It was the scariest day of my life.I was an eleven year old girl who lived with my maternal grand parents. My parents had gone to live with my paternal grand father who owned a big plot of land and a five acre paddy field In the dry zone.
I was a lonely girl and I had no friends in the school or neighbourhood. So my evenings were spent alone. On those evenings I roamed in the land where I used to live with my parents before they left.The house needed a repair and it was in dilapidated condition. It needed to be thatched but nobody was interested in doing so as all my relatives knew that my parents would never return to their home town.I felt nostalgic all the time and used to sit on the threshold of the house recollecting the happy times I spent with my two siblings and my parents.On the other times I climbed the cashew tree, the only tree in my garden,which could be climbed by me, my only refuge, in my solitude.Then there was a well, with a crystal clear water in it showing the shallow, sandy bottom. It was an unprotected well and there was only two coconut trunks laid to prevent you from falling into it. But you shouldn’t worry about it as you will never drown.
The land boarded the paddy field which was neglected and turned into a marsh.When I stand at the edge of my land I could see the river shinning like a silver ribbon in the midday and flowing like a whispering mermaid in the evening. I could watch it for days as I was enchanted by the beauty and serenity of the river, and its baffling fascination brought me a solace like no other. It healed my wounded little soul, shattered by the loss of my parents and my siblings. It was a usual thing for me to run to the river bank and sit for hours observing the setting sun and the grandeur of the sky in the dusk or the cloud formation which always made my mind run wild with joy.
It was sometimes my custom to observe the river across the paddy field standing by the fenced land of ours.One day when I was looking at the river I suddenly developed an irresistible urge to jump across the marsh to the river bank .It was a short distance and I think any boy or male could do it easily . I have felt the desire from time to time but this time I was fully drawn to the thought like a magnet.My whole body shook passionately as in fever and the feeling was indescribable.
my feet was trying to fly and the blood was warming in my legs to give me a boost for the thrilling act.I knew It was mad even to think of such a thing as I was doubtful whether I could land on the river bank so I stamped my feet hard on the ground to change my trance, but to no avail.
before thinking of anything else, I sensed that my body was lifted onto the air, and within a fraction of a second it was dropped into the marsh below.Even today I didn't know how it happened . I heard a splash and then I was stuck in the mud.
When the cold, slimy and greenish mud came to contact with my body I came to my senses and realized the gravity of the situation. I panicked and shouted for help.but I knew that there was nobody in the hearing distance. I thought for a while again and called the name of my next door neighbour, who was a distant relative of mine.but it was evening and definitely he would be at his work place.I observed the river bank closely to see whether there were any children playing or any other person who had come to collect his cow.no help was there. I had to find a way to save myself.
I tried to wade the mud but there was nothing to hold onto.Even the few reed plants In the marsh were beyond my grasp and I couldn't think of a way to reach them.I tried to lift a leg to reach a reed plant but then I sank deeper into the mud.I stopped any movement and began to think. It was strange now but I have forgotten my initial fear and became logical.
My only help was the reed plants so I tried to reach them again. Each time I lifted my leg ,I sank deeper Into the mud, but finally I managed to catch a single stalk of a reed. It was not strong enough to hold my weight ,but using it as a support I held onto the next nearest reed plant of which the roots were very sturdy.
Then half wading and half sinking I caught reeds from one to another until I crawled from the slimy mud onto the land emitting a foul smell. my frock up to my armpits were blackish brown colour and I couldn,t bear the foul smell coming from me.
I ran to the well and began to draw a bucket of water and started scraping the mud In my frock.at the same time I looked around to see whether there were any eye witnesses who could narrate the Incident to my grand mother which definitely warrant a punishment. It was very difficult to remove mud as it was very slimy. then I washed my hands and legs well to remove the unpleasant muddy smell from me. I crept Into the house without being seen by my grand mother and changed into a new frock.I was very quiet during the whole evening as this unexpected Incident had given me a rude shock of my life.
My grand mother noticed my silence and commented on it but I kept my secret to myself.Yet, the next day she had found my frock with dried mud on it and questioned me. I tried to lie but was not successful.She was furious after listening to my halting explanation with eyes streaming with tears and thrashed me well.She prohibited me to wander in the river bank and paddy fields alone and threatened to inform the lady teacher who resided close to our house.
I got scared and promised to do her bidding In the future and to behave like a good girl.I kept my promise but only for a few days.The river was my consolation for my loneliness and how could I expect my grand mother to understand the fact? but this time I was very careful not to do my wanderings when grand mother was around. For who could bear the punishment of kneeling near the school gate for everyone to see for a whole day !