I watched my best friend drown. I could have called the lifeguards or tried at least to enter the shallow water.
But I have seen how drowning could reveal too much about the people you love.
I once watched a video of a girl pulling her father down into the pool, while thrashing around, trying to gain balance, she had her father locked in a tight grip. Despite being bigger than her, the man could not wrestle himself from her grip, he got too much water in his lungs, she broke his nose in the process and he drowned instead. She lived.
You see, she was desperate to live. Drowning people are quite more dangerous than hired killers. A hired killer might be negotiated with, cajoled or even pacified. A drowning person just wants to live by all means.
Stanley had been a great friend, my only friend actually. He was like a brother to me. We ate together, learned to cycle, walked to school, dated the same year for the first time. He lost his virginity, I remained a prude for a while.
Stanley would leave his campus to mine at a moment’s request. There was the day he had a date with Bola, his ex now. I had taken ill so badly that I could only manage to text him before passing out on my room floor. I woke up to see his wet face, Stanley had sat all night by my side, crying for me.
You see, Stanley was an enigma, I was just another human. No one knew my ambitions, desires and no one cared to know. My best friend was known all over town. I would hardly take an okada to school and the rider won’t ask me about my tall handsome friend. Everyone loved him and no I was not jealous, I didn’t want his life. He was just him and I was me.
We had gone to the beach with a bunch of friends, it was a picnic or rather camping trip. The girls had decided they wanted to go for a hike into town so I stayed back with Stan on our lonely part of the beach.
He had pulled off his cloths, run into the water and went off swimming. I kept watch from the beach. I had no interest in risky adventures. I was just a third wheel for the picnic.
My approach to life has always been that there are things that just must happen. The fact that I got the chance to text Stanley before collapsing the other day was a sign that I had a chance and it was not yet time for me to die.
So how Stanley chose me, someone who could not even swim in a fish tank to stand guard while he risked the huge waves at the beach remains a point in favour of my decision to watch and wait. To see if he would survive.
The waves had suddenly gone crazy, I could see them rising up to twenty storeys tall. Stanley saw them too because he started swimming back to shore. The first wave that hit took him under for more than two minutes but it seemed like an hour. He came back up, I couldn’t see much except for his red shirt, and his arms searching for anything to grab hold of. I watched.
The second wave came and swept him further offshore, this was when I knew his fate was sealed. I was not getting in the water and neither would any other human get in it. If you have never seen desperation before, then you should watch people drown. It’s in that moment they lose all their sanity, their beauty, decorum and strength, they would gladly take another life just to have theirs.
I knew my friend was in one of those waves and I was not ready to give my life for his.
Now you know how much strength it takes for anyone to save a drowning human, it’s probably your life for theirs. No one does that except they are deluded, foolish or they are the son of God. I wrote the epitaph on Stanley’s tombstone “he was a great friend” it read.