A LIFE LESSON FROM THE BEACH (Pt. 2) by Alexis Onome-Egborge
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK….
Floating in the middle of sea, knowing you are tired, with legs sore from repeated muscle cramps is not a funny experience.
It’s easier when you know where you are going, where you need to get to. In this case, I was lost.
I had no idea what direction I had come from, or what direction I had to swim towards, to get to land. Everywhere I turned, it was water. No left, no right, no back, no front – water utopia, endless sea!
That was when I wept. I wept because I was scared and tired. Tired of crazed swimming in so many directions that yielded no view of land, scared because I couldn’t imagine drowning from exhaustion. I could swim but this was of no use to me….with no bearings, landmarks to guide me.
Then, I realize I could see something in the water, a long way off, but near enough to alarm me all over again. It was a ship. I wasn’t sure if it was anchored or if it was in motion. Then, it occurred to me that I was imagining things, so I washed my eyes to reduce the haze they now had. It was still there, it was real! I tried to gauge the distance between us, making my mind up, to swim toward it.
Then, I assumed that land must be in the opposite direction from the ship. So, I started a frantic crawl in the opposite direction, thinking that if I swam as hard as I could, I should see land soon.
Then, I suddenly stopped, realizing that my calculations might be wrong – the ship could be at an angle from the shore, in which case (if I could keep it up,) I would find myself in The Republic of Benin!
So, I calmed, especially since the ship looked like it was four hours of swimming from me. At this point, I remember slipping in and out of consciousness.
I wasn’t fainting, no!
I think my mind was blanking the situation out…and coming back to it. I imagined that in one of those ‘out’ moments, one could wake up to find they had since drowned, died and gone. Or, that one would wake to find a team of curious onlookers pressing as much liquid as they could, out of their lungs! Ha! “Na so people they die”, I wondered!
Did I think of heaven and hell. Yes. Then, I felt such a peace, I felt like just going to sleep and forgetting everything else. I told myself that if nothing saved me, there was no way I could find the strength to swim beyond a few meters.
So, I was preparing, unconsciously, to drown.
Then, I saw a line….it looked like a line. I kept trying to focus on it but bobbing in and out of the water, it kept vanishing and appearing. Then, I was sure it was a line. I had no idea what sort of line. Then, I hoped it was land.
So, I kept focusing on it, washing my face. then, the line had a pulse….like on those monitors in hospital; rooms. Now, I felt that was my dying sign. The pulse was intermittent, but there. I kept my gaze on this for a while till I was sure it was real.
Then, suddenly I did not care what it was, I started to swim towards it. It was something, so I swam.
It was a crazed, uncoordinated swim, which left me tired every few minutes. So, I would burst, tire and float. I would continue like this for a while and the line just was there, getting clearer and clearer. Yee!! I know what it is!! (Even as I write this, I am tearing up…as I remember.)
It was a road, Ahmadu Bello Way. The pulses? cars, as they went about their business of ferrying their owners to their lives. I did the burst and tire several times, till I could see the beach and a small crowd of people who seemed to be watching me.
When I was about 50 meters from the shore, so glad to be back, I decided I would swim no more, I would walk! So, I stopped swimming and sank so deep, so fast, it was the most scary experience. My feet hit the bottom and I sprung off the floor with as much spring as I could muster and swam to the shore.
I could see the crowd clapping screaming and cheering, as I swam…for me. As I got out of the water, someone tried to lift me up in jubilation at my skills, as they saw it.
I just looked at them calmly, side-stepped their jubilation, picked up my stuff and walked off!
Idiots, dem no know say na die I been dey! I can imagine how they still tell the story to their friends, about the guy that swam even better than the fishes!
There is God o!!
Happy World Storytelling Day!
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