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Normal People Can Swim.

Normal People Can Swim.

4608 3072 Oliver Kagwe
Reading Time: 5 minutes

When they approached the tomb with the intention of anointing Christ’s body, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were bloody shocked to find the huge tomb stone rolled away. Just beside the stone, two unbelievable men in clothing that ‘glowed like lightning’ told them that the impossible had happened; Jesus had risen from the dead and was walking among men!

I am not about to narrate you that story for the 10,000th time! But I will certainly talk about the ‘impossible happening’.

My body flailed wildly as though I was in a convulsion. I kicked hard in every direction and thrashed my hands like a mad person trying to fight off invisible demons. I could feel immense pressure being exerted on my head, and my chest. It was as though a person with mighty hands was squeezing me in between their palms with all the strength they could gather. I could see a blackness all around me because my eyes were tightly shut, so tightly shut that my eye lids hurt. And my ears! They felt like highly pressurised tubes about to burst.

All these, coupled with what I thought was a prolonged held breath, made the situation I was seem like playing truth and dare with death and he just dared me to die!

Air was departing my lungs. I could feel them shrinking and probably turning grey; dying. I knew I had to come up for air. But the floor seemed to be too far from my feet. I was about to panic when I heard a voice in my head tell me that most people die in water because they panicked! I did not want to die; not especially now that I’m yet to impregnate a woman. It would mean that I would have no one to carry my name in the generations to come – and this is unacceptable!

After what seemed to be an eternal struggle, I managed to get my two feet firmly on the floor of the pool, and while gasping for air I drew my head out of the bloody water!

“Well done! You did not drown.” He said in his rich Somali as his face beamed!

“Yeah right! But I sure did see the front of hell’s gates!” I retorted.

The guy was squatting by the edge of the pool, stretching out his arms as if inviting me to take another dip into the water. He was a mere stripling who in my view, should have been in school rather than here, among all these bikinis. Let me not complain because it is better than being in the Al Shabaab terrorising people with grenades. Earlier, he had silently observed me sitting by the pool, pretending to be having fun kicking the water while I watched the other normal human beings swim. I really wanted to know how to swim; and I think this was written all over my face. The problem was that I was afraid of a lot of water’. Aqua-phobia? Yes. Just as the way some unfortunate men have Caligynephobia, the abnormal fear of beautiful women. What a waste of life! I think such boys are the ones who end up not seeing the difference between male and female (if you know you know).

So as Hassan was doing his rounds, he came to where I was.

“Mbona huruki ndani kama wenzako? Kwani hujui kuogelea?” He inquired rather sarcastically.

I felt it was rather embarrassing that I’d lived in this world for more than 2 decades and did not know how to dive into water. I wanted to lie that the pool was highly populated but it wasn’t. I could have said the water was dirty but it wasn’t.

“Eeh. Sijui kuogelea. Naogopa maji mengi.”

“Alaa! Ni rahisi sana. Naweza kufunza kuogelea within just 30 minutes. Unaamini?”

“Damn!” I thought to myself, “the weed these guys here at the coast smoke is certainly the purest there ever is. 30 minutes? Huh!”

After a lengthy deliberation with myself, I decided to allow him teach me; only so that I could prove him wrong. Even a baby struggles a bit to identify where the nipple is.

Now I was seated again by the pool, fluttering in the chill of the breeze like a skinny puppy rescued from a basin of icy cold water. I was still recovering from the shock of my near death (by drowning) experience. Hassan brought me a towel. But with it came more motivation. He said that he had never failed, so I should not be the 1st person to break his record.

“Remember; hold your breath, float then use your hands and legs – and keep your lanky legs straight while kicking!” Instructed Hassan ungently.

I stood in the water and held on to his outstretched fingers with my outstretched fingers, then I allowed myself to be free in the water. With my head in the immersed, I felt my legs rise, and I made the decision to let go of Hassan’s fingers. I could feel myself drifting farther from the edge of the pool. I did not know where exactly I was but I was moving. I then started to use my hands as paddles, cutting through the water and using it to push me forward (its what you pros call breaststroke). I moved. And moved. And moved a bit more.

Just when I was about to come up for a breath, something hit my head so hard I think I lost my memory for a while. Using powers unknown to man, I managed to quickly stand in the pool holding my head, screaming in shock and pain. Hassan pulled me out and guided me to one of those pool beds, where I massaged my head more as I contemplated not ever stepping in a pool again. Hassan explained that I had hit the concrete wall of the pool. While pointing, he went further to show me that I had done such a good job by swimming from end to end.

I was excited! Even the pain went away. I felt fulfilled. I had achieved a feat only the brave achieve; I had conquered my fear. I was now just like the rest; normal human beings that can swim like fish in water.

“Lakini wewe, kwani ulikuwa umefunga macho?” Hassan asked, rudely interrupting me from my celebrations and barely holding himself from bursting into laughter.

“Sasa siwezi fungua macho ndani ya maji. Hio Chlorine itaniumiza!” I said, attempting to explain my foolishness.

Fast forward into that evening (and many more afternoons that followed), I did more swimming, and I got better and more confident each time I had a go. I had become a good swimmer. I could get from one end of the pool to the other, swimming!

If there is anything that this experience taught me is that Success Lies On The Other Side Of Fear. Fear magnifies the possibility of impossibility; of failure. It creates in your mind a mental picture of how bad a thing is, or how difficult, or how deep etc. Fear makes you weak. In the instance that you want to do something but you feel fear engulf you, that is the exact instance that you should do it. Being the first month of 2019, my only resolution is to be able to leash my fears.

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