How I Faced Fear

Fear can be defined as an unpleasant feeling emotion caused by the conviction that someone or something is going to cause you harm or pain. The following incident took place when I was quite a few years younger but is one that still resonates with me today.

The Palmiet Nature Reserve is located in Westville, Durban.




The heat was a tangible force in the surrounding air. Insects hummed busily and the oppressive sun beat down on my bare arms and legs. The faded grass seemed to be gradually wilting in the sweltering air. I brushed sweaty strands of frizzy hair from my eyes as I trekked into the abandoned ruins of what was once someone’s home.


The stark, white walls contrasted the savage tone of the graffiti that was haphazardly strewn on the inside of the little building. None of the artistry seemed to be related suggesting that it had been done by different people. I found the images of two shadowy people to be the most striking. Everywhere was quiet but even silence has a sound of its own. In the near distance Grahamstown lay sprawled like a lazy, outstretched dog.


I stared up at the sky through the roofless house and watched the expanse of endless blue. A strange feeling encompassed me, I felt peaceful. I knew that just a few roads away, people were carrying on with their daily routines and bustling about (or rather slogging damply through the heat).


It was isolated in this windowless and open room. My eyes squinted in the intense light of a 9am morning and my feet already felt claustrophobic in my sneakers. I had dressed coolly but that didn’t seem to make any difference.


This is what it would feel like to be lost in the desert somewhere without water, your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth and inhaling dry, searing breaths of air. I could envisage it so clearly, stumbling in the sand, delirious with thirst under the unrelenting pulsing of the African sun.


Snapping out of my reverie, I gave the desolate building one last glance and then walked down the hill, reluctant to re-enter reality.