I was woken by my brother.
“Come on,” he whispered.
“Where are we going?”
We snuck out of the house and down the back lane. It was dark, but the air was hot and sticky. We arrived at a fence where the wood was rough and splintered, giving plenty of grip for hands and feet. My brother went first, and I followed. The ground on the other side was soft, cushioning our landing.
It took a few moments for me to realise where we were, though I’d been in Mrs Chakrabati’s garden plenty of times before. She used to look after us after school when my mother was at work, and we’d often go over at weekends for tea and syrup cakes. But in the darkness the garden looked different, more wild. For a few minutes we hid behind a bush, watching the house. The lights were off and the curtains were closed.
In the middle of the garden was a collection of ornaments and carefully-pruned shrubberies. There were a couple of water fountains too, and next to one of them sat a golden Buddha statue, the size of a watermelon.
My brother was the first to break cover, creeping across the garden, crouched down to the ground. But my legs were frozen as I watched the house, waiting for a light to come on, a window to open.
“Come on!” My brother hissed.
“Come on!” he hissed again.
With a last look at the house, I followed him out into the exposed space.
My brother picked up the Buddha and held it, letting the moonlight reflect off its gleaming surface. Then we were running back to the fence, hurtling across the ground. I went first, and my brother passed the statue over the top.
On the other side, we kept running until we were sure we were safe.
“What are we going to do with it?” I said, still gathering my breath.
My brother shrugged his shoulders, smiling.”I don’t know,” he said.
“Well why did you take it?”
I was still holding the Buddha, but I thrust it towards him.
“You need to do something with it,” I said.
There was a large pond near our house, covered with lily pads and weedy tendrils. We stood at the edge,
watching insects buzz across the surface. My brother held the Buddha above his head, and tossed it forwards.
The water sprayed everywhere as the Buddha broke the surface and sunk out of sight. We waited until the water had calmed, until there was no trace.
The next day, while we were having dinner, there was a knock on the door. It was Mrs Chakrabati, asking our mother whether we had heard anything during the night. Apparently, there had been a burglary. After Mrs Chakrabati left, our mother spoke to the two of us.
“You boys wouldn’t know anything about this, would you?”
I felt my stomach tighten, but when I looked at my brother, his face was unmoved.
“No,” we said, together.
A couple of nights later, I snuck out of the house by myself. When I arrived at the pond, I took off my shoes, along with my socks and trousers. I waded in, searching the spot where the Buddha had entered the water. I was feeling for a smooth surface, looking for a flash of gold. But it was gone.