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  • Sanika Gujarathi

THE UNDERTOW OF THE MONSOON




The first shower of monsoon brought with it the promise of eternal bonds and a storm of emotions. My friends and I decided to have a memorable picnic before departing for different parts of the country for our higher studies. Aanya and Sara were perpetually gushing about the magical aura of the monsoon season, so after much deliberation, we decided to go for a sailing trip the very next day. We contacted a boat rental company, worked out the details and set out for 803 Hubtown the next day. The sky was mildly overcast, but the cool morning breeze was a welcome respite from the heatwave we had been facing lately. A sailboat awaited us and the old boatman welcomed us aboard. With a mighty heave on the oars, he steered us gently into the sea. The gentle breeze across the sail accelerated the pace of our boat, and moving with the wind it sped up, trying to keep up with the current beneath us. The shore was visible, but I do not think any of us wished to leave our place atop the gentle waves. We shouted with excitement and joy, letting our hands dip into the waves and turning our palms with the current. We sang until our throats chaffed and the boatman shook his head in anguish.


But soon the clouds darkened ominously and the gentle breeze transformed into a violent storm. The boat rocked violently as the strong dusty winds threatened to blow off the sail. Gone was the bonhomie, as we huddled in one corner of the boat. The old boatman yelled, warning us not to disturb the balance of the boat, but it was too late. Shrieking with fright, we were thrown into the sea as the boat capsized. Gasping for breath I came to the surface and flung my arms in despair, clutching the bottom of the overturned boat. Soon, the others broke through the maddeningly volatile waves, holding whatever part of the boat they could lay their hands on, to remain afloat. My friends and I, shocked at this turn of events and not wanting to remain in the freezing water, started to swim to safety, leaving the boatman to tend to his boat. Guilt gripped my stomach, but I convinced myself that he was used to these storms. It struck me instantly that no swimming pool could have prepared me for this. My muscles burned from working against the undertow and the waves struck my face, often choking me. To make matters worse it began to rain heavily, which completely obliterated my vision. In a matter of minutes, I was thoroughly exhausted and floated on the water gasping for breath. Glancing around I found my companions desperately trying to stay afloat.


Coincidentally, a group of fishermen witnessed our plight and came to our rescue. They hauled us into their boat and brought us to the shore. We thanked them for saving us between pants, coughing up the salty water. The close brush with death had left us cold, frightened and shuddering. Even thinking of the incident makes the hair on the nape of my neck rise. The harrowing experience managed to bring Aanya, Sara and I closer than ever before. Today, we are scattered around the country, but never fail to meet on the anniversary of our monsoon escapade.

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