I have finally made up my mind. There is no way that I can continue living like this. It is time for me to face my fears in its face and break myself from these chains I lock myself in. I must devise a plan to shake this nagging fear that has long been haunting me. For months I have been toying with the idea of finally coming out of the dark, feeling free from the years of fear that consumed me. I will enroll myself with a driving academy, yes, that would be my plan, no excuses this time.
That weekend, I summed up my courage and hauled myself up to the office. I have passed the office numerous times, looking at the signage with the capital P that has a little car and a driver tucking his head out the window holding a thumbs up. A sign of assurance, that one can learn to drive with no problem at all. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have my driver’s license long before I became this tweak that fears driving so much. In fact, my license has been with me for the past fifteen years, which I have religiously renewed year after year, expiry after expiry. I have never owned a car, not after I passed my driving test and not now either. I am just a proud owner of a driver’s license that I have never utilized, except for as identification at the residence of my sister’s guardhouse to gain entry.
A lady behind the counter greeted me with a warm smile. I managed to utter the words of my intention of learning to drive. She seemed to understand my predicament and offered me a “refresher course” even before I could explain the fact that I already have a license. I was partly surprised and relieved at the same time. Maybe there are many women out there who were just as afraid of driving as I am. I certainly felt much better and quickly agreed to her suggestion to sign up for a nine hours package. Although I could start that weekend immediately, the devil of my fears took over and I postponed it to the following weekend. I spent the entire of the following week in agony of a mind battle between courage and fear. Many a time, I gave in to the sparks of my fears that slowly persuaded me to abandon the lessons, even if it meant losing the full payment that I have made.
That dreadful week finally gave way to the weekend of my first three-hour lesson of the package. My body felt weak and I have difficulty swallowing my breakfast. The stress was tremendous, my hands were shaking and my knees were wobbly. Before I could bail out, my phone rang and it was my instructor. One glance at me, he decided to start my lessons at the beginner’s driving field. He drove us to the field where I joined the rest of the beginners learning to drive in safe compounds. I felt a total at ease as there were no traffic on this non tarred field and soon I was left to do a dozens of merry-go-round, going through the three-point turns, up a steep ramp, parking over and over for the entire three-hour duration while the instructor dozes off at a shed in a distance. Soon, before I knew it, he signaled to me that we have come to the end of those three arduous hours. I gladly drove to his shed feeling triumphant to have made it to the end without passing out, that was until he instructed me to drive home from there.
My body broke into cold sweat and in an instant, my body recalled all the discomfort it experienced in the morning. My limbs have gone weak again; how am I going to battle the traffic on the highway? Will I make it back alive? As my mind ponder upon all these scary thoughts, my hands and feet seemed to take on a role themselves. They were already cruising the car out of the training grounds making its way across to the highway. I caught my wandering mind and pulled myself together as the car jerked its way merging into the ruthless traffic. My heart was pounding wild, willing myself to conform to moving vehicles on the road. In a brief moment, I transformed from a timid tweak into a bold daredevil pulling stunts of jumping the red light, changing lanes abruptly and hogging the fast lane at snail speed mostly because I was too nervous to do anything right.
As I gingerly navigated the car back into familiar neighborhoods, feeling increasingly safer with every distance covered, a sudden sense of achievement swept over me.