New Delhi, Dec 1: For those children convinced there is a monster lurking under the bed, union minister Maneka Gandhi has the perfect answer is: ''you're so lucky. I want one too.''
Seeking to reach out to children petrified of the dark, ghouls, lizards and things that go bump in the night, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has written a book ''There’s a Monster Under my Bed! and Other Terrible Terrors’'' to help them shed their overwhelming fears of these creatures.
Her friendly advice to those still scared of monsters was ''to make them your pets. Give them a name like
Iggly Piggly. If you put a sign ''Please don't come in'' they won't enter. Monsters, she said, were very polite.
''Ghosts didn't have the energy to do something horrible. You have to battle with your imagination.
So if you are convinced there are ghosts, then make friends with them,'' she told the little ones on how to overcome their paralysing fears.
When one is young one is always scared of something, the minister tells her young eager audience and recounted her own deepest fear as a child that her parents would never return if they went out for dinner or of being abandoned if they were delayed while picking her up from school.
''Then I was scared of things bigger than us...clocks, cupboards...,'' she listed with a wide smile as she interacted with schoolchildren who voiced their innermost fears and phobias at the opening session of the Bookaroo LitFest at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts this morning.
The idea for writing the children's book based on their fears and anxieties came to her when her then two-year-old granddaughter confided in her ''daadi'' that she was afraid there was something under her bed. She said it was a book about things children were frightened about.
To tame the child's apprehension, Ms Gandhi had reacted: ''you're so lucky. I want one too!'' and told her it was a baby monster who wanted to go home to its mommy, making it into some kind of game.
In her own case, the minister said she overcame her fears by talking to herself out of it And for those who run scared at the sight of a lizard in the room, she offers a fresh perspective to petrified youngsters ''to look into their eyes -- they're so beautiful.'' If he's not in a good mood, he becomes darker and in a good mood, he becomes lighter, she described the pest fondly.
Then she added: ''I like snakes by the way'' and described the reptile as ''almost blind and completely deaf'' who were themselves scared of humans. ''If you keep completely still, they won't know you are there,'' she advises, adding they only wanted to devour rats and lizards and hence should not be killed.
Like other animals, they raised their hoods to appear bigger.
Did another young questioner know that the mouse when tickled would go "eee--eee'' she asked when informed that the rodent was their number one fear. She also regaled with stories about her son Varun Gandhi, MP, who used to have a fear of barbers when young.
Even cockroaches had their benefits, Ms Gandhi said, pointing out that otherwise fallen leaves would not be digested, which was very important for earth, which they ate and turned into good soil.
''In actual fact, cockroaches were ''amazing'', she said with a flourish.
The book dealing with various childhood fears is due for launch in a month's time. (UNI)