Down below the sea Tarini 7_5

I take a deep breath, and take a tiny step into a quite modern, yet basic looking dive shop. I look around and notice that the dive shop was quite small. Most of the light was coming through the tiny door way and a few lights were hanging on the ceiling of the dive shop. I see some diving equipment hanging on the wall, I can also see some tables displaying other equipment, and a few people scattered here and there. The floor was made of cement, and was occasionally a bit wet and it had an occasional spot of sand. The walls are painted a light shade of blue. Overall the shop giving a simple and basic look.

“Hi, I am here for my explorer’s diving appointment.” My dad says briskly.

“Just a moment.” The lady behind the counter replied moving her bushy black hair out of her face. She opened a ragged, old red book, her eyes searching the pages.

“Ah, over here is your name Dilip?” She says when she finally finds our appointment on the piece of paper. My Dad responds to her with a firm nod.

“I just need you to fill out this form.” She said passing a piece of paper and a pen to my Dad.

My Dad looked at the paper and started filling out pieces of information on the paper. While he was filling it out, I look out of the door, I can see the sea, I could hear the waves crashing on the shore, and I could feel the gentle breeze that usually blows near the ocean. I could feel the ocean breeze cooling my skin down from the searing hot sun, I could feel the gentle breeze blowing my hair out of my face.

“Here, I need you to sign at the bottom.” My Dad says snapping me out of my day dream.

“Oh yeah sure.” I reply, tugging the paper towards myself and taking the pen and writing a squiggly signature before passing it back to my Dad.

“Before the instructor arrives, I would like you to watch this video on basic diving skills.” The lady says guiding us to a set of chairs right in front of a small TV.

I sit down right at the front my dad sitting behind me.

“Are you sure you want to watch this again?” I question my Dad, knowing that he had watched this video a lot of times, after all he had a diving license.

“Yeah I don’t mind, anyway the last time I watched this video was so long ago, I need a refresher. Plus, if you need help to understand something you can ask me.” he replies with only a moment of pause. The video starts playing and I watch quietly. Sometimes I wasn’t even listening to the video, I was much too busy listening to the calming waves in the background. I was really nervous, a pit was forming in my stomach but at the same time I couldn’t wait to go diving in the crystal clear ocean water. It was something I had always dreamed about.

I have to be honest, there were times when I didn’t even understand what was happening in the video. I lost interest for a while and then after some time I would regain my interest. Occasionally there was some scientific things that I needed to ask my Dad about. But as time passed my stomach started fluttering with more and more butterflies. It soon felt like a zoo of butterflies had formed in my stomach. This was it. I was going diving. I kept telling myself not to worry and that everything will be fine, nothing could happen to me. But that didn’t stop me from worrying.

Once the video was finally over we were told to go upstairs and wait by the pool for the dive instructor to come. My heart was pounding in my chest. A whirlwind of emotions taking over me. I take a seat on a ledge and stare into the pool. Imagining what it would feel like once I would have dived. Would I be braver? Or would I still be the quiet, shy girl I was? I imagined all sorts of scenarios, good and bad.

This was it.

This was insane.

This is what I had been waiting for.

I didn’t know why I was so nervous. After all this is what I have been wishing for for so long. I had wanted this. Then why was I so nervous? I should be excited. But before I could contemplate even more my Dad said “He’s here” and broke me apart from my thoughts. I turn my head to see a man in a diving suit promptly walking towards us. My heart starts racing faster and faster. I knew nothing bad could happen but what if something bad still happens? What if the instructor is mean? What if he doesn’t let me come up for a breath? What if I’m not good enough? Questions pump through my head one after the other. I take a deep breath to calm myself down and give what I think is a warm smile towards the instructor. I hope he doesn’t realise how nervous I am.

