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₹10 in the summer of 1962

During the summer holidays that last two months or more, parents are under great pressure to keep their children occupied. The pressure was even more in small towns 50 or 60 years ago.

It was in such a township of the Bhilai Steel Plant in May 1962 that I spent two weeks of my summer holidays at my sister’s place. The township was not yet fully developed and avenues for amusements were few. I had no problem as I would spend the day reading.

My sister’s friend living in the township was, however, having a difficult time keeping her eight-year-old son engaged. So my offer to take him out for a day was readily accepted.

Walt Disney cartoons were being screened at a morning show in the township’s only cinema. The next morning, I set off on a bicycle, picked up Vijay and we rode “doubles” to the cinema. He solemnly handed over ₹10 to me, saying his mother had given it to him for snacks and the expenses should not exceed this amount. I equally solemnly assured him I would honour his commitment. Anyway ₹10 in 1962 went a long way. Even the cinema ticket cost barely a rupee!

I bought the tickets and wafers, popcorn and other goodies. Before accepting his share, Vijay asked me anxiously if all this was within his ₹10 limit. I assured him it was so. I was touched by his sincerity and obvious desire to please his mother.

At the interval, we washed down chocolate milk shakes. Once again came the anxious enquiry and I firmly told him he would be keeping his word to his mother.

The show ended and for the hot ride back, we had to have ice creams. This time, my nod sufficed to quell any anxiety he had. Twenty years later, we met. Vijay, now an entrepreneur, recollected his “super” outing. The ₹10 affair seemed to have been forgotten and I had no intention of bringing it up. A further two decades on, we again met. The affection was intact, but even the memory of the outing had faded.

Which was just as well, because to this day he is unaware that the innocent, earnest eight-year-old lad’s ₹10 had been spent by intermission.

vivekgrow@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 7:05:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/10-in-the-summer-of-1962/article30595624.ece

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