Thursday’s Creepy Bedtime Story

Have you ever played the water game Marco Polo? I grew up playing it, but I never knew that it was a dangerous game for children; only children would have dared a dunk in that dark murky green water.

Taking a Dip

We made ‘ye ole’ swimming hole before we had water. After we dug the well there was enough to fill the hole and enough for everything else too. But the foundation for the pool was first built with faith, not water. Rubble, stones and dirt were pressed up around the sides of the pool for extra strength against the pressure that water would create. For years, the inside of the pool was only rough cement walls. Finally, water ran into the pool along with the swimmers, who came out bloody and scraped from the rough cement walls. However, that was never a deterrent from diving and splashing and thoroughly enjoying the pool during those hot Indian summers when there was very little electricity. Again, years passed, but eventually the pool was tiled with sky blue tiles and a stainless-steel ladder. It was a dream come true.

When the pool was freshly cleaned, it was as clear as the sky. Standing over it, one could see each individual tile reflecting the sky, as well as every little toad and bug that dared to jump into the pool. When the pool was dirty, it was as dark as the murky, swampy fish pond beside it in which nothing could be seen, not even a few inches into the water. The colour was “dark black/green.”

One of the water games I taught the boys was “Marco Polo.” One person is designated as “Marco,” and Marco’s eyes must be closed. Everyone else is “Polo.” Marco thrashes around in the pool trying to find the others who cry out “Polo. The boys loved the pool most when it was murky, because then no one could cheat, even if they opened their eyes underwater —absolutely nothing was visible.

It was a very dark black/green murky pool day (a day I stay out of the pool). But the boys were in the height of glory, playing Marco Polo. Anshul jumped into the pool to join the fun, but the others were already getting out. He swam around for a bit and went underwater, searching for someone. He felt someone. Then he felt someone again, but with horror he realized that someone was definitely NOT a someone. The “thing” was slimy and scaly. In a flash, he shot out of the pool at bullet speed.

Everyone stared at him in surprise, while he too whirled around and stared back into the pool where he got out. Immediately, and directly behind him, a large snake head appeared and flung its upper body out of the pool charging right after him. But the water in the pool was lower than the big snake could manage, and it was not able to bring all of its 7 feet out of the water. The boys managed to kill it and drag it out. The snake turned out to be a big rat snake, but thankfully not poisonous. However, if bitten, it would leave some nice teeth marks.  Their size makes them a bit daunting, but the snakes themselves prefer rats, not humans.

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