How many of you know swimming? I guessed so. How many of you know flying? Again, I guessed so. Don’t feel bad. We are yet humans. I wouldn’t want to imagine what will happen if humans fly.
I am sure some of you have witnessed a young birdie that is just learning the art of flying! Rigorously the bird will attempt to stretch its wings, jumping to take off from its nest to join among its parents and other senior birds in the open sky. Urged by that innate instinct, once the brood gets that nag to fly, the amount of joy it acquires can’t be explained in plain words.
Perhaps this is the same feeling we humans have when we learn the art of swimming. That’s how I felt when I had just learnt swimming. I can’t easily forget this particular story from my life. It was in 1997, when I was in 10th grade; I use to lie to my mom on weekends “Mom, I am going to study in my friends’ garden”. Of course, I would carry school books in the bag. Just that once I reach the garden those books will never come out of the bag.
We would start thinking on how to kill the day. Ideas kept on pouring. We go to a long walk, play in the fields, climb the nearby hillock, cook something on our own and eat. One such day I realized I need to learn swimming. With help of my two friends I started practice. This was in a Well. In villages there are some tools for our help to learn swimming. Either we tie ourselves with air-tight empty cans or dried bottle guard or with one end of rope with me and the other with my friends. Two days went like this. I jump in the water, come out short of breathing, they pull me to the shore. There was no progress. Though, I seemed to swim, I was not sure about that. I still had fear of drowning.
Third day, I was tired of that. I said to my friends, “Guys, whatever happens, I am going to jump. You both should save me if I start drowning”. Right after praying to all my family deities, I jumped. After that few seconds of engulfment I came out of water with only motive to continue living, started steering myself towards the wall of the well. I couldn’t hear the encouraging noise from my friends. Upon reaching, I couldn’t believe myself. Did I just swim? Asked again and again to my friends I confirmed that I just did swim. Then started repeated attempts and that day I was just like that fledging young birdie.
Once I am confident I know swimming, during the following days I familiarized myself with swimming. In a span of 2 weeks, I tried different techniques like floating in the water, swimming under water, swimming backward, jumping from the top of the well, Rolling and jumping, backward diving etc. All my gymnastic skills came to my help. I regarded myself as an expert swimmer.
I would have told about this newly acquired skill to at least hundred people like, “Hey, I know swimming”. One among them was my school mate and friend till date, Senthil. Yes, his name is also Senthil. We both live in the same part of village and sit next to each other in exam halls. He was good only with Mathematics and I was good only with subjects. You may have guessed our symbiotic friendship.
He became curious and wanted to learn swimming as well. Now that I am an expert swimmer (atleast to my belief) I offered my expertise. One fine evening we both bunked our afternoon class as usual and went to that particular well. We carried our usual village swimming tools. We first tried the Air filled can, and then the pumpkin and then tying with the rope along with the air-tight can. Nothing seemed to be working. So, he too was dejected with the poor progress.
When he looked up to me, I felt my expertise was questioned! Oh my God! How can he do that? Then I gave the advice of my life. Senthil, you know how I learned swimming? When I was in your stage, I took the risk of my life and jumped in the water. May be you too should try that!
He nodded as he felt confident. Agreed to do what I suggested. I stayed swimming in the water. Senthil jumped in the water with scaring looks. That effect was like a huge underwater bomb explosion. To my surprise Senthil didn’t come out for a few seconds. Once he came out, he was looking very restless. Moving his hands back and forth, he tried to come towards the wall. Nothing worked. He was drowning and trying to come up. Then he started drowning. Shocked by this horrifying moment, I went in for his rescue. I caught him, started pushing to top from under water I succeeded. But he succeeded in overpowering me and started resting on top of me. I was suffocating underneath. Here I need to mention something about my friends’ weight. He used to weigh about 60 Kilos when I was just 40. You could imagine that poor soul’s fight for life. As time passed by and when I started to give up my fight as it looked like the last few moments of life.
Suddenly like the climax scene in our movies, another person happened to come by the well glanced in and understood what was going on, quickly jumped in and rescued me. Once I started reliving my life, we had our arguments and realized how well we should have prepared and gone ahead with this practice.
I learnt the lesson that not all the hatchlings survive when trying to fly. Only those that dare to take the risk but with right safety measures survive.