We had two types of pocket-money when we were young, none of them regular, and both of them depending on the whim and will (and wallet) of the donor.
The first type was the money we “earned”, inspired by sundry Enid Blyton characters like Betsy May, who, whenever they coveted something, would work hard at chores and get paid in pennies which they saved up in shillings. To achieve this in our decidedly un-British Barrackpore, we would pester various reluctant and unbelieving elders, who would give us some errand (usually involving running to the nearby shop/market) and the money (usually the now-obsolete 10 paise, some-couldn’t-believe-our-luck-times 25 paise), more a ‘good-riddance’ money than a ‘good-you’re-wanting-to-stand-on-your-own-feet’ money.
In this, our favourite donor was undoubtedly my barama (aunt – my father’s elder brother’s wife), who would pay us 10 paise for every 10 grey hairs we would pluck off her head. As she had a full head of hair, mostly grey, this was an easy task. The only hitch was that each hair had to be fully white/grey from root to tip. So we would painstakingly separate the hair from its mates, raise it to check its greyness, and then give it a sharp tug. She got her scalp massaged, and we got our pockets filled. We loved the deal and, if it were left to us, would have plucked off her hair in hundreds in order to earn the elusive rupee. It’s a wonder that she didn’t become bald with all that pulling and tugging!
The other type of pocket money was the purely donated one. This was given only on special occasions like fairs and festivals. Durga Pujo, for example, was a five-day financial extravaganza for us, because we got at least 2 (at most 10) rupees every morning. Some of it would be used to buy the daily round of ‘caps’ (tiny pink rolls of firecrackers) that we would put in our toy guns which, irrespective of gender, we would strut about with in the parar pujo pandal (festival tent in the locality). The rest of my pocket money would go straight to my tummy, as I splurged on dalimer hajmi (a tangy-sweet eatable) and tetuler-achar-on-a-stick (tamarind pickle).
A little money sure went a long way those days.
ANY MEMORIES OF MONEY RATTLING IN YOUR POCKET?