April 6, 2018

Inspiration for the day

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Aneesha Ani Benedict, Valiyathura, Thiruvananthapuram

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The first woman underwater scuba diver from the maritime States of India is only slightly heavier than the 25 kilos of equipments she carries for undersea forays.  At a mere 36 kilos of weight, her dolphinesque dives hardly reflect 25 year-old Aneesha Ani Benedict’s determination and effort.

While doing undergraduate studies in Botany and Biotechnology in her native Thumba, Thiruvananthapuram, she had occasion to assist research work for Kerala Biodiversity Board.  As part of that, she had to go out to the sea.  But very often, the country boats refused to carry her since the owners held the belief that a woman’s touch during periods would bring ill-luck to the vessel.  Thus many were the times when she had to abandon the trip to sea after making all arrangements.  In times like that, it was her father Ani Benedict and mother Reena who stood by her.

Later when she joined Marine Biology course for post graduation, there were many questions asked at home, since the campus was in Andamans.  And the opposing forces became more intense once she decided to learn scuba diving.  Even her friends and teachers advised her against it on health grounds.  But their well meant arguments could not deflect her from the chosen path.  She first learned diving up to 18m and then up to 40m. 

As she started progressing in scuba diving, accolades started coming her way.  British Government’s Darwin Scholarship was the first one.  Next, she was one of the two from the organization, Friends of Marine Life, who were invited to speak at the UN led Ocean Conference.  It is a different matter that she couldn’t attend the event due to exams.

Once, diving off the Andamans coast on a full moon night, they waited underwater.  A riot of blue colour soon engulfed them.  Like a massive show of sky lanterns, a school of jelly fish glided past them majestically, touching their cheeks, and hiding them from one another .

Jelly fish’s touch is usually itch-inducing.  But this was perhaps a blessing by the Unseen Juggler.



Courtesy: Aswara Sivan (text), Gruhalakshmi, February 16-28, 2018

"She who would search for pearls must dive below."