Flashback to mid 2009. Infosys training days, Mysore DC. Fun times.
Rahul was visiting Mysore DC from Bangalore that weekend. We (the remaining MBT gang in Mysore, who had not been posted yet – namely Anoop, Devi, Dhanya and I) had planned to go out to this newly opened place called “Silent Shores” for dinner with Rahul. But that was at 7:00 PM. No reason to skip the weekly pool time I’d have with John and K7.
We usually go to the pool in the afternoon to beat the evening rush and avoid as many living souls as possible. There would hardly be one or two guys other than us.
Mysore DC’s swimming pool and the Multiplex are well-known landmarks. Any new recruit has to inevitably share photos of these two, right?
There are drains the size of XL-sized food plates on the bottom of the pool at multiple locations, covered with perforated metallic covers – Something my mind took for granted and failed to register as a possible threat because the drains in all the other pools I’d previously been in never sucked (literally). The beautiful fountains (6-8 powerful jets of water) that add charm to MyDC’s picturesque pool were apparently powered by powerful pumps that take in water from the pool’s bottom. Well, duhh! And I have this habit of swimming vertically downwards. I guess you guessed where this is going…
It’s 3:00 PM on the bright Sunday afternoon and after some time of frolicking in the water, we separate and I swim towards the pool bottom. I was swimming too close over one of the drains – and BAM! The drain had sucked me in, the metallic cover bent and caved in on impact, and my stomach was stuck to the pool floor with a vacuum-force comparable to two people pulling me down.
Moment of the incident
You are left wondering if this really happened. I mean, we hear of news items that say something unfortunate happened to someone, but now it happened to ME?
1-2 seconds in
Time dilation. A second is not really a second here. It appears much longer than that. Your brain starts to process things in an overclocked mode. Everything around you seem to slow down. The water, its motion, everything…
Starting now till the very end, I am struggling real hard to overcome the suction that’s pulling me down.
5 seconds in
The only thing going on in my mind is ‘survive’. I tell myself not to panic as that would increase the heart-rate and also diminish the limited time I could hold my breath. The heart beats start to slow down. I could feel every beat and hear it too.
10 seconds in
By now, my stomach hurts. I fear the force is too strong that it will rupture my stomach and the scene is gonna be nasty. I tighten my stomach muscles as much as I can hoping it doesn’t come to that.
15 seconds in
I am still trying my best to do all the “smart” things and not die. Tightening the muscles, pushing against the pool floor with my hands and legs, expanding and quickly collapsing my stomach, sliding my hands through one nook of the hole so as to separate my stomach from the orifice… Tried it all. No luck. These 15 seconds felt the longest for I was spending all my energy to get out. The force was just too strong that it nullified whatever progress I made within a second.
20 seconds in
Maybe John would soon find me in peril and ask someone to shut off the pump. How long would that person take to do the task? A minute? I would have taken in a lot of water by then. After that, how long would it take for the paramedics to reach the spot? Would enough time have passed that I cannot be resuscitated by then? Man!
30 seconds in
At this point, I guess I was out of ideas. A lot of ‘what ifs’ came to mind. What would come in tomorrow’s newspapers if something were to happen? Infoscion drowns in Mysore DC pool? Rahul will be heading back to Bangalore tomorrow morning. But with this, he will have to stay back, right? I guess. How on earth am I still holding my breath?
40 seconds in
By now, I had tried everything possible. I had to accept my fate. Who would have thought it would end this way? I was ready for what was to come and somehow accepted it.
In the final moments of eerie calmness, the last thought crossed my mind: “Amma engane ithu sahikkum?” (How will my mother ever come to terms with this?). My heart got heavy and a shiver went down my spine for one thing I knew for sure – my mother would be devastated beyond what I could imagine.
This is the moment when I felt someone’s hand pulling mine towards the surface. Soon there were two folks, and their four hands struggled with increasing intensity to overcome the suction of the once-benign water pumps that had now tasted human blood. Four seconds later, I was no longer stuck to the floor.
I came out of the water and took the deepest breath I had ever taken. If the government came to know about the quantity of air I’d just taken in, I’d have to pay air-tax. It took me a few seconds to readjust with the outside world. JB actually saved me! The two people were indeed John and K7. John told that he got suspicious when he did not see me for such a long time and decided to investigate. Maybe I was under water for 40 seconds.
— Nope, that’s not a tattoo of Palm Jumeriah on my stomach. Did you even read the blog, bruh?I narrated my ordeal to both of them in a concise form (you know… like a 5 mark question’s answer) and I also narrated the story in detail (like a 15 mark question’s answer) to the gang over dinner at Silent Shores. And never again until now.
Two things became clearer to me that day.
One – do your best not to panic in such situations. We are wired to panic. Those few extra seconds you gain by not panicking could result in life or death.
Two – there is a strong, inviolable bond between a mother and her child. You may call it timing or coincidence. I choose to believe otherwise.
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