by M P Prabhakar
This was just after the war and a lot of things were hard to come by. My friends and I were about ten years old, so playing back then was a lot different from today’s young. If we were not in school, we got together outside looking for adventure and went off the beaten track.
We lived in Johore Baharu (now Johor Bharu) and were students of Bukit Zahara School. We used to roam about away from the town centre. Those were days filled with anticipation and fueled by imagination. We made many discoveries but none as exciting as the day we stumbled upon a water treatment facility. There was a pool with a suction pit at one end. We were very excited by this pool; in our 10 year old minds it represented a new frontier. Like that oft-quoted phrase by fans of science fiction, Space is the New Frontier, this body of water added another dimension to our adventures. Yes, we jumped into that pool right away. One day out of every week thereafter would find us splashing about shouting with joy at the shallow end of the pool.
We found this remote pool so inviting that had there been any warning signs we would not have bothered. What can I say, we were young and reckless. But we did know enough to keep the pool our secret. With water so clear and sparkling, and some small fish flitting about, it looked like, and was in our young minds, a paradise. The shallow end enabled us to wade and submerge ourselves. It did not strike us that the pool could be dangerous; we were safe as long as we did not go to the deeper end.
Soon we found that by holding our breath we could float. By moving our hands and legs we could move in water. Heedless of the dangers of the suction pit, we eventually learned to swim. Many endless hours of joy went by during that school holiday.
One day though, can’t remember what came over me, maybe it was the impending end of the school holidays, but I shared our adventures with my late father, Mr M. Nair, who was a teacher at Bukit Zahara. Perhaps it was the hope that he would allow me the weekly trip to the pool, even on school days. Instead, he immediately told me to stop visiting the pool. And thus ended our little adventure.
Unfortunately, I did not have a camera then to record our adventures at that pool, but here is a picture of me as a young boy.
About the author – M P Prabhakar was a teacher and educator before retiring from the Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of Education. He lives in Petaling Jaya and enjoys his garden and poetry. You can read his musings at: https://prabhaspoems.blogspot.com/