Let’s get to the point: I’m the black sheep of the family. Everyone in the family (except me of course) is an expert swimmer and thus a water sports enthusiast. Hence you can imagine the general scenario on our family trip to Malaysia. In Kuala Lumpur, during our stay at the Genting Highlands, I went gaga over all the rides. I felt so proud: I’d braved the toughest and scariest of rides. And then, that amazing feeling didn’t stay for long as we traveled to Langkawi the next day.
In the morning, all my bravado evaporated as we walked towards the beach and heard my parents plan scuba diving expeditions. My breakfast curdled in my stomach as they told me I HAD to indulge in at least one water sporting activity with them. My mom who never took a no for an answer, suggested that I try parasailing, also pointing out that it didn’t require the parascender to be a swimmer. “And you enjoyed so much at Genting Highland, didn’t you? This would be similar,” she shrugged. “THAT was on land, mom. This can have me fall into the sea and be devoured by sharks!” I protested as she dragged me to join a few people lined up at the pier.
As I waited in the queue and saw people attached to parachutes being towed behind speedboats, I heard them whoop (not sure whether with joy or fear) as they rose into the air. Some of them were even screaming their wits off. That surely wasn’t helping my state of mind, since I was someone whose idea of beach adventure was sea waves lapping at my ankles at the most. If they as much as reached higher than my knees, I’d run towards the shores screaming like a maniac, to my parents’ embarrassment.
Finally it was my turn, and I was made to wear a life jacket (thank God for those!) and harnessed to a parachute. As the speedboat gathered speed, I rose into the air with my eyes screwed shut and teeth grinding. I heard my mom shout out my name, and opened my eyes, trying to locate her in the crowd beneath. It was then that I realised how high above the sea I was. As the air whipped through my hair, I momentarily felt like a goddess soaring over the mere humans beneath, and let out an exhiliarated whoop.
And then the worst of my nightmares happened. To add some adventure to the ride, the speedboat driver turned off his engine and I started decending towards the sea below. As a vivid picture of shark fins encircling me in the water as I drowned slowly flashed through my mind, I started screaming like a banshee and flailed my legs. I shut my eyes and waited for the splash, but my feet merely skimmed the water and I felt the surf spray into my face. I opened my eyes to realize I was rising into the air again. The driver, chuckling to himself, had restarted the engine. I spent the rest of the ride cursing him under my breath and building a mental picture of me feeding him to the sharks.
When I landed on the pier, I let out a sigh of relief and toppled into my mother’s arms. “So? What do you think? Wanna do it again?” she asked, barely hiding a grin while my dad and the rest of the family guffawed at a distance. “NEVER!” I spluttered. That experience had pumped enough adrenaline to last me a lifetime. I promised myself that I’d make it a point to learn how to swim, but that this parasailing experience would be the end of my very short stint as an adrenaline junkie.