Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Short Story: Shoo Away Summer - by Norman Noronha

Shoo Away Summer

- By Norman Noronha        

This incident took place after I finished answering my X board exams.  It was a hot summer day, we had summer vacation and our only past time in the morning was to play football, etc.
One afternoon someone knocked on my bedroom window and whispered "Noman, Noman, please wake up".... we are going up to the River Sal for swimming and we want you to come along". 
I got up in a jiffy but for the fear was of my mom I signalled him to check if she is fast a sleep on the Sopo (seat) of our Balcao. He did so and assuringly confirmed waving his hand to signal that she is snoring.

The entire group formed was 14 in total including 3 of my cousins.  We all met at the meeting point our operation started, the walk through the barren fields was hard to walk but who cared, finally we reached the river.  One by one everyone dived into the cool, crystal water.

 (At present, River Sal is highly polluted thanks to the government authorities who issued licences to builders without proper sewage disposal and all their sewage is being discharged into this river which was once called "the lifeline of Salcete").

It was a sheer joy and fun to watch the young teenagers wading through and jumping into the shallow water, splashing at each other.  I did not know to swim but they said it will be easy for me because of my height and they would guide me. 
I was tempted to jump and enjoy with them so without much hesitation I too joined them.  They kept going further and further not bothering about me. At one point I realised the water was above my head and I was getting choked. I was shouting for help with one hand up (thought those were the last breathing moments) but suddenly a strong hand caught me by my neck. 

I clinged to him like a creeper.  He swam to the bank with me on his back and deposited me on a stone lying nearby and he sank on the ground cause he was thoroughly exhausted.  As the excessive water in my stomach came out through the mouth, I opened my eyes.  I recovered in about half-an-hour.  I was now by myself again. My friends surrounded me. They praised that person who was  a Keralite tenant of our village landlord. We always called him with bad names for being a non-Goan. This boy, Juman, knew perfect swimming, came running and saved me, otherwise I could have drowned that day.

We returned home thanking Juman. When my Mom saw my face like a red tomato she sensed something was wrong.  She cross-questioned as if I  was in the court.  She was yelling at me and asking why my stomach was blotted.  I told a quick lie that I had eaten watermelon that’s why my stomach was full.

Finally, the Pandora box was opened when someone from the group told her the truth that I was almost drowned in the river, but the Keralite boy saved me.  Mom's taunting continued but I went inside the house without murmuring a word.

My dream of learning to swim remained a dream.  Till today I don’t know to swim because of that incident and fear.  On my last trip to Goa I met Juman at  Pedro’s Shack in Benaulim. He recognized me and came to wish me. He still remembered that drowning incident.  He jokingly said in front of my family: "Can we go for a swim"? I will teach you perfectly now. Juman mischievous smiled. 
I politely declined and thanked him for his offer.

I had to rewind my full story again – all had a hearty laugh.  That was the life at that time.

Good old days !!


May 27, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Excellent memories of our childhood. Well narrated. Good writing.