What is it with parents and accounts? Why are mom’s in particular so particular about money and where it goes once it is given to a teenaged daughter? What is money after all, when compared to a daughter who is worth a million dollars. My parents sadly don’t seem to realize that and are always worried about how I spend my money. When I was doing my engineering I was given 10000 rupees per semester (four months) apart from my fees and it was deposited in the bank in the starting of the semester and I was to survive with that money for the entire semester. Now it’s a funny thing with money. If u have it in hand u never know how it goes out of ur hand, where it goes, why it goes, when it goes. The only thing u know is that it goes, never to come back.
I tried telling my parents that maybe they should give me a monthly allowance rather than a semesterly allowance if they wanted me to keep things in control but they never listened. As a result of this normally by the end of the third semester I would be in a pathetically impecunious state, with a bank balance which would be equal to the weight of the most mal nourished kid in somalia. In fact the bank in which I had an account had a rule that my account must have a minimum of 100 rupees of balance. Once I was so hard up for money that I had 126 rupees in my account and I wrote out a withdrawal slip of 126 rupees and was given such dirty looks by the cashier that even now I shudder when I think of what he must have thought of me. By the end of the semester i would go to the college stores and buy the cheapest soap, cheapest biscuits, cheapest of everything. A normal conversation between the stores guy and me would be this
Me: give me a packet of hide and seek and a bottle of maaza
Stores guy: that will be 25 bucks
Me: (thinking) what???!!! 25 bucks. That’s an outrageous amount especially when u have exactly 20 bucks in ur pocket.
Me(saying): Errr. Give me a packet of tiger biscuit. ( note to readers : stop thinking “My god. She eats tiger biscuits”. When u r hungry and have no money even pedigree dog biscuits would taste delicious and anyway tiger biscuit was the cheapest biscuit available in the stores)
Stores guy: that will be 7 bucks. Don’t u want anything to drink?
Me: (heaving a sigh of relief and reluctantly parting with my last 10 rupee note. The remaining 10 bucks were in coins.): no thanks. I think I ll just drink some water from the cooler.
I dunno what the stores guy thought of me and at that point of time I was hardly in a position to think of what people thought about me.
By the fag end of the semester this would be conversation between my mom and me
Me: amma. Errr… hmmm.. actually.
Mom: stop hemming and hawing shruthi. What do u want. I am sure u have run out of money. That’s it right?
Mom’s are too smart for their own good.
Me: heh heh. Actually yeah. That reminds me that I am kind of short of money (that’s an understatement. I am extremely short of money. I wear a burqa in hostel so ppl dont recognize me and ask me to return the money I owe them and I am scared some of them will get their boy friends to beat me up if I don’t return it in time)
Mom: ok. I will transfer 200 bucks. Is that enough?
Me: (almost hyperventilating and thinking) 200 bucks?? My debt is running to over 700 bucks and then come my own personal needs.
Me: (saying to amma):Hmmm. Actually could u transfer 1500 bucks please.
Mom: 1500? Shruthi. What did u do with the 10000 I gave u at the beginning of the sem?
Me: amma. There were so many expenses this sem. Plus a mess bill of 1200 per month.
Mom: 1200 per month. So 4 months Rs 4800. what happened to the remaining 5200?
Me: (mind working at a speed which would put Einstein to shame): well u know amma the mess food is so bad that we buy maggi and cook it in the hostel.
Mom: (incredulously): u spent 5200 bucks on maggi???
Me: no!! heh heh!! Actually. It was my room mate’s birthday and then my class mates birthday and then I saw a couple of movies, took photocopies of a couple of notes (terrible lie!! Being in the hostel we never had the need to “Xerox” any notes. If one had it, it was same as all of us having it. I was usually never the “one” to have it) and then the usual u know.
I sounded extremely lame even to myself. Try as I might I just couldn’t imagine where 5200 bucks had gone.
Mom: how many times a year does ur roommate have a birthday. Normally people have it just once a year.
(yeah. Sarcasm runs in my blood!! :|)
Me: (thinking): Damn!! Looks like I have already used up that one.
Me(saying): Actually. She is not really my roommate. She is a close friend of mine and spends so much time in my room that she is almost a roommate. That’s what I meant.
(I am damn proud of myself and the way I handled this sticky situation)
Dad (joining in the conversation): I dunno shruthi. I think u spend entirely too much. When I was doing my engineering appa used to give me 300 rupees each semester. I used to write accounts daily and in the end I used to save 50 bucks and have enough money to buy my ticket home. But you? U spend all the money, demand more and apart form that we also pay for ur ticket home.
Me:(thinking): appa studied in 3rd century B.C when people were still thinking that the sun revolves around the earth and 300 bucks in 3rd century B.C was like 20000 bucks in present day.
Me(saying): yes appa. Sorry appa. I will try to spend diligently from now on and save some money and also write accounts
(even as I say this my conscience is rolling on the floor and laughing. I am miserable at saving, I am miserable at account writing. I am miserable at everything except spending and I lie blatantly to my father. I wouldn’t dare saying this to my mom because being a daughter it is easier to melt dad than mom)
Dad: hmmm. Good girl. I will transfer the money.
Me: phew!! Thanks appa. Umm. Can u do it now. I am kind of in need of it now.
This scenario used to repeat itself unfailingly every semester. Apart from this I also used to get “special” allowances from my grandmom and sis who being the kindred souls that they are would give me “diwali” allowances or “birthday” allowances or "Cool. u failed only in 3 subjects out of 6 this unit test" allowance. Once even going as far as giving me 200 bucks because it was mahatma gandhi’s birthday. In spite of all this kindness from various members of my family by the end of the semester I would be in an extremely impoverished state. Till date I dunno what I did with all that money which came to my hands. All I knew was that it wasn’t there when I needed it and needed it most.
I used to envy my friends who were committed or had boyfriends. They never spent anything. Their boyfriends spent for them and I wondered how that dude handled his parents’ questions every time. My friends who were in love had so many other “love” problems but I was always the one with “financial” problems which I think are much more difficult to handle than “love” problems. Apparently when u r in love u don’t feel hungry or sleepy. I was always sleepy and always hungry and hence always in constant need of tiger biscuits to keep my hunger pangs away. My friends in love had no such problems. So no standing shame facedly in front of the stores guy for them. :-\
Even now after I have started working money in my hands flows like water. And thanks to the umpteen investments which my parents have started for my “safe future”, at the end of the month my bank balance looks like the same Somalian kid mentioned at the start of this post. The day I learn to manage money will be the day Osama bin laden will surrender himself to bush, Vajpayee will take part in a marathon and win, Andrew Symonds will look more human and less primate like…. U get the drift. It aint gonna happen ever.
Suddenly the words of the song by Abba seems to make so much sense.
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
Having more money and not knowing what to do with it. I guess that’s one affliction I will never suffer from!! :(