I couldn’t breathe. The water swamped around me,choking and suffocating me. I could only see a swirl of blue. My eyesight dimmed as I frantically struggled to get to the surface. My lungs were bursting and I was getting tired of holding my breath. I stopped struggling when my body refused to cooperate. I thought I imagined some blurred shapes swimming above me,diving towards me. Maybe it was a face? My eyes closed and I blacked out as the last sliver of hope I saw disappeared.
I woke up,coughing and spluttering. I tried to open my eyes and winced at the chlorine which made them burn. I saw anxious faces and blinked furiously,but they wouldn’t fall into focus. I saw a doctor and maybe a nurse? I was too tired to enquire where I was. Too tired to notice,even,that I was breathing. I was still in the panic mode,wondering about the swirling blue,the breath of life,so far away that I couldn’t reach it and the horrible brush with death due to drowning.
I came to in a hospital bed,immediately struggling to sit up. The nurse held me down and somehow the reassurance she gave me comforted me. The door opened and my family rushed in with anxious enquiries about my health that made my head hurt. I could remember very little. Just how I had got cramps,how I couldn’t swim,the cold feeling of the creepy hand of death closing upon me… I shivered. I refused to think about it. I was a good swimmer,a champion at that. I had learnt it at a very young age. Water was like a second home to me. This suffocation,this fear,it was something I had never been able to comprehend before. For probably the first time in my life,I was relieved to be out of the water.
Months after the .. incident(as I like to call it) I still couldn’t get into the water. Some irrational panic caught hold of me. It was building up walls of fear in my mind such that the very thought of water made me want to run screaming in the opposite direction. It was some mental block which made me unable to move a muscle. The underwater breathing that I would do so easily,became more of a dream to me. I never associated myself with swimming anymore.It was like a book of life in which I had skipped one chapter. It seemed like a dream. I was always relieved when I got out of the water,even if it was the shallow end. My swimming career ended there. I could never ever enter the pool again.
Friends are an absolute necessity to make any journey in life fulfilling and complete. The fun lies in the companionship,the enjoyment and the laughter people share with one another more than reaching the actual destination. I have been fortunate enough to have a best friend who has known me for 13 years now. She’s been with me throughout my school life. We have had our ups and downs but never for a moment do we regret our strong bond. There is a comfort we find in our friendship which makes even our imperfections perfect.
With her,I feel that I can be myself and that she won’t judge me. She knows my insecurities,my faults and loves me all the more for it. I have spent ten years of school life with her by my side- bickering,making it up,eating lunch together,competing for ranks in the class. It all seems like a dream now. Today,we have finished a milestone in life called tenth standard. Today,we end one journey and start another. This is a crossroad where we must part,where we must take the path which destiny has paved for us. I feel stripped of her constant companionship and love,which was a reminder and a consolation that she was there for me no matter what.
She’s taking science and I’m doing commerce. Already,our communication has become restricted. As compared to the years where we always had one another,there has come a time where I crave to turn around and find her by my side,eagerly waiting to hear all my opinions and thoughts,but to no avail. The time we spend with one another is very little compared to what we had earlier. I never appreciated these blessings and I took time for granted. Today,those good days have passed. We stand at different doors,knowing that they lead to a better future. We are still reluctant to say goodbye to those happy times of friendship and companionship but it must be done. I only hope that years later,when we meet,she remembers me and our bond. She remembers the friendship and the memories we have shared.13 years is a long time but I don’t want to end it there. Regardless of where life takes us,I want to know that she is happy and smiling. I want to know that she will be there when I need her. I want her to know that my affection and admiration for her can only increase as time passes.
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it to you when you have forgotten the words.
We set off in the silence of the early morning. The atmosphere was tense and forbidding as we got into the car. I grumbled to myself as my brother started whining for the umpteenth time. It was time for him to start a new journey in life called boarding school. My father was a man of ideals and according to him, boarding school helped one to be self dependent and nurture one’s talents. I had been at a boarding school for two years and had found it to be a different and enjoyable experience. However, my sentimental younger brother, was unwilling to leave our mother and go to a boarding school. That explained the stony silence in the car.
I sighed in exasperation as he sniffled yet again. I knew that my father was exercising all his self control to prevent himself from giving my younger brother a piece of his mind. My mother was comforting him while I dubiously stared out of the window. I knew that there was no point in all the melodrama he was creating because my father was not going to relent for anything in this world. He was a strict military man and one could bank on the fact that he stuck to his word.
