I am thoroughly disappointed to know that google cannot throw out a name with xxxxxxphobia for this fear that I had while growing up to my early teens. It was the fear of marketing. Let it not be confused with the market place where I enjoyed roaming anonymously. It was rather the dread to purchase something. The fear was at its worst when it came to vegetables.
When I want to be precise and google, ‘fear of purchasing vegetables’, I am suggested with a poor substitute – lachanophobia which is actually the fear of vegetables. I am disappointed again because I love vegetables. I have always done so. My mother was such a good cook of vegetarian dishes. My wife is not that bad. (Hope she is not reading this).
Before I describe the detailed prescription that I followed to get rid of this, let me share my assumption about the the genesis of this fear.
Being the youngest among all siblings I was pampered a lot during my early childhood. Nobody ever allotted me any household chore. If I went to a shop, it was to fulfill my own fancies of chocolates or some other thing. It was never to get a packet of salt that my father had forgotten to add to the monthly grocery list.
Once, while we were staying at a relative’s house, the lady of the house politely requested me to go to the vegetable market and get some fresh vegetable. I was the last option available to her, she said. She did not tell me exactly what vegetable to get. Of course, had she given me a list of vegetables to get, it would not have bettered the after effects. If I remember, I got the costliest vegetables in the market by paying the highest imaginable price as if to claim my place among the highest bidders of a market where no body was bidding for anything. What was worse was that the vegetables I bought were not as fresh as was expected. Of course she was not angry. But my adventure in the vegetable market became the latest gossip in the neighborhood. Her husband, who fancied himself to be the funniest man of his era, started teasing me from next day. “Here is our great marketing man. Now on, whoever needs vegetable, make sure you do not forget Baba. (my pet name). He knows the freshest vegetables and how to get those at the most reasonable price”.
From then on, whenever by mistake I happened to be at the vegetable market I felt that all the vendors were evil-incarnates and were born in the world for the sole motive to cheat innocent boys like me. Slowly the fear went viral from vegetables to other items. This fear was akin to the stage fear faced by those who have stage fear. I developed many innovative excuses to escape from being sent to purchase anything.
There came a time when I was boarded out from home to be a boarder in a High School. There, we had a very tough hostel superintend who saw to it that we had many Gandhian habits inculcated in us. It was compulsory for two inmates to go to the market by turns to purchase vegetable for our mess. When I learnt of this, it was already too late to persuade my father to shun the idea of admitting me into that school. The consolation was that I would not be going to the market alone.
For my first marketing adventure, a boy from the senior class was my teammate. That further emboldened me. Still, before entering the market I told him about my being a total novice to the world of marketing and my dread of the vendors. He laughed off. Never even in his wildest of dreams could he conceive of such a fear. He commented, “So padhai mein hero, baaki sab mein mein zero”. Actually I had stood first in the district Board exam of class VII. By the time I joined the school, I had already become notorious in the district for being a kind of a ‘studious’ star.
When we were purchasing vegetable I noticed that the vendor had tampered with the weighing machine in such a way that the wight will be invariably be less than what we had bargained for. I pointed this to my senior and also explained the scientific principle behind it. He was surprised. Even though he knew the scientific principle he had never noticed this.
The next day, I was the subject of gossip all over the school. But this time the gossip was about a star who had saved the hostel from the sharks of the vegetable market.
“Let him go to the market every other day”, said the superintendent when he learned of this.
I also looked forward, with a tinge of revenge and missionary zeal, to save my hostel from the vegetable cheats.
P.S: The above incidents actually took place. The only characters fictionalized are the person who used to tease me and the lady. The person who used to tease me about my marketing skill later on became my father-in-law.
Did I take a sweet revenge on him? (For the second time, I hope, my wife is not reading this).