The other day we read in the newspapers about some college students drowning in a lake. They had gone for a day’s outing away from the city. In spite of repeated warnings from the local people, they went in for a swim. One of them was sucked in. Others went to rescue him and all of them had drowned. We hear about incidents of death by drowning specially during monsoon seasons. It is tragic. I think we usually believe that nothing will happen to us.
I remember the day when my daughter was as small as her son is now. She had missed her footing and slipped into the natural pool in our village. The pool is not very deep and over the years children of the family have learnt swimming there. Then they graduate to a much deeper pool. Both get filled about a month after the rains start. Our daughter surfaced gasping for breath and a cousin jumped in and brought her up. It was a tense moment. Fortunately she forgot that incident and learnt to enjoy swimming. The very word ‘drowning’ brings to mind drowning in the physical sense. That moment of awareness when the person realizes that there is no going back must be a traumatic one.
On the other hand there is drowning in the mental sense. One withdraws into oneself and is unable to surface completely. It is like drowning. There are moments of surfacing and connection, but they are just moments. But those moments are precious. There is a calling out for comfort, for a familiar touch and loving words. Maybe they give a feeling of reassurance that someone loving is nearby. Then the outer world recedes and there is a slipping back into that inner world where none can follow. Such moments are like a roller coaster ride for those at hand. There is happiness when there is connection and unhappiness and a feeling of helplessness when one cannot reach out and pull back the drowning person. They are heart-rending moments. Such moments keep happening and maybe one day the withdrawal will be complete. There is a drowning but there is life somewhere in that inner world. One has to keep talking and touching to keep the connection until that final moment.
Life is so strange, we plan so much and many a time think we are in command but so much is not in our hands and we come to believe that whatever has to happen will happen.