The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my mom at my house. My mom explained how she would get 5 paise [my mom pronounces it as “py-sah”] (just like what cents are to a dollar, paise is to an Indian rupee) from her mom before school every morning, so she could get a little snack from one of the nearby stores during her breaks. When my mom was little she would wear pigtails, and had cute chubby cheeks. The vellam candy is one of many snacks she would get. Vellam is also known as jaggery, a concentrated product of date, cane juice, or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color. This memory is just a nice memory that my mom has of her school days.

“Thanks, Amma!” exclaims Eswari as she runs out the door, with her backpack in her hand and pigtails in her hair. The wide-eyed, chubby-cheeked eight-year-old was given five paise to use to get a snack during break time. Eswari catches up with a couple of her friends to walk to school together, but before they get there, they need to visit the small neighborhood Ganesha temple. After spending two minutes there, the girls continue their journey to school.

“What do you want to get with your five paise, Eswari??” asks one of the girls, “vellam candy or fried snacks?”

“I’m going to get the vellam candy!” Eswari tells her friend.

Vellam candy is one of Eswari’s favorites. The earthy, caramel-like flavor is better than any of the other candies.

In class, Eswari does her school work, chatting here and there with her friends. She soon becomes impatient because the day’s math lesson was a little boring.

The kids in Eswari’s class are let out at one o’clock for break outside on the grounds. Some kids are playing tag, and some go home to get a snack. Eswari clutches onto her five paise, making sure not to accidentally drop like she did last week. A little out of breath from running to the candy cart, Eswari asks the owner for some vellam candy. Exchanging the money for the sweets, Eswari put one in her mouth and savored the taste.

“Mmmmm, so good! Thank you, sir!”

The candy instantly started melting the moment it was placed on her tongue. She moved the candy all around her mouth, savoring it. If she had another five paise, she would have most definitely got another one. This extra sugar is what will give her that last bit of energy to get through the school day, go home and play some more. 

Break-time Sweets

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1980-1982
Chennai, India

I interviewed my mom at my house. My mom explained how she would get 5 paise [my mom pronounces it as “py-sah”] (just like what cents are to a dollar, paise is to an Indian rupee) from her mom before school every morning, so she could get a little snack from one of the nearby stores during her breaks. When my mom was little she would wear pigtails, and had cute chubby cheeks. The vellam candy is one of many snacks she would get. Vellam is also known as jaggery, a concentrated product of date, cane juice, or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color. This memory is just a nice memory that my mom has of her school days.

Recorded by Divya Rajmohan on December 10, 2017
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