Once the video was finally over we were told to go upstairs and wait by the pool for the dive instructor to come. My heart was pounding in my chest. A whirlwind of emotions taking over me. I take a seat on a ledge and stare into the pool. Imagining what it would feel like once I would have dived. Would I be braver? Or would I still be the quiet, shy girl I was? I imagined all sorts of scenarios, good and bad.

This was it.

This was insane.

This is what I had been waiting for.

I didn’t know why I was so nervous. After all this is what I have been wishing for for so long. I had wanted this. Then why was I so nervous? I should be excited. But before I could contemplate even more my Dad said “He’s here” and broke me apart from my thoughts. I turn my head to see a man in a diving suit promptly walking towards us. My heart starts racing faster and faster. I knew nothing bad could happen but what if something bad still happens? What if the instructor is mean? What if he doesn’t let me come up for a breath? What if I’m not good enough? Questions pump through my head one after the other. I take a deep breath to calm myself down and give what I think is a warm smile towards the instructor. I hope he doesn’t realise how nervous I am.

The instructor pulls out his hand for my Dad to shake, my dad shakes it. When he turns to me he smiles, and I shake his hand.

“Nice to meet you! My name is Ben and I will be your diving instructor for today” He says, his eyes darting between me and my dad. He seemed pretty friendly as he smiled at both of us.

“Nice to meet you too. My name is Dilip, and this is my daughter Tarini” My Dad pointing to me when he says my name, I just smile back.

“Okay, now let’s get started. First you need to wear your wetsuit, while I make sure all the equipment is organised.” He says while looking around like he was waiting for something.

My Dad and I head towards the edge of the pool while the instructor moves the equipment. I take the wetsuit that looks smaller and is a bit wet towards the end. I put my legs through it and hop around trying to pull it up. I couldn’t reach the back to zip it and I end up asking my Dad to help me after he wore his own wet suit. My Dad finishes long before me, and he helps me zip up the back. A few minutes later we head back to the instructor.

“Right, so now that you guys have worn the wet suits let's get into the water, where I can help you wear the rest of your equipment.” Ben the instructor says a little too excitedly.

It’s fine, I will be ok. Just look how shallow it is. I look at the water taking a few steps down, trying to convince myself that it is shallow and if anything happens I can always come back up. No one will stop me. But a war was raging in my head. One side was honest, and the other side was stopping me from freaking out. I take a deep breath, and climb down the last few steps. The water came up to my chin. Even with the wetsuit on the water felt cold, I immediately started shivering.

“Wow, you’re already feeling cold, and we haven’t even gone into the sea!” Ben exclaimed with amusement.

“Yeah, I start feeling cold really easily.” I reply while chattering my teeth, hoping I don’t sound too weak already.

“Okay, so now we are going to put on your Buoyancy Control Device - which is also known as the BCD. The BCD is a much cooler version of a life jacket. You can make yourself move up and down in the water, it may feel like you’re flying. How about we put these on first, then I can tell you how to work it, and explain it in more detail.” Ben said untangling the BCD’s.

I reach for a BCD and put it around me. It was just like a life jacket, but with more gadgets on it, and it looked more technical. I clipped it on, just like I would do for a normal life jacket.

“Is this tight enough?” I ask nervously. I was never able to make my own life jacket tight enough. So it would be best if I asked him, just incase I...drown. I always thought the BCD would be heavy with the oxygen tank attached to the back, but it really wasn’t.

“So this is the regulator” The instructor said pointing to the pump like thing that goes in your mouth.

“Okay, but why are there two?” I ask curiously.

“One is for your partner. Incase their oxygen runs out. Then they would take your spare regulator, and you would go straight back up to the surface.” He explains.

I nod so he knew I had understood.

“And this, - he says pointing to a meter like thing - shows you the amount of oxygen you have left.” The instructor explains, while I nod.

“Now we will learn some basic signs underwater, for communication as you can’t talk. A thumbs up means I want to go up. A thumbs down means go down.” He rattled off a few more signals.

