Sharda takes her time entering the water. She sets her modestly exposed brown bottom on the cold white tiles lining the edge of the indoor pool. Blinding shafts of light bear down through tall windows. The air is damp, heavy with the familiar odour of chlorine. Her legs sway gently in eddies of blue-green water and she listens to the steady splashing of the other swimmers. It embarrasses her, this persistent habit of trying to steal into the water, as if she can somehow evade the sudden chill that will shake her body before her flesh finally adapts. This timidity is more suited to the girl she was, a scrawny seven-year old running across the concrete deck of an outdoor pool at the tennis club in M’bale, Uganda. During hot afternoons in the equatorial sun, the water beckoned, cool as a promise. But she was hanging back, shivering dramatically until her father, exasperated, picked her up and, to her shrieking delight, threw her in.
Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 1. Purchase the book to read the full piece.
Toronto locations referenced in this piece
“This pool, crowded tonight because of the weather, is in the Trinity Recreation Centre, a low, brick building surrounded by trees in a downtown park . . . ” —Trinity Bellwoods Park