The drowning swimmer — A Short story with a twist

Long ago, there was a beautiful village in rural India. It was serene and scenic. There was a river which used to flow by the village. Tall trees, lush green grass, the sound of the river flowing, bright sun in the sky, used to give it a scenic beauty. There were not too many familes living in the village. Just a few families, they were happy and content in each other’s company. The kids used to play till dusk, running around in the jungle. Sometimes, they used to play with the animals in the barn and sometimes, going to the river became their favorite pastime. One of the boy, Ramu was the leader of the gang. He was smart and quick. Always the leader of the pack. He was the first one to jump in the river. He was only 5 when he had started swimming and today at 13, he can easily manoeuvre his way through the flowing river. Everybody loves him and his friends, he is their leader.

Slowly and gradually the life in the village became difficult. It started getting more and more difficult to bring food on the table. Families started deserting the village. Ramu decided to go to the city and earn money. His little mind was dreaming big, his eyes were on a bright future in the city. He had heard a lot about the life in the city by his father. He had heard about skyscrapers bigger than the tallest trees in the jungle, and the Cars, that could run faster than the mighty leopard he had only heard about. Everything in the city was bright and loud. And people? Hell lots of people, his father had once told him that he could get lost amongst the people if he didn’t pay attention. And unlike Jungle which stands still, all the people were moving all the time. He was amazed by these stories, and was really intrigued. Probably, this was also one of the reasons he wanted to go to the city.

Ramu’s father spoke to his friend in the city. His friend was working as a driver with Mr. Mehta. Mr. Mehta was a looking for someone to take care of his son Sameer. Sameer was 5 years old and they used to fondly call him “SAM”. Sam, was very smart for his age, always chirpy, you just can’t make him sit at a place. But, this running around in the house that made him everyone’s favourite, including house helps. Everyone in the house was fond of him and loved him. Both Mr. and Mrs. Mehta were working and Sam used to spend most of his time with his grandmother and the servants in the house.

Finally, Ramu came to the city, he was hired by Mr. Mehta to take care of sam. Since, every other servant in the house were pretty big of his age, Mr. Mehta wanted someone who could play with sam and who could be his friend. Ramu was the perfect choice then.

Soon enough, Ramu became a part of the family, he used to make sam ready for the school, then he used to drop him till the bus stand, and by the time sam came back, Ramu was ready to play with him. Sometimes in the garden, sometimes in house itself. Sam had taught him to play Video games also, Ramu was very happy.

One day, there was a family get together, at Mehta’s. Some 5 -6 familes had come, and they also had kids of Sam’s age. Everybody was enjoying and they were happy that now they don’t have to manage the kids because of Ramu. Ramu was also playing with all the kids in the family. Sam, Aryan, Ayesha, Vicky and Ramu, all 5 kids were playing. Soon, the kids got bored of the toys and started asking about going out. Sam, asked his father if he could take his friends to the nearby lake. Mr. Mehta, told his driver to take all the kids to the lake and to take care of them.

Now all the kids including Ramu and the driver went to the lake. Everybody was very excited, including Ramu. It was the first time he was going out in the car since the time he had come in. He was also excited about the lake, cos, he hadn’t seen one in the city. The only water body he was used to was the flowing river he had seen in his village. All the thoughts of playing in the river with his friends, came rushing to his mind. He was almost day dreaming about his friends and the fun they had in the river. Soon they reached, and all the kids went running to the lakeside.

All the kids were playing football and were enjoying. Sam got an idea, he thought of playing around with Ramu and he kicked the ball into the lake. Ramu was obviously asked to bring the ball back. Driver kaka was also around, but he didn’t know swimming. Having been in the city for quite long, he had never had a chance to swim in the river. Ramu on the other side was a perfect swimmer, and thus he didn’t take a minute to jump into the lake. The moment he jumped, he realized that it’s possible deeper than he thought and moreover, still water is dangerous than flowing water. Anyway, he wasn’t afraid, he quickly leaped over to the ball and picked it up. But by the time he picked the ball, sam decided to jump in too. And even before anybody could see or tell him to stop. He jumped into the lake too.

Ramu got shocked to see sam struggling to manage himself in the lake. Even driver Kaka got shocked and was shouting for help, but the kids, they were clapping. They thought it was some sort of a movie scene. Ramu rushed towards sam, swimming in the lake was new for him, but he managed to reach towards sam almost immediately. Sam was struggling to breathe in the water. Ramu picked him up and tried to make him float above the water. Sam looked distressed and all his smile and mischief had vanished. Ramu was now in control, he picked up sam and the ball and started moving towards the shore. He called driver kaka to take sam from him.

Even before he could have taken the first step towards the shore, the rest of the kids decided to jump on as well. Ramu heard a splash behind him and he saw the rest of the three kids in the water too. His heart sanked and he skipped a beat. He was now in dilemma, if he took sam to the shore, he might miss one of those kids and if we tried to save all four, he was not sure how will he manage. He anyway, shouted for Kaka and for help. Some people by this time had gathered, but no one was willing to jump to save the children. Ramu, quickly rushed towards the shore, he dropped the ball and used his free hand to swim quickly. He handed over sam to driver kaka and rushed back to the other kids. He somehow caught hold of the two kids, but Aryan was nowhere to be seen. His heart was beating fast, he could hear his heartbeats cleary in his ears. He caught the two kids with one hand and took a deep breath. He dipped in the lake and tried to see if he could find Aryan. There he is, he was a little away and his eyes were closed. Ramu quickly leaped and tried to hold on to Aryan. He caught his hand and pulled him out. Now all the three kids was with him and he was also loosing breath.

After a lot of struggle he pulled out all the three kids towards the shore, but in the process he seemed to have taken a lot of water inside. He was not able to breathe at all and was loosing focus. He reached the shore, and even before he could have stepped out, he lost his consiousness.

People now rushed to look at the kids, but nobody still dared to come for help. Driver Kaka was trying to check on the kids, he attended all the kids one by one and only after assuring that all the 4 kids were ok, he went to Ramu. Ramu was lying unconscious. Driver Kaka tried to wake him up but to no avail. Now driver kaka was getting anxious, a lot of bad thoughts came rushing to him. He tried to press his chest, like he had seen in some movies. He tried to slap him to bring him in consciousness, but to no avail. Just when he had lost all his hopes, a man came running. He turned Ramu around and pressed on his back. Then he turned him straight again and starting pushing him on the chest. Some water came out of Ramu’s mouth, and within 1 minute, he started breathing. Ramu opened his eyes, and realized that he was still alive. Driver Kaka was almost on the verge of crying, 2 drops of tears came out of his eyes. He thanked that man profusely. Finally they all started moving towards the car. Mr. Mehta had called him thrice in the meantime.

Moral1: Don’t jump into the water, without knowing how to swim. It might look easy to see, but doing it is the most difficult.

Moral2: Sometimes even the most skilled professionals fail under pressure. Knowing a skill is one thing and actioning it under pressure is another.

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