr Banerjee to declare the Inter-House Football Match 2019 open” followed by loud applauses from all in attendance.
I tied my laces and stepped out of the dressing room only to sense the spectators’ high spirits. My teammates were wishing each other luck. “What if we could not make it? What if we won? What if the match concluded with a draw?” Dozens of other such questions flooded my mind. I simply tried to stay calm and focus on my game, while trying to recollect all the techniques that our coach had taught us. A final team briefing before the match then quickly ensued.
The ultimate faceoff
“Come on Teesta, come on!” This was the only cheer I could hear and I knew could not let them down, or so I thought. The match soon began and with every passing second, exhaustion hit me. But I had laurels to win for my house, and my single-minded purpose was to win the match.
With this seeming firmness of thought, however, it was becoming quite difficult to concentrate on the actual game. And then all of a sudden, there was a sharp “fweet!”! The shrill sound of the referee’s whistle made me still. Cries of “yaay” emanated from one section of spectators. Our team had just conceded a goal. In utter dismay, I watched as my opponents jumped with ecstasy.
The referee soon blew the whistle again to signal ‘half time’. Our blood began to boil and we decided to pull up our socks in the second half. The unpleasant smell of perspiration reeked through the dressing room. I could already gauge a smirk on the coach’s face following our opponents’ goal and this unpleasant odour was now only adding salt to injury.
The unpleasant realisation
Gathering all the confidence and courage we could muster, we braced ourselves for the second half. New tactics, and new formations were strategised to enable us to break through their defence. Much to our delight, our fresh strategy worked well. We began dominating our opponents; our offence was relentless.
It all seemed to be going in our favour except that we were unable to score a goal. My position was left-back defence. I must highlight here that I have, with great care, cultivated the reputation of being called the ‘Great Wall of China’. This was because in my presence I would hardly ever let the ball get past me. I could see Sajid dribbling towards me, dodging our central mid-fielder with elan. Beads of perspiration rolled down my neck as I awaited him as an animal of prey might for their hapless victim. Sajid attempted to dribble the ball past me, but poor chap! Too bad for him but I already knew his techniques.
I threw my left foot in a direction opposite to his approach so that I wouldn’t be ‘deceived’ by his deft moves. Unknowingly and without any dubious intention in mind, I hit his knee with tremendous force. Sajid’s knee immediately began to bleed profusely. “What just happened?” I was in a fix and could not understand why I started to feel anxious after I saw him bleed.
In that very moment, I realised I suffered from haemophobia — the fear of blood. I could not go near him because I’d begun to feel dizzy. Over the remainder of the match, we conceded another goal, despite the team’s collective effort. But it dawned on me that my team had lost solely because of me. Only me.
Taking cognizance of my haemophobia
Once the match was over, I preferred not to speak with anyone and headed to my dormitory straight away. A few of my friends, especially the close ones, sensed my discomfort at discussing the match any further. And they also ensured that no one else did so in my presence.
It has been a year since and I accept the fact that “Yes, I am a haemophobic” and do not hesitate to do the same. I did try to overcome my fear but have failed miserably in the meanwhile. I always try to stay away from such situations to avoid embarrassment. Perhaps this is the only way until I stumble upon alternatives. However, following that match, I always try and restrain myself from engaging in any physical fights. And this stems from my fear of shedding blood, because who knows if it might lead to the sight of blood again.