FWEET..! And the whistle blew. The swimmers dived into the water.
“Where is swimmer number three?” The coach barked. “Why hasn’t she surfaced?”
He jumped in without delay. Ten minutes later they pulled up the unconscious swimmer.
Rashi sat staring at the television screen. Her mother came in carrying a box. “Now, now, stop crying!” A tear-streaked face looked back at her mother.
Rashi: “Ma…I lost it….the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.”
Mother: “Didn’t Daddy say there is always a next time?”
Rashi: “But…I am the best.”
“Here….here…” Mother handed her a glass of water and the tablets. She left the room.
A shrill, piercing cry made her rush back to her daughter. Rashi sat on the floor screaming and crying. Shards of glass lay strewn around. “W…what happened, Beta?”
“W…w…Water.” Rashi started screaming pointing a finger at the liquid.
Mother sat in the doctor’s chamber. He had asked Rashi several questions and had failed to diagnose how a national-level swimmer had developed Hydrophobia all of a sudden.
“Doctor, a week back, she drowned in the pool. I can’t believe that the same girl who loved water is now scared of it. Even a glass of water scares her. I tried giving her the Anti-spasmodic syrup you recommended. But there were complications. She complained of congestion and difficulty in breathing. After a while she grew restless and started screaming. Please help!” the mother pleaded.
Mother lay down beside Rashi, running her fingers through her hair, tying them into soft knots just the way her little girl liked it. Her skin felt clammy. The pulse fluttered. Her breathing still came in catches. The beautiful girl was now reduced to bones. Dark bags lined her doe-shaped eyes.
The last two days had been particularly hard. Rashi had increasingly grown nervous and irritable. Her eyes wandered around as if searching for something. And then she had howled clutching her throat. Her parents had tried in vain to restrain her. Finally, the doctor had been summoned. He had injected a sedative. Within minutes she had tempered back to her original self.
It was well past midnight when Rashi woke up. The choking was back. Her eyes widened in terror. Mila, her ‘bestie’ stood watching her suffocate just the way she had been suffocated a month back. Memories came flooding back. The invitation to a luxurious yatch party on Mila’s birthday celebrating her win in the National Level Championship followed by the memorable cruise amidst the lofty mountains and the fluffy, cumulous clouds; the late night party, the sedatives that Rashi had mixed into her drink and then the slight push into the dark, cold water. Rashi had stood watching her friend drown. Finally, her selection to the Olympics was assured.
Mila’s arms snaked out, encircling Rashi’s throat in a stiff embrace, drowning her in an abyss of darkness.
The black cat which had been a silent witness gave out a soft ‘meao’ and vanished into the dark.
Connect with Penmancy: