Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: The Stolen Water Pump
By Daniel Owino Ogweno
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It was a day just like any other day. Nothing warned me of what would happen later in the afternoon. The announcement that the school’s water pump had been stolen was not something that invoked serious concerns among the students.
The immediate consequence of this incident was that we would have to go and bathe at and fetch water (for washing our utensils) from the adjacent fresh water lake. We had acquired 5-litre plastic containers with which to fetch water.
Although we felt sorry for the administration’s frustration to organise for alternative ways of getting water, especially for cooking for the 800 boarding students, going to the lake was a welcome idea. We would, on a daily basis, not only leave the school compound where we felt like prisoners, but also get the opportunity to swim
Most of the students were coming from the interior parts of the country where no lakes, big rivers or swimming pools existed for them to learn how to swim. Those of us from the lake region were considered as “experts”. We were the lifeguards for them that were not so familiar with the lake.
A young boy had just lost grip of his water container. The offshore wind picked it. Fearing that he might drown, the young boy turned to me for help. By the time I caught up with the plastic container, it was way off into the deeper parts of the lake.
No sooner had I come back ashore when another young boy came to me crying that a container he had borrowed was being blown away. When I looked, it was already some distance into the water. Unaware that I had spent just about all the strength I had chasing after the first container, I made for the water one more time. I managed to catch up with it. I stretched my hand to grasp it but accidentally ended up pushing it further away. I tried again and the same thing happened. It happened the third time.
“Was that a crocodile!” I was responding to a panic that beat me so hard all my strength was gone.
I thought my sixth sense had just warned me of a crocodile. I abandoned attempting to still go after the container. I looked round, no crocodile. I looked at the shore and what I show shocked me, adding to more fretfulness. The container had lured me far away from the shore. There was completely no strength by which to swim back.
Frantic struggle to hold on to life had begun in earnest.
The frenetic instinct calls for help couldn’t be heard. The shore was too far away. But even if they could hear, there was no lifeguard. No one among the students could swim well enough to reach where I was.
I looked at the sky hoping against reality that something would hang over me—something I would hold on to. If only imaginations could create, I had imagined hard enough to go up rather than down.
Just before, I sank, I spoke to myself, “Is it true that I am dying—just like that!”
The water at the bottom was extremely cold. I held my breath and kicked my way back to the surface. It happened twice. An inner voice spoke to me, “If you sink again, that will be the last time!”
I called on God, “Please help me! I don’t want to die”.
He did! He sent a lifeguard. No—not a human being. One of the student’s had realised that I was drowning. He threw another plastic container towards me and the offshore wind was blowing it to reach me but where would I get strength to stay afloat as I waited for the container to reach me so that I could hold onto it?
What happened next was a miracle fresh from heaven.
Boy! That was close—I was lucky, or wasn’t I?
I pushed the experience into my subconscious, and lived my life the way youthful desires dictated. Superficial religion was all that defined my relationship with God.
Five years later.
“Remember that day you were dying, I saved you!” A preacher got a word of knowledge. “Remember how many times I have saved you from certain death”, she continued.
How could I resist?
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