Swimming Pool Thoughts
I am tired and sleepy but happy thanks to the decision I made a few hours ago. The decision was to go for a swim. While I have a swimming pool at my disposal, I don’t have a lot of time to go use it. However, time wasn’t the only reason, a swimming costume that I have outgrown and irregular periods are also why I don’t happen to use the swimming pool a lot. However, today, I just had to go do it. So since I’ve grown fat and my cups don’t fit in the bra attached on to the swimming costume, I had to –
Wear a separate bra
Cover it with a slip
Wear the swimming costume over it
Why? It is indecent to show my breast in public. Alright with me, I am uncomfortable showing it anyway. I prefer to cover it but if some woman wants to swim topless in India she sure can’t.
So, I enter the pool area with a lot of excitement but I see a feather swimming into the empty pool. Since the feather is near the ladder and I don’t want to come in contact with it, I jump into the pool directly attracting some attention. No, I didn’t want to go back home without swimming after coming all the way and going to the other pool was a long walk and a lot of formalities. So, yes, I jumped in thinking of it as a stray feather and started to swim towards the deep end but the pool was dirty with pigeon shit. I call out to the caretaker and ask him to clean the pool. The conversation goes like this –
Me: The swimming pool is dirty
CT: The water has been filled in the morning and it is being chlorinated right now
Me: That is fine but it is full of feathers and shit
CT: Yes, the pigeons come to drink water, what can I do about it?
Me: I understand you cannot do anything but where should I swim?
CT: (Points to a black object in the middle) Ma’am can you please lift that black object?
Me: (Goes underwater and comes back horrified at its shape and gives the man an expression of scare whilst moving aside)
CT: (Pulls it out, turns out to be a stone)
Me: Relieved, bringing his attention back to the dirty pool, he cleans it all.
I am glad now and I start to swim but the bars and the porch are still full of bird shit and except for in the centre, it is really hard to swim. So, I go back to the shallow end. Here, a few young boys (probably teenagers) jump into the pool. Apparently, they come regularly and are the only regular ones in the pool. However, there is nothing different in their demeanour on seeing me. They continue to crack dirty jokes and play dirty with each other as if I don’t exist. It is fine with me but the caretaker tells them indirectly and subtly to mind my presence. He says something like you aren’t the only ones in the pool so that the boys can understand.
They don’t. He then again tells them, do you understand what I am telling you and this time, they do. He has now gone on to clean the pigeon shit on the deeper end of the pool. Now, the boys are exasperated at their restriction of freedom and one of them tells me “Ma’am is it fine if you use this part of the pool and we use that.”
I haven’t said anything to them so far and I am not sure I had a problem with their jokes or tactics. It is something I would have indulged in with my male friends as well. So, I tell them that I am going to go to the deeper end of the pool once the porch is clean. The teenage boys express happiness at my going away while I am standing there. Of course, I am restricting their freedom in the pool and they should obviously be happy at my walking or rather swimming away from them.
However, my problem here was why should I be sidelined? So, if a woman is in the pool with men, she is supposed to find a separate corner to swim in? I mean I have equal or in this case, more right to the pool than the boys. Why I say more? I live in the building and pay maintenance for the pool and these boys from another building have paid to utilise the pool for an hour.
The point anyway is why is it that we can’t swim hand in hand? I never said anything to the boys. I did not ask them to play elsewhere or not crack dirty jokes. Why should they then ask me to swim in a corner? So, why do they have to come and ask me?
The problem here is they have never apparently had experience swimming in the same pool with the opposite sex. All they have seen is sidelining of women in the society and they subconsciously apply it in the swimming pool.
This also raises the question; do men sideline women because they think we restrict their freedom? Frankly, most of us don’t really care or may be, I should only speak for myself.
Anyway, so, I am waiting at the shallow end and it must be out 3 or 4 feet while I am 5’8 tall, so my upper body is outside the pool and attracting a lot of attention. I ignore it and stand aside waiting for the cleaning to get over. The caretaker is about a second away from finishing it off when a kid comes and tells me “Aunty, go there!” No, he doesn’t request, he orders. Another kid yells “She is not an aunty, she is a young girl” The kid to me “OK, Didi (Term used for young girls in India and it means elder sister) go there.”
I ignore all this and go to the other end but since the shit has just been cleaned, it is smelly. I decide to come back but when I see the boys playing happily, I take a while to decide.
This is when what I just wrote struck me and I adamantly swam to the other end.
I stood again waiting for the smell to pass so that I could go to the other end. I spot the caretaker sitting on a bench and give him a smile as an acknowledgement of all the work he just did. He returns a shy smile. It was a genuine smile and not a flirt but I am not sure he knows the difference so I looked away not wanting to make him feel uncomfortable.
Finally, I went to the deep end, enjoyed for a while and returned home with these raging questions in my head. If those boys so young could sideline women so easily, what are they going to do when they grow old? Why weren’t there any other women in the pool? The answer is they were sidelined in their houses. They were assigned the tasks of taking care of children, cooking or some such sort and some were in their offices I believe.
I walked out of the dirty swimming pool with a lot of questions and no answers.