“Yup.” I exclaimed. I could already feel my hand playing around in the cold pool water.

“Ok now that you have learnt the basics, why don’t you try putting the regulator in your mouth before we go underwater?” He advises more like an instruction and less like a suggestion.

I take a deep breath and nod. I mean what can go wrong? You need a chill pill, you’re overthinking again, Tarini. So just like that before I could change my mind, I took the regulator and stuffed it in my mouth.

Wow. Heaps of oxygen was coming into my mouth. This was a very uncomfortable feeling since I wasn’t used to it, there was too much oxygen. It felt like the oxygen was suffocating me. I frowned and immediately took it off.

“Don’t worry when you go underwater it feels less weird. Now why don’t you try going underwater?” The instructor suggested after looking at my reaction.

I take another deep breath. My pulse quickens significantly.

I dive into the I go underwater.

It feels amazing.

Wow.

The oxygen races through my mouth, with each breath I take it feels better. I feel the water against my palms and face. My wetsuit which is now soaking wet, keeps giving me a sharp biting feeling against my skin. We do a few more exercises so I get comfortable in the water, and when we get out of the pool, I feel much more confident now. A warm feeling starts taking over me...a feeling which tells me that I can do this, that I will be fine, that it will be fun.

While we wait outside the dive shop for our boat to come. I try removing my wetsuit, by peeling it off my damp skin. The sun shines bright in my eyes, forcing me to squint while I look at the beautiful horizon. When I peel the wetsuit off my damp skin. I feel the sun's warm rays against my skin. I hear the dive instructor on the phone, and the waves crash on the shore in the background. After a long silence my Dad says

“Are you excited?”

“Um, yeah. But I am also really nervous. I still can’t believe I am going to dive!” I say very honestly

“Yeah it may be a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry it will be fun!” My Dad says, like he himself is excited to on a dive with me. But I can imagine why, with him going to Kuala Lumpur to work, and only coming back on the weekends must be hard. The only time I spend with him is on the weekends now, which is always limited, between my classes and homework I don’t always get quality time to spend with Dad. I feel like this is a great opportunity to spend some time with my dad. I look back out into the sea, and just like that I get lost in thought. I see the sun’s rays reflecting onto the oceans ripples. Whatever I do to distract myself doesn’t work. Why do I always overthink everything? Why don’t I just take risks without doubting myself? Calm down Tarini, it’s just a dive it’s not that big of a deal. Many such thoughts materialize in my head. The only thing that could make this better would be if someone who hadn’t learnt diving at all and this was their first time as well. I guess feeling this way was normal. Either way I wanted to know how it felt, to be underwater, to swim with the fish, to see a whole new world in front of me. I wonder what that would feel like. I guess I will find out soon.

After 20 minutes of waiting I finally I walk towards the getty. Taking each step carefully, as if the amount of steps I am allowed to take is limited. With each step I know I am getting closer to the dive. Why are you so nervous? You were the person who wanted to go on the dive after all! You should be so excited. I keep telling myself this. I clench my fists with frustration and pretend to fiddle with my spare rubber band on my wrist, just so I have something to do with my hands. After a few minutes later I finally see a boat in the horizon, my heart beats even faster. It slows down when I see a lot of people getting on it. This can’t be our boat, it will only be us. But when the instructor directs my Dad to go on the boat, I puzzled look sets on my face. The boat is small, with many people squashed in iit. Most of the people look like tourists. All of them are doing the same thing; either taking photos with their camera’s/phones, or wearing suncream.

“Why are we on this boat? Why are there so many people on this boat? Aren’t we going diving on our own?” I ask my Dad in a voice just below a whisper.

“Ben told us the dive boat can’t come so close to shore, so this boat will take us right next to the dive boat and then we will climb onto the dive boat.” Dad replies, in the same hushed voice as me. When the boat starts moving I hear some people at the back start cheering. After a few minutes we stop right next to a dive boat. I awkwardly hop onto the boat, while everyone looks at me. I take a seat on the side, and just wait.

