The water was choking me, I couldn’t see clearly and I felt my lungs beginning to fill up with the murky river water. My lifejacket was stuck in a rock; impeding me from taking a breath and all I could see were the whirlpools created by the strong Nile water. But suddenly I felt the rock release the lifejacket and the water that was once wrapped around my body ejected me, throwing me back to the surface. It seemed as if the previously dangerous white water was saving me, helping me to catch the breath that would change my future.
I didn’t feel the water sucking me into its crevices anymore; instead, it was pushing me towards the surface, towards the bright blue sky and the softly moving trees. When I finally broke the thin membrane that separated me from life and death, I saw light. It was overpowering. I felt the life, I felt air rush back into my previously empty lungs and I heard the swish of the water around me. I slowly felt the water drag me back into the raft, the laughter starting up again. The raft seemed to lift into the air and magically capsize the right way round.
Members of our little group started to make their way back into the raft, swimming backwards with the strong current that would have otherwise dragged them to the river bottom. Everything was being reversed, like a tape rewinding slowly. The raft started to travel backwards, I heard the laughter around me but I couldn’t understand what was happening. The world seemed the same; the soft wrinkles that surrounded my father’s face were still there, my sister’s prominent scar still in view and everyone was still laughing in the same manner as yesterday.
Everything at that point seemed perfect, but I knew that under the peaceful surface where the trees swung lightly in the breeze and the birds sang their sweet melodies, lay chaos and bedlam. I knew that something miraculous had happened; did God listen to the prayers I sent out to him? I had felt the water suffocate me, I had felt my mind slowly shutting down, until the point where the water was forcing itself out and oxygen magically entered my lungs.
As the raft was carried up stream by the rewinding waves, the ringing in my ears was increasing, releasing the pandemonium that lay in my mind. As I looked back, I realized that the water had saved me, led me to safety instead of engulfing me. Then I saw the far away raft lodge from where we left, everything was still rewinding but I myself was still normal. When we reached the shore, heads didn’t look around to where they were putting their feet as they were getting off the raft, they were walking backwards.
By the time we got to the lodge people were sitting down for breakfast and as each spoon left their mouth, the plate filled up and glasses of juice recovered their content. As we put the numerous lifejackets and paddles away and filled the car with our bags, the sun lowered into the east, backing away from the west, this wasn’t sunset; it was sunrise initiating a new day. But in this case, ending one. The two hour long journey was endless, the ringing in my ears increasing to a point where I couldn’t separate vowels and consonants from each other.
When the gates opened and the car was parked backwards, I got out feeling exhaustion come over me quickly. I felt my bed call me as I undressed and got into my slightly too-big pajamas and climbed into my already warm sheets. I awoke suddenly; thoughts rushing into my head and hearing my sister get into her bed. A couple minutes later, I stood and took off my pajamas and got into the clothes I had been wearing the day before with the after taste of toothpaste in my freshly brushed mouth. My sister was already dressed and had wandered into the bathroom.
It was then that I realized that it was the night before and things were still going backwards. As I finished or started bushing my teeth, I walked to the couch and the taste of the toothpaste left my mouth as if never there. Then dinner slowly reassembled itself on the table, people walking back to the seats and with every bite, the chicken was full of warm meat and the soup spoons left our mouths full. When the food was finally all in one piece, everyone rose from the table and froze. No one moved, no one made a sound.
I felt scared at that point, willing them to move, I screamed in their ears, hoping for a response. The moment that I stopped my frantic screams the ringing stopped, everything went clear in my head and when I opened my eyes, my father, my mother and my sister were talking normally, walking forwards and telling me it was dinner time. Everything was normal again and I felt grateful towards God and his powers and towards the Nile water that had taken the life of so many others but spared mine.