A Lesson I Learnt With A Price

June 21, 2012
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Many years ago, the phrase “A lesson learnt with a price” simply brought nothing to my mind. It was meaningless, until that very unfortunate day. My family and I moved to California two years ago. I hated the sight of it at first but after weeks of settling down, it grew on me and now, I am officially a Californian. California is well known for its sandy beaches lined with palm trees looming over the streets and blazing sun shine that will leave you with burns if you forget to apply sun block on. My love for California started when I saw a group of beach boys with their sun kissed skin and ruffled hair heading towards Saint Matilda Bay not far from Rodeo Drive. Curious, I followed them. It was love at first sight. It was fate. There, I stood on the pavements, dumbstruck by God’s magnificent creation. The Californian waves were so blue and crystal clear as it rose higher and higher before finally reaching the sandy bays. My jaws fell open as wide as an open door and goosebumps started to prick on every inch of my skin. My eyes caught on a man in his early twenties running into the sea and mounting onto his surf board. He started paddling and paddling before finally entering the wave. For a moment he vanished in the monstrous water, only to reappear riding on top of the wave, looking rather proud. At that instant, I knew I belonged out there. I knew I belonged to the waves.

It did not take me long to register myself into my school’s surfing club. My parents disapproved of my selection of curricular activity and suggested I joined other less dangerous and risky clubs such as Asian Studies or Photography. Being the iron headed lass, I told them off and went ahead with surfing. The following week, I purchased an amateur surf board designed for beginners at a sports centre near my home. After watching several surfing tutorials on YouTube and taking up a few extra surfing classes, I had more confidence in myself and knew it was finally time to put my surfboard to a test. That summer morning, I slipped into a surfing suit and headed put to Saint Matilda Bay. The sun was above our heads and the beach was already starting to crowd with loads of tourists. Feeling the anxiety building up in me, I decided to observe the other surfers beforehand. Perhaps I could learn a trick or two by watching their moves. Once the anxiety level started to deteriorate, I convinced myself I could do this. Leaving my personal belongings in a rented locker, I headed to the rough seas. “Be nice to me.” I whispered as I stepped foot into the warm blue sea.

Playing flashbacks in my head, I did exactly what my instructor taught me months ago. I laid flat on my board and paddled with my hands. The continuous paddling made my palms and arms sore. Nevertheless I was already out here and it would be a shame to turn around now. As I paddled, I caught eye of an incoming wave roughly about a few yards away. Adrenaline started to fill my bloodstream, the palpitations of my heart increased and I got excited. I positioned myself onto the surf board and made a u-turn so that I was now facing the beach. I could hear the sound of waves getting closer and closer by the minute. Suddenly I was no longer at my original position, but high in the waves. I leveled my body and bent my knees so that I was firm on the board. I put out my hands to balance myself and at that moment, I could see the water beneath me. It was simply magical, extraterrestrial and sublime. I ran my hands along the curve of the wave as I surfed beside it. Smiling, I knew I was doing rather well until I started to wobble on the board, lose balance and skidded off my board. Everything started to blur. All I could see was bubbles and my board drifting away. The sea water stings my eyes, forcing me to shut them. I gasped for air however the water current was too strong, too rough and too violent. I could not take control of my body. Instead, the wave tossed me around as though I was being juggled endlessly in a circus show.

At that instant I felt my body going numb and I was running out of oxygen in my lungs. My eyes slowly closed shut and I felt myself spiritually drifting away into another dimension. I felt at ease, calm and content. However at the same time, I felt lost, scared and alone. I continuously asked myself where was I. minutes which felt like hours never seemed to end until my eardrums started to vibrate and an irritating sharp sound disturbed my troubled thoughts. I felt my chest being pounded as thought as someone was tap dancing on my chest. At the back of my head, I could hear a man’s voice, “Hang in there child!” it was loud and aggressive, followed by more poundings on my chest. Suddenly my eyes opened and water came out of my mouth as I coughed and coughed endlessly. I felt exhausted and dropped back onto the warm sand beneath me. The blazing rays of the sun pierced my eyes and I could see many black silhouettes surrounding me. I strained my eyes to get a clearer view and after a few minutes of adjusting my eyes, I realized it was a lifeguard on duty and two paramedics from St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Are you okay child?” the lifeguard asked. Of course I was not okay, I wanted to scream but all the energy was drained out of me and I lay there lifelessly.

The paramedics further inspected my body for any injuries and then strapped an oxygen mask to my face, I breathed in the oxygen and immediately felt a little bit better. As they transferred me onto a stretcher and into an ambulance, I suddenly could feel a sharp, agonizing and excruciating pain down on my knee. I raised my head and to my utter horror, I saw my knee bleeding. That was when I started to cry. The paramedics assured me I would be in good hands as soon as I arrive at the hospital. When we finally did, they steered the stretcher to top speed into an emergency room for operation. That was when I say my parents running towards me at the corner of my eye. At that moment I just wanted them to be by my side, where I felt safest at. A nurse in the emergency room took off the oxygen mask and cleaned my wounded knee with iodine and antiseptic. A doctor with glistening white coat came in and whispered something inaudible to the nurse. The nurse then told me that she was going to sedate me and I found myself falling into slumber. Hours later, I was awoken by my parent’s soft and concerned voice, “Sweetie?” my mum held onto my hand tightly with a sympathetic and weak smile. I opened my eyes and croaked, “Am I going to be okay?”. My head felt dizzy. The same doctor came in and explained to me that when I fell from my board I accidentally scrapped my knee onto a coral and hit my head onto a rock. They had to stitch my forehead and put a cast around my knees which could only be taken off after five months. He also added that I may still be able to surf again however it was not advisable. When the doctor left, I started to sob and my parents comforted me. If only I have listened to my parent’s advice in taking Asian Studies or Photography instead of surfing. Without a doubt surfing is fun but the consequences we have to pay makes surfing not as beguiling as before. I suppose I have learnt a lesson by my mistake, however I had to pay it with a price that scarred me for life. I would never be the same again. This torment will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life as I could have lost my life in that incident.

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