I sit on the edge of the boat. Gripping onto the handles on the side of the boat. My dad sits opposite me, swinging his dive bag off his shoulder and onto the floor of the boat. I look around the boat and I see a lot of dive equipment, lots of oxygen tanks and BCD’s. I tilt my head outside the boat, just so I can see the clear ocean water. Imagine what it would feel like to be inside. Imagine swimming with the fish. Won’t that be so amazing? The boat starts and I immediately pull my head inside the boat. My hair starts blowing, my eyes squint at the speed of the wind. I see water pass me at fast speed. Water splashes on my arm, making me lose my grip. I rearrange my grip. The boat ride passes in a blur of emotions.

About fifteen minutes later, the boat stops moving. This is it. I’m going diving. My heart starts beating hard. It felt exactly like a dream.

“Are you ready to go diving?” Ben asks me enthusiastically.

“Uhhh...Yeah.” I said unsurely. I give him an awkward smile and take a deep breath.

“Don’t worry you will be fine.” My dad replies sensing my nervousness.

Dad offering me a reassuring smile. I smile back, in a doubtful way. I look at the ocean, a million thoughts and feelings rushing through me. What if something happens? What if I get lost? What if water gets in my mouth? What if I’m not able to get back up? What if I crash into something? I start feeling jumpy and panicky again. I take another deep breath in, and exhale to calm myself down. The boat starts. My hair starts blowing, my eyes squint at the speed of the wind. I see water pass me at fast speed. Water splashes on my arm, making me lose my grip. I rearrange my grip. Think positive. I tell myself. Negative is only going to make you more nervous.

“It is time for you to go in the water.” Ben said.

My heart rate increases even more, I start sweating even though it isn’t hot at all. I clench my jaw, trying to take deep breaths and calm myself down. My Dad had already gone into the water. I turn around and see him treading water.

“You can wear the gear in the water, otherwise it will be too heavy. Just wear your flippers right now, and mask.” Ben instructed.

I nod. After wearing all my equipment, unsure of how to roll in I look around for help from someone.

“It’s okay. You will be fine. Just come in.” My Dad said in a soothing tone.

I gulp. Take a deep breath. Then I roll into the water.

I feel the water gush on my face. The pressure making me feel like I was about to drown. Then I resurface. At first all I see are the droplets on my mask. Then everything clears, I see my Dad a foot away from me. I see the boat from a different angle. I then see the dive instructor Ben come into the water, with a huge splash. The boat driver drops in the BCD’s. They automatically float on the water. I felt like I was processing everything slowly.

Ben comes to me and helps me wear the BCD. I automatically don’t need to use any effort to stay afloat. I don’t need to tread water anymore. My legs automatically relax. For some time my panic goes away. My heart slows down to it’s normal pace. I start feeling the breeze on my face again. This can’t be so bad. This actually looks fun. I turn around and suddenly I see my Dad with his BCD on, looking like he was ready to go. I see everyone looking at me, like they were expecting me to say something. Wait, did someone ask or instruct something and I missed it?

“What? Sorry, pardon me.” I ask not really addressing the question to anyone in particular.

“So let’s go, that's what I said. Dilip can you just hold onto this rope so you won’t get lost. And if you do the boat can find you.” Ben exclaimed, over enthusiastically.

I try not to look too nervous. My hands start shaking. My knuckles are white, because I’m clenching my fist so hard.

“Don’t worry, you will be fine.” My Dad ensures me, almost as if he can read my mind.

“Let’s go.” The instructor says taking hold of the button that controls my BCD. I take one last breath, and put the regulator in my mouth. Then I go underwater.

