Everybody has a phobia, but very few will admit it or openly acknowledge it. I have a fear of riding in cars, and for many years I did not even know it. When I sat in a car for long distance travels I could never relax. I took a cab for many years to my work, but I would sit in the back and chant “Hare Ram” steadily with closed eyes. It was embarrassing because the driver would keep reassuring me, yet I couldn’t trust him to drive safely. I would look at people who would enjoy car travels or sleep contentedly without a worry and feel that they are lucky.
When my friends would suggest a vacation to wonderful destinations like Goa, Pondicherry I would be excited. And then they would reveal that they were planning to travel by car. More fun that way they would utter and I would backtrack frustratingly. For years I missed out on the fun because of my phobia. When I searched the web to put a name for my phobia, I discovered that apparently it’s called Amaxophobia. As per Wikipedia-“ Amaxophobic sufferers riding in a vehicle will typically fear the accident and its consequences, especially injury or death.” Yes, that quite sums it up.
Every time I sit in a car, I imagine the car crashing or turning upside down, I imagine myself trapped within the vehicle while it slowly goes up in flame. I have thousands of situations that can go wrong. And every time I reach my destination safely I send a silent thanks to the Almighty above for giving me one more opportunity to live. Yes, I can be quite dramatic when needed.
After I narrowed down my fear I introspected on what had caused the phobia. It was then that my mind went on a flashback mode and I remembered an incident that had occurred when I was a kid. We were travelling from my cousin’s house in Channapatna to Srirangapatna on a vacation. It was a fun trip with my cousins enjoying merrily in the car that we had rented for a day. We were on our way to Nandi Hills after finishing our breakfast. The hired driver had mentioned that he had a slight fever when we requested him to have breakfast along with us. Quickly we were dozing and I, sitting in the backseat, was enjoying the scenic locales while trying to doze in between.
Suddenly there was a loud bang and everything seemed to turn dark for few minutes. I thought that I must have been dreaming. But as reality dawned slowly, I realized that our car had met with an accident. The car had flipped many times and it lay on the road upturned. I slowly crawled outside through the window, to see all my cousins with minor injuries.
The brunt of the damage was delivered to my cousin, Shailesh anna, who was sitting in the front. The windshield had broken into pieces by the collision and the glass pieces had pierced into my cousin’s head when he fell by the impact. We were rushed to hospital and my cousin had to undergo surgery. But fortunately he survived and within a week he returned home with healing injuries.
But even today when I sit in a car I cannot relax, I sit with clenched fists, anxiously peering at the road, ready for another fatal collision.
I got over my phobia only recently when my husband proposed a trip to Chikmagalur with his friends. Of course we had to travel by car and since my husband is not fully aware of the extent of my phobia, I couldn’t give any justifiable excuses. It was an overnight drive and Chikmagalur is full of curvy roads. We started around 10 o’clock in the night from Bangalore and I was sitting uneasily watching the roads with more concentration than the driver. But I made the trip, and as the tall trees and plantations of Chikmagalur came into view, I relaxed.
The drive was not bad and even though I had not slept the entire night during the journey, I knew that my phobia of riding in a car had lessened. I may not have completely conquered my fear but at least I had taken the first baby steps. I did not think that I have the courage to sit in car for long journeys but after I made the trip to Chikmagalur I realized that I did have the grit within me. I have a long way to go before I rid myself of Amaxophobia but knowing that I want to get over my phobia has instilled a new strength in me.