Sachini had just come out of dreaming sleep aroused by her mother’s call, “My dear daughter, it is too late”. But she did not care about mother’s warning and turned to the other side of the bed because of her laziness. After a few minutes she couldn’t stay on the bed anymore because the sunshine fell on to her beautiful and fresh face. Her soft black hair stirred with the wind which was coming through the open wooden shutter window. She breathed deeply and tried to close her eyes again. But the sweet sound of birds in the home garden did not allow her to sleep again. She listened to the bird’s singing and smiled happily.
She got up and touched her soft pink feet on the cool and clean floor. Her laziness ran away and she smelt jasmine scent on the cool wind. She stood by the window and looked at the beautiful garden. The courtyard had been already swept by her mother. She was happy and thought to step on the sandy ground. She came down to the courtyard and stepped mindfully one step at a time. Then she looked back to see her footprints on the white sand. She forgot her age and tried to be a kid again.
“Please don’t try to be a kid, my dear. Go and wash to get ready for your journey. Can’t you remember?” said her mother immediately.
“Yes mama, please don’t be afraid. I will be ready and catch the train on time,” Sachini said and hugged her mother with love.
Sachini wore a simple dress and came to the sitting room. The clock chimed loudly to remind of the time. Her mother kissed her and looked at her father privately with ogling eyes because of their young daughter growing up pretty and with her full figure. Both of them were proud about Sachini. When she came to the courtyard, the three-wheeler had already come. She got into the taxi and said goodbye to her parents.
She came to the Colombo Fort railway station and her friends were waiting for her arrival. They were cheering and clapping to welcome her on their journey. The station was noisy and crowded. No one had a calm face. Everyone was going here and there to catch their trains. Signal lights were flashing from time to time to guide each train to go ahead safely.
Sachini and her friends were walking along the second platform to find their carriage. They could find their train carriage without difficulty and got into the train with big traveling bags. All of them had sweets and short foods. The train horn was sounding and black smoke issued from the train engine. Sachini looked out through the window and waved her hand to say goodbye to people on the platform. They were passed slowly when the train began to leave the station. A scratching sound came from the railway tracks and they glistening with the morning sun shine. The wind came into the carriage through the open shutter. Sachini was very happy with this scene, and when she turned inwards, everyone had begun to sing songs with clapping and dancing.
They had come to the center of the carriage and moved their hands with the music which was provided by others. Dancing girls were smiling and their eyes were going back slowly with their moving hands. Sachini was happy to see that even their fingers moved with the rhythm. Their bodies were turned up and down in time with the rhythm, and the elegant drum playing gave energy for them to dance. All of them swung their head and foot simultaneously. When they jumped with cheering in the carriage, the big sound helped to join others to the dance until they got off from the train.
The train passed railway stations one by one. It did not stop at all stations because it was an intercity train. Meanwhile food sellers came into the carriage when the train stopped at a big station. The smell of sweet food spread in the box, and everyone in the train was encouraged by the smell to buy foods. Suddenly the seller’s foods disappeared like magic. The food seller’s trick was accomplished by the taste and smell of those foods, and their appeal to the senses. Sachini saw an old woman who sat down in a corner of the box. Her wrinkled fingers moved with the rhythm of the song. She was smiling and clapping also. Sachini moved close to the old woman and joined with her to sing the song. Then she was very happy. Meanwhile the train passed huge paddy fields, gardens, cottages and a beautiful bridge.
The sky was filled with sunshine. There were no clouds in the sky within eyeshot. People in the train got off, and got onto the train at each station. After four hours Sachini and the team came to Anuradhapura. There was no crowd as at Colombo Fort railway station, but Sachini’s friends broke the silence of the station. They were dancing and singing as before, and they did not care about the surroundings they were in.
“ Sachini, would you like to bathe in a reservoir? ” asked one of the friends. “Of course, why not,” Sachini replied while looking for a reservoir. “Please wait, be patient, you will see it soon,” he said again. Sachini looked around again to find a reservoir. But she couldn’t, but she was happy at the idea. Although she did not know how to swim, still she began to think about her joyful experience in the water.
Sachini’s mind went to her childhood. Although there were beautiful streams and a lake in her village, her mother never allowed her to go swimming. Those days she had to look at others who were swimming in the water of streams and the lake. She was worrying about that but she had no intention of outmaneuvering her mother’s order. It happened because of the mother’s fear of the water. Finally Sachini couldn’t swim even in shallow water.
