I was riding my best friend Kate’s horse, Dazzle, when he started to gallop a bit too fast. My hands clutched the reins as I tried to slow him down. I felt my left foot slip out of the saddle and my body slowly sliding off Dazzle’s back. “I’m going to fall, I can feel it,” I thought to myself.
I could hear Kate running behind me yelling “Stop Dazzle. STOP!” but it was too late.
I closed my eyes, let go of the reins and unhooked my right foot from the harness. I fell off the galloping horse and hit the ground with a thud. It was a chilly autumn day in Ottawa so I was thankful I had on a thick jacket to cushion my fall. I slowly got up, checked for broken bones and that I didn’t have a concussion. My wrist was sore. Otherwise, I was in one piece.
Kate made her way back to me after chasing Dazzle down. “That was awesome! I have never fallen off a horse before!” I exclaimed.
Being a seasoned rider, Kate has fallen off countless times and was surprised I took it so well as a beginner. “You know what this means right?” she asked.
“You have to mount him again, now.”
Was she crazy!? I knew I sounded enthusiastic about the accident (I’m all for new life experiences) but getting back on a big horse just minutes after falling off is not something I feel like doing.
DIMINISHING THE FEAR
Kate explained that when riders fall off their horses, they have to get back on immediately to lessen the shock and to diminish the fear of falling. Usually the longer people wait to get back on a horse after they fall, the more likely they’ll not ride again. It’s true, I read about it once in a Sweet Valley Twins book.
I grabbed the reins as Kate hoisted me up. I tried my best to ignore my anxiety as I clicked my tongue and encouraged Dazzle to move. He started to trot and I put on a brave face. “You’re doing great!” yelled Kate from behind.
Dazzle and I rode around the paddock a few times and gradually, my fear melted away. Kate was completely right. An hour later, as I was giving Dazzle an apple, I thanked him for teaching me a really important lesson, that no matter what happens, you always have to get back up.
This lesson was a little harder to remember almost three years after that incident. I was driving home after work on my normal route when I got into a car accident. You know the feeling of something bad happening, you think it’s just a dream and that it’s not actually happening?
That’s how I felt as I crashed into the car in front of me and the concrete divider on the Penchala Link in Damansara late last year.
We finished work early and I wanted to get home to make dinner (I had been home late every day that week), so I was speeding even though it was raining. #iwilladmitthat
I was thinking about defrosting the chicken and wondering why the same Justin Bieber song was on the loop again. Looking up after skipping to the next song, I suddenly realised I was going too fast and the cars in front were not moving because of traffic congestion. I hit the brakes but I already knew I was going to hit something. My heart dropped and my eyes widened as I watched the front of Rocket (that’s our car’s name!) crash into the rear of a Myvi.
My first thought was “Ashraf is going to kill me” and the second was “what do I do?” I couldn’t really process what had happened and even tried to reverse the car. That was impossible because the front tyres had bent and the engine had totally shattered (Yes, I was really speeding. I had to defrost the chicken!)
SECOND TIME AROUND
I called our car insurance company and I was so grateful I got a really nice lady who spoke to me very calmly. She could tell that my car and I were both a wreck.
As I waited for the official tow truck (there were many others who stopped and tried to sell me “good” deals, but I declined them all as per Ashraf’s instructions). The traffic police came to check on me, the owner of the Myvi kept reassuring me that it was okay, and my mum said that everything happens for a reason.
I was still in shock as we went to the police station to make the reports. I cried when the tow truck took Rocket away (it would be months before we would see him again). I wailed on the way home because I felt like an idiot.
Safe to say I did not cook that night and just went for days after shrouded in guilt (I bust up Ashraf’s first car), remorse (I know I should not have sped) and fear (what if it happened again?)
We survived the next few months by borrowing our parents’ cars and I would feel extremely small and stupid every time someone spoke about my accident. I was so nervous when I went to pick up Rocket. I was scared to drive him again. I thought about the possibilities of getting into another accident, how careful I should be and whether I am even qualified enough to drive.
Then very randomly and out of the blue, I remembered my fall with Dazzle. How easy it was to forget about the fall once I concentrated on doing a better job riding him the second time around. I had gotten back up that day and it made such a huge difference on my confidence.
I read my doas, said “Bismillah” and turned Rocket’s engine on. I pretended as if we had not had that accident and drove carefully all the way home. That was a good drive and we have had many safe drives since then.
I’m pleased to report that I am now a much more careful driver but I cannot listen to that Justin Bieber song ever again. My heart still sinks when Rocket gets too close to the car in front of him, but I believe that’s just post-traumatic stress disorder from the accident.
These life incidents have truly embedded in me that no matter what happens, horse-falls, car accidents, career combustions, relationship wreckages, earth-shattering sickness; no tragedy should ever make me not stand back up. Life goes on and I have to be brave enough to face the next day, no matter what happens.
As assistant to fashion icon Vivy Yusof, journalism graduate Iman Azman finds herself thrown deep into the fashion world, a universe once foreign to her. Here she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like having a front row seat in the fashion industry. Follow her journey on www.instagram.com/iman_azman/