I remember very vividly when I was seven years old. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the sun was shining brightly. My playmates who were also my neighbors – Timmy and Tasha – asked me if I wanted to go to their place for a swim. They were older than me. Timmy was eight years old and Tasha was 10 years old. They were siblings. I was so excited of the idea so I immediately ran to my Mom and asked her if I could go with them.
My Mom was preparing food in the kitchen. The day after, we were supposed to throw a welcome party for my Dad who would be coming from Brisbane. So I asked her if I could go to Timmy’s place for a swim. Then in a quick answer she said I can’t. I asked her again and for the second time, she was quick to answer that I can’t. I stayed calm. I went back to the door where Timmy and Tasha were waiting for me. I told them to wait for a few minutes as I change to my trunks and I get my goggles. I lied to them! I hurriedly ran to my bedroom and looked for my swimming get-up. After a few minutes, I was ready for my swim and I went out of the door very quietly and slowly so that my Mom would not notice me.
Honestly, I could hardly remember what I was thinking about during that moment. I don’t know why I lied to Timmy and Tasha. All I was sure of was that I really wanted to go for a swim. It has been a long time since I last went swimming. I was also watching Free Willy the night before and I felt that it increased my desire to go swimming even more.
So now, we were in Timmy’s place. Timmy’s Mom asked me where my Mom was. I told her that she was busy preparing for Dad’s welcome party the next day and that she didn’t have to worry because she gave me the permission to go swimming anyway.
I lied again. In less than an hour, I lied to two elders but for some reasons, I wasn’t really bothered at all I know that I would be safe in the pool and before Mom knows it, I’m back home and she wouldn’t even realize that I was gone.
So we jumped into the pool. The pool was 5 feet deep. That time, I was 4 inches tall. Timmy was as tall as I was but he was a swimmer. He went to swimming school for 2 years. I didn’t tell Tash and Tim that I couldn’t swim. No one and nothing could stop me from going swimming that day. When we were on the pool. I held with me Tim’s floater and I stayed close to the pool bars. Timmy’s parents were watching us from afar. Timmy would show off his swimming strokes, swimming to and from each side of the pool. Tasha asked me if I could swim. I told her that I couldn’t swim as fast and as good as Timmy but I could swim a little. She asked me if I wanted to race with her. I didn’t know how to answer. It means that I would be leaving my floater behind and if that happens, I am sure to drown. I couldn’t even float by myself! And if I drown, my Mom will find out that I disobeyed her and Timmy’s Mom would find out that I lied to her too. So at first, I said I didn’t want to but Tasha was insistent. She was insisting that I race with her. Timmy heard us. At that moment, I didn’t want Timmy to think that I couldn’t swim so I agreed to race with Tasha. Slowly, I tried to push my floaters away but I was holding on to the pool bars. Timmy was counting 1, 2, and 3 and on the third count, Tasha let go and started swimming towards the center of the pool. I kept holding on to the bars but Timmy was insisting that I let go and that I could still swim past Tasha.
So I let go. I could hardly remember what happened next. All I know was that my heart was pounding very loud that I could almost hear it. The first few seconds, I was going up and down the pool. I was gasping for air. I wanted to float but I couldn’t. I started to panic. I could hear Timmy shouting “Swim! You paddle!” Timmy didn’t realize that I was actually drowning. I told him and Tasha that I could swim a little. I was on panic and suddenly I was getting tired of moving up and down and grasping for air. I think I heard Tasha asking me if I was okay. Then I heard a splash. It was Timmy coming for me. I felt Timmy’s arms around my neck then I heard Tasha splashing towards me to assist Timmy. I was having a hard time breathing. They laid me down beside the pool. Everything around me was blurry but I could see panic in Tasha’s and Timmy’s eyes. Then I hear fast steps coming towards me. It was their Mom. “Are you okay? What happened?” I closed my eyes. I thought about my Mom. I am sure she would know about this.
They brought me inside the house. From afar, I could hear Timmy’s Mom talking to somebody on the phone. I knew she was already talking to my Mom. Tasha was beside me. I could feel that she was worried. Timmy came over and asked whether I was okay. I didn’t say anything. Then Timmy’s Mom called Tasha and handed her the phone. I knew she was talking to my Mom! After a few minutes, I heard my Mom’s voice and she was coming towards the door. “What happened?”
I really didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to react. I just hoped that I become totally unconscious so that I would be free from all interrogation. I saw my Mom. She looked at me blankly. When my vision came back to normal, I managed to stand up but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say to Timmy and Tasha. I was very embarrassed and guilty. I didn’t know what to say to their mom and most especially, I didn’t know what to say to my Mom. My Mom said her apologies to everybody that we left Timmy’s place.
On our way home, my Mom started crying. I hate it when my Mom cries. I can’t afford to make her cry. I felt so guilty and I swore to myself that I will never lie to her again! “I don’t know what to do if something happened to you,” she started. All I could say was “I’m sorry” then I started crying too. We were both crying when we reached our doorstep. I confessed to her that I lied and that I was really sincerely sorry for lying to her. She hugged me tight. I was still in tears. I realized how a bad kid I was for lying to my Mom: for lying to Timmy, Tasha and their Mom, for pretending that I could swim and for almost drowning.
That moment, I felt the real meaning of conditional love. I realized that only mothers are capable of loving unconditionally. Instead of punishing me for a wrong thing that I’ve done, she was hugging me. She was crying and telling me that she didn’t know what she would do if she lost me.
Whenever I look back at the incident, I get bothered by the fact that as young as seven years old, I could actually tell a serious lie to my Mom. I am sure that I didn’t have bad intentions when I did that but I am haunted by the fact that “what if something actually happened to me?” I think I will not be able to forgive myself for making my Mom worry too much about my own wrong doing.
Thirteen years later, I am proud to share how the incident has helped me become a better person. My drowning incident made me realize the importance of honesty. I have to admit that in our lives, moments will come when, twisting the truth could free us of more difficult situations; but I look back to the incident and I imagine my Mother’s face and I tell myself that I would never tell a serious lie, ever again. For some people, this could sound a little funny and perhaps unbelievable but today, I could not afford to do something at the expense of people who cares for me truly.
The incident was a history and it has a legacy in my life. For one, it made me realize how a Mother could love his son and daughter unconditionally and second, it made me realize that lying; regardless of whether it’s small or big, white or serious, is not the solution to make some situations easier because more of often than not, when we lie, we trample over somebody’s trust and somebody’s love.