Imagine you couldn’t hear the sound a wave makes while you’re riding it, or the joyous hoots from your fellow surfers when you’ve caught a cooking ride. ‘Stoked in Silence’ is Chevone Petersen’s entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).
STOKED IN SILENCE – by Chevone Petersen
“Oh no, no, no, no! ‘It’s’ coming at me, ‘it’s’ speeding up! Please wipe-out, please wipe-out!” That was the mantra in my head as I watched a figure on a wave heading right at me! My vision a blur of water and figurines. Unable to judge distance, size or differentiate between surfboard and person.
Watching ‘it’ fall into the water, my heart rejoiced! “Yes! No one whacked me on the head with their surfboard today,” I thought to myself. Internally gleeful with the joy of surviving an altercation with a board, as I watched ‘it’ surface from the ocean floor, long hair plastered to her face, I realised ‘it’ is my friend, a fellow volunteer, Nicole!
My golly can she surf! Caught a wave all the way from the backline, steady and sleek. I had so much I wanted to say – albeit, not the part where I wished her a wipe-out! Darn, blurry vision sucks when I’m learning to fall off my board with more grace than I did the last time!
Turning to face Nicole, water dripping from our nostrils as we stood in waist deep water. Big smiles on our faces, her stoke infectious! Gosh, we had lots of catching up to do.
Instead, I stood, feeling awkward, ’cause Nicole is deaf. Without her cochlear implant she can’t hear me. I became self-conscious, I had no clue whether or not she could read my lips, especially since I struggled to zoom in on her facial expressions, with my specs in my bag, and her cochlear locked away safely.
In that moment, for the first time ever, I experienced an uncertainty and a certain level of understanding of what it’s like for hearing people when they realise they are communicating with someone who can’t hear.
Under the water I fumbled with my hands, I talked to Nicole, she motioned to her ears, I signalled with my hands while saying, “Great seeing you! I have to get back to the office, so I’m heading in”.
Her confidence inspired me. I thought about what it’s like to surf deaf, to not hear the waves or the “whooohooooos” as we cheer each other on when we get a good wave. In that moment, I felt proud of being part of Moms on Board, creating a safe space for Nicole to enjoy the waves, knowing that we’re all out there (albeit me in waist deep water), being her ears, while she feels the stoke she loves so much!
Flip, just writing this makes me feel amped and ready to hit the waves. MoB Squad, where y’all at?
PS: September is Deaf Awareness Month.
Opinions expressed in Write To Surf entries are not necessarily those of Zigzag.
Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.
Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa.
The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.