by Jerome Masilamony
It was a sweltering day on the South Pacific island of Guam. My mother was at work, and my brother Rajeev and I pleaded with our dad to let us go to a nearby water park. He finally agreed, but only if I stayed with him at all times. (I was only 4 years old.)
On our way there, Rajeev and I excitedly discussed the rides we would take. “I’m gonna go on the highest waterslide I can find!” said my brother. “You coming with me?”
“Of course!” I indignantly replied.
“You two can go on whatever rides you want to, but I’m coming with you,” said my dad.
“Awwwwhh, man! Can’t we go by ourselves?” I pleaded.
“Maybe,” Dad replied. “We’ll see.”
We’ll see, indeed! I thought to myself. I’m going on every ride they go on! I’m not scared!
At the water park I spent most of my time just looking up at the slides.
“Woooooow! That thing is huge!” I exclaimed. “Can we go on that one?” I pleaded, jabbing my finger at the tallest slide in the park.
“Jerome, let’s go on the other ones first and then go on the tallest one at the very end. OK?”
I considered my dad’s proposition, then agreed. “OK!”
The first few slides were fun, but it seemed I would turn my head and that slide was right there. It kept popping up, as if it was daring me to try it. Just wait! I thought. I’ll ride you a hundred times today! I’m not scared of you! And I really wasn’t. Or so I thought . . .
The moment finally arrived. We were all pumped up for the big slide. Rajeev excitedly cried, “Me first!”
I disagreed. “No, I’m going first!”
We might have kept arguing, but my dad broke in. “Don’t you remember? I’m coming with you.”
We began the long trek up the stairs to the top of the waterslide. As we walked, my brother and I jabbered about how cool everything looked from this high and speculated about how long the line would be. But I couldn’t shake this little feeling of nervousness inside me, as if I was actually scared.
I mentally scolded myself. Come on! I thought. What’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s just a waterslide. If it was dangerous, it wouldn’t even be here. It can’t be that bad! But despite this, I still had a nagging feeling that something bad was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t know how right I would be.
When we eventually reached the top, tubes in tow, we discovered that the line was rather small. Thankfully, the wait wouldn’t be that long. We plunked ourselves down and began waiting. My dad started talking about the ride. “We’ll all go together first, and then maybe you two can go together. Or if you want, I’ll go with one of you, and the other will go alone.”
Yes! I thought excitedly. I can’t believe he’s actually letting us do this, but I don’t care! This is gonna be great! But my mood of extreme euphoria would soon change.
Whoosh! We whizzed down the closed tunnel at breakneck speeds. “Woooooow! This is great!” “Yahoooo!” We hooted and yelled all the way down. Even Dad, who was usually calm and collected, was enjoying the rush. We twisted through the turns, flew over the drops, and eventually splashed down at the bottom.
Soaking wet and laughing, we climbed out of the pool and started the climb back up the stairs to the top. We chattered away about the ride and how much fun it was, how fast we were going, and when we got airborne over a drop.
My dad waited until there was a pause in the conversation, then asked, “Who wants to come with me?”
This question resulted in a lot of bickering back and forth, and almost resulted in a fight, but it was finally resolved that Rajeev would go with Dad, and I would go down alone. All right! I thought ecstatically. This’ll be the best! But it turned into something, let’s say, a little different than what I expected it to be.
Rajeev and my dad had just gone down, leaving me alone on the platform. I began working up my nerve to go. I was a little shaky, but confident. When I got in, everything was just as exciting as last time. The speed and the rush were the same, the tube blocking the watersli–wait. Hey, there wasn’t a tube blocking the waterslide before!
Bump! I ran into the tube, and then realized I had a problem. Someone must have become separated from their tube, and now I was stuck against it. I would have smashed it out of my way, but it was jammed tight. I began trying to kick the tube out, but then I practically fell out of the slide, which ended my attempts. Since I was only 4 years old, if I had fallen to the pool at the bottom, I probably would have drowned, because it was around 8 feet deep.
I began to yell for help, and I got a response, which was only somewhat comforting. Since I had gotten stuck just around the first turn, the staff could access me, but there was nobody around. So I had to get out on my own. I began trying to climb back up, but it was slippery, and I almost fell again.
At that point I realized that I couldn’t do this alone. I prayed a quick prayer. Lord, please get me out of this waterslide. Immediately after I opened my eyes, I noticed the little grooves in the wall where the sections of the slide had been joined. Using these as fingerholds, I finally clawed my way back to the top. I was free!
Looking back, I don’t think the end result would have been the same if I hadn’t prayed. I was scared out of my wits, and I was in a difficult predicament. I might have been seriously injured or even drowned. But whenever I find myself in trouble, I pray, instead of instinctively reacting. Prayer works for me! Why don’t you give it a shot?