After that Sunday freedive session with Stefano, I proudly posted up a photo taken of me on the boat where I’m donning all sorts of (borrowed) freediving gear. My caption quipped that it was somewhat sponsor-worthy.
Anyhow, the photo received a number of likes on my Instagram (@mell.jaini) and Facebook (Melline Jaini). No major surprises on IG as friends usually comment something digestible or worth responding to.
On the other hand, Facebook seems to be where the creeps and freaks lurk a bit. I can tolerate every other relative or friends of friends trying to befriend me on the platform, but I’m still not sure how to feel about everything else that’s chav-like (poklen) about it.
There was a comment on my photo that really stuck out like a sore thumb for me. It was when a distant uncle of mine asked “practicing diving again?” (“practice menyalam lagi kah?”). I guess some people think that me going diving would be a one off thing or something to tick off the bucket list. Annoying, but tolerable. So I replied “yes” and left it at that. I mean, I do have my tendency to hop from one activity to another, so I can’t exactly blame him for thinking that I was on another random adventure.
His response to my first reply (yes, he commented again!) was the assumption that I dive in the river – “disungai?”. Clearly this uncle of mine needed to be reminded that there are very hostile (and hungry!) crocodiles in Brunei. I took a deep breath and responded that I go diving in the open ocean. My patience was being tested but I know I’ve had worse.
I’m not sure what his ultimate intent was but third time was definitely a charm if he was trying to reach the “highly annoying” level. The final comment was something along the lines of “let’s just hope that JAWS doesn’t come and get you hahahahahah”.
Now I don’t know if it’s the Bruneian in me that kicked in but I was so stunned by that remark. I’ve had people ask if I’ve encountered sharks while scuba or freediving and whether I fear for my life if I were to see one, but to actually have someone joke that jaws (a largely cinematic, bloodthirsty, human hungry, movie conceived shark) itself could potentially be lurking in the ocean and eating me up alive really had me taken aback. Kata atu doa bah. Cultural sensitivities aside about “jangan cabul” (“don’t be obscene”/”don’t be obnoxious”/”don’t jinx it), I just thought it was the most jerk-ish thing to say – especially coming from a particular family member. Because I know this uncle in person is a sweetheart and nowhere near the idiot he sounded online, I was torn between setting him straight or leaving it at that. In the end I responded with something that I can live with – “Uncle, just pray for (me)/for the best” (“doakan saja yang terbaik Uncle”). He hasn’t commented since so I think that must’ve gotten him thinking a bit. Mell: 1, ignorant Bruneian relative: 0.
The comment got to me for a while as I was trying to psychoanalyze why he would say something like that. For all I know it really was just in the spur of the moment. I guess I just thought he would know better(?). ‘Cos my Dad goes fishing practically every week and I don’t think he goes up to him with “let’s hope that your catch and boat don’t get walloped by a big whale hahahaha”. Or someone planning to go into the forest to grab some durian and you say “let’s hope you don’t get mauled by a bear hahaha.” It’s just not funny. Period. Especially when you know this person. You would think that if anything, they would wish for your safety or say “take care” at the very least.
Anyhow, I’m probably overthinking this.
I guess the idea of being free in freediving is also being able to manage idiots unworthy of my time and energy; the freedom to choose to be angry or happy and ignoring what doesn’t serve me.