Rolled Monk

Pocket Money!

In Peeterru!, Singaara Chennai! on May 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Hello random reader,

I think it all started when they started giving cricket cards  free with every Big Babool bubble gum. I was in class 4…maybe 5. These cards were the craze back in the day. Each card consisted of a cricketer’s picture and on the backside, his profile. The more number of cards you had, the cooler you were considered to be. And also, they played certain games with these cards, exchanged them, always talked about them and did other things to piss off the generally uninterested people like me.

One day, my friend bought with him 10 chewing gums and 10 cards. You must understand that around that time, for a 9-year-old, ten rupees was a huge amount of money and seeing it squandered on bubble gums was almost a physical pain. I asked him how his parents allowed him to spend the money in such a reckless manner and the answer he gave me on that day, changed my life for good.

He looked at me like he would at a lower creature and with condescending patience explained to me the concept of pocket money. I was as shocked as Columbus learning that he had not landed in India. I had never heard of such a concept before. Parents giving money on a weekly basis to children and letting them spend it however they want? “The earth was flat” seemed a better theory in comparison.

I believed this retarded fuck and attempted asking my father for pocket money. What I did not know back then was all this pocket money dealings were restricted to “peter families”. I must take a moment here to explain to the uninitiated, the concept of a peter family.

It is a family where parents and kids talk only in English. Wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, fathers/mothers and children, all of them, even though they could speak another common regional language, would talk only in English. If they run out of stationery, they go to shops that were like Odyssey back in the day. Their Faber-Castell pencils and erasers, Adidas shoes, Nike water bottles (I know!) and branded clothes would shine in comparison to my Natraj pencil and eraser, Bata shoes, Bisleri bottle and clothes stitched by Krishna Tailors 2 streets away from my house.

They will watch only Star Movies and in those days, I cannot imagine watching it with my parents. English movies were indecent. There was no other word for it. Man and woman touching and kissing each other. Chee. In fact sometime before all this happened, I watched Titanic with my family. In the theater. There was so much squirming by the masses that I had to ask my mother whether everyone there was sick. I was blissfully(!?) ignorant of what was happening.

I could go on and on but you get the idea right? These were the kind of people who gave their kids pocket money while I didn’t even have pockets in most of my clothes. I decided to confront my father and ask him for pocket money. Twenty rupees a week I had decided. 80 rupees a month and 960 rupees a year my mind raced. I was so confident I was going to get the money that I rounded it off to a nice beautiful 1000.

Me: Appa, I want pocket money. 20 rupees a week.

Father: I don’t know. Ask your amma.

I run to the kitchen.

Me: Amma, I want pocket money. 20 rupees a week.

Mother: Ask your father.

Me: I did. He referred me to you.

Mother: Go and ask him again. I am cooking. Don’t disturb me.

I was beginning to lose hope slightly. The good (or bad) thing about being a kid is that you never know when to give up. The world is a rosy place and everything you want can be achieved by throwing a little tantrum. I go to my father again.

Me: Appa, amma sent me to you. She says you have to decide.

Father: Why do you want pocket money?

Me: Everyone in my class gets it! (A lie!)

Father: Yeah? Who?

Now I tell him a random name of one of my friends.

Father: That fellow? He got third rank in the 2nd mid-term-test no? No wonder he gets pocket money. Your rank was what? 43? Come in the top 3 and I’ll think about it.

Me: Appa, there are only 34 students in my class and I got 7th rank. This is so not fair. Okay! This one guy who failed in maths, he is also getting pocket money. What do you say to that? (This was a bad move!)

Father: No wonder he failed in maths. Parents should know not to give money to these kids. I am sure you will also sink lower if you get money.

My young mind could not comprehend what had happened and was at a loss for words. I did what almost everyone would have done. I opened my mouth two or three times and began crying. It didn’t work. No fuck was given and I was left to myself running from the hall to kitchen and back again trying to get my parents’ attention. That night, father took us to Saravana Bhavan and in a surprising gesture, got me whatever I asked for. That shut me up for good for the next month or so.

After that though, I realized what had happened and I felt cheated. I decided that if asking didn’t work, one must take. I began flicking money from my mother’s purse. Not much. Two or three rupees a day. As is obvious, one day I was caught. A lot of items like slippers, broom-sticks etc., were thrown at me. I managed to dodge most of them but the pain from the few that hit me still lingers. The only other time I had seen my mother so angry was when she found out I eat beef. But this is a story for another day.

The reason I wrote this was this: Yesterday I took 500 rupees from my father’s purse without telling him and blew it on a few things. Afterwards when he found out, not a single word was asked. He just let it go and it suddenly reminded me of my struggle for twenty rupees a week once upon a time.

So till I write again…ciao ciao!

  1. Something sensible atlast!

  2. Gud one maga… prolly this would be my favorite post in ur blog yet…. \m/.

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