Ice-creams and Grenades

Year 1987

Mom’s monthly salary was a little over 1000 bucks (considered real good back in 1980s). The monthly installment of Rs.700 had to be submitted to Delhi Development Authority without fail to avoid penalty and so that we don’t have to keep shifting houses.

I am 8 years old and my little sister is 4 years old. Mom gives us our bi-weekly share of 10 rupees and sends us down to the alley to buy vanilla ice-cream cups worth Rs. 5 each. My little sister for some reason was in a different mood that day and was adamant that she only wanted a choco bar which was worth Rs.10. That would mean just one ice-cream for the two of us. Mom was not visible as the vendor was standing some buildings away. After I bought the choco bar, I tried requesting the little girl to let me also relish a bite. She refused. I tried harder. She still refused. I now got into defensive mode but she wouldn’t budge. I then tried snatching it from her. She wouldn’t give it away. Tug of war opened up and finally there lay the brown and white bar on the road with us looking with rage at each other.
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Year 2014

Our salaries are now in 5 digits.

My girls are 8 and 5 and they get ice-creams without even requesting, courtesy the sweet tooth that their Dad has and their Mom’s love for ice candy during summer holidays. Apart from this, there is another big reason too. The ice-candy now is only Rs.5 and there are ice-cream cups available at different rates to suit the pockets of different people.

Difference between then and now

While it was only when I was 11 that my parents got a Godrej 160 litres refrigerator home, my girls had the luxury of taking refrigerator for granted as we had it even before their birth.  Our refrigerator now has chocolates stacked up as the girls are ‘tired’ of chocolates that they get from someone or the other. (Wish we were so lucky. I guess we only had either ‘bankrupt’ or ‘miserly’ friends/visitors. 😛 )

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Year 1991

Waking up to the sound of grenades and other aerial bombardments early in the morning on BBC, I had written a few letters to Saddam Hussain and the then US President Bush asking them to make friends and let people including my Dad come back safely and let my Mom sleep peacefully. I had even wanted to fly across and give them each a flying kick and make the world a better place. I had no clue why they were fighting for oil and just wanted to teach them how Mom used to pinch our ears and make us shake hands. I wanted to send those letters, but an aerogram costed us Rs.14 and an envelope costed Rs.21 worth of stamps. I saved it up to send a letter more to my Dad than to these rogues.
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I went with Mom to the nearest STD booth with a piece of paper on which Mom had made notes of what all to tell Dad. I also had a small piece of paper crumbled tightly in my hands. As Mom let out her points, the little me was watching the meter run faster than our school bus. My heart was pacing even faster as the faster it ran meant fewer words for me. Mom finished at Rs.287 and I could just say a ‘Hello’ to my Dad because she only had about Rs.320 with her. I saved my tears to flow down when Mom wasn’t around. Didn’t want to make her feel sadder.

Year 2014

Feels good that we are able to be constantly in touch with my little sister who lives saath samandar paar by way of SMS, emails, chats, Skype, Whatsapp and other mediums which are now highly affordable. Wish we had such luxury back in my childhood which could have helped me be in constant touch with Dad. There was so much that I had wanted to share with him. Feels good that the girls at least get to meet their Dad early in the morning and late at night and I feel blessed to see them spurt out all of their day’s experiences non-stop to him as him time is running out. 🙂

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Year 1996

B.Sc Computers was introduced in Delhi University for the first time ever. Most of my friends had the luxury of having a computer at home while I had to completely depend on the availability of the Computer Lab in the college or at my IEC Study Centre. I did clear with over 70% marks, but I feel I could have given my best if I had a PC for myself at home.

Year 2014

The girls now order their Dad on Friday night to keep the iPad charged so that they can play on it over the weekend. It’s difficult to make out who is the parent and who is the offspring when they demand their Dad to enter the password while downloading a new game. When he says, there are enough games, Lil Love comes up with, “F-R-E-E means free. This game is for free Papa. See we are not spending anything.

To which the father responds, “You are spending my bandwidth.”

The response, “Who are you earning for, if you cannot even spend some bandwidth for us?

Money doesn’t grow on trees, my dear!“, the father speaks.

I know it comes out of that ATM machine. Papa, you’re just too lazy to go and get it.“, pat comes the reply from the 5-year old.

Dad looks at me for some sympathy and finds me completely dumbstruck.

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Though I feel it would have been better to have a lot more things and facilities in my childhood, I’m thankful for whatever we had; the things as well as the circumstances, because that made us understand the value of everything we have now. Our children have the good fortune of having enough and more of almost everything and thus do not learn to value whatever they have.

I know I know, I can see my Dad moving his head in agreement, but I also know what he is going to come up with when we meet. It’s going to be:

Why are you jealous of my lucky girls? They are lucky, you were not.

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This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, “Childhood revisited: Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

The author Rekha Dhyani is one of the contributors to the Project 365 – A Post A Day and blogs regularly at Dew Drops. She also shares her lucky clicks at The Crystal Trance.

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14 Replies to “Ice-creams and Grenades”

  1. It is up to parents (and other elders who are in regular contact with the kids) to ensure that the kids understand the value of everything even as they (the kids) have the best of what is available and affordable. The parents can inculcate the right values in their children by being role models. Please read my post ‘Parenting by example’ at http://proactiveindian.com/2013/07/13/parenting-by-example/
    You’ve given good examples that many can relate to. I remember, some years back, when income levels were about 10% of what they are today, an STD call used to cost Rs. 30 per minute during the day, Rs. 15 per minute from 6 am to 8 am and 8 pm to 10 pm, Rs. 7.50 per minute from 10 pm to 6 am.

  2. The part about the child whose dad is at war was touching and sad. I remember buying Amul chocolates for 5 rs. When we went to my grandfather’s place for holidays my dad would call our neighbors place to talk to me and my mother and they would call us. Today we have five cellphones that too smart ones all over the house but my dad is no more.

  3. What an effective use of comparisons to assert your point! How quickly we get used to life’s options that were once viewed as luxuries, isn’t it?
    Good post, Rekha.

  4. Great post as always….but then I remember my mother telling me things on this line like how lucky me and my sister was to be able to live in a nuclear family and get individual attention and all other things that we got….she lived in a joint family and it was like 10-15 kids in one house….I am sure our kids would grow up and tell their kids how lucky they are since our kids grew up without some cutting edge facilities that is going to be a common place thing in the future…generation after generation the overall standard of living increases atleast for the majority of ppl

  5. Now I know,you are 9 years elder to my niece – and I can correlate each incident as you did with your parents or sister, with my niece as a motherly figure. Great work! 🙂

  6. I’ve witnessed the meagre income of Dad who would pamper me with choco ice cream and we didn’t have a landline. Now, we have so many things at our finger tips. Love the post, Rekha:)

  7. Like Rickie said, loved how you used experiences from your own past and that of your little girls to clearly highlight the fact that nowadays kids probably don’t naturally learn how to value all the little things that they take for granted in their lives.

  8. It is called generation gap. Each oncoming generation will have better and better facilities and privileges. You think that our little darlings childhood is better than yours but when they start comparing their childhood with their next generation the difference may be much larger! Alas! who knows?

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