Swimming saves lives. Knowing how to swim is a skill that everyone should have, like driving, cycling, cooking (erk!) etc. It’s not a crime not being able to do these, but if you can, it’s an advantage.
My colleague once talked about an incident during her youth that almost changed her life forever. She and her sister used to enjoy taking a dip in the irrigation canal (tali air) at their kampung. They didn’t know how to swim, so they would always stay near the bank where the water was shallower. One day, her sister’s boyfriend offered to take her sister across the canal, something neither of them had ever done before. Being a non-swimmer, the idea of being able to cross the canal sounded exciting. “Don’t worry, just hang on to me,” said the guy. So off they went.
Suddenly, while they were right in the middle of the canal (which was its deepest point) the guy ran out of energy. Guess what he did? He let go of his girlfriend! The girl who was obviously helpless tried to grab his hand, his head, his hair, any part of his body that she could reach. They struggled to keep afloat. My colleague couldn’t do anything but to watch them in horror.
Thankfully, it wasn’t their “death do us part” moment just yet. After much struggling, they managed to get to the bank. There was no point fighting over who was at wrong, they were all to blame by playing at the canal in the first place.
Another colleague who heard her story had only one thing to comment, “Kata sanggup sehidup semati.. lautan api sanggup direnangi.. ni tali air pun tak lepas!”
It reminded me of the song “Balada Cinta Romeo” by Kumpulan Gila-Gila:
Andai antara kita ada lautan api… sayang…
Pasti akan ku renang, tapi selepas hujan… sayang…
Perhaps there’s some truth in that!