Bathophobically Brave

 Summer, 2001

“It’s nothing really.” I heard my cousin beg. “Get on the boat. It’ll be fun.”

“Don’t force me. You go! ” There was no way I was getting on that thing.

“It won’t be fun without you.” She continued to plead. “Please?”

Anyone who has been to the Kodaikanal Lake would identify it as a retreating tourist spot that offers a chill break from the blistering Madurai heat. The nine kilometres long manmade freshwater lake might look pretty scenic, but to me, it was nothing more than a personalised version of a nightmare.

The dark 35 feet deep water scared the hell out of me. The very thought of getting into a pedal boat to row in that deep and dangerous water body would leave me agonized. Even if I closed my eyes, clutched on to the edge of the boat as tightly as I could or buried my face in my mother’s lap, the horror the lake imposed in my mind strongly lingered. Not even crying or kicking my legs as my uncle dragged me into the boat helped. My family easily disregarded the intensity of bathophobia I had. I would end up with swollen crimson eyes, hatred for the human race, a bad migraine, and smashed image.

“It’ll be safe. You won’t be alone. We’ll all be there with you. ” Laavanya tightened her grip on my wrist.

“I know that. You go. ” I said sharply.

I wasn’t going to change my mind. How could she be so sure that it was safe?  We were just two kids and the lake was 35 feet deep. It could have crocodiles in it. We were just two little girls. And I was literally very little. The croc could gobble me up in one single swig. Even if there weren’t any crocs, the very thought of drowning made me tremble. I would die of fear even before I actually did.

“She’s right.” I felt a strong yet warm hand over my shoulders. “It’ll be safe. I’ll be watching over you”

It was my dad. He sounded so calm and assuring.

“How? What if I drown? ” I knew that he was aware of how scared I was of depth.

“The fact is, you will not.” Lavanya sounded pretty annoyed right now.

He laughed and patted my cousin.

“Do you believe in magic?” He asked as we started walking.

I smirked. What an ironic question. Everybody knew I did.

“Not the Hogwarts kind of stuff” he read my mind. “I meant real life magic. There are magical elements in all our lives that we very easily overlook. ”

“Like?”

“A parent’s love.” He said. “It is the most magical thing ever. I have an intrinsic radar that would easily let me know when my darling daughter is in danger. ”

I realised that he had walked to the end of the dock as we talked. I saw all the boats tied up. I tried not to look at the deep water.

Eyes away from the water .Eyes away from the water. I repeated to myself, trying not to panic.

“You know what that radar tells me now?” he asked.

I was too close to the lake to answer.

“It tells me I have the bravest daughter in the world.” His words struck deep.

I stepped into the boat. Even though that was twelve years ago, I remember how the initial five minutes were indescribably traumatic. But I didn’t cry. I had a reputation to maintain. I was the bravest daughter in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. What a wonderful narration! I dnt perceive it as a story..but a real life incident narrated beautifully.. A father‘s love for his daughter and a daughter‘s effort to make the father‘s words true is wonderfully presented.. Well done Bala!

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