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.