Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Change Of Mind


The boy couldn't swim.  So he rented an inflated tube and used it as a float.  He leaned back on the float and paddled with his hands and feet.  He floated around by the beach, not daring to venture too far out.  He enjoyed the rise and fall of the waves, the cool sea breeze and the warm sun.   He could hear the laughter and screams of pleasure of other kids along the beach and the splashing of bathers around him.  He listened to the occasional calls of seagulls.  It was very relaxing.  It was like sleeping in a cradle.  He almost fell asleep.


His floating tube was suddenly yanked from under him and he found himself in the water.  He yelled, but he heard no sound from his own mouth.  Water rushed into his throat and his nose.  His feet couldn't find the friendly sand at the bottom.  He opened his eyes even though they were stung by the sea water.  He struggled and reached out with his hands towards a pair of legs he saw in the water in front of him.  The waves tossed him about and the legs kept trying to move away.  He managed to grab hold of one of the legs.  He didn't know who they belonged to.  He didn't care.  He had to get out of the water.  He had to breathe.  His ears were ringing, his lungs were bursting and his heart pounding against his chest.


Somehow, he did not die.  Someone had grabbed him by his hair and pulled him to shore.  When he came to, he kept throwing up salty water.  When he got home later, nobody asked him what happened because nobody knew about the incident.  It was a crowded beach and no one had paid much attention.  They just watched quietly and went away to whatever they were doing, more immersed in looking after their own pleasure.


It has been forty years since then.  The man was having an idle chat with one of his older neighbors at his local haunt.  He didn't know why, but something the other man said prompted him to talk about the past and he mentioned to his neighbor that he once almost drowned when he was a kid.  He recounted all the little details that he remembered.  He then said that even if he found the guy who had saved him, he would not thank him for it.  He should have let him drown and spare him a life of misery and suffering. 


The older man sat and listened quietly while he complained.  When he'd finished telling his story, the older man nodded knowingly and said he knew what happened.  He was the one who had rushed into the water and pulled him out.  He was a life-guard.  He saw how it happened.  He knew who the other kid was who pulled the float from under him and caused him to fall in the water.  The other kid was a big sized half-wit who didn't understand rules.  He was watching him and he thought maybe this kid could do something nasty.  And as if on cue, he did just that.  He was in time to save him because he was running and diving into the water even before the kid went down.


The older man also added that on that same day, at that same moment, somewhere on that beach another boy drowned and nobody saw what happened. 


The Angel of Death had a change of mind at the last moment.



  1. Someone once said live every moment as though it was your last. No doubt people are taking that advice seriously, seeing how the karaokes and pubs are always full.

  2. i still remember fang yee almost drowned in Tupah when she was about five. everybody else were chatting and laughing in the water, when she went to get her float alone. somehow she slipped into deeper water, and was struggling when i saw her. i managed to pull her out.
    she didn't cry, but i did. it was a scary moment for me~

  3. P Ramli in one movie said, "Nak hidup pun susah, nak mati pun susah" when he wanted to end his character's miserable life, but was prevented (hilariously, of course) from doing so.
    Some people have 9 lives or so it seems by the way they risk their lives playing dangerous games, while others feel so fragile they consult the 'thongsu' even before leaving the house.
    I was prevented from going swimming until the age of 18 because of a fortune-teller's instruction to my parents.
    Your youngest uncle (Taiwan Dr) nearly lost his when he stood in ankle deep water on the beach and a wave came in and knocked him down. A Mat Salleh standing nearby quickly grabbed him before he went under. I'm sure he still remembers.

    Life & death makes one interesting subject...

  4. that explains the whole lot of substance abuse these days, even among seemingly successful people.
    most would take life seriously only after nearly losing it.
    suffering builds character
    acknowledge the fragility of life but live as though it doesn't matter.

    what a day, so full of philosophy (2nd hand anyway)... lol

  5. Talk about defining last moments. A celebrity friend of mine maps it out very clearly. I want to be a millionaire by 25, he said. Bed a different chick every week, have a million people adore me for my good looks, and then die before I hit 35 (becoz no fun living as an ugly old man), and die painlessly and preferably in my sleep. That was his idea of a perfect life.

    I'm not sure but I think Leslie Chung and Anita Mui came close to that ideal. Both lived a glamor life and died in their prime.

  6. include Alexander (the Great), Bruce Lee... they too lived & died the way your friend described. But the 'bedding of chicks' preference could land him in a painful deathbed...

  7. Aah... at least I know I've retold the story well. When I heard the original, my hair stood on end as well.

  8. me too.. before i learn how to swim about 5-6, i nearly lost my too at Penang Swimming Club, a fat lady saved me.. i still remember is because when she coming down to save me, i was thinking she will make the water rise, and even ask her to go tim! I really still remember very clearly....

  9. If you think about it, it's pretty easy to get drowned even in 2" of water if you fall face down and unable to get up. That's why it's a no-no to leave babies unattended even in a shallow bath tub or near pails of water.

  10. I also remember years ago we were at Bukit Hijau and Chenyee saw a ball in shallow water floating downstream. She went after it. Her 5th aunt saw and yelled out and I went after her. Always appoint a few eyes on the lookout whenever you have the whole gang of kids playing in such places.

  11. omg, it sucked to have heard that coming from the boy. i wonder how the lifeguard must have felt and what would the other boy would have drowned said. he could have lived AND be thankful for it. i really wld like to know how the lifeguard took it... =\

  12. Old life guard's probably seen them all, but can't remember who he'd saved in his line of duty. That's why he told him what happened only after he knew who he was. There's an old Malay saying that you'd never forget the place where you fell down. This kid would have appreciated life more if he'd been a lot older when he nearly lost it. And having a better quality of life would have made a lot of difference too.

  13. it didnt turn out well i guess =\ sigggghhhs

  14. Poetic justice is sweeter than revenge .