Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm thinking of a summer day last year, when my cousin, N, was here on a visit. N is the least talkative of my cousins. Usually, she just smiles while I chatter on, slightly hysterically.
It was a Sunday morning and we were headed to the Adventure Island. The Island is an amusement park way up in the north of Delhi. N loves rollercoasters. I wanted to prove that I was brave. We marched out to the metro station at nine in the morning, draped in cotton scarves, hatted and sunscreened up. We reached the island by ten, and were almost the first ones there. N was excited and it was infectious.
We'd worked out a plan of attack so we could go on as many rides as possible before it was time to return home at five. We picked a ride called the Tornado first, which was a giant spinning roundabout to which chairs were attached with metal chains. You sat in a chain and as the Tornado spun, your chair would shoot outwards and turn, so you were sitting almost parallel to the ground and screaming your head off. I certainly did. N was laughing.
We went on ride after ride, and on each I screwed my eyes tighter shut and squealed louder. I was slightly green when N led me excitedly to the rocking boat. The boat didn't just rock, it also rose about thirty feet high and then spun round and round several times, turning you upside down. I told N to go on without me and stood on the side, trying to control my weirdly churning insides. The boat operator was particularly sadistic, and laughed up at me while he left them hanging upside down, thirty feet in the air. N got off afterwards and told me she wanted to go again.
I joined the line with her. I'd made a promise to myself a few years ago to always try everything once, and to never allow myself to have regrets. I know what it's like to play something over and over in my head, and wish I'd been braver, done something different. I didn't want to regret my cowardice later, over getting on the ride. So I climbed on beside N, held on to my seat's arms tightly and closed my eyes. I forced them open briefly while we were hanging upside down, just so I wouldn't regret not looking later too, and then closed them tightly again.
I stumbled off that ride, insides churning wildly and was later, quietly, miserably sick. I thought about it today, and I realised that I don't remember the sickness or even how it felt to hang upside down, thirty feet above the ground, with the blood rushing to my head. All I remember is my pride. 

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