I woke up late in the morning with the laughter of children in the neighborhood. I could hear their sweet “Hihi” and “Haha” from my room. The rain from last night seemed to have subsided. I eagerly peeked at the blinds that cover my window to check if the sun had finally decided to rise back up. [It has been raining for four days already]. It’s drizzling and the kids were playing with the tiny droplets of rain. They seemed so happy.
It was 11 in the morning so I went out of my room and down the kitchen to have my brunch. I remember that I didn’t have much food left to last for dinner tonight. Yesterday I got a little perturbed when I found out that there’s just sausage and ham in the fridge and the rain didn’t look friendly at all. When I phoned for delivery yesterday I was fortunate that the restaurant I chose was still doing their deliveries despite the torrential rain. Since I found the weather quite peaceful I managed to run and grab some groceries at the nearby supermarket.
As I was checking out the foods in the shelves my phone rang. There was a message on the screen from my father. I opened it without much eagerness because I was thinking it’s the usual, “Hey how are you there? Stay safe and stay in the house.” It would have been better if the text message was like that, but when I opened it shock ran all over me. I was horror stricken and a lump started to build up inside my throat. The message read like this, “Max, Edmund died. He was shot by his brother in law.” Tear was welling up my eyes when I got aware that there was a guy standing beside me on the same line of shelves. I put my phone in my pocket walking past the guy with a heavy heart.
Edmund was the first surfing coach I had at eight years old. I asked my father to find me a surfing coach because surprisingly I suddenly wanted a sport that requires physical activity. I had so much of chess already and I wanted something outdoors. So my father and I went to Edmund’s house to ask him if he was willing to coach me.
He looked at me and smiled, “SHE wants to learn how to surf?” he said amused with the emphasis on the SHE. (I had the same body frame as any eight years old, only a little thinner compared to most of my classmates back then.) I was hiding my uneasiness from his gaze and the fact that my dad was asking a guy as my surf coach. Surfers have a reputation that is not really at all good; weeds, bummers, and reggae are practically the words that are associated with these people so I was kind of doubtful at my father’s sanity by the time.
I returned his bemused gaze; silently I wondered how the dude with amusing maize dyed hair got my father’s trust. He was like a smurf with that shining yellow hair towering over his head. “Yes. So are you going to teach me? If so… then could we start tomorrow?” I replied complacently.
He flashed his white teeth at me which was in contrast with his brownish-olive colored skin, toasted by long hours under the sun.
“Sure. I will let you ride with that board (pointing at one of those in display at the hut outside his house), it fits your height and your built. I’ll see you at the beach tomorrow at 2PM, by that hour the tide and the waves will be perfect for a beginner like you.” he responded excitedly.
When everything had been settled, I went back to the car with my father. Curiously I asked him, “Papa, is that seriously my coach? I thought my surfing coach will be this female surfer you were talking about earlier?”
His focus on the road, my father spoke, “I thought of having Gladdie as your coach because she’s a girl and you might want a girl to teach you. But I decided to go for Edmund because he’s way better and you’ll surely learn from him. Glads know how to ride the waves… but you know, Edmund’s the master of that craft.”
The following day I was at the bay with my father. We started with the briefing and the basic which did not last more than ten minutes. I just had to lie face down on the sand and imagine like I am on the surfboard. I paddled as if I was already in the water and practiced how to stand.
When I was already in the water I had no choice but to trust him. We were going farther away from the shore and there was no one else with me but Edmund and the other surfers who were nameless. I just followed his lead and tried my best to stand up whenever he shouted “GO!”.
Days went on like that, followed by weeks, and then months until I already built up my confidence. I felt like a kid trying hard to fit in the world of the adults that time. There was no one else out there the same age as I was. I felt as if people were looking at me like some crazy kid being tossed by the wave. My brother and I were the only stupid ones who thought of the ocean as a playground.
Years passed and Edmund never failed to acknowledge our everyday improvement. He gave comments about what my brother and I did splendidly as well as what were the mistakes that we committed. Each day that I ride the wave with him, he showed the same level of enthusiasm as that of the first time I saw him talked about surfing.
At some point I had to give up surfing as school and extracurricular activities called for more time and attention. That’s why when I decided to give surfing another shot four summers back, it was him I asked for. I went to the beach and approached one of the surf instructors who were standing in front of this particular surfing school. They were eager to be my instructor but it was Edmund who I wanted and the only one I trusted. [I was never allowed by my parents to be on my own whenever I surf hence I always need to be with a professional.]
One of the kind instructors called for him. (It was just then when the surfer grabbed a surf board and ran in the direction of the ocean that I realized Edmund was in the water). He came walking with a run, dripping with salt water carrying his surfboard. He was smiling as he went towards our direction with a little surprise. My brother and I was standing and smiling back at him.
We didn’t know that he was in the middle of a session with a student. But he still chose to monitor us and handed the student over the guy who called him.
I have a really good memory of him. In fact nothing spoiled can be said about the man for he had been really wonderful all throughout his life time. He gave me a different perspective when it comes to judging people. My opinion about surfers and my presuppositions about them changed drastically because of him.
Thus, it saddens me that this man who live a righteous life faced a death that he never deserves. I hope that justice be served to his soul.
May you find eternal peace and happiness in wherever place you are.
The news had been a shock to me. I can only find comfort with my strawberry ball mochi doughnut. I guess the sky is as gloomy as I am feeling, it has been raining the whole day. It just feels really cold– even inside of me.