I was in 9th standard and had already learned how to be a part of the ‘behind the scene’ activities, I was always involved in the school activities but not for the ones which would give me those ‘round of applause’ or the oohs and aahs… but I was always sitting in a corner drawing or painting a background scene or a decorative piece to adorn the ‘farewell stage’ or may be writing out the ‘titles’ for the Ms. Beautiful or Mr. All rounder. By now you must have guessed that I suffered from the biggest fear of any shy child in a school and that is the ‘stage fright’…so ok where was I ,… yeah I was in the 9th standard and as usual I was happy participating in the ‘Essay writing ‘ competition and the ‘painting competition’ and was comfortably chatting away with my class mates when our very own ‘Deeps ( Perceptions)’ mother, my dearest and most beloved teacher, Mrs. Kumar, caught me by the ear (lovingly) and asked me to participate in the Malayalam poetry recitation competition.. my God.. I could not refuse her.. she was my anchor.. she knew me inside out.. knew my strengths and weaknesses.. and she wanted me to do it..
But only I knew one thing that how scared I was to get to that place called the ‘stage’.. I was all respect and awe and that unknown teenage feeling for all those who could stand straight on the stage, face the sea of faces (some of them mocking you, laughing at you and some giving you the royal ignore ) still you stand your ground and deliver the speech. Well.. the gist is that I had to say yes to my teacher and when the D Day came.. first on stage was the hero of the school.. who was sure to win every competition he participated in. he spoke with such ease and élan that you would think he was born to rule the stage.. then came the best performer of our class .. she was so good in everything.. and yes even for this competition she was going to be very good.. then another person who was also equally good.. to my shock I discovered that there were only 4 participants.. and then I comforted myself that I might get the 4th prize after all.
The first 2 participants concluded their recitations with such grace that they got applause with aplomb…hmmm.. then came my turn and I felt as if I had legs made of heavyweight rubber.. and I had no control over them.. I was sweating profusely… some how I dragged myself on to the stage.. I saw a sea of blue and grey uniforms.. faces.. so many.. I thought I would drown in that ocean.. I stood there numb… my mouth parched and dry.. my tongue felt like a piece of wood inside my mouth.. capable of nothing.. leave aside this ‘recitation’.. Then after what seemed like centuries standing there facing a sea of faces.. I forced my self to recite.. and all I could hear was a croak …a mumle..jumble ..nothing thereafter.. I could hear the laughter.. the jeers.. could see some weary faces.. I came back from the stage.. I could hear a solitary clap somewhere.. maybe my best friend.. I thought!!.. well I could not face my teacher.. she had so much expectations from me..but she was also someone who understood. And then the prizes were announced.. guess what.. obviously.. there was no 4th prize… !!!
This trend continued throughout school, then college, then I joined a PSU worked their for more than 7 years, in between I had to speak in meetings (mostly sitting at the allotted space and reading out data) and that too amongst our own team who were buddies , all of them.. of course except the Big boss.. and yes.. I also spoke aggressively and vehemently during the con.. calls but on ‘a stage’.. never..ever until one day I was transferred to the region from the Corporate and my Boss changed.. I had someone very young and who was like a friend .. and then I went with him for Campus recruitment and while we entered the auditorium.. it had close to 300 odd people (students and faculty) sitting as audience ..I was nervous even to sit on the dais but then I thought.. ‘What the heck .. lemme enjoy my self while my boss makes the presentation.” But guys the enjoyment was short lived.. it felt as if I heard my name being announced.. yess… yess it was my name.. alright.. and it was my boss who was calling out my name.. he said so now… Ms. So and So will start with the ppt.. and I felt I was going to have a stroke.. or may be the earth will just crack and swallow me and never let me go. Rest everything happened in a haze, I remember standing up and looking at my boss as if I would eat him up and then as if I was begging for my life from him (this is the description which he gave later)…Yes.. I gave the ppt. I read it out.. I stopped.. I missed out on lines.. I stammered a bit.. but I carried it through.. 25 slides in all… I could not believe it.. and yes people applauded too.. loudly….(may be because I was there to do the Campus placements… whatever… but they applauded… for me)
And guys since then there has been no looking back.. I had gone for numerous Campuses after that.. conducted many Induction programmes.. and such like and all thanks to one person who pushed me into the water and left me at that.. I had no other way but to fight for life and swim to the shore.
I keep on encouraging my daughter to participate in everything at school, not just the ‘behind the scenes’ but also in those events where she has to be on stage and face an audience.. Whether she wins a prize is immaterial.. because this is the ground where she gets trained to stand her ground to face the sea of faces.. or other wise the applause will elude till the time may be luck gives you a chance meeting with such wonderful people..
what about you.. do you suffer from stage fright.. did you ever have stage fright .. or are you the charmer on the stage with ease and élan???