In primary school, I once brought back home a shiny flaky, plate like substance from the playing field. Our playground had been dug up that day to be leveled with grass and we kids were excited to see the shiny substance mixed in the dirt, sand and other materials, as the workers shoveled heaps of earth out of the playground. We were excited what this possibly could be and stood for hours waiting for “Gold” to reach the surface. It wasn’t until I took the piece home that day that I realized there are many materials in the heart of the earth and one such is “Mica”, which was promptly thrown out, and I was made to wash my hands along with a long lecture about the toxicity.
That incident only made me realize the magical wonders that could be hidden beneath the surface of the earth. It would be a ritual to explore playing fields, parks and other open spaces in the wonder what next could be found, or maybe that glint in the sunshine could be a diamond?! ( While learning diamond grading many years later, I got to know that diamonds don’t “peep” out to the surface but are shaped from a rough, almost resembling a glassy pebble and have to be dug from miles below the surface) My “rock collection” grew over the years benefiting from a lot of travel too! Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Nagaland were some of the places where pieces in my collection came from. I would probe with eyes to the ground, every mile I walked. My obsession grew and even visitors would be requested to carry along a “stone” for my “collection”. That was till high school.
One day, I was just back from a college trip from Bombay and had along the way collected some new pieces to add. On reaching home I was shocked to see my rock “garden” had disappeared and a patch of green instead in the corner I used to store my collection! The new gardener had “cleaned” the stones out from the area to plant some pansies. That is how the larger pieces of my collection were lost. Somehow after that incident, I lost the will to do this exercise again and the remaining pieces are a reminder of the joys of childhood and how I ended up being a Jewellery designer. I got some relief working with diamonds and other stones which were now of the “precious” and “semi precious” category. Though I am satiated with diamonds, after working extensively in storerooms full of thousands of carats of diamonds, the joy of collecting an unpolished stone is irreplaceable.
While I thought my childhood fascination with stones was a phase that was now over, recently an acquaintance of mine messaged me that he had brought me a stone during his trip from the first place that humans have ever walked! I didn’t realize that I must have somehow communicated my passion and felt a bit embarrassed and wondered…was he making fun of me?! People who collect stamps are called philatelists, so what could be the name for my unusual hobby?
Only a handful from my collection have survived till today, but to me, every one of them is more precious than a diamond.