BENGALURU: As a human being in the 21st century, I indulge in no form of exercise whatsoever. I skip ads on YouTube, but that’s about it! The only exercise I allow myself is to walk down to the swimming pool near my house. I have a bit of a history with water. Yours Truly has drowned in water not once, not twice, but a grand total of four times. Thrice before learning to swim, and once after! I have drowned in a pond, a river, a sea and a waterfall. In other words, I’d reached that point in my life where it was pertinent that I learn how to swim.
It’s been a few years since I learnt to swim, and the availability of a swimming pool near my house reopened my world to the joy of a swimming pool. The swimming pool is usually a serene space where people go about their one-hour slots peacefully. But come summer, and my pool is filled with kids. Thanks to summer vacations, my pool of tranquillity is transformed into the sets of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Little kids screaming and splashing, other kids bawling their lungs out, their parents screaming out instructions to them from the sides.
And then there’s the worst of the lot – children who know how to swim. They dive from the edge of the pool, giving the attendants major fluctuations in heart-beat. Or they play games where one of them drops a coin and the rest try to bring it out of the pool. As an honest, tax-paying citizen of the country, I’m swimming from one end of the pool to the other, only to have kids spring up in front of me, screaming like they spotted a shark!
But the most important reason why I avoid children in a pool stems from a traumatic experience that occurred in my childhood.We were visiting my cousins and my uncle decided to take us all to a swimming pool. As I gingerly got into the pool, I felt a strange warmth inside me. I felt like I belonged here, like my entire body was at peace in the water. And before I knew it, all the warmth from inside me spilled out. The other kids pointed out that I’d peed in the pool, and amidst laughter and jeers, I was brought out of the pool.
That incident has been seared into my memory for so long, that to this date, I try to guess which child might pee in the pool. I look for a kid standing by himself, a blissful smile on his face. That’s the one I wish to avoid. We are in the third week of June, and it looks like schools have started again. There are no more noisy kids scurrying about, just older people swimming silently from one end to the other.
Like the Selfish Giant, I miss the noise and frolic that they brought with them. Now it is just me and other grumpy men in the pool. We look at each other, nod, and go about our job lifelessly. It must be said, that it is children who bring joy and laughter to our lives. They are the ones who put the pee in ‘pool’. The author is a writer and comedian