This is one proverb is English which contains more of sarcasm than a moral message. It is meant to take a dig at these people who are perpetually late starters and was first used by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1386 in his Canterbury Tales and The Yeoman’s Prologue. However, the silver lining is that it offers a sliver of hope to those who have not done a thing thinking it is too late to start something anew.
I, for one, always believe in looking at the
lighter side of life. Having been brought up in a sheltered environment, in the
close confines of a small town in India, I never had much hope of taking up swimming
lessons. To be honest, for the longest time in life, I never felt the need to
do so. Until one day, in my thirties, while out in a water park at Malaysian
resort I faced the scare of a lifetime with my toddler in tow.
Though the water, in context, was less than two feet, yet it was enough to pose a life threat. I would not have given it much of an afterthought, had I been the one who was threatened. But for the fact, that my three year old toddler might have been at risk, on account of my fool hardiness made me determined to take up swimming once again at such a late juncture.
Once back home, I straight away enrolled into the swimming classes so fortuitously arranged in my Apartment campus. But that was the only easy part. I had to walk past the condescension of contemporary ladies who would stand there and gossip to while away their times while their kids flapped away in the water and who, for reasons best known to them, did not take my coming out so late in the life, very kindly. Some cast cold looks, others snickered, still others passed snide remarks in my earshot while the rest considered me queer to even think of taking up a sport they imagined to be suitable only for kids, so late in life.
I,however, was a mother, on mission. Never again would I let my son wade in the water without me being adept at this basic survival skill. The trainer was a young girl, state player and very motivating. She, for one never made any concessions to me owing my image nor treated me condescendingly. In fact, quite the contrary. She encouraged me whenever I might have felt giving up, which was about there/four times during every one hour session. Her belief and my reluctant perseverance gradually bore fruit and I learnt to stay afloat, breathe underwater and practice front stroke to make my way from one end to the other in the water. My companions were the bubbly, giggling kids of the block who were delighted to have me as a companion to talk to, during those sessions.
Within the course of the next 6 months, I struggled, I toiled, I exerted myself and learnt the basics of swimming and next season took my then four year old son to join me too. Swimming is now a passion, a way of life for both of us and all I have to do is drag my husband, too, now for this essential life- skill lesson and whisper in his ears “Better late than Never’.