The leaf that looked like a fish ~ From a Nomad’s diary
The first time she stepped into the chilled bluish green chlorinated water of the huge swimming pool of GNFC Complex, Bharuch was in the year 1994, when she was about 9 yrs old. The pool had a netted partition that demarcated the baby pool from the actual swimming pool. For her, who never had entered water in her life of 9 years, it was a moment of sheer fear clubbed with awe and thrill. She had faced many such occasions where she had felt both in the same instant. One of which, was seeing a baby snake slide by in the porch of her home. And now she entered slowly in the baby pool as instructed by her father. It was only after a while, she understood the concept of baby pool, which was least to say, as deep as an adult’s finger. When she saw the elder kids swim effortlessly on the other side, the question that pounded her constantly was ,”why can’t I?”. After a couple of days of having observed people enjoy their laps, she took the plunge. While her father was busy swimming in the deep waters, she jumped from the baby pool into the actual swimming pool, crossing over the netted partition. The next minute, she knew that swimming was no child’s play. It was an art. It was a technique. It was a lesson. And, the first lesson she learnt was, “If you do not swim, you drown”. As she thought she was on the verge of entering the other world with a lot of water having entered her mouth and nose and then, someone pulled her out gently. After coughing out all the chlorinated water, she looked softly at her anxious father who she thought, was going to reprimand her for her blatant display of stupidity. However he surprised her as always, “You want to learn! That is a good thing! I will talk to the coach tomorrow. But you have to be receptive and obedient. The coach is strict. OK?” Those words removed all her fears about water. And she knew, she was going to learn.
Present Day, 2014:
She remembered this incident on this day as she saw her almost three year old son trying to swim with the arm floats tightly wrapped around his little biceps. She never learned swimming with a float. Her coach was from old school, where floats of any kind were a big NO. She remembered how he had kept her head under the water till she learnt to flap her hands and paddle her feet simultaneously. The first time, when she was asked to dive from the diving board, she almost staggered. And then, she was picked like a doll and hurled into the water. There was no time for fear to grow. She realized that it was a different time then. With no coach for her son, she decided to teach her son with the arm floats. And then, the challenge began.
She: “Hey! Paddle your feet! Flap your arms!”
Son: “No mama! I will drown!”
She: “No! You won’t! I won’t let you! And these teddy floats won’t let you, either!”
Son: “Mama! Please hold my hands”
And then, suddenly he yelled, “Fish!! Fish!!”
She turned around to see a big brown leaf floating in the waters. For a second, she was tempted to correct him. It was not a fish. It was just a leaf. But she held her horses. Today was not the day to correct him. And then, she smiled.
She: “Hey see, there is a fish! Want to catch it with your hands! Go!”
Son: “Yes! Yes! I am going to catch it!”
Saying this, he paddled hard, flapping his arms vigorously, in the process deflating one side of his right arm float. Even as the realization eluded his attention, his focus gained over and he caught hold of the leaf and exclaimed delightfully,
“See mama! I caught a fish that looks like a leaf”
She smiled as she swam towards him. She saw the leaf and then corrected her son, “Well, my munchkin! It is the other way round. It is a leaf that looks like a fish!”
Yes, the leaf that looked like a fish!
Labels: My son and I