Memories of water


When I was a child, my parents took me, my brother, and two cousins to the beach. The four of us had a whale of a time, though I often ran back from the water’s edge to my mother to wipe the salt water from my eyes. Soon I got accustomed to it and I played in the water.

There are moments from that day that stand out. The first time we reached the beach, it was cloudy. There were thousands, I think, of little beach crabs on the beach. I remember being afraid, as a little girl, of stepping on the sand. The crabs would scatter as we came closer, and I remember walking closer to my dad to prevent myself from stepping on those crabs.

After walking past the crabs, there was the water. I do not remember much of the water experience, except for the emotions I felt. Joy, fun, and safe.

Mainly joy and fun. My dad had this game, he played, where as I hung onto his back, he would duck under the water to see how long we could hold our breath; I remember thinking the game was not very fun.

Sometime towards the afternoon, or so I felt, when the sky got dark, the tide carried me out to sea. It was here, I was told, that my brother and I nearly drowned. We had been carried out to sea. As a child, I did not know how to swim, nor did I know how to kick myself towards the shore.

I remember thinking “oh damn, I can’t touch the ground, aiep!” or something of that sort.

I did not know how to float, so I kept kicking myself up, I think. Each time my head broke for air, I remembered thinking this game was not much fun. Why was dad playing this game?

The sky, I remember, was a light grey. It was not quite dark enough to rain, but light enough to give warning of impending drops.

My dad rescued me and my brother, and I don’t really remember much of what happened after that. Well, the only thing I do remember now of that time was going into my mother’s mother’s kitchen and realising my elder cousin sister had managed to bring back a small crab, and that it was in water in a chocolate tin, cause we thought it lived in water.

“How long can it last/stay alive?” I overheard the conversation.

“Oh about two weeks,” the answer came, and I thought then that two weeks was a very long time.

Funny this is. I’ve never been afraid of water, but I have been more cautious since that time. I’ve never quite mastered the skill to swim, and I am happiest in pools where I can feel the ground. I don’t go into water any deeper than my shoulder.

Despite that, I love the beach. I love the sea. There’s a tranquillity, a serenity, the beach gives. At sunset, or at sunrise. The warm air and cool breeze is lovely to touch, to feel, to taste. And I love sitting in the water, letting the waves wash over me.

Just don’t ask me to try to float in the sea.