I usually get terrified with the very idea of taking a dip in a holy river/lake (irrespective of fact that its supposed to posses divine powers). My dad made me take a dip in one such holy river (Tamarabarani) last weekend. It was one of my most scary experiences. My plan was to just fill my palm with a little bit of water and sprinkle it on top of my head. My dad had other plans. As soon as we reached the temple ghat, he requested one of the ladies there (a local resident, who was busy washing clothes) to take me with her and make me take a proper dip in the river. I, of course, was terrified.
Before I tell you what actually happened, let me rewind back to when I was 8 years old. The four of us (me, my bro, mom and dad) had gone on a pilgrimage to Haridwar and Rishikesh. Regardless of the fact that Ganga is polluted as hell, a dip in the river is something that elders like my dad think is customary. So, the four of us proceeded to the ghat. As per usual, I refused to take a dip. A few minutes later, my dad caught me unawares, lifted me up and ducked me under water. He kept me there for a few seconds after which I came up spitting water as well as fire (directed at dad)! Ever since this incident, I have had a sort of phobia when it comes to taking a dip in a river. I'm not entirely sure if this can be clubbed with hydro-phobia :P
Anyway, back to the Tirunelveli-Tamarabarani incident... I held on to the lady's hand and proceeded down the ghat steps. Even though I was hesitant to go deep into the river, the lady kept taking me further and further in. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3..... finally, I was at the penultimate step, prior to the start of the river bed. During my first dip, I forgot to hold my breath and so came out spitting the excess water that I swallowed. I had also inhaled some amount of water through my nose. Basically I was a little short of turning blue. She was not 'satisfied' with my first dip as the top of my head was still bone dry. I went in two more times after which she said that I could go back up. As I proceeded to walk back up the steps, the current in the river started pulling me (and the lady) away from the ghat. We had no control over it. As I was being pulled away, I started going under. My mom relised that I was drowing and started screaming for help. No one in my family can swim.
Meanwhile, my brother was busy clicking photographs! Even though I was several feet away, my dad's reflexes kicked in. He came down a few steps and extended his hand towards me. Little did he realise that the steps were extremely slippery. He slipped and fell into the river, but somehow managed to get up without hurting himself. Meanwhile I was flapping my arms and legs trying not to drown. In my bid to stay afloat, I realised that as I was holding on to lady who was trying to rescue me and in the process drowning her too. A few minutes later, I managed to feel and locate a large rock on the river bed. I kicked hard on it and sprang up. Finally, my rescuer got hold of me and pulled me back to safety. I saw shock and terror written on all three faces staring down at me.
When I was drowing, for a few seconds there, I thought my end had indeed come and that this was how I was gonna die. I thank my lucky stars that I was rescued in time.