I remember that day as though it were yesterday. I was eleven years old at the time and my summer holidays had just begun. Ahead lay the appealing prospect of playing cricket all day long with my friends and eating ice-cream from the ice cream man who’d pass through our neighborhood at least thrice a day. Nothing could dampen my soaring spirits till I found out that most of the neighborhood boys wouldn’t be spending their summer at home. Some were going to visit relatives, others had summer camp. Besides me, the only boy not going anywhere that summer was Farhan and he had a fractured leg.
After moping around the house for two days my mother decided to send me to the local community pool for swimming lessons. Although I thought it would be wonderful to be able to swim, I was secretly afraid of the water. What if I drowned and nobody bothered to save me. Such morbid thoughts were pushed aside by my mother and I found myself standing awkwardly beside the pool in swimming trunks. For the next several days I cautiously stayed near the edge of the pool, hanging onto the railing and kicking into the water with all my might.
Finally the day arrived when my instructor decided that I had had enough practise floating near the edge. It was time to swim on my own. He told me to hold onto his hands while continuing paddling with my feet. I felt fear crawl up my spine and I desperately wanted to go back to my railing. On the other hand, I was also intimidated by my instructor who easily glided through the water as though he were a dolphin. If he found out that I wanted to be resigned to the fate of clinging to the railing for the rest of summer, what would he think of my manliness?
The first time the instructor let go of my hands, my heart lurched into my mouth and I struggled in the water till I finally came up choking. After a moment’s rest, he led me once again to the other side of the pool, telling me to stay focused. However, as soon as he let go of me I once again was unable to stay afloat. More frustrated than scared now, I decided to try again as my instructor patiently guided me with hands once more. Through my goggles, I could see streaks of glistening water around me and the occasional waves created by paddling feet here and there. Suddenly there were no hands to hang onto and I was on my own. That moment was pure exhilaration. My happiness would not have been greater had I discovered a new land. I came up with a huge smile on my face saying:
“I did it! I did it!”