One fine day in 1965, before the mass prayer in school, my classmate was proudly displaying that big, crisp ten rupee note to us. We 3rd Standard boys were quite stunned to see him with such a fortune in his hands! Ten rupees!!
Perfumed erasers [we called 'scent rubbers']from Japan had begun to enter Indian shops and attracting school children. They were soft, white & green, had a pleasant fragrance and came printed with different pictures and letters of the alphabet. Parents were pestered to buy this expensive, dream rubber that cost fifty paise, a whopping five times more than their best Indian counterparts that were crude enough to leave a real mess! But the scent rubber gave a smooth, clean rub - a joy in itself!
So, this 'rich' boy had perhaps designed a plan for that day. We had finished our mid day meal from our little lunch boxes and somehow a group of 5 or 6 was formed. I can remember three of them. Soon we were heading for the nearby shop, called "New Corner" [really new at that time and still exists now] that sold this wonder rubber. Besides scent rubbers, he got us chocolates and pencils of our choice for the entire ten rupees and our pockets were filled with these 'generous gifts'. Time had halted while we were happily feasting at the counter. Leisurely, we strolled back to school, oblivious of what was in store. We were quite late for the afternoon session. We were shocked to see all children back to their classes and so we were caught coming late. We were made to stand outside the class and the matter was duly reported to the strict Head Mistress. Interrogation revealed the truth. We were warned and let go to the class but the 'ten-rupee-boy' was retained for further inquiry.
The following day, his parents were called and the boy was reprimanded. That money was supposed to be remitted by him as school fee [it was Rs.5/- per month], but the temptation and boldness to buy the scent rubber had got the better of him. He joined another school for his 4th.
The incident had taught us a lesson about what squandering money was all about, when in as young a hand as that. We meet occasionally even now. His memory of the scent rubber shopping spree is zero, but the scent of the rubber and of the 'feast' still lingers in mine, never to be erased.