Summer Descent at Baga Beach

Assignment: 500-700 word human interest piece.

In the summer of 2007 I was strapped to a harness on a boat resting on the waters of the Arabian Sea.  The day’s heat stung until the coastal breeze swept the skin.  The Goan afternoon sky was a motionless reflection of the vast, blue water.  My parachute was multicolored, but I barely remember the colors.  I was tied to ropes that held me to this world, but eventually physically disabled me for the rest of my life here.

I had not left the United States since our permanent move from Bangladesh in 1994.  My dad was completely opposed to the idea of his first born leaving his sight, let alone his residing country. I wanted to see the world.  I wanted an adventure!  And, when the opportunity to visit my newly-wedded, newly-relocated cousin in India presented itself after my sophomore year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took it up.  While in Goa, I took it up to the heavens.

A stranger approached us on our second day at Baga Beach.  We all wanted to go parasailing.  It was 700 rupees—only 20 US Dollars.

His boat drove us far from shore.  I bubbled with disbelief and anticipation.

“I wanna go first!” I announced, overzealously, to the passengers, five of my cousins also visiting from the States.  They stopped chattering as the boatmen slackened the ropes to release me.  We all held our breaths. The parachute lifted me.

Then, it was silent.

 

I cannot recall my ascension, but at some point I felt like I was awakened mid dream.  Even though my eyes were open the whole time, I felt like I had them closed until that moment.  I awoke to see eternity—silent and ever-extending eternity.  It was blue sky.  Beyond some dispersed clouds, I saw that sky meeting blue ocean. My brain could not focus on one point of the vibrant monochromatic scene it was experiencing.  I felt the rush of soundless adrenaline.

My mind was excited, yet my body was still and cozy in a constricting harness.  I searched for the boat.  It seemed miles away below me and so small.  It was a toy boat in the distance, and I didn’t care to look at it for long.  My focus was the consuming blue that was feeding my high.  As I looked toward the sky again for the image ahead, above and surrounding me, the silence broke without warning.  And, quite nearly, it broke my face.

I felt a sudden pressure on my left cheek.

Then, a sharp sting.

 

“What just happened?” I was startled and confused.  It didn’t feel like the sweet sting of the Goan sun, but a painful one.  I was yards away from my boat.  Around me there was endless space and no one.

What just happened? Again, I asked my

 

self.  I looked once more for the vision that exhilarated me just a moment before, but this blue canvas was moving now.  When I realized I was falling, all I could do was wait.

I discovered, six months later, that the impact of the rope that snapped off the boat and whipped my face resulted in a damaged retina.  After the wounds on my face healed, I was left with only that scar, never to regain vision in my left eye.   This was permanent, yet I never regretted the experience.  I got a glance at a beautiful eternity of blue, and I will never see the world the same way again.

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