It was when I was four and lived with my maternal grandmother for the summer. One evening, a person visited from the newspaper company to collect the monthly subscription fee. I noticed the visitor from the window while playing on my own, but being extremely cautious around a stranger, I immediately called my grandmother.
My grandmother offered the guest a cup of green tea while they both sat on the carpet next to the entrance. It was an old countryside custom that didn’t exist in the neighbourhood I lived in my hometown. Hidden behind a pillar near the entrance, I carefully observed the conversation between the two adults.
After chatting for some time, my grandmother handed money to the person from the newspaper company, and he in turn took out a folded piece of cloth and opened it in front of my grandmother. Curious to see what’s inside, I came out of my hiding and sat next to my grandmother. There on the piece of cloth, I saw a mountain of coins. I had never seen so many coins in my life before.
“Wow, is this money all yours?”
I asked the newspaper man in awe. He laughed as if not knowing how to respond to my question. There was another thing I couldn’t help noticing.
“Why do you carry your money in a cloth?”
As far as I knew, money was always carried in a wallet, not in a cloth like this. The newspaper man laughed again. He really didn’t know how to respond to this question either. He took out several coins from the collection and handed them to my grandmother.
“Here’s your change.”
As soon as the newspaper man left, I asked my grandmother if she could give me some coins and a piece of cloth. Obviously she didn’t have as many coins as the newspaper man, but she gave me enough so that they would make a jingling sound. For the cloth, she gave me a handkerchief.
With coins in the handkerchief, I went back to the entrance and sat down where the newspaper man had sat a few moments ago. Then I opened my handkerchief and shifted around the coins, making a jingling sound just like I had seen earlier. I smiled in satisfaction.
Soon, I returned both the handkerchief and coins to my grandmother and went to sleep. That was the only time I played with coins in a handkerchief, but it was enough to engrave the memory of the newspaper man’s cloth full of coins eternally in my heart.