‘God, please God, keep my brother safe,’ Ravi repeated desperately to himself as the bicycle hurtled down the steep slope at breakneck speed. Why, oh why did he have to show off so needlessly?! It had seemed like a good idea then, but now, as the bicycle plunged headlong towards the massive Rain tree at the bottom of the road, Ravi wished he could take back his words and banish all thoughts of impressing his school friends.

‘Sure I can ride the bike down this slope with my hands free,’ he had said with reckless abandon to his group of friends at the top of the slope where they had gathered to play.

‘Oh, yeah?’ Maddy had mocked. And to think they were best friends! ‘I am sure you’d be too afraid to do it with Adi seated behind,’ he had challenged.

‘Let me show you,’ the words were out of his mouth before Ravi could stop himself, although he now wished he had said no, no matter what the other boys thought of him. Going down that dangerous stretch was bad enough with both hands firmly placed on the handle, but with both hands free… and with Adi seated behind too!

Adi, of course, had been all excitement, ‘Adi also, Adi also,’ the five-year-old had jumped about clapping his hands in anticipation of the thrilling ride. He had always looked on longingly at his wonderful big brother going down the slope on his bike; today he would get to join in the fun as well.

Ravi couldn’t disappoint his kid brother; he pulled his hands off the handlebar, spread them out sideways and threw back his head as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Adi held on to him, tiny hands tightly round his brother’s waist, confident he would remain safe.

‘Hold on to me Adi, don’t let go,’ Ravi kept reminding the little one as they sped down the slope.

Adi was chuckling with gleeful excitement. As for Ravi, he had never been so afraid before. He had taken that slope several times previously and the many falls that came with it manfully enough. But, with Adi? What if anything happened to his little brother? Almost choking with dread, he prayed he would be able to stop the bike before they crashed into that monster of a tree. He tried to put on his best don’t-care expression, but right now he was tense, very tense; the time to relax would come only later.

~~

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