We had seriously rich neighbours. Probably the most important textile merchants on the island, with outlets in three cities. And I was so proud that I was friends with their youngest son. The fact that I went round shoeless and with holes in my shorts did not seem to matter. My mother did not approve of my mixing up with rich kids, but stopped short of stopping me visiting them. I was very welcome there by everybody. The auntie was specially nice, and always greeted me with a few kind words. But the one I loved more than my own friend was his sister B who was four or more years older than me. She was at home as Muslim girls, even rich ones did not go beyond primary schools. So she was stuck at home. It was not customary for girls of her age to leave their homes, and as far as I knew, she had no friends. Just waiting to be married off. She therefore loved my visits. We would talk about what I had (not) learnt at school, what (Bollywood) films I had seen, and she would ask about my sisters who she knew but could not contact. It was not done. One day she gave me two cents. A fortune. You could get 8 groundnuts, or 8 lemon drops at the very least. I did not get pocket money.
When I unwisely mentioned this at home, my mother accused me of begging, and threatened to put an embargo on my visit. I mentioned this to B, next time I was over, and she said, But you never asked.
Next time I went there, she suggested we played the Colour Game. We agree on a colour and next time we meet, when challenged, whoever cannot show that particular colour pays the other a forfeit of two cents. And the colour for next time is green, she said. I made sure that I had a green something next time, a piece of thread or wool, or whatever. In the course of the two or three years that followed, I never lost out once.
Strangely, in that same period, poor B was never able to produce the colour we had picked for the day. And paid her forfeit without grumbling.
I made sure I never mentioned my winnings at home.