Swimming Pool, Students’ Union Building Complex. University of Ibadan.
“Guy, this is serious fun. Come and join nah”, He said from inside the pool, splashing water up and letting it fall on himself and the “unfortunate” others around him.
“Tony, you of all people know that I can’t swim an inch! Stop trying to tease me.” I said, glancing up from my phone’s screen briefly, before turning back to it.
“Ah! Jeez! You are such a bore”, He replied, rolling up his eyes.
I laughed softly.
“Thanks Bro. I love you”, I said deliberately and held my breath for his sure protest.
“Hey!” He exclaimed, “Don’t paint bad impressions of me on the minds of the fine ladies here o. Don’t spoil market for me!” He said, looking around, “Baes and Boos, it’s my pleasure to announce to you all that I’m the straightest guy alive!”
I practically burst into hard laughter this time. I almost fell over from my seat in the viewing shed of the swimming pool.
“Tony, please…”, I said amidst laughter.
“Okay. Agreed. You can’t swim. But at least, would you carry your lazy self here and take some pictures?” He said, smiling.
“Okay… At least, that, I can do.” I replied jovially.
“Come right away then!”
“In a sec.”
I rose from my seat and traced my way to the pool’s edge where the pool was deepest. I have always admired Tony’s daring heart. Since when I could differentiate my right hand from my left, I have always hated anything water, except when it comes to drinking, cooking or doing my laundry with it. Having my bath, especially with cold water, every morning had always been a herculean task I do not look forward to. Unlike me, Tony could swim in any kind of water body. He is so skillful at it that he often ventures into the deepest parts. Most times, while performing some of his most dangerous stunts inside water, he had always had me practically chewing out my heart.
Earlier that day, when he informed me of his plan to visit the swimming pool, I had told him that I was not interested. Truthfully, I was supposed to have a group meeting on an assignment with some of my classmates. However, ten minutes to the start of the meeting, I got a Whatsapp notification from the group leader that the meeting would not be holding again for reasons best known to him alone. Having nothing else to do, I had resolved to stay in our room, reading, while Tony went on with his plan of visiting the pool. But somehow, in some ways I could not decipher, he had managed to convince, or confuse me rather, in his usual charismatic way, that I could not be reading in the room, “updating my own brain” (in his words), while he was playing his life away at the pool; stressing playfully the fact that he could not afford me to make him look unserious to others with my bookish attitudes, and adding that if he goes down, both of us would go down together, being best of friends.
Yeah… I did not mention the fact that despite our unending list of irreconcilable differences, Tony had always been, and is still my best friend.
“Hey Fun-lover! Would you pose for some pictures?” I said to him as I got to his side of the pool, while I tried to activate the camera application on my android phone.
“Not until I make you considerably wet, Bro…”, He replied as his hands dived deep into the pool to splash up water at me.
“No…No…Tony! No…!”, But my protests were quite useless as the first torrents of pool water rose in the air like pearly missiles and splashed against my face and shirt-covered chest.
“Jeez…Tony! I’m so going to kill you when you come out of that pool”, I said to him, gnashing my teeth.
He laughed and splashed some water at me again. This time, I was expecting it, so, I dodged the watery missiles quite efficiently.
“Now, stop that and pose. Let me take some pictures.” I said.
“Okay Boss.” He replied.
He started to act out different poses while I tried to capture the moment with my phone’s camera as best as I could.
“I’ve told you, Rebecca, this guy isn’t worth it! He doesn’t deserve you and yet, his stupid ego would not let the idiot realize that…” A light, sonorous voice said faintly in the background.
I was tempted to look around for the voice, but that moment was when Tony was pulling one of his most difficult water stunts. So, I just had to stick to the camera and take his pictures.
“But, it’s not that easy, you know… I still have some feelings for the guy…”, Another voice, deep and rich, said faintly in the background again.
‘Reply to the first voice’, I thought.
“Feelings my foot!”, The light, sonorous voice replied.
I was right. “Those two voices are together.” I thought again.
Just then, Tony decided to be his mischievous self again and started to splash water on me yet again.
“Oh Tony! Do you have to do this?” I exclaimed softly as the first drops of water landed on me.
“Hey! Excuse Me!”, The light, sonorous voice.
I turned around instantly and my vision met a face playing host to several racing beads of pool water. The face, which had a slightly irritated look on it, belonged to a rich-dark skinned lady of average height. She was considerably plump and a pair of eye glasses with thick lenses sat on the bridge of her nose. She was dressed in a slightly tight swim suit and a rubber bath cap covered her hair. Beside her stood a slimmer lady, dressed in almost the same way, also with a pair of eye glasses. Dark skinned too, and a bit taller than the first lady, she looked rather calmer and more understanding than the first lady.
“This must be Rebecca”, I said in my mind, referring to the earlier mention of her name.
“Errrrrr…”, I started, clearing my throat, “I’m sorry ladies, it was not an intentional act”, I apologized, reminding myself to give Tony the beating of his life when I’m through with the offended ladies.
“We understand. It’s nothing really.” It was Rebecca who replied.
“Oh! Thank you Ma”, I said, giving her one of my brightest smiles.
“No problem”, The first lady replied this time, “Come on Becca, let’s go.” She said to her friend.
I watched them take almost a dozen steps away from us before I started to turn towards Tony to serve him some verbal lashes before the eventual physical ones. Almost immediately, I heard a sharp cry; then, a loud splash of water, followed by another loud and frightened cry of “PRECIOUS!” by the lady I had come to recognize as Rebecca.
Instantly, I turned around sharply towards their direction. The sight that met my gaze was that of the first lady struggling frantically inside the pool and sinking rapidly. I looked around quickly. All the life guards were not within rescuing distances. Tony was too stunned by the suddenness of it all to think of attempting to rescue her. Rebecca was too frightened to do anything and here was I, fully dressed with virtually no knowledge of swimming. Yet, I knew her successful rescue was a race against time.
Without thinking, I dropped my phone on the ground, raced towards her direction and jumped as safely as I could into the pool. Despite the obstacles my fully-dressed condition constituted to my amateur rescue mission, I reached the drowning lady in minutes and managed to catch her and prevent her from sinking to the pool’s bottom. I carried her in my arms like a newly wedded bride. Probably sensing that she was being rescued, her eyes, tightly closed, opened for a couple of seconds before she closed them again. Then, she passed out.
Slowly and determinedly, I made my way to the pool side just in time for Tony and the life guards present there to help me by lifting her out of my arms and placing her gently on the ground by the pool side. Instantly, one of the life guards started to press her stomach with a heavy pressure, trying to force out the water she might have taken in while drowning, while another life guard started to administer other first aids on her.
Totally drenched and breathing very hard, I walked over to where I dropped my phone and picked it up.
“Meet me in the room.” I texted Tony’s phone number as I tried to force my way to the swimming pool entrance through the gathering crowd of people rapidly thronging over to where the lady lay, surrounded by life guards.
“What was that name that her friend called her…?” I found myself wondering.
“Precious…”, My mind answered me almost immediately.
“Please, be safe.” I said to no one in particular.