“I’m not sure we have the same definition of ‘safe’.” I mumbled.

“Just sit tight, it’ll be here any minute,” she reassured.

We sat on the edge of the railway bridge, our legs dangling over the murky waters, of the holy river Ganges, far below. The sun was low on the horizon, dusk was creeping up fast. The water would be freezing I knew, but I couldn’t opt out now. She’d laugh and call me a sissy.

“Can you swim?”

I thought about the tube well and tank in my village where I’d go with the other boys to cool off during summer.


“Good,” she grinned, “because I can’t.”

“What!” I shouted even as I heard the whistle of an approaching train.

“Remember to catch a coin, okay?” She patted my head.

I should never have run away from home, then I would never have met this crazy girl, scavenging for food, in the alley I was hiding in. I would not be on this stupid bridge to catch a coin thrown by passengers from a stupid train.

The whistle got louder as the train thundered towards us.

“Now!” She said and pushed me.

Sucked in by the freezing water, I kicked about for dear life. Something hard hit my head as I spluttered to the surface.

A coin?

I couldn’t be bothered to catch any, I was struggling to stay afloat. She was bobbing at a little distance. I needed to get to her.

Stupid fool.

She got to me before I could. Grabbing me, she swam to shore.

“You can swim,” I accused.

She laughed with her head thrown back, then she pressed a coin into my palm, “Make a wish.”

I thought we might die of pneumonia, but what the heck, we had a coin and a wish.