I was stranded out at sea, the shore was barely visible, My nine-year-old self stared out, mouth agape. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
When I went with my family for a holiday to Orissa, a state on India’s western coast, I didn’t expect my life to be in danger. It was just supposed to be a casual beach vacation.
But on one of the final days of the trip, everything changed. On that day, my sisters, my mother, and Voh, my grandmother, were on the beach. My older sister, Shanti, and I were body surfing in the waves, while the others relaxed on the sand.
It was almost lunchtime and we were about to go back to the hotel for lunch. My mum called me in, but I asked “five more minutes?” she agreed, so while she packed up, we kept playing. When she finished, she called us again so I asked, “one more wave?”. That was when everything went wrong.
As we surfed the last wave, a riptide pulled us out to sea. In a matter of seconds, Shanti and I were a hundred meters away from the shore. I didn’t really know how to swim properly and started freaking out. thrashing around in the water wildly, and my sister had to hold me till I calmed down.
My mother saw us, said a quick prayer to God, and jumped in the water, riding the riptide out to us. Calm and controlled, she told my sister to swim diagonally to the shore so the rip didn’t keep her out. Then she put me on her shoulders and started swimming directly towards shore. After a couple of minutes, I realized I was dragging her down and tried to kick my legs to give extra energy, but it wasn’t enough.
I was freaking out, thinking I would drown, but my Mum stayed calm, she knew she was getting tired but she kept going, and eventually, through sheer willpower, we reached the shore. We lay on the sand, gasping for breath before my mother got up, hugged us closely and we walked back to the hotel as if nothing had happened.
I have never been that scared in my life, but for some reason, to this day I’m not afraid of water. Since that day, I have been in awe of my mother’s courage to go out, and push herself to save her children. That’s something I will never forget.
Edited by Rohan Menezes