WHENEVER I look at the swollen Yamuna from the terrace of my house in a Delhi locality, I remember the rainy days spent in my village over half a century ago. The water bodies in the area would get flooded and together turn into a seasonal river.
Our ancestral house, the biggest in the village, was located near one of these water bodies, a big pond called pokhra in local parlance.
Our happiness knew no bounds when we saw it full of clean water. It was a scene to be believed, but only till the water level in the pond did not cross the danger mark or threaten to uproot villagers.
The rains did bring misery to the villagers, but the youngsters, especially boys, were excited as the village pond would serve as a swimming pool for them for months together.
Once the rainy season was over, it was time for them to enjoy swimming in the pond almost every day, despite their parents being opposed to it. On Sundays and other holidays, we could be seen in the pond for hours, particularly in the morning. Since it was not a pool as we know it today, there were no formal arrangements to teach us swimming. But this did not come in the way of ‘grown-up’ children becoming good swimmers. Seniors would teach others how to navigate the waters safely.
Even in our early teens, we knew that one should never go very close to a drowning person, unless one was an expert swimmer like a lifeguard. Otherwise, the saviour too may get drowned. Once, we saved two drowning girls by risking our own lives. They had covered a long distance. Both got so tired that they had no stamina to swim back to safety. Perhaps, they were still in the process of learning swimming.
Immediately, we got into action and jumped into the water to save the girls. We reached them with a long and thick log. The girls were not together. We quickly first took one end of the log to enable one girl to catch hold of it and then the other end was moved towards the second girl with the help of a small and not-so-thick log.
The technique worked. We brought both girls to safety. Many elders patted us on the back, but our parents were furious. They gave us a good dressing-down.
My mother, a hard taskmaster, gave a strict warning: ‘Stop swimming in the pond. Never indulge in this dangerous activity. Concentrate on your studies.’ I stopped swimming in the pond, but only for a few days. It was so enjoyable that I was at it again.
Sadly, the pond now is no longer what it was during our childhood days. Children today refuse to believe that there was a time when it had sparkling clean water and served as a swimming pool for the villagers.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Speaking at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, he credits ...
The swearing-in ceremony of the 56-year-old leader would be ...
Police detain friend who backed out of marriage
The 71-year-old will replace Richard Sharp
His letter to the council's 15 members on Wednesday says Gaz...