That is more or less the first sentiment my brother Victor & I had, when our dad told us the history of our house. The year must have been somewhere in the early 1970s, and Victor and I were both been under ten years of age.
Our heritage house was once a Mint, sometime in the 1800s, Daddy said. He must have told us the exact years, dates, and a whole lot more. Daddy was an exact, and an exacting man.
We had already stopped listening, though. As soon as we heard of it, we went tearing up & down the place, up to the attic, down to the library (now a clinic space), in search of any trace of coins, or other tell-tale evidence. We poked screwdrivers and pen-knives into the crevices between floorboards. Apart from hoping to actually find an old coin, I don’t think we really knew what we were looking for. I’m inclined to say, Goenkar-style, that we never even found a “fotto-poiso” but the historically correct thing to say would be: we never even found a bazaruco. More about this later.
Which is not at all surprising, given the fact that the Mint, or Casa da Moeda as it was known in Portuguese, only existed in this building space between 1834 and 1842, after which it returned to what was then Velha Cidade de Goa (today Old Goa). So obviously everything was taken away, lock stock and barrel (or should I say hammer, die and metal? More about this later too). If there were any coins stuck between floorboards, surely they would have been found by the artisans who worked here. And my own family had been living here for what, four generations already. Surely when they were kids, scurrying around just like we did, the same thought would have occurred to them? I asked Daddy if he had ever found a coin, or “anything else”, and his answer was in the negative. Victor and I persisted for a while in the adage “Fourth generation lucky” but before long the novelty of the sport evaporated, and the whole Mint saga faded away as other issues took precedence.
(To be continued)
(An edited version of this article first appeared in www.tambdimati.com)