Claire Aslangul - Monday, March 11, 2013
These nondescript pebbles are in fact raw sapphires. I have had them for probably 5 years, but had them stashed away. Left forgotten in a cupboard until they fell on my head other day. They have quite a story behind them that I would love to share with you.
Once we were out camping in a National Park, it was a quiet time of year and we shared the campsite with only 3 other groups and a single man who was sleeping in the back of his ute. As you do when you have young kids, we wandered around, looking at the river, following goannas and greeting everyone else that was there. My youngest was about 5 at the time and in true kid fashion she called out to the guy sitting in the tray of his ute "Gee, you must really like beer".
I cringed, but he giggled then looked at the empty cans around him, shrugged and replied, "I guess". I shuffled the kids a long a bit, feeling embarrassed and not sure that I wanted to engage in a conversation with this man. He gave us a hearty "Bye" as we wandered away.
A little later that evening, we had our campfire going and we sat a rounding talking and playing backgammon when Mr I-am-a-fan-of-beer came over to us. The VB in his hand had been replaced by a large jar. He sat himself next to our fire and started to talk.
"I wanted to give you something. I met a girl 10 years ago and we had a dream. We would travel around in my ute, camp out and just fossick for gemstones. When we had enough, we would settle down, cut and polish them and make jewellery to sell. "We did well, we found plenty of sapphires and spent most nights under the stars together talking and sharing our common dream for the future. It was basic, but it was good."
We all must have looked like guppies with our mouths open, without so much as a "Hello" this man just started telling us his life story. But as he went on, our jaws shut and our hearts burst.
"She died of cancer last month, she just got sick so quickly and then she was gone from my life. We never got to the next part of our journey, we have never polished a single stone. In the last few days I cried so hard, knowing we would not get the chance to do it together. She just held me. When I had finished she said to me, 'We found our treasure, after all this time it was not what was hidden in the ground. It was not the jewels we would create out of what we have. All along our treasure was there, it was our nights under the stars, sharing our dreams with each other and the desert around us, it was the joy of working and seeking together.'
"I refused to really hear what she said, so tied to my grief I couldn't believe that she accepted letting go of our planned future. I don't know when it hit me that she was right. We found something so incredibly valuable in those years together and it had nothing to do with what we uncovered from the earth. "I know her, and she would want what we found to be shared. But all I want is for someone to look at these stones and remember the story behind them."
He then pulled out his jar and poured a few into each of our hands. The physical part of a treasure found.