Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My Relationship with Money - I

I have always been a mercenary girl. Even when I was a child – maybe five – I used to come out with moneymaking schemes like sewing handkerchiefs and selling them. (Yes, I could sew then, probably better than I can now. My experiences with sewing in a later post.) I had an old plastic bottle of talcum powder in which I stored coins. I used to delight not only in adding to it, but in opening the can and pouring the coins out and counting them. More than planning what to do with the money, I remember laying them out in stacks, even feeling them. (Yeah, I think that was weird too. Maybe I was just bored?)

I used to read Enid Blyton books in which the little heroes and heroines would get pocket money from their parents and money on birthdays from other relatives. I wished for the same. A tentative suggestion to my mother got laughed away. My parents did not think children should handle money.

Maybe that was a good thing – I realised I would have to do something to earn money. Of course, it helped that my parents never implied that a girl could get by without a job. They made it clear that we were to study well and grow up and find ourselves jobs.

But I was eager to start earning right away. When I had enrolled for my BA, I decided to take up tuitions. I was surprised when my father became livid at the idea. He took the old-fashioned and absurd stance that a daughter working for pocket money would imply that the father was unable to provide for her. I was stunned at his unreasonableness, and sorely disappointed. After seeing me moping for two days, hardly coming out of my room except when I was called and when I had to go to college, he gave in.

I went to my pupil’s thrice a week (as far as I can remember), on my way back home from college. I had to walk nearly a kilometer to their home from the bus stop. There were often unsavoury characters on the way, who leered and sometimes called out. I glared back, but kept quiet. I valued my limited freedom too much to risk it.

 I got four hundred rupees a month. It wasn’t a fortune, even then. But it was something, on top of the pocket money I still asked for (after all, you would have continued to pay me if I hadn’t started working, I argued to my mother, so why punish me for it?). Then I took up another pupil, for three hundred a month. She lived on the floor above us, so my effort was minimal. I also remember teaching a small kid in the same building, but that must have been after my first pupil started her board exams and outgrew me.

I also took up a couple of short-term part time jobs. One was a nearly month-long gig as an announcer at a trade fair that my cousin got me (he was the announcer in Assamese while I did the English). It took up a lot of time and didn’t pay as much as it should have but hey, I got about two thousand rupees! That was a small fortune. I promptly bought myself a music player. Another similar gig got me enough money for a camera. 

Part II here 


D said...

Waiting for Part 2 because this is so much like my relationship with money. I want to know where yours goes.

Banno said...

Nice stories. Yes, what is it with fathers? They do get so affronted when you want to work. I remember my father getting livid too.

simplypallu said...

Yay, nice story and nicely put :)

Praveen VS said...

Shows how smart ur were from the childhood itself :)
anyhow good one

dipali said...

Lovely reading, this!

Unmana said...

D: Part II coming soon - probably this weekend.

Banno: Glad to know I wasn't the only one with weird parents.

Pallu: Thank you!

Praveen: Why, thank you!

Dipali: I'm glad you think so.