Small change

Bundled together at the bottom of the apple shaped terracotta pot with no lid, and only a roughly cut slit, sat all the shiny little discs of metal I had ever collected in my life. The glistening coins seemed to come to me, like shards of metal to a magnet. I gathered them from here and there. Prizes for small tasks done well — a loaf of bread fetched from the store, my PT shoes polished on time, 2 rupees leftover form buying that bunch of dhania. Prized earnings that all went in. They only went in. Never to come out. They sat there growing, I imagined. Money is like a tree, I was told. The more you save it, the more it grows.

So I imagined each little coin sprouting more coins, and piling one over the other until they reached the top of the pot. A tree of coins if you will, minus the watering and the soil. I was beyond fascinated by the idea. That something slipped in slowly, with care, was put there precisely so it could never make its way out, and nestled deep in the dark innards of that pot, it would grow.

Time and again, I’d run my finger around its smooth circumference, a yellow gradient fading into red, ending abruptly in a coin-sized slit on top. Seamless, cold, flawless and heavy with the weight of all that it held in its belly — that little piggy bank was the cause for so much wonder.

But why, I remember asking my dad

It’s how you learn to save money, I was told.

So I listened, and continued to drop coin after coin int the pot. Before I knew it, a pattern had formed. My attitude to money is still pretty much the same. What comes into my hand, must be tucked away, where it can “grow”. I’m horrible at planning finances and investing smartly. I tried the mutual funds and SIP route, but realise very soon that it is not meant for those who don’t have a head for finances and the stock market to some extent. So I’ve reverted to thinking of my bank and my many FDs as little piggy banks, and onwards I go.

It’s not the smartest way to go, I know. But at least this way I have a handle on it. And it helps with the big expenses. For all else, there’s the little black box in my cupboard. Old habits die hard, and I still unconsciously collect small change. Leftovers from market visits, remnants from VC’s pockets, odd numbers the milkman returns on sleepy morning — all lazily chucked into the black box that grows heavier by the day, ever so quietly.

The round terracotta pot has made way for a neat black bidri box. But even 25 years later, the contents is still the same. Small change.

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14 thoughts on “Small change

  1. I am now trying to recollect which my first piggy bank was. There was the regular terracotta plain one as well as a shiny, metal Disney one that an aunt had gifted. What fun it used to be, collecting all the coins (and washing some of the ‘dirty’ ones, cos I was worried they will contaminate the remaining cleaner ones). There was the rare two or five or ten rupee note. The hundred rupee notes gifted to us by relatives, during our annual visits home to Madras and Kerala. And then when I was in the 6th standard (I think) amma got accounts opened for us and this excitement faded out. I still swear by FDs, by the way!

    • This terracotta one was seamless, and the only way to check how much I had collected was to break it. I remember being so torn up about destroying it

      I also had a few metal ones later. I dont know at what point I stopped using piggy banks and moved on, but my understanding of money never graduated into something bigger and smarter. FDs are all I can manage and I fretted over smaller returns, but Iv made my peace with it now :)

  2. Such a wistful post…I had one such piggy bank too…that could be broken only after a year, I was told. But I always broke it in 2-3 months and ‘splurge’ on ‘gifts’ for family. So you can imagine what my attitude towards saving money is : CRASH, SCRAMBLE, SPEND! Lol.

  3. My first piggy bank was a small house from which a puppy dog emerged to drag the coin in one had placed on a pedestel. I think the fascination of watching it do that made me add more change than I had wanted to :D

    Can you share a picture of your bidriware? It is generally very exquisite.

    • Haha those automated fancy shmancy toys were so fascinating no?

      Bidriware is usually exquisite and this box too is real pretty. Its large and was a wedding gift. When i received it i thought id have no use for it but look how that worked out :)

  4. Helllooo! :) I am glad that your WP email updates now come with a summary and a link to the post. I’d got so used to reading just the email update (not something I am proud of!) that I had turned into a remote-lurker.

    My sense of money is incredibly “small”. The max smart saving I am capable of is a recurring deposit linked to the salary account. And I have found wonderful use for all the small change. My bank here has a coin deposit machine. Very noisy but probably the only useful, unselfish thing banks ever did for me.

    How have you been? :)

    • Haha Im always glad to have old readers delurk again, so welcome back!

      Dude a coin deposit machine sounds like something we need here! I usually deposit the whole box full of coins to a friend who runs a store here. He needs the change and I get notes in exchange. Even though it never goes beyond 4-500 rupees im always so chuffed about putting the coins to good use!

      • I know! Before that coin deposit machine, I used to drive my grocery store guys up the wall (beyond me why they didn’t want small change!).. I never make a lot of money out of that machine either. And yes, it is the usefulness.

  5. This reminds me of my first piggy bank.. I think it was called a ‘Gullak’ – a small pot made of clay which was very, very tempting to break. But I remember patiently putting all my coins in it and keeping it for a ‘rainy day’ or ‘big purchases’ ( probably the New Shiny Mechanical Pencil which *gasp* did not need to be sharpened ) and you’re right, old habits do die hard, despite making elaborate plans of blowing off my first year’s salary, I see myself obsessively calculating and proudly making FDs and transferring money back in India!

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