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‘Have you swam in a pool before?’

‘No. Mostly only in my village’s well and ponds.’

‘Well, you say? Sounds scary for a girl.’

‘I toughed it out. After a while, I even enjoyed it.’

‘I simply can’t believe it. Did you let out girlish screams when you saw a frog or a snake?’

‘Just the first time and I was 5 then. You have it all wrong.’

‘Haha! Do I? Why don’t you clear it up for me?’

‘My mom took me swimming one summer. She carried me as we climbed down. The water was deep and maybe a little dark coloured. I was scared and I told her so. But the well wasn’t too big and she was a powerful swimmer. She taught me to stay afloat by moving my feet.’

‘Sounds like a story you made up. Was this well you speak of as big as this pool?’

‘Obviously not. It was tiny in comparison. But it was what we had access to. The snakes would swim right below my legs. They would brush against me and I would scream too. No matter how often I swam it always freaked me out a little. But I never stopped going back. I wonder if I would enjoy it as much now; it’s been many years.’

‘Why did you stop going? Too old for the well?’

‘Too shy for it. When I hit puberty, my mother’s otherwise free spirit began making strict rules. One of them was no going to the well.’

‘Strange. She was an adult when she used to come with you as a child right?’

‘She came only the first summer and even that for a few days. While I would swim freely in a petticoat, she would dip in her saree itself. I admired her grace as she moved in the water and in that small space.’

‘I am curious, did you learn to swim or did you learn to survive in the water?’

‘Initially, just to survive. Then I ventured into the water body by our village border. The teenage boys would play there. I observed them and learnt to splash around too.’

‘Somehow I cannot believe you. It all seems made up or unreal.’

‘What’s your story? Swam in a pool? Come with me to my village. The well is a nice experience.’

‘Didn’t you say teenage girls aren’t allowed anymore?’

‘What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Plus I would often sneak out and lounge in the waters in the moonlight.’

‘Sounds romantic and scary. Aren’t there any dangerous animals in the water? Is it healthy? Will my skin adjust?

‘I never thought to ask any of those questions. So sadly, I have no answers.’

‘Let’s go.’