Saturday, December 10, 2011

Facing death

I have encountered death twice. The first one took place when I was 11 and the next at 15. I was in grade VI and my school was on the other side of river, Periyar. We had to cross it every day to reach our school. We would be packed up (squatting on the floor) in a rowing country boat as the oarmen oared across the swollen river during the monsoon. We were scared as there was a chance of it capsizing. Rains would occasionally half- fill the boat making it sway dangerously as we clung to its sides. We had to alight onto  rows of bamboo rafts tethered to posts and walk along these swaying unsteady stuff to reach the shore and the road ahead.
 As the boat approached the rafts and was brought to a swaying halt, we all  would breath a sigh of relief and forget the ordeal of crossing the rafts precariously.  It required real acrobatics. One day I stepped on to a bundle that was loose and it started shaking badly. I lost balance and fell into the muddy waters.The current sucked me down with ferocious force. My torso was already underneath a long line of rafts arraigned down and my head was barely visible. A bystander caught hold of my hair and pulled me up in a sudden snap. I stood there soaked up, water oozing out from everywhere. It was a pitiable sight and I felt ashamed of myself. My elder brother, who was also in the same batch, stood by my side and helped me repack my wet books(which I managed to hold on to even when I became unconscious after the fall) and tie them with a  band. I was packed into the return boat like a commodity in the soaked up clothes  and I retraced my steps home sad, and afraid of the punishment that awaited me there for messing up the day. I never knew that I faced death and that it was a miraculous escape. I fail to recall the face of that good guy who had the presence of mind to save me from a certain death.  I am always grateful to him.  We should be grateful to   our family, neighbors, friends, all those who have helped us grow and develop, and to the universe for having given us this life.  

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