Meeting fear in the dark lake

Dusk was soon handing herself to the dark and the three of us are standing on the rocks by the lake.
The lake which has a signboard outside saying, “Beware of crocodiles.”
The villagers say it is a hoax, so that the tourists will swim in a nearby beach whose shops can profit.
We ourselves had swum in the lake, the previous day in the sun’s company.

But right now is completely different.
The rocks casting dark shadows in the darkness that deepened every second, brought alive all our fears.
The crocodiles, whether or not they were hiding beneath those deep black waters, were alive in our imagination, lurking somewhere far beneath, waiting.
It is all so beautiful as long as we are standing outside, looking at the sweeping landscape begin to dream in the night, but we had come here to jump in.

Wasi heroically says something about swimming to a far off rock and back, but quickly changes his mind.
“So I’m going to have a smoke over it.”, says Tanzim as he sits down on a rock to light his cigarette.
We are all staring at the water when Wasi says, “Look there, the eyes staring out.”
“What? Where?”, we ask. It was his attempt to get us to completely change our minds. A cup floating in the water appears as the crocodiles snout and by now there is no way I’m jumping in either. There is not a soul far in sight but for the three of us and the crocodiles in our mind.

In one crazy moment, I ask my guardian Angel to protect me. Wasi runs and dives into the water first and I follow him. Pitch black bottomless darkness within.
We swim out in a matter of seconds.
Me and Tanzim jump in the second time, and the manner in which we jump back out, both throwing ourselves at Wasi, arms and legs beating the water madly, to get us out, is beyond hilarious.

We laugh hard as we ride into the stars and the rice fields, our bodies and hearts soaked in the lake’s sweetness, feeling more alive than ever.
Even if just for a few moments, we had dove into our fears to find they were silly voices in the head, that die the moment we embrace them. As I turn back to look, while the bike drifts through the road back home, fireflies ignite the path.

by SHENAZ WAHID

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