So often, it happens that we are made to look into ourselves, into our past just to find answers to some questions in the present. That is exactly what she felt at that moment. She wondered how the little girl had asked a question of such depth. Her reverie was broken by the timid voice of her niece again, "Tell me aunty, why do girls have to bear so much pain inside and outside?"
It was an innocent question yet she wondered what answer she could give to the girl as her little fingers moved over the headline in the newspaper as she read "Young girl, aged 10, brutally murdered after being raped". She realized how much her little niece wanted an answer to this question.
And then she travelled back to the memories of her past. Somewhere back in her childhood, she had come back home from school one day, with a question in her mind; a question that had been troubling her since all day. She had headed straight towards the lady who could give her all the answers that she sought back then. And she did not need to explain her dilemma, for her mother could already see that something was worrying her dear daughter.
"What is it my dear?"
"Mom, what are you afraid of the most, in this world?"
"Why are you asking this question suddenly?"
"No. First tell me what are you afraid of the most in this world, mom?"
"Of watching my little angel being afraid of doubts."
"Mom! I mean the things, objects?"
"There is nothing that is actually scary, is there?"
She seemed contented with the reply. She had always been taught that nothing in the world was scary and one could easily win over one's fears.
"Now tell me what happened that this question came up?"
"Today our Moral Science teacher, Mrs. Matthews, asked us the same question."
"Everybody’s answer was about a thing or being. Somebody was afraid of a lizard, others of darkness or water or height, or even of ghosts! But mom, there are no ghosts, right? And lizards, darkness, or anything is not something we should be afraid of, isn't it mom?"
"Of course, my girl. These are not to be afraid of. You are a brave girl, isn't it? And there are no ghosts. So what did you say?"
"I did not know what I am afraid of. I couldn't think of anything. Then I thought of you. I can't think of being without you mom, or without dad, or without the people whom I love. So, I told her that I am afraid of losing my loved ones."
She had paused and looked at her mother, who was smiling at her.
"But everybody in the class thought that I was lying because they think I should be afraid of something around me. Nobody believed that I am not. I am not scared of ghosts, height, water, speed, darkness, lizards, insects, dogs, and animals, nothing. I said the truth."
"I believe you my dear. And you are absolutely right. These things are not to be afraid of. We can always win over them".
She had felt contented with the reply. At least her mother had agreed and that was all that mattered. She asked again.
"But mom is it weird that I am afraid of losing my loved ones? Should I try not to think about this fear? Is it stupid?"
And her mother had again given her the most unforgettable reply, "It is natural and it is good that you have a fear of something to be actually afraid about. Never fear to think about your fears. The more you think, the more you will get to know that there is nothing that you can't win over and the more you will realize that you are strong, very strong. God has made you a girl. And girls are the strongest beings. It is not stupid. And one day, you will know that you can overcome this fear too. Girls are made to go through everything that strengthens them. But till then, it is good to accept your fear. You are a very brave girl, I know."
"Strong? But mom Anshu always says that he is stronger than me."
"Oh, come on my dear, he’s still a kid", and they had winked at each other.
Ever since that day, she had come to realize it every second that girls are stronger than they seem to be. And with her own experiences, she had also realized that her fear of losing her loved ones was the only fear that was worth it. She was really not afraid of anything else in this world. She had seen herself grow as a lady of strengths and each day she got to learn something new about her strengths. In fact, eventually facing the fear of losing the ones she loved, be it some of her very good friends or even her love affairs, she had seen people walk away or people she knew who had passed away; she realized that girls had the power to face anything. They may go through emotional breakdowns, physical and mental pain but after all of this, they recollect their souls and face the world again with a smile, being stronger than before. And yet, they never complain. She had got to know that those fears remained only till she was afraid of them. Else, she could face anything and stand strong to support others who needed her. And then those fears would melt away and her beliefs would bring strength and happiness to her being. She had seen herself each and every day.
And now it did not seem surprising to her when she heard a similar question from her niece after 19 years. It was her turn to reply and she turned to her intending to give the same reply that her mother had given her and what she had learnt till now.
"We girls are strong, very strong. God has made us that way. And the ones who make us test our patience or strength are the ones who are weak, because they don't value us, because they don't realize our worth and the sufferings we undergo when we are connected with them, when we bring them to this world and then nurture their lives. We keep walking with strength and faith to nourish the lives around us in every form that we exist, be it as a sister, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a sibling, a friend or a soul mate. We take everything that they have to give us or that life brings for us, even if it is something that hurts us because we are more mature and stronger than they can even imagine. We never give up because we have a fire inside our hearts to struggle till it takes all of what we have. They are very weak and give in to the world around them, but we don't. That is why we hear something like this every day. It is those devils who are weak. Didn't you read this completely? Who do you think was stronger?"
She got her reply with a genuine smile.
"So are we strong enough to be not afraid of them, my dear?"
"Yes aunty. We are girls", she got a confident reply from her niece.
And in the end, she knew she had given an answer which had made the little girl happy and contented. She knew why she was different from others and now she could see herself in her niece and it made her happy that there was another one like her.