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LOOKING FOR PARASMANI

STORIES FROM MY CHILDHOOD
LOOKING FOR PARASMANI
My mother told me once that there exists a stone known as “Parasmani” which when touched to anything made of metal turns that into gold. My life in those days consisted of collecting cigarette wrapping foils some of which were golden (sone ki) and the inferior ones of silver (chandi ki). To get a real gold would have been a lot of fortune. We knew that it was a precious metal, but beyond that we didn’t know the importance of possessing material things. The very thought that finding it will make our mothers happy, was impetus enough for our little hearts to desire it.
Anyway, on the following Sunday, early morning after breakfast, I set out on my mission of finding Parasmani. The task was tough as the earth on the hills is hard to dig, especially with tiny bare hands or with improvised tools like a sharpened stick or a piece of scrap metal which every “Gold Digger” has to have with him to test every piece of rock dug out. In those days, coal was used in Angithi (oven fashioned out of tin container and clay). The spent briquettes are often discarded with ash. In those days ash was used for scrubbing the utensils.
The discarded, spent coal finds it’s way in the ground and slowly gets buried. So I was digging the earth assiduously as my sister stood by the side overseeing the operation. I dug out a piece that looked like coal, touched it to the strip of metal I had for testing. Nothing happened, but I wasn’t disappointed. I had been told that Parasmani is a very rare thing and that one couldn’t get it lying about here and there. I dug a few more pieces and one after the other they turned out to be pieces of discarded coal.
I said dejectedly, “Pata nahin itne koyle kyon nikal rahe hain?” (Don’t know why so many pieces of coal are coming out”?). My sister, was two years senior to me was not only a class topper but one who could hold a whole class of the likes of me in awe. She looked at the motley pile of spent coal rocks and said with and air of finality, “Yeh shayad Khan hai” (This probably is a coal mine). I wasn’t familiar with the word, “Khan”, nor were there any popular Hindi film Heroes with Khans as their Surname. If Dilip Kumar was some Khan, then it was his fault that he had chosen to be known by a by the name that wasn’t the name given to him by his parents.
“Oh ki hunda ai?” (What’s that?), I asked.
“The place where from the coal is dug out, Stupid”, she said.
Then she told me to immediately put the earth that I had dug up, back and run.
“Why?”, I said.
“Because the police will come to know of it and they will catch us”, She said.
“Don’t you know that mining is an an offense”?
We were not familiar with the word “illegal” anyway. Most of the Indians are not familiar with it, especially those who are in to big time mining even when grown up, and we were only kids. What was all the more dangerous, was that we were literally living next door to Police Lines. It wouldn’t even have been a case of the police arriving late, letting the culprits escape. At a mere blow of a whistle a whole squad could have gathered around us and caught us ‘muddy handed’.
So, I hurriedly put the earth back and gave up my mission. I didn’t want to get caught and be punished for digging out a stone that held some curiosity for me but little value and the scrap metal strip that I was using for testing is all the worth I attach to the yellow metal the world seems to be crazing for.
I haven’t really grown up, I am still a child.

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Navneet Bakshi

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Ushasurya
1 year ago

We all have our childhood dreams still etched in our memories Navneet!! Thank God for that !
I remember sitting and chanting “Fairy , Please Come” in the twilight, hoping a beautiful Fairy would alight..as my mother had told me emphatically that chanting will make anything happen!!
Even today, I dream of a miracle with chanting and meditation !!!
Beautifully narrated 🙂

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