Wednesday, February 6, 2008
I looked across the rippling green sea, with something of a mixture of awe and dread.
After all, it was my first experience of deep sea diving, I didn't know what to expect below the slithering surface. My little boat rocked from side to side with each wave that broke against it. I stood under the hot sun watching it play with the sea, tripping its light on it and making it look like a beautiful green floor, on which buckets, of shining green emeralds and the whitest pearls, spilled and filled repeatedly. I was mesmerized to the degree that i did not hear my instructor screaming at me to get ready to jump.
As I put the oxygen mask over my face and got into my black and maroon diver's suit, I had this sudden feeling of being trapped. I had to fight a strong urge to peel that second skin off me and to remove that mask and throw it far across the waiting ocean.
I lowered my legs slowly into the ocean, it came lapping up for me, as if waiting hungrily for its latest morsel of food. It was an unnerving thought and didn't help the baby dinosaurs galloping in my stomach. I almost panicked as my head started to go below the surface, and even though i was tied safely to the boat by a long strong rope, it was scary.
But the moment i was below the water, it was like, a kind of peace stole over me. All voices from the world above ceased to exist. The base of the boat was a fuzzy shadow overhead. It was like being in a womb again, with my rope being the umbilical cord, and the ocean, the nourishing protecting liquid all around me. And as I slowly moved forward, lower and lower into that labyrinth, as the sun grew dimmer and dimmer, till it was no different from a pale moon out in some starless night, my fear grew lesser , and my safety completer. I felt free, free to explore, to see with my goggled eyes, a world that seemed more my own than the one I had left behind, to touch with my gloved hands, the sights more exotic than i had ever imagined. Suddenly I felt a slight ticklish feeling near my right leg. I quickly turned around, as the illusion broke and fear returned with full force. But it was only a school of beautiful tiny orange fish, that had brushed my leg. The safety had returned, but the fear remained, to mock me. I could feel the pressure of the sea mounting above me, I could hear the distant muffled roar of waves.
As it grew darker still, I switched on the light attached on my head, and it opened to me the mysteries that lay there quietly, or moved about swiftly. I saw long green grass like plants with huge slithery leaves to my left. To my right was a school of purple and silver fish, trying to get away from me and my intruding light, as quickly as possible. Below me I could see many an outcropping of rock, shaped into little caves. Strange bubbles were coming out of tiny openings in the rocks, accompanied by low rumblings, giving them the appearance of a huge monster sleeping and snoring away to glory.
A little to my front, I saw tiny sea horses, and a number of different creatures, of every shape, size and colour, I had ever imagined.
A little further on I could see the floor falling off steeply, like an undersea water-fall.
It was like a separate world here, with its own mountains, volcanoes, springs, rivers, ditches and what not.. only the atmosphere was water instead of air. And it was beautiful. The dim lighting gave it a soft romantic look and the semi-darkness blurred the shapes all around giving rise to new species in my mind. The moving water shaped and unshaped everything in its wake and gave the illusion of a universe in the making.
I was lost in the beauty of the moment, breathing in the solitude, tasting the bittersweet taste of freedom, testing myself under pressure, all the while, with a million different thoughts running through my head, like the billions of colourful fish, that zigzagged all around me like lightening, with a splash of colour.
Just when I thought i could live the rest of my life suspended in that living saline world of shadows, I felt a sharp pull on the rope, tied around my waste. That was it, time to rise from the womb and face the world outside. I felt dread at the very thought of it. How would i ever be able to face the chaos of the world above after having seen the dynamic order of this underworld? How could i survive the noise of a million voices when I had experienced the seductive silence hidden below a million roaring waves?
No! just let me be, let me lie in my comfort, in this soft rocking cradle, which was making me dizzy, putting me to sleep. I wanted to cut away the cord that held me to them and sink to the very depths of this kingdom of dreams. There was a sharper pull. I realized I had stopped moving up. They were pulling me out, they were forcing me to quit my sanctuary. I wanted to scream and struggle, but something deep and primitive within me stopped me from doing that. I knew I had to go out and fight it. It was in those moments, just before I hit the surface and rose out onto the boat, that I realized what a baby about to be born feels.. what fear, what reluctance, what sadness, and yet that something in us, more powerful than all these things, is there to make sure we come out into a world waiting for us to tumble head-first into it.
I collapsed onto the deck of the boat with exhaustion. It was not until I had come out, had I realized how much the sea had tired me, how it had sapped me, how it had robbed me of my sense of direction, of light, of my very senses
I recovered my strength and my senses, a couple of hours and a hearty meal later, but what I gained in those moments in that dreamy exotic land shall stay in my mind and heart for ever, the taste never to be lost, the touch never to be confused, the sights never to be forgotten and the silence never to be unheard.
PS: I have been to sea n number of times, but I have never gone diving, so this is a purely imaginative post, hence, forgive any discrepancies as to the actual experience. To be honest, a month back I watched a movie called "Bridge to Terabithia", in which this girl writes an essay about going scuba diving and gets the first prize describing it, without ever having gone scuba diving. This got me thinking and I wrote this, though my description and take on it is entirely different from her's.
PPS: I am going home for over a week for a vacation. So, won't be able to write any new posts over the next few days.