The highest number of the country's drowning cases normally occurs during monsoon. Be they the rural areas with derelict canals, ponds and low-lying areas filled with rain water, or full-to-the-brim urban lakes and long-shrunken rivers, they keep beckoning teenagers and youths. During the floods, the human drowning casualties in the country's submerged villages include a significant number of adolescent and pre-teenage boys and girls. Most of them die while demonstrating absurdly heroic feats of swimming. While a few others take leave of this beautiful world for the simple reason --- they do not know how to swim. It might sound incredible to many.
A rural boy or girl doesn't know how to swim in river-filled Bangladesh carries the elements of an enigma. But this is the reality unfolding in many parts of the present Bangladesh. But it is also true, not all parts of the country have rivers. The only time they can see the expanses of water is during monsoon.
According to social researchers, the fact that many adolescents in villages in Bangladesh do not know how to swim bears a lot of urban influence. Many would feel tempted to call the phenomenon snobbery. To speak plainly, the trance spun by the culture and social mores of the city on villages has lately become dreadfully widespread. The phenomenon has come to such a pass that it does not prompt the rural people even to notice it, let alone going deeper.
Meanwhile in the cities, including the capital, the overall situation is miserable. Drowning has lately emerged a dominant cause of teenage deaths in Dhaka. There are few urban adolescents, especially boys, who do not feel drawn to a river on the city outskirts, a lake or a pond. Frolicking in water has for ages been integral to teenage fun or youthfulness. These young boys and girls are, in general, ignorant about the deadly aspect of water. The authorities and civil society groups surely have records of how many boys and girls with golden career prospects have died prematurely while sporting in water. There was nothing wrong with them. But they lacked a vital prerequisite for secure survival: how to swim. As per statistics carried out by relevant agencies, nearly 19,000 drowning cases occur in the country a year nowadays. Of them, around 16,000 involve children. In a country where in the not-too-distant a past, elderly people would be seen helping even 4 to 5-year-olds learn how to swim, the present spectacle only baffles many.
Deaths of adventurous youths while engaged in water-related fun on the country's beaches are now common scenarios. So is the drowning of groups of educated youths out on an afternoon boat ride in the Padma or Meghna during monsoon. Another common aspect of the drowning episode is small children's sneaking out of the house, then playing beside a pond with others and at one time slipping into the water. Upon all-out search, he or she is found lying motionless at the bottom of the pond. This has nothing to do with learning how to swim. But it shows how countless water bodies in the country pose deadly risks to people who have small children.
In Dhaka, parents these days are increasingly becoming aware of the necessity to train their children on swimming. Lots of organisations arrange practical swimming courses for fees. In fact, problem lies with the children from middle and upper-middle classes. The relatively lower class children somehow manage to learn the swimming skill.