Monday, January 08, 2007


An experienced swimmer, when overcome by a sudden cramp in the leg, will stay calm as a corpse ready for a major make over. He will count his breathing sequence, being very careful not to suck in too much water. It is easy to describe this in technical terms when you are on dry land, sitting behind a desk typing away the words on a keyboard. But when your head is bobbing in the water with thundering waves heading your way like a barge, fear takes over everything to make you forget about breathing sequence and you begin to suck in water. And then you start to panic because you need a second or two to regain your breath. In the meantime the water may have found its way into your lungs. And so you flap your arms like a bird losing control of its life. Of course this will only make you lose faster whatever energy you've got left in you. And you suck in more water. Next thing you know your head is under water and everything around you moves in slow motion and the only sound you hear is a faint bubbles of your breath. If you are lucky, someone will fish you out of the water, holding you by the collar of your shirt or anything he can get his hand on, even your hair.
Otherwise you are dead.
I have never experienced being drown in a flood water but it doesn't take the man from the Atlantis to tell you that flood waters are murky and you can't see nothing within a feet in it and it flows much faster downstream.
Stay out of the water. Listen to the warning. Don't take chances with water. Just as you shouldn't take chances with electricity. Watch your kids. It's sad to see a lifeless body of a kid being pulled out of the water with mud all over him.
Stay safe.
How do I know a thing or two about drowning?
The beach behind sekolah China in Dungun wasn't a popular spot for a dip but the four of us got bored watching the big waves and so Mat Rani Tengkok Besi says, sapa berani gi berenang aku belanja makang kerepok. I say, why don't you go first if you are so brave. Mat Rani Tengkok Besi says, aku berenang doh semalang.
Lak dok ccaya.
Ccakak pelawok malaikat kerat lidoh mung buak kerepok keping.
I can't really recall the details of the whole conversation but it must have been one heck of a conversation that went back and forth between the four of us that at the end of it we decided among ourselves to scale the rock to go down to the beach, to take our clothes off, to stand stark naked before the monsoon waves at the mercy of the rain in December 1968. Four boys about to learn a lesson that you don't mess around with monsoon waves no matter how bored you are watching them for hours pounding the beach. You must learn to respect the waves, especially the monsoon waves. And you should learn to respect the water, never to go in naked. Put something on. Of course not kain ssahang but something more appropriate like a swimming trunk or seluor tarzang.
They got in first. I got in last. We were about a few feet from the water edge, staying close to the beach holding each other's hand. You can feel the down waves dragging your feet into the water but you stay firm to let your feet sink into the sand. You laugh. The water is up to your knee during the down run but when the waves come in, the water towers above you triple over. The tail end of the wave knocks you down into the water and you laugh some more. You get up your face towards the sekolah China. You turn around to have another go but you don't see nothing. The whole horizon has been blocked by a giant incoming wave, taller than a school bus. You've got no time to run. The head wave hits you, slamming you down into the water, your face against the sand, dragged for what seems like hours. You can't hear nothing. You don't hear your friends laughing anymore. All you hear is blup blup blup in your ears. You suck in water. You can't breathe. You fight for air but you are under water, there's no air under water. You suck in more water. You feel the waves carry you back and forth, swaying you under water. After a few minutes the waves are done with you to spit you out of the water and you lay almost lifeless on the beach half crying. Your friends are gone, screaming like madmen on the run, holding on to their shirt and trousers. You are stark naked almost deaf, almost dead, foaming in the mouth thinking of a lie to tell Aunt that it isn't my fault for being so mindless to jump into the water in the season known to every fisherman as, musim tutup kuala.


Blogger k.d said...

My goodness Mr.Bergen..

You got lucky..and Aunt Su must be so relieved to know that you're okay.


10:22 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

KD: Boys will be boys. It's in the blood.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Shopper Mom said...

gulp.. i had the chills reading this post. made me think of my own kids and what they're up to, or rather what they will be up to when they're old enough.

and hi there!

4:37 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Shopper Mom: The episode gives me the chills too when I think about it.

Thank you for coming, ma'am. Good to have you here.

1:10 PM  

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