Prior to landing, I strived to live as a responsible, aware civilian abroad who standardized my thoughts and actions to high, active social engagements anywhere I go, though it’s been six years since I’ve lived full-time back home. Fear of the once-familiar, now-unknown home, I landed, peeked through the airplane windows and naturally viewed my motherland as a “battle zone.”
Expectedly, life back home was going to be the brutal battle between the silenced people and a hierarchy. Unexpectedly, high school taught me everything, but the brutal battle was only for those who are ready. I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared to know that not everyone is kind, and not everything is easy. I wasn’t anticipated to view our society in a mature, grown up perspective. I wasn’t qualified for the battle and would drown as a useless victim.
Fear of drowning back home became my go-to emotion in the following days. I observed, cried, processed and soon materialized my surroundings into a symbol: a swimming pool, as the society, and the pool water as all the complexities within the society. Here, drowning is growing up, swimming is surviving and the pool is filled with people who don’t know how to do either; a lack of governance was symbolized as the safeguards who didn’t care about the safety of its people. Having no idea what I was about to face, I had to adjust and learn how to swim, as I am already here.
As soon as I touched the water—it wasn’t clear or blue—I saw droplets of red blood. Confused, shocked and angry, nobody paid enough attention to answer. For the first time I questioned: why is the pool red? Prior to visiting the blue pool abroad, I couldn’t picture what colors other than red would look like in a pool. Tears washed my face as I tripped, fell and continued seeking for answers. Soon, I adapted to the temperature and hovered around like others. While my body is temporarily red, “brainwashed” by the party, my mind remains crystal clear. But not everyone has a clear mind. Many don’t feel the need to wash the red color off because they haven’t seen the blue pool outside, the comparison between the communism democratic and other government styles. Fortunately, I have.
Living six years at the blue pool abroad, though with their own gruesome filters and millions of swim pretenders, made me realize a blue pool works. I’ve lived through it and learned it’s the people in the pool that matters.
Swimmers aren’t cared for and this is one of the many answers to why is the pool red. After seeing the distinct pool color differences, my conscious directed me to the final answer: the pool was never meant to be one color. It’s okay if the water is red, just not when it’s made of human flesh, innocent lives that were lost in the brutal battle. It’s okay if the country is communist, just not when the government doesn’t represent the people. Year-long, people floated, dogs paddled, drowned and the safeguards didn’t care if you knew how to swim. I was pushed to decide whether to stay or not, and most importantly, question whether I will be able to learn swimming in this dark, red water. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over, so I was left forced to learn and explore.
What’s the solution? Cleaning the pool: it’s home after all. Pump out the water, be the best swimmer the pool has, become a member of the pool governance team. But there are risks: they will threaten anyone who claims the water is not blue or wants to leave, always insisting, “pools are never blue anyway” for controlling purposes.
The reality is: the more swimmers inside, the higher the water level. Then, people incapable of swimming well, like me and so many others who truly feel the need to speak up and fix issues, will drown, forming the dirty pool management bottom secrets that never will see the sun, and the truth will never be revealed. In the end, the pool administration still won’t care, like they never did, because it’s just a pool for them, a place to exercise their desires as individuals.
How many swimmers drown—as long as it doesn’t conflict with being nominated for the best pool or the second fastest growing economy award—will never matter. Is transparency too much to ask? Maybe, but especially when my stance remains alone: most swimmers, selfish individuals as humans are naturally, are so content and satisfied with what swimwear they wear, outfits they put on daily to appeal to others that they refuse and forget to think about how to swim, what role they play in our society… You can’t make them clean the water because “as long as I can swim, that is enough,” they say. After years, most swimmers have lost the ability to see that pools are blue, red, all colors but human flesh.
I hope this pool will be filled with healthy, conscious swimmers one day who’re willing to fight for themselves. It should be up to the people what the pool color should be. For now, and as long as I swim, I hope to not lose the ability to speak up and dissect what’s true.