After the grey day we had yesterday, dominated by the outer tendrils of Tropical Storm Nesat, spilling its endless rains throughout the night and the whole day, the last thing I needed was a sleepless night. But there I was, checking my watch at 3 am, 3.20 am, 4 am and right through until the last check I remember, when it was approaching 5.25 when I finally fell asleep. Our Twitter BCSM discussion this week was about cancer anxiety, and how it affected us. I didn’t need to be reminded in the dark hours of the night.
I was startled by the jarring sound of my alarm at 5.50, rudely shattering the sleep which had finally descended. I always struggle to get out of bed, even with the prospect of a sunrise swim, and even after a decent sleep. The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to leave my cosy bed and head out for my swim. It took a good few precious minutes to drag myself out of bed and look out of the window. Yesterday the rain had been torrential and I had been forced to forgo my early swim. Oh, for a rainstorm and an excuse to go back to sleep today! The sky was preparing for daybreak, but through the distance I could see a change in colour on the horizon. A pinkish, orange glow. That could only mean one thing. That the clouds had thinned enough to promise a sunrise. So nothing to sabotage today’s swim.
I must have groaned as hubby stirred in his sleep. “You’re really tired. Don’t go for your swim today” he grumbled. “I have to” was my response, “I have to”. I love my morning swim, I know it makes my day, but I also know that one of the strongest motivating factors is the knowledge that women who exercise regularly, statistically have less recurrence, according to studies I have read. So I have to swim.
I moved into automatic mode and put on my swimsuit and casuals, gathered my work clothes and put them into the small rucksack lying waiting for its daily outing and headed out.
The sky was still angry in places, matted clumps of cloud strewn across the sky marking Nesat’s reach. I walked through the little lane past three girls sitting, beside their basins of fresh fish, chickens and shrimps on their way to the market. They stop there most days, resting and chatting before they pick up the basins, put them on their heads and move on towards the market. They giggled, as they always do, when I pointed to each basin and attempted to say the words for fish and chicken in Myanmar language. As always, they gestured to my watch and I gave them my daily attempt to tell them the time.
The school yard I pass through had rivulets in the sandy ground from the torrential rains. I passed the Mohinga stall, huge aluminum pots steaming and the smell of fishy stock meeting my nostrils. Its popularity evident from the number of new, flashy cars parked outside.
As I approached the pool a few drops of rain fell. It was too late to turn back though, and the sky was giving no clues as to whether this was the start of another downpour or just a passing threat.
As soon as I hit the water, I’m awake! The pool was cool, cooler than usual having missed the sunshine the day before. Before long I am breathing more deeply, soothed by the sound of the water as I move through its mass, and I feel my mental greyness lifting. There are only three of us in the pool, each in our own space, physically and mentally.
As I plough up and down the length of the pool, I am glad that Twang Arm prevents me from being able to swim a proper front crawl. Instead I swim with my head above the water, my usual steady breast stroke which enables me to take in the sounds and colours around me. The sun has already risen, as I can see from a bright area behind the clouds, low in the sky.
Then something shifts. The walls of the surrounding building turn pink, shadows of large palm tress appear and everything brightens. As I turn to swim northwards again, I see that the sun is peeping out over one of Nesat’s tendrils, casting brilliant sunlight and immediately illuminating the world.
My own world has suddenly transformed a different and brighter place.