Dear Dawn, My family thinks I’m a ‘fraidy cat,’ because I really am anxious about traveling. There is so much in the news! Were you ever afraid when you traveled? Any close calls?
When I was a child I don’t remember anyone calling me a ‘fraidy cat’; but I used it on others. Constantly! Pride goeth before the fall!
Am I proud of traveling over thirty-five countries a la carte? You know it! I rarely remember being afraid. Maybe it was my youth, maybe my naivety, but it worked. Groomed in the deep south, I was used to doors being opened for me, and “Yes-sir” and “Yes-maam” were part of my Southern Belle vernacular.
The Hirn men all wanted to go to India to see the Taj Mahal. Me too, but I had read just enough news clippings and seen videos of graphic gang rapes of women in the streets of India to make me nervous. In America, we call rape and attacks ‘crimes’; the Indian Government at that time, didn’t.
It was my turn to be called ‘fraidy cat.’ But I went anyway.How did I conquer my fear? Who said I conquered it? I insisted one of the boys hold my hand the entire time, giving me the feeling of a unified front. I put on my “Dawn-the-disintegrater-face” — you know, ‘if looks could kill,’ and headed into the subway with my family. That worked well until the day I stopped for a quick photo of the last subway car marked “Women Only.” When I turned around the doors of the subway closed with my family inside the train, and me alone on the platform.
There will come a time in each woman’s life when she needs to use the “don’t-touch-me-I’m-a-bitch-who-will-claw-your-eyes-out”-look. I used mine.
The Indian women appear so demure and kind. They tuck that look safely away.
The situation in India is improving, thanks to those who have raised world-wide attention by standing strong against violence, in their speech and their writing: “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” ― Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living
Ron and I have tried to lead our sons by example and pray they will continue to respect all their brothers and sisters in the world. Dawn