Having been assaulted by death on no less than two occasions, it is only fitting that I dedicate one post to the infallible devil. Perhaps, we have all had a close brush with death at least once in our lifetime. There must have been a moment in your life during which you felt unsure of your own mortality or even sure of the inevitable death.
In 2007, death had the cheek to sneak upon me right into my classroom when I was sitting to sit for my graduation exam. I was hurrying down on my food and in a rush to finish off with the proceedings before the exam commenced, I thrust more food into my mouth than I should have. And I choked (a literal case of ‘having bitten more than I could chew’)! The next few seconds felt like a lifetime as I wrestled with death that wrenched at my guts and clobbered my windpipe, nobody in the class taking any notice of my silent agony. 10 seconds later, I was able to squeeze the food out of my windpipe onto the floor. That rush of oxygen and restoration of normalcy heralded a new life. I was born again.
For 7 years, death kept at bay. I thought it had gone for good. But no, it was only lingering in the shadows. In 2014, it stalked me all the way to Goa and assaulted me with the kind of savage suddenness that is so unfair in any game of love and war.
Left on my own, with the rest of my friends having returned to their respective home towns, I ventured into the sea in a kayak. With an air of adventure that accompanies someone who is trying kayaking for the first time. I got carried away. Emboldened by the careless assurance of the kayak-walla that you can go to any length you desire, I sailed deeper than I should have. When I recollect that moment now, I wonder how I had that cheek to flirt with the sea, given the fact that I didn’t know the ‘s’ of swimming.
But since I was paddling ahead with apparent ease and expertise, I soon disowned the shores and began to caress the hidden line of safety. In a way, I lulled death and trespassed the fence behind which it lay asleep. I poked it with my oars and it erupted angrily in the form of a mighty wave which upturned my kayak and tossed me un-kayaked into the restless arms of the naked sea.
And it was then that I stared into those horrific lurid eyes of death, perhaps watching it so up close for the first time in my life. I disappeared under the water and behind the waves and surfaced again only to disappear back only to surface again only to disappear back again. I owe this life to that foreign tourist who swam all the way in to drag me back to the shores, and back to oxygen and back to life.
But after that incident, I have never been able to love the sea the way I loved it before. Even if I step into its fluid folds in the future again, I know I will keep myself tightly anchored to the shores. My heart, having been cheated once, will never be able to trust it again. I guess it will now shift its loyalty to the mountains.
And for all the astrology and numerology fans out there, I guess I can expect another Appointment with Death (phrase borrowed from Agatha Christie) in 2021, given that the table of seven is proving lethal for me.