Oh jeez! Today was not going to be fun. Meenu had been half hoping that today would be as overcast as the day before. But no such luck. It was all blue skies, with not a cloud to be seen. Perfect scuba diving weather. Great.
It wasn’t that Meenu wanted her friends to miss the dive. They had all been looking forward to it so much. But she herself was quite nervous about stepping into that cold, cold water. What if she sank? What if something bit her? What if the mouth-piece-thingy came off and she couldn’t breathe and she drowned? What if a shark ate her? Jeez! She really had to control her imagination and just enjoy the day. It wouldn’t be so bad. At least the instructor looked capable enough. She had a thermal suit on, and she could always swim couldn’t she? Plus, she was going second, so she could watch Sid dive before her.
She sat and hummed a little ditty to herself while she waited for her turn, wondering what she would get to see underwater. They had been told the water was quite clear, so they should get to see quite a bit. And from what she had seen in the movie, they would get to see coral reefs, shoals of colourful fish, maybe even a sea turtle. In spite of herself, she couldn’t avoid the grin of anticipation tugging at her lips.
Ah, David, the instructor was beckoning to her. She sat down on the deck and David fastened the weights and the oxygen tank on her back. He told her to pull on her flippers and her goggles. Then he walked her to the edge of the boat, asked her to stick a leg out, and shoved her in! She went down like a rock, and then came back up, spluttering indignantly. She glared at David, when he bobbed up beside her in the water. He grinned back.
After some final adjustments, they sank underwater. As her eyes got used to the dimness, she realized how beautiful the sea looked when seen this way. It was an intense turquoise blue, with shafts on sunlight breaking through the waves above. At the edge of her vision, something gleamed. Meenu twisted around and nearly gasped in surprise. A shoal of simply enormous silver fish was making its way towards her. She managed to stop her jaw dropping just in time; it would not be the healthiest thing for her if the pipe fell out.
As the shoal moved in around them, Meenu twisted around in delight, revelling in the experience. When the last fish was gone, they moved on, going deeper and deeper. She saw more shoals of fish, even a bunch of rainbow coloured ones. With the torch in his hand, David pointed out a starfish and some sea anemones. Lower down, Meenu did get to see her sea turtle. It was basking in a shaft of light from above. She wanted to touch the turtle, but she had been warned not to touch anything, for fear of infection.
They had been underwater about 20 minutes now. They would be going to the surface soon. By now, David had let go off her hand, which he had been holding initially, and she was able to swim freely.
Suddenly, she glimpsed something that didn’t quite blend in against the background of the reefs. There were barnacles and other undersea-matter everywhere, but she thought it looked like a chest. It certainly looked like one, exactly what a treasure chest should look like. As her over-active imagination took over, Meenu’s heart pounded. What if it was a treasure chest, and she, Meenu, made a great discovery? Visions of jewelled tiaras and gold necklaces floated in her mind. Oooh!
Meenu tried to move downwards towards the chest, but she didn’t get far. Something had hold of her collar. She twisted around to see David making signs that they had to go up to the surface. She frantically pointed downwards, but David didn’t seem to get it. He kept pointing to her tank and tugging at her collar, dragging her upwards, away from her treasure chest.
By the time they broke the surface however, Meenu was doubting what she had seen. A treasure chest, really? She chided herself, rationalizing what she had seen. Of course a treasure chest wouldn’t lie there unnoticed for so long, not when so many people dived here daily. And there certainly couldn’t be jewels inside it. It would have been plundered a long time back. And as with a dream, her conviction about what she had seen faded. Had it been a box? Maybe it had been an oddly shaped rock? It had been quite dark, so far down. And she had never really gotten to examine it. Maybe, maybe..maybe if she had gotten a closer look. But now she would never know.
Neeraja is a member of LSD. She wrote this little piece in a fit of enthusiasm after a dive into the blue waters at Costa Brava, Spain.