Deposits and Withdrawals

Every night she drops a Rs.5 coin into an old tin box. The first few coins had tinkled all the way down, creating the kind of music only the poor have an ear for. But over the last three months, as the tin grew heavier, the fall has shortened. She has hidden the tin carefully under a pile of saris; this stash is hers alone to enjoy. When the box is full, she’ll take it to the corner shop. There she’ll exchange the coins for notes, and with the notes, she’ll treat herself – maybe a new kurta, an expensive lotion, or a delicate perfume, something to hide her worn out form.

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He never takes out more than one or two coins every day. It’s not much but it pays for a couple of cigarettes, more if he buys local brands, but his new girlfriend likes the sophisticated fragrance of the foreign ones. She says it’s what a rich man smells like; it’s what a man who wants to be rich should smell like. From time to time he wonders what the money in the tin is for – will she waste it on trinkets or will she hand it over to him when the box is full; either way, his wife can’t be trusted, and he is determined to have a share of the piggybank.

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