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There's no shame in being afraid

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My siblings hated bath time. No, not their own bath time I hasten to add, but MY bath time.

You see I was a ‘bangbroek’ of a child. I was afraid of almost everything; the dark, heights, being abandoned then there were the ghosts and ghouls that I believed were around every corner.

Oh yes, and tokoloshes – my friends assured me those evil spirits were real, and apparently they were nasty! No wonder I was always looking over my shoulder.

But the one thing I feared most was the black rhinoceros with glowing red eyes that wanted to crash through the bathroom window and kill me when I took my bath. Where this particular fear came from and why it topped my list is anyone’s guess; but the fact is I was terrified.

We had frosted window panes in the bathroom and the streetlights would be diffused into little coloured ‘pinpricks’. The problem was that when you looked at these pinpricks at night and moved your head a bit, then the refracted light would turn blue, green, yellow and RED! The red eyes! Heeeelp, mommmy! THE RHINO!

My older brother and younger sister would fight over whose turn it was to sit in the bathroom and keep guard while I bathed.

They will never retrieve those lost hours where they just had to sit and avert their eyes I wasn’t very talkative, and when I spoke I wasn’t very interesting to listen to, so my bath time was probably the worst drudgery imaginable for them.

No wonder that at playtime they would try to keep me from dirtying myself or sweating.

One thing I remember though is that around Christmas time my fears subsided. We had an old, worn-out catalogue in our home and the middle section was dedicated to pages and pages of toys. Around Christmas time we would sit and page through the book for hours, drooling at the prospect of receiving one or more of those toys.

I would bathe with thoughts of toy cars, action figures, puzzles and train sets dancing in my head.

The poor monster rhino must have felt so neglected at yuletide.

Imagine my shock and horror, when as an adult – while watching the 1996 animated Roald Dahl movie, James and the Giant Peach – I once again encountered the beast of my nightmares.

The exact same black rhinoceros with the glowing eyes, this time nogal snorting billows of smoke, was terrorising James.

The worst thing about this was the fact that by this time my brother and sister had moved out of the city and I had to bath without a security guard that night.

I suppose we all have to face our fears eventually at other times we learn that ‘tops and tails’ will do in exceptional circumstances.

These days I no longer fear the sinister rhino; however, that poor beast has been replaced by other more sinister creatures. Creatures that not even a Christmas catalogue can silence, because these monsters come out at Christmas.

They are the ghouls who prey on the old, weak and unaware; who see Christmas time as the perfect window of opportunity to perform their nefarious acts of theft, robbery and cheating.

Already our malls are being targeted by robbers and thieves, and I cringe at what may yet come with Christmas being just over eight million seconds away.

My hope is that those tasked with upholding the law and securing the safety of the citizens and visitors all over our country will succeed in their planning for deterring these brutes who prey on the weak as the holiday season approaches.

After all, while there is no shame in being afraid, no one deserves to be terrorised by monsters.