A three foot deep swimming pool used to scare the life out of him. And there he was diving into the middle of the Indian Ocean, floating and contemplating on a world that he had never known before. Every inch of his body relaxed, every ounce of his existence petrified.
He had dreamed about this day quite often. Dreams that would leave him breathless in sleep, panting for air to breathe. But Arif just had enough of his fear. The nightmares would go away, it would all end soon. He was going to Bali, and dive to his death.
It had been 8 years since he lost his little sister in that overcrowded ferry ride on their way back home from Dhaka. Eid was due over the coming week. He had even managed early tickets for him and his family, hoping to secure a light ferry journey. Floating head down lifelessly in the clear blue ocean, it all came back to him. His feeble attempt at saving Faria, his baby sister, went in vain as he couldn’t muster the courage to dive in. She was still at his arm’s length when she finally sank, others stared as her bloated body surfaced on the heart of the mighty Padma.
It was time, he knew what to do next. The scared young Malaysian lady kept their instructor busy while Arif made his move. He removed the breathing device of his scuba gear from his mouth. In three seconds, he would breathe the salty water into his lungs. No one could save him now, unlike on his last few attempts. This would be it. He breathed in.
Faria’s face came smiling at him from deep beneath the ocean. To Arif’s dismay, she seemed to be pushing him away from her, towards the surface. His nostrils could not hold any longer, he could feel the salt pass on to his throat. Faria cupped his cheeks in her hands lovingly, and then gave him a final push. He wanted to shout, to hold her, to take her with him to the edge. He collapsed.
The floating sensation on the speedboat was maddening. He felt nauseous. His instructor’s face was hovering in front of him. He kept coughing out the saline water stinging his throat and spat out some more. This was a disappointing third attempt.
The rest of his scuba mates were returning to the boat with anxious eyes on him. He noticed the scared Malaysian girl already on the boat, lost in deep thought with her eyes fixed on the blue waves of the vast ocean. Someone offered him some water to drink and inquired if he was alright, he didn’t respond. Curiosity got the best of him when he pulled himself up and walked slowly towards that girl standing by the deck. “You too?” he asked.
She didn’t reply.