The unexpected lesson

2016-12-30 09:27
‘Did he really expect me to balance on that flimsy board in the middle of the ocean?’

‘Did he really expect me to balance on that flimsy board in the middle of the ocean?’ (Supplied)

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It was finally December. School was over for the year and I was on holiday on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. What could be better than that? The smell of salt lingered in the air and the monotonous rhythm of the crashing waves instilled a sense of calm in my mind. The sun felt warm on my skin and the sand seemed to comfort my soul as I walked along the shore with my brother. With all these thoughts in my mind, I strolled on with a sense of eternal bliss that would surely never be disrupted.

After walking for a short while, we sat down on a small embankment and gazed out into the vast ocean. As my eyes panned across the horizon, I spotted a group of surfers far out into sea.

They looked vulnerable, small and insignificant. I could not imagine anything worse than being in their position. The waves were enormous, the water looked black and menacing, and merely the thought of being so far away from safety was terrifying.

However, I knew that I would never be in their situation, so I put aside my fears, stood up and followed my brother back to the hotel.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my brother’s voice calling my name. To my surprise, he was already dressed and I could smell the sun-tan lotion that he was vigorously applying to his arms. When I asked him what he was getting ready for, he grinned slyly in my direction before replying that we had our first surfing lesson that morning. I was paralysed with shock and fear. Surely I must have misheard him.

He continued to explain that he had been so entranced with the surfers the day before, that he had decided to sign us up for a week of surfing lessons.

I sprang out of bed and immediately began protesting. I pleaded with him to spare me and go alone but he simply ignored my claims. He assured me that I was overreacting and that everything would be fine. In any case, I could not back out now because the lessons were already paid for. I sighed in defeat and sat on the edge of my bed.

Today would definitely be the worst (and possibly the last) day of my life.

I reluctantly pulled on my costume and made my way to breakfast. Would this be my very last meal? I ate heartily just in case. Then, at 8.30 am we left for the beach. My brother could barely contain his excitement and he walked ahead with a sense of confidence in his stride. Enthusiasm flowed from his smile and he occasionally turned back to give me a reassuring wink.

In complete contrast, I walked as slowly as possible. My trepidation was overwhelming and my feet seemed to become heavier with each step. I was terrified, but I knew that I could do nothing to stop my approaching fate.

The only other person on the beach was our instructor. He sat close to the water, surrounded by four or five surf boards of varying size. As we approached, he introduced himself and immediately started the lesson. He used one of the surfboards to demonstrate how to paddle and how to stand up to ride a wave. I looked incredulously at him while he did this. Did he really expect me to balance on that flimsy board in the middle of the ocean? However, before I had time to protest, he strapped the surfboard to my ankle and guided me into the waves. Once we were far enough into the water, he instructed me to ride the first wave flat on my stomach.

I nervously nodded and when the first good wave approached, I stayed flat on the board and prayed earnestly that I would not fall off. To my surprise, I stayed on top of the board and I actually enjoyed the experience. Suddenly, a new sense of hope filled my mind.

Maybe I was going to survive the day.

I made my way back out to the instructor and we waited for another wave. This time, he said I could try standing up. I still felt nervous, but I had gained some hope that I might have a small chance of success. An excellent wave approached and my instructor gave me a good push.

I moved quickly but smoothly and somehow, I stood up! A broad smile spread across my face and I could hear my instructor cheering. I had done it!

I gave my brother a wink and then I looked across the horizon at a group of new holiday-makers watching me fearfully from the safety of the rocks. Would they be joining me tomorrow?

About the author:

Morgan Rowland is a 2016 matriculant from The Wykeham Collegiate. She has a great passion for music and community work, and she plans to study medicine in Pretoria next year.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  true stories of kzn 2016

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