The water isn’t very clear unlike how I saw it before. Maybe it’s because this is the deeper part of the Ocean. I thought. I turn and see the instructor beside me. The pressure from my regulator constantly reminding me that I am underwater. My ears pop. I stop my instructor, remembering from the video that if you down too fast you can hurt your earbuds. I tap Ben’s shoulder, getting his attention. He turns to look at me, I point to my ears and signal that my ears were popping. He stopped. And I tried swallowing to make my ears go back to normal. I waited and kept swallowing and after what felt like forever, they returned to normal. Then I signalled to him again, telling him that I was okay to move on. Immediately we started going down, just when I could see the sand on the ocean floor, my ears popped again. Why do my ears keep popping? At this pace we will never reach down. We stop again. When I finally recover we start moving down. I finally see some coral, but everything isn’t that visible. The water is still murky, and dull, but atleast I saw something. Ben turns around, and I see a worrisome look wash over his face. His head is turning violently like he was looking for something and was hoping it was there. I turn around, and suddenly instead of seeing my Dad right behind us, I see nothing. He was nowhere to be seen.

Panic starts rushing over me. Where is he? He must be at the surface. I think, hoping that it is true. Ben puts his hand on the my BCD control. And then we start moving up. This time, even though my ears popped I didn’t stop him. This was much more important. How could I have forgotten about Dad? I had been thinking so much about myself I forgot to think about him and where he was. Then I remembered something. He had said that it takes him time to come down. Maybe he is still on the surface. I felt a pang of hope rise in me. I hope I wasn’t wrong about him being at the surface. I still couldn’t believe that I had not paid attention to my Dad. I looked up, hoping that we were near the surface. It felt like time had slowed down. Minutes felt like hours. I tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear. This isn’t going how I want it to. This is a disaster.

The next thing I know I’m breaking the surface. I feel the sunshine on my face again, making me feel warm again. I immediately look around for traces of my Dad, hoping that I would see his head somewhere on the surface. I hold my breath as I look. What if something bad happened to him?

I look around furiously. My high hopes drop, when all I see is ocean on all sides of me. No traces of him. I spot the boat in the near distance, and I see a small island in the horizon. There wasn’t an island when we began, was there? In frustration I remove my regulator, hoping that that would change something. But nothing happens. My Dad is still missing.

I take a breath of normal, fresh air and it feels amazing. For a moment I forget what is happening. I forget that my Dad is lost, and I just admire the beauty of the place. Ocean on all sides, the sun shining bright and high. Then all at once the reality of the situation comes rushing back.

Ben was looking around as well. I decide to ask him where my Dad is, incase he knows.

“Where’s Dad?” I question, hoping that he would know

“I don’t know. Let’s just swim around and try to find him. I’ll inform the boat as well, so he can also keep a look out.”

I try not to panic. I take deep breaths.

“Just roll on your back, I’ll pull you along” He adds.

I immediately go on my back, following his instructions. It felt like forever, but I just close my eyes trying to calm down. I couldn’t help it after sometime. I go into an upright position. There’s not much I can do to help them look for Dad, but three is better than two.

I squint into the horizon, and there I see a figure bobbing up and down. I squint my eyes even more, trying to get a better look at what it was. I hold my breath, hoping it’s my Dad. In the distance I see the figure waving his/her hands, as if he recognised us. FInally I recognise the figure as my Dad. Relief spreads all over me. My body relaxes, I couldn’t help but smile. I let out a relieving smile, and start swimming towards him.

When he meets my eyes he smiles. I feel relieved to see him smile back, I feel good to see that he is okay.

“Dad! Where have you been?” I ask when we finally meet.

“I was taking time going down, but then I didn’t see you guys so I came back up!” Dad exclaimed, like he had been trying to stay calm.

“Oh! We had been there at the bottom when we realised you were not there.I told you to hold the rope” Ben said in a slightly annoyed voice.

I roll my eyes. How was it Dad’s fault? He was just taking his time. I thought as I took my Dad’s side. I think he noticed my rolled eyes and hastily added on “Just hold onto it next time.”

