Can You Spare Some Change?

“Can you spare some change?” she said,
The world around me was lit with darkness. I lost track of time, but it is said night is darkest just before dawn. A sun is going to rise and a son is going to fall. My mind was crystal clear with a sole thought and voices in my head were sharp, persuading me to take a step forward. Tears roll down my eyes as I tried to focus into the limitlessness of darkness.

“Can you spare some change? Please”, she said.

I looked over my shoulder and saw a girl in her late teens asking me for a change. Standing on the edge of a bridge, high currents flowing underneath me, I was one step away from committing suicide. I gave her a scornful look, but she looked determined. She asked me for the third time stretching her right hand out, “Can you spare some change?” The girl had vivid blue eyes, she was wearing a yellow t-shirt, denim jeans and pink coloured sports shoes. She looked nothing like a beggar.

“Are you Crazy? I am committing suicide here and you are asking me for spare change?” I shouted.
She gave me a tight lipped smile, “That’s the reason why I am asking you for change, you have decided to die, but the change you spare may provide a meal to a hungry stomach.”

At first I thought she was asking me for lunch money, but then I realised, by hungry stomach she meant millions of people dying of hunger. As a last act of philanthropy, I took out my wallet and gave her all the money I had. She took the money and continued to stare at me. I was in no mood for an audience to witness my death.

She screened me from head to toe and informed me of the coming winters. At first I couldn’t understand her sudden interest in weather but then it hit me, she was asking for my clothes for all those half naked people in the city, who have bare minimal clothing, not sufficient to protect them from harsh winters. There came a tectonic shift in my priorities. Instead of killing myself, I wanted to get rid of this girl as soon as possible.

Without giving it a second thought I unbuttoned my shirt and handed it to her, praying that now she would leave me alone. Her eyes traversed down my hairy torso, burgeoning stomach and landed on my pants.
“Are you serious?” I said, infuriated by her actions.

Even before she could give me an explanation, I unbuckled my pants. I took them off and threw it in her direction and wondered if she would ask for my custom made yellow V-shaped underwear. I looked straight in her vivid blue eyes and pleaded, “I don’t want to die a naked man.”

For the first time her smile disappeared, her face became expressionless. “May be you don’t want to die at all! I asked you for a change, a change can be a penny or it can be a change is someone’s life. Look at you, standing on the edge of a bridge in your yellow underwear, in the best of your health. You are ready to spare a change for people you don’t even know, then why can’t you spare a change for yourself.

Your little acts of philanthropy today may provide a child with some food; may provide a man some clothes to survive the coming season. I stand here and wonder how much change you have brought in this world in the past five minutes and how much change your life can bring if you choose to stay.”

I looked in her deep blue eyes and pondered over the gravity of her words. She gave me a wry smile and left with my money and clothes. I looked straight ahead; the sun appeared at the horizon kissing the stars goodbye. A chill ran through my body reminding me of the coming winters, the joys of Christmas and a new year. I looked down at my nakedness and said to myself, “Fuck! I have been robbed.”

Bhanuj Saharan