It takes a lot to do something first. Remember the first time you bunked exams, the first time you developed a crush. But this was the first time I developed a bond with nature. The first time I went underwater diving and heard the fascinating sound of my own breath.
The thought of breathing underwater in a nice and safe environment was overwhelming. Scuba diving is no more a `man sport’ but for the image of a tuffy black wear. I only wished it was done in a far more feminine appearance.
Leaving Kozhikode on a 5-day tour to the Andaman Islands, there was no second thought on undertaking scuba diving at Beach 2 of Havelock Island. I was asked to fill a form mentioning any ailments. And it was a big NO for all questions posed. Next I was asked to change into the scuba gear, the tight-fit stuff, and for the first time I felt shy exposing my legs knee down.
I was about to put my life in the hands of an instructor. I was taken to the beach and made to walk a few meters till I reached the end of the boat. I found it difficult to walk in the waters.
After a brief theory session to make me understand the basics of scuba diving, my instructor assisted me in putting my scuba jacket. Weights were tied to my waist and I was told how to control buoyancy.
Fears and anxieties that come along with the thought of breathing underwater for the first time creeped in.
My instructor first made me comfortable with breathing underwater. He directed us to communicate only with hand gestures. `OK, All fine, Stop, Ear pressure unevenness’ were given sign language. All set, I was asked to take a few dips with the regulator put into my mouth. I am going to enter into a world that I did not know and I was damn scared, for sure.
My instructor took me under his wings. Slowly I sank into the sea. I remember when I started sinking. My cry, my yell will be left unheard. For the first few minutes, my only hope was my instructor.
Gradually I started gliding into the sea. Everything moved at a snail’s pace. I kept myself under control regardless of the water level. I started padding the waters just like a swimmer. For I though some movements only could push me further. Down 5 meters, the life I saw was magical. I saw the dancing fishes of all hues, corals swaying and the smooth sea floor. The nameless fishes, tiny and medium, zigzagging around me. I literally stopped breathing. The place I saw was most beautiful than any place I had seen.
For the first time, I fell in love with the waters. With the sea. The vibrant colours of the coral reefs, the amazing underwater life and the tiny fishes which made me feel super excited.
In the eerie silence under the water, the most mesmerizing thing I noticed was the sound of my own breath. I could hear my own breath. It was captivating. My instructor was close to me, holding my tank and tugging me along to show the beautiful world. Often, he made sure everything was ok. I could feel discomfort in my ears and my instructor kept pressing my nose to release the feeling of fullness in my ears.
I had my regulator in mouth for almost half an hour and in the struggle to breathe I did swallow some salt water.
What attracted me was I was being photographed from all angles. With the marine life, I felt that this place was far more better, a place where you can be your own.
Going down, I could feel my ear pressure causing discomfort. I signaled to my instructor to stop. I was reminded of my breathing ailments only at that point of time. Off he pulled me out from the shallow waters and I was there floating. The thought that I had been under water for about 28 minutes and have gone 10 meters deep amazed me. It was like a dream for me and I would like to be in those dreams again and again and again.