This piece about the men who live under a bridge, next to a holy river, and dive for coins is one of my favorites. It published about a year ago, which is why it comes to mind today.
After it published, something nice happened. A reader wrote to ask me how to contact the little girl in the story -- Heena, the daughter of one of the coin divers. “My daughter is six as well,” he explained, and he wanted to help her write a letter to the girl under the bridge.
It was tricky to work out a mailing address for the coin divers. They don’t, strictly speaking, have an address, seeing as they live under a bridge. The rains come, the water rises, the coin divers move. Might just as well try sending a message in a bottle. We managed to find a place near the bridge that would accept parcels on their behalf.
Months later, I wrote back to the reader to ask if his daughter had penned that letter. Unfortunately, no, he said. Life had intervened.
But he still hoped to do so. The story of the divers had made an impression on him, he said, although he confessed: “I don’t know why.”
I have my suspicions why. To say that the coin divers lead lives unlike our own is an understatement. But the differences only amplify the delight at seeing what we share -- the sense of humor, the hopes for the next generation, a certain unflappability. So maybe the reader saw a reflection of his own daughter in this unexpected place. Maybe he saw himself.