I couldn’t bear the incumbent atmosphere of the sorrow of separation in the car. I requested my father to stop near a beautiful lake. I got out of the car and ran towards it as fast as I could. The cold, clear air that whipped across my face helped to soothe my fraught nerves. However, in my sudden bid for freedom, I had opened the door of the car a tad too fast. I saw my younger brother’s football bouncing towards the lake. It fell into the lake and bounced up and down on the waters. I was aghast when I heard a mournful howl. My brother had an unhealthy obsession for footballs. The one that was currently “drowning” – as he put it, was by far his favourite. I cursed silently as his howls increased. My father realised that he would refuse to enter the school premises without the football. With a huff of annoyance, he walked towards the lake with a stick that he had picked up nearby.
He stood at the bank and inched the stick slowly towards the ball, but it always seemed tantalisingly out of reach. Finally, he gave in to temptation and throwing caution to the winds, leaned out a bit too far. I watched everything as if it were in slow motion. I was mesmerised by the scene. One moment my father was outside the lake and the next, he had fallen headlong into it. I gasped when he emerged. He was covered with mud and slime. What looked like weeds were falling from his hair and rivulets of water ran down from every nook and cranny of his previously neat and perfectly pressed suit.
I was astounded to hear a peal of laughter. I realised that it was my brother’s voice. I gazed at him, dumbfounded. I only understood his mirth when I looked back at my father. His muddy state was enough to bring tears of laughter to my eyes. I snickered quietly and tried to give my brother a warning look to indicate that the joke had gone far enough. He was so lost in his infectious peals of laughter that he paid me no heed. After my father cleaned up, we got into the car and started towards our destination.
Every now and then, my brother would give out a few giggles looking at him. I thought that having seen his oh-so-strict father behaving like a school boy and falling into the lake must have proved to be a very hilarious sight for him. Needless to say, he headed off to boarding school quite cheerfully. He gave my father a sudden bear hug before entering the school premises. He and my father had displayed affection after a very long time. Usually, my brother was too timid to approach my father in the carefree, friendly way that he did now. Remember that proverb -every cloud has a silver lining? I think my father also saw the silver lining this time. Even though he had weeds in his hair and mud on his face, he looked far happier than I had ever seen him before.
I was sitting on the sports ground, tying my shoe laces and generally feeling frustrated at being out in the heat and the sun to do some silly drills. I was about to hoist myself up when one of the infamous, extremely wealthy and snobbish girls sat down next to me. I knew her to be a rude, bad tempered, foul mouthed person and decided to get away from her.
To my amazement, she grabbed hold of my hand and pleaded with me to stay. Unsure at this turn of events, I sat down beside her feeling uncomfortable. I glanced at her and found, to my astonishment, that she was crying. I was flabbergasted and was unsure of how to react. I kept quiet and stared into the horizon, my intuition telling me to wait and watch.
Between her sobs, she told me that she had failed a test and the report had reached her parents who would probably take away her phone, many of her other privileges and ground her till her 18th birthday. She started raving and ranting about the stupid teacher who had brought her to that level, who was her sworn enemy and was demeaning her on purpose. I considered it extremely unlikely but restrained myself from telling her so. I had also never even dreamt that one of the richest and spoilt brats who did not care for other people’s feelings would ever have it in them to show anger and frustration at failing a test.
Ultimately she came around to my way of thinking. She accepted that what happened was probably her own fault and that she HAD overindulged in frivolous activities and neglected her studies. By and by, she told me why she became like this- the messed up high schooler that she had now become. Apparently, when she was younger, one of the so called punks at her earlier school had bullied her and caused the whole school to laugh at her. She had needed intensive counselling and a change of schools to get over it.
I realised that that kind of an experience must have had a long lasting impact on the mind of a five year old. She swore that she would never ever be so vulnerable to anyone ever again. As a result, she became one of them. Teasing, bullying, showing disrespect ṭo the teachers, using people and then brushing them away all became her second nature to the extent that she hardly knew herself anymore. I was astonished to find myself sympathising with her. I knew bullying could be pretty nasty and bad experiences were very often the foundation of horrible personalities. Granted, she could have handled it differently but hey, we all make mistakes, don’t we?
She’d been scoring poor marks all through the year but the failure gave her a shock . Her so called friends were whispering behind her back. They made fun of her weaknesses instead of understanding and supporting her. She shook with shame, despair and sorrow. I don’t know who was more surprised when I put my arm around her- me or her. We sat like that, clumsily slumped against one another as I gazed into the calm and serene afternoon. The heat didn’t bother me anymore, it seemed welcoming, as if the sunlight would drive away all the sorrow and despair that was seeping through her then.
