“They watched the long grass moving around them. The wind pushed it, attacked it, struck it in one place and then another. It rose and fell and rose again. It flowed, like water.”
It was a peaceful evening. The pool I was in was illuminated, rather beautifully, by streaks of orange. My head was tilted backwards, allowing me to catch a glimpse of a falling leaf. It was brown and riddled with holes, a mere shadow of its pompous, greener past. It brushed my swaying arm as it fell, before landing gently onto my wet forehead. It was quite a sight, one that I was glad I had the privilege to catch. What I didn’t manage to catch, however, was my breath. I was drowning.
Water rushed violently into my open mouth each time I went under, muffling my attempts to attract attention. Kicking off the ceramic flooring, my head broke the surface yet again – but I knew my time was running out. As I frantically heaved, it wasn’t air that greeted my nostrils, but cold, unforgiving water. You don’t know desperation until every breath of yours is torture, a frigid trail down your nasal passages. And cruelly enough, each breath had just enough air to keep me going for that much longer. It was everywhere, that damned fluid beast, and it knew it had me.
I was eight then, hardly considered mature by any conventional standards. Yet, I was able to grasp the gravity of the situation – and perhaps scarily, how laughable my end was to be. There they were, my beloved family, laughing merrily in the living room, separated from me by a mere layer of glass. All I needed was for one of them to turn their head. Then again, I was the one who made that choice, that single step towards the deep end of the pool. Time seemed to slow as my muscles began to seize, and as my head broke the surface for what might’ve been the very last time, I froze.
A sudden breeze struck my face – one that seemed to have come from another world, an ethereal current that tugged at my soul. The sun wasn’t orange anymore, for it had dissolved into an ocean of colours, all before melding into a solid white. Eight-year-old me had a rather simplistic notion of heaven. I pictured a cloudy paradise where good people would go after they’ve uttered their final goodbyes. Till this day, I still remember my final thought in that god-forsaken pool – I wondered if I needed special shoes to walk atop clouds.
Someone grabbed my hand, and no, it wasn’t an angel. My Father yanked me out of the pool so swiftly and abruptly, it was a miracle I didn’t lose an arm. Contrary to my expectations, he offered neither tears of joy nor a furious slap across my still-damp face. With a simple pat on my back, he sent me on my way. Take care of yourself, you toot, he said. I still do. Perhaps my love for live stems from my discovery of how fragile it can be. I’ve a long life ahead of me, one that flows like a river, one that twists and turns till it finally finds the sea. I still haven’t found my purpose, my sea – much less when I was eight. Looking upwards, I let out a sigh of relief. The bloody sun was orange again.