Learning money-matters  in Lower Bazaar Simla of the Sixties

Learning money-matters in Lower Bazaar Simla of the Sixties

Though I had tried my best to keep the information hidden from my classmates and friends that Amma was going to Khanna Academy in the evening for coaching classes to pass her matriculation exam but few had come to know of the secret… and I am sure they must be laughing behind my back. How shameful it was for me! Why did Amma not think about us?

But as if it was not enough, just passing the exam was not enough for Amma. Amma wanted to be a teacher and with her love for Hindi language she had taken admission in language training course at Solan. It could not have been her solo decision, Bauji was with her, as her most solid support, as she wanted to be trained as a teacher. But with her moving to Solan, It was so difficult for me to keep this as a secret anymore. Imagine Amma going for studying, leaving behind all of us in Simla of the Sixties!!! Did such a mature woman had a right to decide for her career? That was blasphemous from the narrow point of view that I had at that point of time.

Life was not normal after that. How I missed her. I would search for her presence around the house. There would not be Amma anywhere in the home when we would return from the school, neither would she be there to braid my hair tightly in two plaits in the morning. These minor changes along with some more profound changes, turning out to be life changing ones, flooded our simple life style.

Bauji had engaged a helping hand for household chores and he would come early in the morning to cook our food. But the problem was to manage everyday expenditure which Amma had sole propriety on. Amma was our Bank for all small expenditures during the day. Amma would be responsible for giving us money for little expenses…be it getting some vegetable, something from the Bhujju’s shop or some sundry article from Gunj Bazaar or a ribbon or a new pair of socks!! Bauji could not be disturbed all the times for petty chillers and someone had to take this responsibility. Bauji trusted my sister and me with keeping the money for everyday use. Now that was a big one…much bigger responsibility than our frail shoulders were ready for.

But it was a big change that we found in ourselves. We could see how much money got home and where it was spent.

We had to learn how to…I became wiser and mature overnight. I would go with neighbourhood masis when they went to Gunj Bazaar to purchase wheat flour. I watched them taking grains in their hands, checking its quality, compare rates and then order the flour mill to grind it into flour. I learnt to buy the best tender tindas with little golden colour, brinjals with green stems, tomatoes just ripe enough to cut without sqeezing off of the juices…..I learnt do much.whike I would do the outside job, my elder sister would asdist the helping hand while he cooked food. Rather we learnt cooking much earlier as compared to many of our friends because of the changed lifestyle at our home!!

In a year and half when Amma returned with her degree in Teaching…..her daughters had emerged as little young women in their own way…

And today more than fifty three years after that life changing turn in our placid life….I am much grateful to Amma and Bauji for being so ahead of their times!!!

I could see my follyness and shallowness in pretending to be what I was not. I learnt to value money, learnt to spend it judiciously. Right amount, at right time, for tight cause, and for right reason.

Later when I became a mother and raised three kids, I tried to instill and pass on the same values to them….lessons learnt in managing money in Simla of the Sixties!!!

Suddenly, we changed into mature women….no more idling away of money.

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