The Crocodile Trap

Ahmed Aliyu

Copyright 2024 by Ahmed Aliyu

Photo by Michelle van der Hoek on Unsplash
Photo by Michelle van der Hoek on Unsplash
I was not a good swimmer, to be candid; I was never a swimmer at all. I was not scared of water, rather I was scared of the deep of moving or stagnant water. All my experience of swimming   had always been close to the edge of every river, stream or swimming pool I found myself in. I had never been foolish to dare into the deep of any river I followed my friends to during my years as a kid.
I grew up in the city and had two friends who were good swimmers. They had always been the ones that pushed me towards the river and persuaded me to strip off and dive into the water with them. This was an experience I was always scared of knowing how sacred I was of swimming. But their torment and jest always forced me to dive into the water with them but always wisely stayed close to the edge and flipped my legs  timidly  against the water and watched them from my safe position while they joined the other dare-devil boys to dive or flipped excitedly into the water. It was a daring move I knew I could never carry out. So I contented myself with just sitting by the edge of the river and watching them as they did so many tricks in the water.
My ability not to be able to swim and enjoy myself in the water like other kids kept tormenting me always. My two friends tried everything possible in their capacity to teach me how to swim but their efforts were always a failure.  I was always scared of leaving my comfort zone by the edge of the water. I had this fear that something deep inside the river was going to swallow me. so I always refused to swim towards them around the deeper side whenever they encouraged me to come closer. Not even their tormenting jest and ridicule could spur me to step forward and beat the odds. I closed my ears to the insult and jeering smiles of the other boys as they taunt me whenever they see me splashing my legs timidly into the water by the edge of the river. I refused to succumb to their intimidation and erased the many annoying names they called me from my mind. I told myself that I was not a good swimmer and the river was not friendly to me as it was to them. I resolved never to fall into their traps of luring me farther into the water. I was okay and content with my spot by the edge and happy to  also feel the cold water around my feet  and body like them. The only difference was that they swam deep in the water while I only dropped into the  water by the edge.  
 But a particular incident happened during one of our numerous secret adventures to the biggest river in the city not too far from where we lived with our parents.  We sneaked out with Yunus and Amin, my two bosom friends, on this hot afternoon after lying to our parents that we were going to the stadium nearby to play football. It was routine they knew us with and approved. None of them knew that we always used the opportunity to sneak to the river to catch fish or dive into the river anytime we met other boys enjoying themselves in the water. So it was on this particular day. We got to the river and met other boys already naked and swimming excitedly. The atmosphere was lively and filled with the excited noise of screaming kids and splashing water. I watched as Yunus and Amin quickly pulled off their clothes and also dived into the water. They swam expertly across the river and swam back towards where I still stood staring at them.
Pull off and join us. Nothing would happen to you. Just stay close to the edge and enjoy the cool water. Yunus suggested splashing water playfully towards me.
No, I think I prefer watching you guys enjoy yourself. I am scared of this large river. I said truthfully.
Nothing would happen.  Just dive in. We will protect you. Amin also said.
I stared admiringly at the other boys in the river, noting that some of them were smaller than me in size and age. I instantly felt ashamed that I could not join them. I was still watching when a young lad did a flip and dived into the water and swam unafraid across the water. This spurred me and I pulled off my clothes then slowly dropped into the river.  Log
Yunus and Amin nodded and then swam away into the deeper part of the water. This was a spot I knew I could never attempt to reach so I held on to a small log of wood close by and remained where I was. I kept myself afloat by holding to the wood and allowed myself to enjoy the cold water. I remained there for some minutes and then sighted something that looked like a bigger wood a few inches away from me. My first thought was to swim towards it and use its solid size to swim a bit towards the other boys. I was just in the process of swimming towards the big wood when I suddenly noticed a movement from the log and then loud screams from the other boys.
Crocodile! Run!, crocodile , Run!, .  I  heard their shouts.
I turned to see a big crocodile open its big jaw and splash water loudly towards me. The reality quickly dawned on me. What I had imagined to be a big log was actually a big crocodile setting its trap to catch its prey. I bolted out of the water and ran nakedly into the street. I never stopped until I got home.   It was the last time I ever ventured towards the river again.   
Ahmed Aliyu is a Nigerian Journalist/writer with a positive mind set to craft and pen fiction and poetry at any given time and space.  He has a decade of editorial and production experience in print media.

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