She suddenly sat upright and wondered aloud why she was telling me all of this. I restrained myself from grinning at that. She stayed quiet for sometime tracing patterns on the ground with a blade of grass. She asked me what I thought she should do. I stared at a flock of birds flying away and asked her if she didn’t already know the answer. She smiled at that. She chuckled because she wanted to, because she was … truly happy. It was not an affected chuckle, it came from within her. She gave me a hug, a warm one, which probably had a trace of the five year old who had lost herself under the continuous facade of the bullying, fearless and I-don’t-care personality that everybody saw.
A month later, she topped the class in a test on the same subject in which she had failed. Though no longer casual about her studies, she hadn’t changed in any other way. She was still beautiful, yet a mean, rude, proud, disliked and disrespected student. She was treated like a celebrity and was a certified mean girl. She never messed with me though. It was as if she had left a tiny piece of her five year old self in that one confession that she gave me. On multiple occasions when her cronies weren’t looking, I caught her giving me sidelong glances. Those glances told me everything I needed to know. She had realised her mistake but felt that it was too late to change now. She had built a reputation she didn’t want to destroy. She was probably addicted to her facade and even more likely, dare I say the word, a coward who could not let the world see her for who she truly was. I smiled sadly at the thought. Her eyes asked me to guard that memory, that confession and tell no one of what passed between the two of us that day. She had been vulnerable, after a very long time. Surprisingly though, she had confidence that I would not divulge her secret.
I gave her a nod which she seemed to understand. She never saw me again. She didn’t even turn towards me before walking out of the school gates for the last time.
So there we have it, people. Many of us change because of some bad experience others don’t know about. People aren’t born bad. The series of events that occurred to them are bad. The trials of life are sent to test us. At times they mould people into better characters and at others, they create bullies. So give everyone a second chance. Even the meanest of the mean, the people who hurt you the most, deserve the humane feelings of kindness and sympathy. The meaner they are, the worse life has probably treated them.
Has anyone ever wondered why the tiger is considered to be the national animal of India? Anyone whose seen it in the true wild will understand the reason for the same. Its a beauty to behold, with its black stripes, its regal poise, its cold green eyes and its rippling muscles.
There’s something us humans can learn from it too. It kills only when it is hungry. Only when it is necessary. It does not ask for more than it requires. It makes at least three attempts each time before managing a successful hunt. It does not ask for its right. It just takes it. Its brimming with self confidence. Every paw print seems like a symbol of its power, every roar is charged with the dominance of the king of the jungle. Every animal cowers before and fears such a natural king. Even the tiger has to go through life, live peacefully in its territory, defend it against invaders, raise its young. Even when mortally wounded, they do not complain at the unfairness of things. Each fight makes them stronger. Each mishap makes them more wary. They learn and learn and learn from their mistakes until its all done perfectly.
Humans, being supposedly intelligent and in a class of their own, can learn from them. You choose to be a chicken or a champion. The choice is yours. You have to choose to be the tiger in your forest of life. You have to choose to rule the roost and prove yourself competent enough to do so. You have to learn to take your rights, not expect somebody to give them to you. Nobody else will believe in you until you do so.
Feeling nervous and scared before you attempt something big is human nature. I’m not asking anybody to change that. All I’m saying is that nothing should change the way you feel about yourself or the way you believe in yourself. That is the key to everything. Setbacks should make you stronger and not weaker. So be the tiger such that other people become subservient to you and accept your supremacy. Be compassionate, take only as much as you need, banish greed and treat life as a challenge in which you want to excel. After all, attitude determines altitude.
This is the post excerpt.
I’m just an immature teenager who’s handled all that came her way in the most irresponsible way possible. So probably, I’m not the one who’s gonna be able to give advice about how to live your lives.
Anyways, I’ve decided to give it a try,so here goes.
Life is a never ending rollercoaster, an unexpected plunge into cold water and a sudden blast of reality. No one knows what comes. What comes is most often the unexpected. How many times have we thought that we would fail and passed with flying colours? How many times have we given a good paper and received bad results? Almost everyone will remember atleast one or the other of these as a surreal happy or sad experience.
What I have realised is that there is nothing specifically called a happy life. Happiness is a state of the mind. It stays in the mind. Riches, poverty, births and deaths cannot change it. Live each day, each moment to it’s fullest. Live life in such a manner that later on, when you’re old and dying, there are no regrets for the way you lived. Very often, we realise that the journey we attempted in such a hurry was so much more enjoyable than the actual destination. Let that not be your tale. Live each day to the full. Take risks, have ambitions. Don’t judge yourself and don’t let other people bring you down. Often, caring too much about other people harms your confidence and calibre. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes that other people made. Nobody’s the same. What turned out bad for one May not be the same for you. Make your own mistakes. There will be quite a few of them, believe me. So live, love and laugh. You have, at the very most, 100-110 years. Make the most of it.