Those were the days when summer holidays meant - well - summer holidays really. You would remember the last working day of school vividly. You come back home. Throw your school bag down as always but with more venom knowing Saraswati can’t punish you now that your exams are over. But your fear of the future forces you to still do “that” routine you do to ask forgiveness … well ... just in case !
Day 1. You are enrolled in a summer course for swimming. You are just excited about this.
Partly because you have seen a swimming pool only in movies. There were no swimming pools at home like we do today. Okay cut to the chase.
Early in the morning at 5:30 you wake up dad. Dad wouldn’t mind if this happened everyday. You yell “class starts at 6:30 pa !!!” Dad takes you to the pool in that old Vespa Scooter.
You are in the front seat trying to make the scooter go faster just by making that “vrrroom” sound. You really believe it actually helps dad beat the bajaj scooter leading you — annoyingly so.
How cool is that? Talking about cool, you feel the morning chill on your face. You love your hair sprouting up in the breeze don’t you?
You can smell the water as you near the swimming pool. Aah! That smell of chlorine and whatever else they have mixed up to make it smell like how it did !
There is a sense of fear developing in your belly as the pool is in your sight. You are still on the scooter trying to figure out what feeling this is. You poor dude that’s the fear of water !
Part of you wouldn’t mind turning back now. But what can you do, the curiosity bug has caught you.
Dad parks the scooter under this really huge banyan tree. It must be over a hundred years old. I am talking about the tree just to clarify 😀. You wonder how many kids it would have seen in its life time trying to swim their way out of life. After that brief flash, a loud “ come on !” shout out from dad brings your distracted self back to reality.
You start your tentative walk towards the pool. Your eyes automatically try to focus on the shallow end of the pool where a few boys are able to walk in ankle high water. Thank goodness ! I can handle that ! You tell yourself. Come on dude… that was the place to take a shower before you get into the pool. You silly ! Duh !
Dad breaks reality to you. He points you to the 10 feet deep end of the pool where this really stout well-built man is pushing kids off the jumping pad while another trainer is in the pool catching the kids who jump and guiding them to safety.
You see some brave kids with too much adrenaline who are happy to jump by themselves while some others like you who need a little “persuasion”.
“Not me!” You tell yourself. “Nope ! Never !!! ”.
Dad lets you be and leaves for home. “enjoy !!!” he wishes you and leaves. He doesn’t realize you are scared. Why would he now? You haven’t bothered to show him your fear !
The famous movie comedy comes to mind “Building strong … Basement weak” :-)
What do you do? Your defence mechanism is in full swing trying to strategize the heck out of this. Your ultra-honest mind tells you “After all, the coach would listen if you tell him honestly that you are scared about all this”. Just then, you notice a boy — crying and begging — being thrown into the deep. He must have gulped a bucket of chlorine before reaching safety. That’s it ! “Ultra-honest mind terminated”.
You hide yourself behind a pillar where there is no line of sight with the trainers. Hoping and praying they would miss you. You have already promised God what all you would do for him if he saves you today. Just once ! Please !
Only people with a small issue called vertigo would understand how you feel. Fear of heights.
Vertigo is a unique sensation where you are able to perform “break dance” without being taught.
Weirdly so, your brain tells you to jump just when you are at the edge. Weird indeed !
Defeat in Victory
You escape the day’s adventures somehow staying behind the pillar. You can’t thank the pillar enough. Wait a minute … Isn’t it funny that no one seems to have missed you !
You feel victorious returning home that day knowing you weren’t pushed into the water. You have escaped your destiny.
You are also ashamed that you couldn’t do what so many other students did today — by themselves or otherwise. You don’t talk to your parents lest they know about your deepest of deep fears.
You go to bed wondering how you would climb the stairs of tomorrow. Concerned. Really concerned. Lights off.
Next scene. You are at the highest jumping pad. Just at the edge. Perspiring heavily. Heart pounding. You muster courage to jump. You extend your hands. You bend down. Go up. JUMP !!! Suddenly you hear your name. Someone is preventing you from jumping. You try hard to break free. You can’t. You give up and turn around. You recognize your bed. The mirror. your cricket bat. The football. And then two concerned faces that look exactly like your parent’s. Duh ! You were dreaming ! Or were you? You are confused. Take your time. Have some water.
Your parent’s sit with you explaining what you did in your dreams and why you did what you did. You have a good laugh about it with them. Your dad tells you “Son. Forget the swimming course, I will teach you swimming from now on in a pond nearby”.
You heave a sigh of relief. You are glad your parents understand your problems and are there to assist you at all times. You are grateful. You thank them like you have never done before.
20 years have gone by. You are in the deepest of your dreams of dreams. You hear someone yell “dad ! DAD !!!” from what sounds like a well. The sound gets louder and louder AND LOUDER as it approaches you. Terrified you wake up to see YOUR son who is ready to swim in your own swimming pool.
“Swimming is all about fun” he says.
And you retort “I wish someone taught my one-day-swimming-coach about this”.