For a short time, for reasons I do not recollect, I had to spend a few hours after school at my cousin’s. My working parents would pick me up after they were done with office. You know how large Indian families used to be (and sometimes still are!!). My dad had several siblings and so did my mom. My dad and mom were both one of the younger siblings and that meant their older siblings were long married and had children of their own who were old enough for themselves to be married and have kids of their own – that means my nieces and nephews were older than me! I also have cousins who are older than my mom!!
So, this cousin was one of those older ones who I addressed as ‘Aunty’ and whose 2 of 3 kids (my niece and nephews) were older than me and I addressed them as ‘Anna’ (older brother) and ‘Akka’ (older sister).
I was 5-6 years old. In our house, there used to be a tray for small change. Those were the days when 5Paisa and 10Paisa were still valued and fetched things, small things like a toffee or an eraser, a little child’s delight! I used to sometimes pick out a few coins and buy myself a ‘bend’, a sticky jaggery toffee that was available in the stores outside my school. Somebody from that cousin’s household saw me and told my parents when they came to fetch me one evening.
All hell broke loose. My mom (our primary disciplinarian at home) was so mad because I stole money that she held me firmly by my arm, dragged me to the main door, opened it, led me out, left me there, went back inside, shut the door and told me I was chucked out because of what I did. That’s it. No fuss, no screaming, no shouting, no questions. NOTHING. My father took pity and opened the door for me and calmed my mother down.
If I think about it now, I vaguely remember that I had an agreement of sorts with my ‘akka’ niece who also brought some money so we could buy things. I cannot remember if I was scolded at and/or beaten up before being thrown out of the house. I cannot remember how long I was outside our main door.
My strongest memory about this incident is being left outside the door and my dad coming for me after some time.
Since that incident I have not stolen or lied to my parents and earned their trust at a very early age. They used to leave the wardrobe keys with me, give me money wheneverI asked, even taught me how to operate the family safe at a very young age.