I never thought I will ever write about it but then, I am!
Let me share with you, a very old story, something which happened with me more than a decade a decade ago but I am still not completely out of it!
If I remember correctly, I had just finished my final exams of class IX when my elder paternal uncle died and we all went to my father’s paternal home where my uncle used to stay.
In my father’s village, as there were more than a couple of big lakes, the men and the boys preferred to take bath in one of those, instead of bathing at home. Cousins and few locals kids with whom I had become friends with also used to go to the lakes daily, asked me to join them for a dip in the lake. As I did not know how to swim, I always had to give them no and had to take bath at home.
Bathing in the lake was not just about bathing, the kids used to play, swim and enjoy a lot there. I used to really feel bad about the fact that all my cousins and local friends were having so much fun daily and I was missing all of it!
Finally, in less than a week or so, I found myself unable to resist my temptation of joining them for the ‘bath’. I asked them to take me along the next day and also help me learn swimming to which, they happily agreed.
The next day I was very excited about going to the lake, more so, about learning to swim! I was confident that I would learn to swim in no time!
When I reached the lake, I became even more excited to see kids jumping and playing in the water. Now let me tell you, as strange as it may sound to some, until that date I had never even put my feet in a lake or pond or river!!
As soon as I took a couple of steps in the water to reach knee-deep, I realized that it’s definitely not as easy as it seemed to me from outside. I was not finding it very easy even to stand stable in the water!
My cousins and friends started to teach me how to swim and this teaching went on for more than an hour so but with no positive outcome :-P.
I was very much frustrated with myself for not being able to learn something which I had thought would half an hour to master!! Even more frustrating was to see them jumping and swimming happily in the water.
Seeing all this, I told myself, why not give it one more try, on my own!
I thought I would try to ‘walk’ on the water, away from the shore and when it will be deep enough more than which I won’t be able to walk, I will try to swim to the shore.
I asked one of my cousin brothers to keep an eye on me as I go further and further, in case I needed any help!
I remember I tried to turn around towards the shore when the water was up to my neck…. as soon as I lifted one of my feet to turn around… I felt like being pushed back… I wan not able to see anything … everything was blurry… I tried hard to breathe…to gasp for air, but I could not breathe in any… I realized I was drowning…
….. I am feeling that suffocating feeling even now… as I write this …
My whole life, my parents, the friends & cousins with whom I was standing just minutes back… everything was flashing in front of my eyes … in one single frame…
Then a thought came in my mind that if I stop breathing, I will float, my head will come out of the water (that’s what I thought) and I will be able to shout for help.
I pressed my nose with my hands and felt myself moving towards the surface … but the head did not come out of the water…
A couple of seconds later, I had realized and accepted that it was the end of me… I left my nose and felt that I was again going down….. no desperation to get out of the water…no desperation to breathe…
And then, I saw something coming near me …. from above … as I kept going down….
It was Suraj, a local friend… he tried to grab by my waist and started pulling me back 🙂 . He & a cousin brother later told me that, they had seen my hair inside the water and decided to jump in that direction to find me.
That one sight of the ‘something coming near me’ in the dirty water gave me the hope that maybe I am not going to die today… it’s not the end of me yet 😀
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