Arif Zakaria tells us how he got the nickname of 'chicken' among a group of friends when he refused to take a ride.sex and relationships Updated: Sep 27, 2008 20:15 IST
I’ve acquired a new name, Chicken, in the group on ‘The Merchants of Bollywood show’ tour. It’s not a happy title to adorn and I’m uncomfortable every time I’m addressed by that name.
But it’s all my doing. It’s a week since everyone has been addressing me as Chicken. For the uninitiated, this is a variant of scary boo, woos, fattoo or coward.
It all began at a spectacular amusement park, just off Brisbane. It has dazzling rides, roller coasters with sharp bends, all giving us the ultimate thrills.
Tower of hell
But there was one monstrous ride, aptly called, ‘The tower of hell’. The ride started at ground level where one was strapped individually on to a seat inside a small wagon on rails.
It would then hurtle itself vertically up a tower about 1000 feet high at an incredible speed.. pause for a few seconds and then collapses backwards along the same track, falling at an even higher velocity back to the starting point.
All this was over in about a minute. My colleagues enjoyed this supposed thrill of a lifetime many times.
But I was nervous as I looked up at the tower, broke into a cold sweat, feigned vertigo and refused to take the ride. This invited glares and boos from all, especially the brave girls in our troupe.
As I scampered away the chorus grew louder, “Chicken, chicken, chicken..” I confessed I was scared. Period.
Exposing my vulnerability
On the bus ride back home, I tried to rationalise my fears but to no effect. For the entire crew, I’m the ‘in-house chicken’. This made me realise that I’m the sum of all my fears. Nothing defines me, no act of small valour, bravery, a simple heroic deed so far, except my cumulative fears.
Think it over. People recall your most scared and vulnerable moments, not the daring ones. On this Australian tour, I fear many things — I avoid swimming in the ocean for fear of being attacked by a shark.. I drive extremely slowly for fear of a mishap.. I chant my lines aloud in the green room for fear of forgetting them.. I fear the exchange rates falling while sending money home.
My colleagues know about this and chide me constantly. But there is a god — my ‘non- performance’ at the amusement park has made me instantly popular. I wonder if there’s something attractive about a man with his vulnerability exposed.
Women in our group, who were unknown to me earlier, now come up to me and enquire about my mental state, if I’m homesick or missing home food. My male pride is boosted.. so what if my ego is still black and blue?
Centre of attention
I’ve become the centre of attention, my cowardice being the subject matter of tea time discussion. A certain display of weakness is like a breath of fresh air amidst the constant surge of bravado which men otherwise like to propagate.
So I’m working on my weaknesses. By this I mean that I’m trying to dig deep and bring out all my fears and flaunt them. My weakness has become my new strength! Trust me, it’s a good attention-seeking mechanism.
My strengths haven’t made me a hero but my weaknesses will. There’s something enchanting when the prettiest girl in our group smiles at me, flutters her false eyelashes and softly calls out, “Hey loser.”