I raise my eyebrows, telling him that, that was better. Even though he was older than me, no one messes with my Dad.

When we go down again, I feel much more relaxed. Every few minutes I keep looking at my Dad, making sure he is there. The water was still murky, it was very dirty and dull green. This time going down didn’t take as long. Knowing my Dad was beside me made me feel better. It calmed me down. When we reached the bottom, the same coral I saw seemed brighter than the last time I saw it. It was as if there was more light now. Even though down here, not much light came. It was dark and murky. I could see small patches of light shone onto the sandy ocean floor. It seemed as if everything was better now.

After a few minutes of swimming vertically, I start floating towards the ground. My body tenses up. In panic I rapidly tap whoevers shoulder was closer. Which was Ben’s. He immediately sees the problem and takes hold of my BCD controler and brings me back up. My body relaxes again. Even though no fish have turned up yet, this still felt good. It felt good to be in a new environment. I find my Dad’s hand and squeeze it. I look at him, and he immediately catches my gaze. I try smiling at him, but then realize that I can’t because of the regulator in my mouth.

After about ten minutes I look up and my body tenses up again. I see a colourful string like fish, it was neon coloured and it popped up even in the murky water. In my excitement I stop swimming. I immediately tap my Dad’s shoulder to make him look up, and the unique fish. He finally looks up, and I see the excitement rush through his body. My dad and I don’t spend a lot of time together, so he had wanted to go diving with me for a long time. In the distance I see a lot more of the same type of fish. The first one was neon yellow, then behind it was a neon orange fish, and the last one which was the furthest away was neon pink. They looked like neon string. They were all different colors and made the ocean look very colorful, I had never seen anything like them. I realize that it was the beauty of the sea.

After some time, Dad tapped my shoulder when I looked at him and he pointed down. What would be down? When I looked down I see a black sea urchin. My body tenses up again at the sight of the intimidating fish. In shock I bring my hands up, making sure my legs and hands were nowhere close to it. I inhale my stomach to make sure it was nowhere close to the sea urchin. I suddenly felt like I was going to touch it. After the first, I see more and more. After some time I get used to them. But the beauty of being underwater doesn’t go away.

We swim and swim, I don’t notice time going by, even though no interesting fish come up. I get tapped on the shoulder yet again this time I look up. I stop swimming. Wow. Right in front of me was a shipwreck. The ship was small, and had a lot of the string like fish around it. I see some seaweed growing on the sides. The wood choppy and broken. What happened to the people that boarded this ship? How long has it been here? Suddenly a lot of came up as I was curious about this eerie looking ship. It must have a lot of history. Imagine seeing this in crystal clear water, won’t that be so beautiful? The inside dark and mysterious, making me curious what it would feel like to go inside.

The shipwreck looked exactly how it would in pictures. With the broken sails, and the sides of the ship open. It made me sigh with the beauty. All this was worth it. All the nervousness was worth it.

We break the surface. This time instead of panicked, I am proud of myself. This time when I remove my regulator, and I take a breath I feel new and different. I can’t help but smile. I smile at my Dad, he smiles back and I know how happy he is. With great difficulty I get onto the boat from the side. I sit down on the side and look out into the ocean and smile. Even though so much had gone unplanned, the experience was amazing. I’m happy I stayed calm and still had hope. It was all worth it. I look down into the water and I wish I could go back down.

Created By
Tarini Kadambi
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Created with images by EarlRShumaker - "155" • SFB579 Namaste - "sunrise" • eacuna - "dandelion dandelion seeds taraxacum" • manolofranco - "aurora borealis lofoten norway" • timothy_ckc - "the old times" • orythys - "martinique sunset beach" • Pai Shih - "Flying" • Christian_Birkholz - "flowers flower fiore" • PublicDomainPictures - "shark fish hammerhead shark" • Pok_Rie - "sunrise dramatic sky seascape" • tpsdave - "yellowstone national park wyoming landscape"

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