Nearly 20 years ago, a little boy ran down a rocky stretch of Kovalam beach in Kerala, thrilled with his first look at the sea. He stepped into the water gingerly, allowing the gentle waves to lap at his tiny feet.
The boy then ventured further – and further – into the inviting arms of the sea. But he slipped and fell and the waves, no longer gentle, carried him away. As he bobbed up and down, his gaze turned to the shore where his mother stood, gesturing wildly and shouting for help -- ironically in Hindi and not in her native Malayalam.
As he flailed his arms in a desperate attempt to keep afloat, sea water found its way up his nose and he panicked. The little boy had never experienced such helplessness before.
Suddenly, he felt someone grab him. A group of men playing beach volleyball had seen the little boy struggle and rushed to save him. He didn't look at their faces, he had eyes only for his mother as the Good Samaritans bore him back to her -- safe and unscathed.
That little boy was me. And I am still scared of drowning.