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.
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. 😛 )
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.“
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?”