The shiny floating Nickel

The shiny floating Nickel

A Story by Floating on the feathers of a dandelion

The story, set in Kolkata, the british capital of India, describes the lives of children to whom river Ganges is a secret treasure, knowing little that it has secret hidden dungeons which captures their lives.




The shiny floating Nickel


Fixated behind the conspicuous iron bars of the French windows, as a child, I would gaze at the glistening water droplets against the tanned skin of the children joyfully plunging in and egressing out of the Ganges. It was later, when I could infiltrate the protective boundaries without a hand wounded around my not-so-tiny finger; I realised, the little boys didn’t do it entirely for merrymaking but for a penny or half.

On the banks of Ganges, in Kolkata especially in north, the sight is still common. Scores and scores of young lads clad in tattered loin clothes, starting from the wee hours in the morning till the sun fades out, dive in and out of water. Nothing tires them. The thought of a penny or two keeps them going even today as much as it did earlier.

Back then, to me, the free-pass to dive and emerge with a worth was way mystic. With a growing finger and juvenile imagination, the sight of twinkling eyes, chuckling faces and a shiny dime clutched tightly between fingers reassured me that Goddess Ganga did live beyond the impenetrable levels of the river. Having heard the mythological stories from Grandma, somehow, no other answer would quite explain their findings but the grandness of a goddess.

The Ganges is rich in clay minerals, antiseptic minerals and nickel! Coins thrown by people in the river as a small offering to the vast Ganges has led to the formation of a nickel-bed underneath. That is ravaged hundred times a day by finning bodies. Majority of the deprived children found missing from their municipality schools are spotted popping in and out, collecting pennies from the river.

Mine wasn’t a municipality school. Often walking towards my elite school, beside the bank, I would secretly desire to visit the Goddess and return back with lots of pennies (to buy shingaras and churmur and pantua). Not allowed to do so, I envied all those who had no over-bearing parents to dictate, no school and the chance to visit the hidden abode. Unaware of the unseen jail under-water that has imprisoned many innocent lives forever.

Every year, around 10-20 cases of such deaths are recorded while many more go unrecorded. Often, boys chasing the ferries full of people with a hope to fill their breechcloths with sparkling nickels end up losing their lives. And what goes back in their poor shanties is a shredded cloth meshed in mud with some peeping silvery nickels.

Pennies no-more buy Shingaras, money does.

After some 30 years, standing behind the weak rusted iron bars, I look at the bare bodies of the boys, cold from several dives, waiting on the bank to plunge again for a mere penny. The twinkle in their eyes, the chuckle on their face hasn’t changed, the palatability of the sight has. It is tragic; I wish their thatched shanties were fenced with iron bars with no view of the enticing river.

A penny that can’t buy a shingara is better lying in the belly of the river.





© 2009 Floating on the feathers of a dandelion

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hmmm tats a nice description of truth tat hardly could be altered.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Holy Cow!!!!!! What a fantastic write. I have goose pimples! I'm stunned for words...what a gloriously sad piece...indeed...I agree with Ms. Lady...a write that will haunt.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, so much of the world there is to learn, and so much more that most of us will never know. Thank you for sharing this story, and the lesson contained within. I will remember for a long time to come not to be greedy for a floating nickel.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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3 Reviews
Added on November 30, 2009
Last Updated on November 30, 2009


Floating on the feathers of a dandelion
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