1940 – India During
The Second World War
“I intend to bury our
savings once we manage to collect 200 silver rupees” said Lalitha
as she carefully locked the cupboard that held their belongings.
Her husband Dev was
“Why silver?” he asked. “The paper rupees are just as
good as silver coins.”
“With silver coins it
won't matter who wins the war.” answered Lalitha. “Silver money
can retain it's value even when those who issued the original
currency cease to rule. The same can't be said for paper money which
can become worthless overnight if the regime that issued it falls.
In such circumstances, you can think of silver as the common man's
Dev was still
skeptical about her plan.
“But why bury it?” he enquired.
“If there are food
shortages or riots we may have to leave at a moments notice, at such
times it wouldn't be wise to carry the money on our person” replied
Lalitha. “The coins will be safer buried here, we can always
return to collect them in better times.”
Dev hurried home to
tell his wife about the good fortune which had befallen him.
“Lalitha,” he said
on finding her, “the local money-lender is offering to exchange 11
new silver rupees for 10 older ones!”
unimpressed. “The newer coins are much harder than the older
rupees, which probably means they aren't as pure,” she said, “it
wouldn't be a profitable trade.”
Dev was thoughtful, it
had seemed like a good bargain to him. “I intend to accept his
offer” he said after some hesitation. “Show me the place where you buried
Lalitha wasn't going to
give the silver up so easily, the silver was their shield in the face
of uncertain times. "I don't remember the spot." she said
smiling sweetly at her husband.
".... I've got such
a bad memory...."
“Vinod, don't scatter
your toys around” said Ajay sternly to his son who was playing at
the other end of the room.
The workmen had arrived
outside to lay the pipeline for a new irrigation system and Ajay
intended to go and check on them, yet when he looked at the
playthings Vinod had strewn around the room, he knew the time had
come to teach his son some discipline.
“Put everything back
in the closet once you've finished playing with them and for goodness
sake get rid of this junk you have collected!” he said pointing to
the clutter of oddities Vinod had amassed.
Ajay had just finished
speaking, when his sister Rina rushed in holding an old box in her
“Look at what the
workmen found while digging the trenches” she said excitedly as she
handed over an old tin box.
Ajay opened the box to
see it filled with black discoloured metal discs.
“More Junk” he said
with disgust. “I’ve just been telling Vinod to get rid of stuff
His statement was
greeted with a peel of laughter from Rina.
“Can't you guess what
they are?” She asked. “Why, those are the silver coins grandma is
supposed to have hidden. She never did get to tell anyone where she
had buried them.”
Ajay stared at the
contents of the box for they looked far from being valuable.
“Bring one of those
coins into the kitchen” said Rina recognising the look of disbelief
on her brothers face. “A few drops of lime juice should have that
coin shining like new.”
Ajay put the box down
and followed his sister into the kitchen.
Vinod was now playing
with marbles which he tended to scatter all across the room.
“Son!” said Ajay
angrily. “Find a place to put those marbles and get rid of all the
junk you have spread around the room. I want to see the place tidied
up when I return.”
True to her word Rina
now had the rupee shining like new.
“Isn't it pretty?”
asked Rina holding up the polished coin. “Grandma was right in
keeping her savings in silver. While 200 paper rupees would have
depreciated to be 2.3 British Pounds and would probably have been
demonetized by now, her 200 silver rupees which must weigh around 64.30
oz of silver have appreciated in value to be worth 1135.31 British
They were still gazing
at the coin when they heard a loud knocking at the front door.
Ajay proceeded to
answer it and three uniformed strangers entered the room.
The burly individual
who identified himself as Inspector Karan spoke. “The whole town
is abuzz with talk that your workmen have unearthed some sort of a
treasure from the field behind your house. It is my duty to inform
you that any treasure finds belong to the state.”
He paused here to look
at the box which lay in the center of the room.
“So that is what you
found” he said picking up the box and shaking it so that it made a
jingling sound. “I am afraid I shall have to take this with me.”
“That belonged to our
grandma” said Rina trying to grab the box away from his hands. “She
would have wanted us to have it.”
“I'm sorry,” said
Inspector Karan gravely as he turned to go, “but I'm just doing my
Rina remembered the
polished coin, she had placed it in her pocket and now her hand
instinctively reached for it. It made her feel better to know she had
managed to save one of her grandmothers coins.
“It' is quite late,”
said Ajay on seeing his sister and Vinod return home with a load of
shopping, “you shouldn't have taken Vinod along with you.”
“He wanted to buy a
few marbles” answered Rina. “That horrid inspector, seems to have
taken away the poor child’s marble collection.”
“How did that
happen?” asked Ajay with surprise.
“Well, you had asked
Vinod to tidy up the room and the box looked to him like the perfect
place to store marbles.”
“But the coins...
what of them?” asked Ajay remembering the coins which had been in
“Vinod mistook the
coins for junk and got rid of them just as you instructed” said
Rina laughing heartily while she patted her nephew on the head,
obviously well pleased with his actions.
On hearing this
Ajay was overcome with a sense of urgency.
“We must find those
coins, Rina!” he said rushing towards the door. “If those coins
are on our property I'm afraid we will have to hand them over to the
Rina wasn't going to
hand them over so easily. Their grandmother's shield belonged in the
“Vinod seems to have
forgotten where he threw away those coins” she said smiling sweetly
at her brother.
“..... I think he
takes after grandma.....”