Today I found myself reminiscing my visits to a certain swimming pool as a kid. This swimming pool was near my grand parents’ house who we visited every summer. Every year my grandmother would pick a self improvement activity for me. That year it was handwriting improvement.

My grandfather was full of love so inexpressible that he would fill up an entire cupboard with mangoes – they were my favorite fruit at the time.

My grandmother had a friend who taught in a school nearby. This lady came in every afternoon right after lunch time, exactly when I was stuffed with mango pulp and at the brim of falling asleep. We would then engage in drawing horizontal lines on square pages in small notebooks. One of us was more diligent than the other. Said horizontal lines would then be used as margins within which I was expected to write every character of the alphabet in cursive handwriting :O  This daily exercise boar little fruit and I am proud to say that my handwriting today is still as abstract as it was back then.

Come 5 o’ clock, I would rush to the swimming pool along with my brother. The administration required all swimmers to have a valid membership card. This was the first pool I ever visited that required a test to be passed in order to gain membership. Maybe the test was a front to screen swimmers who showed potential to make it to the big leagues. I remember being very nervous and over-exerted myself in order to impress the examiner. My only reward was running out of breath and sore muscles the next day.

Even as a kid, the deep end was my favorite, despite a scary experience a few years earlier. My grandparents, my brother and me were visiting a water park. We did the usual water slides and wave pools and then we proceeded to the still water pool. I had been intrigued by the deep end and was slowly swim-walking towards it when my foot slipped and things went wrong very quickly. I found myself inhaling water and bobbing like a cork. I thrashed about like a helpless pig until a benevolent pair of hands lifted me out of the water and deposited me out of the water. I didn’t know how to swim at the time! I didn’t so much as glance at this heavenly soul before running to my grand parents vowing never to swim ever again.

It took me a couple of years at least to get back into the water. Gentle persuasion did the trick and soon I was exploring the nether regions. The deep end was so intriguing because it seemed to be such an alien world. Swimming underwater and looking up at all the splashes made by other swimmers, the muffled sounds of people diving, the glub-glub of air bubbles. On some days, when the pool was due for a wash, the “sea bed” would become lined with greenish stuff. I would observe the more daring gangs as they dropped a sinkable item to the bottom. Whoever retrieved it first would be the winner.

I rarely spent time at the surface. The make-believe world beneath the silver lining was so much more gripping and full of enchanting enigma. I seldom saw other people swimming underwater. It was like my own kingdom.