A white van had come to pick them up. After 10 minutes they had come to their restaurant, and all of them prepared everything they needed to swim and bathe in the reservoir. The leader of the team explained about the plan and how they will have fun. They began to walk to the reservoir through the small forest near the restaurant. It was a narrow footpath and they were reveling and clapping as they walked. The echoing sound of their cheering spread through the forest. Birds and other animals on the way began to scurry away because of loud sounds.
The sky was clear and the sun shone fiercely. Grass and leaves of the trees were dry because of drought, and made a crisp sound as they walked. Then Sachini could hear the sound of the lapping waves of the reservoir.
“Hoorayyyyy….. woooow … We have come to the place. Yheee…….” shouted all of them happily. Everybody jumped into the water without thinking twice. Sachini came close to the water but did not jump in as others had done, although she could feel her feet burning with the hot sand on the shore. She looked here and there searching for a shadow. Suddenly she saw a big tree on the edge of the shore. She ran and sheltered under the tree. Then she was feeling cool and the wind which blew over the lake soothed her tiredness.
“Pass the ball…hurry up, hurry up…. send me….,” the others were playing ball in the water and swimming. Their sound pulled Sachini’s mind to go to the water, but she did not jump in immediately. She approached closed to the water step by step. She could feel the coolness of the water. When she touched the water, it wet her foot and she felt happy.
“ Sachini, Sachini come with us, please join in the game,” her friends clamored loudly. But she did not join the game because of her weakness at swimming. She entered the water and sunk her body in up to her neck and then stood up. She did it again and again. After a few minutes Sachini joined in the game with clapping and cheering. Her mind went with the game and she forgot where she was.
Suddenly her leg slipped with mud under the chest-deep water. She fell down to the bottom and couldn’t think how to stand up. It is surprising that a person not familiar with water, who has not been taught to swim at school, does not know how propel their body through it. She couldn’t do anything. She could feel coolness and fear. Her friends were involved in the game and were not aware of her predicament. “Pass the ball… hurry up, hurry up…. send me….,” was all Sachini heard distantly again and again. Because of her flailing arms, when she tried to stand up she was pressed back into the water again and again like backstroke swimming technique. By that action she was also carried further from her friends.
“ Wow.. Sachini is doing backstroke underwater. Amazing.. we cannot do it,” her friends were saying happily. “ Sachini why did you tell lies? you can swim,” taunted someone again and again.
Sachini could see only their faces. She couldn’t explain and sunk under the water again. She did not have any other method to save her life. Quickly she had no energy to even move her arms and legs. She thought that she was going to die under the water and her father’s and mother’s faces appeared before her eyes.
“No, no she is in danger. Hurry up to save her life, she is sinking!” suddenly said one girl and jumped into the water. That girl had seen the fear in Sachini’s face correctly. Sachini could feel she was pulled up to the surface,but not before she had almost forced her best friend under the water, because she had lost control of her body and it was acting instinctively with a tremendous grip in the body's urge to get air into the mouth at any cost. Her hand linked with her best friend’s hand. She was carried to the shore and given first aid to stand up. She couldn’t think any more and tried to understand what happened. She had been caught by the water current of the reservoir and fortunately, her life had been saved. All her friends gathered around her and decided to finish bathing in the reservoir for the day. All of them began to walk to the restaurant silently. Sachini turned back to look at the reservoir one final time before leaving. It was silent again apart from the breaking sound of the waves. She now had to face her mother and tell her she had been in the water, and she was afraid about that, but she was happy to returning her body to them intact, which they had nurtured for so many years. But she knew the time had come when she had to make her own decisions, and one of those had been to enter the water.
Author Notes: Sachini was born in a very beautiful village. Although there was a lake and river, she had not bathed in there because of her mother's fears about water. Her mother had heard about a few accidents by swimming in the river and lake. She was afraid and thought that everyone can be caught by water while they’re swimming. Then she never allowed her children to go for a swim. As a result of her mother’s mental problem, Sachini couldn't swim in even shallow water and nobody believed that was her actual situation.Therefore everyone must know that practicing basic things in our daily life is more important than getting knowledge by a paper. Otherwise lack of knowledge and experience will result in a deficiency in development.