I was losing consciousness and my fingers were going numb. Soon, a faint noise from somewhere jerked me back to my senses and I felt a sense of unfamiliarity in the atmosphere that surrounded me. I gazed through clouds of mist that hung across this land so strange. The sky was bedecked with tinsel and fairy lights, but in the form of stars.

My fingers had gone blue with fright and vapour from my breath coalesced onto my lips. I then noticed “Daily Saturn” — a weird and unfamiliar magazine that lay beside me and which brought to my knowledge the ‘gold-rush’ on Saturn. I stood there flabbergasted; alive without a space suit or a cylinder of oxygen. What was I doing 746 million miles from Earth?

Though life on this planet apparently didn’t exist, yet I could hear some noises miles away. Soon I found myself trudging through the mire towards where I suspected this commotion to be from. I still couldn’t believe how I could easily take breathes without an oxygen cylinder. I slowly got up and walked towards the direction from where the noises were coming.

Lo and behold! Before long, I found myself standing completely stupefied in front of the infamous gold mine of Saturn — Reko Diq. My eyes were reduced to chinks and my grin extended to the far crannies of my countenance at this sight so bizarre. Heaps of gold nuggets lay before me in a manner unconceivable to the human mind. It was all lustrous and reflected tiny shafts of light as it gleamed marvellously under the moonlight.

Was this some reverie? As I finally gained control of my senses, I realised there was commotion inside the mine. It was thronged with people — people much like those on Earth, but quite tall, with big eyes, big hands and large feet. These people had the peculiarity of staring at strangers like me with utter mistrust. As I made my way inside the mine, they became silent; I kept a humble smile on my face.

As my entry in the mine made them silent, they started gazing at me intently. I ignored these people and turned to see what was inside the mine. I was astonished to see that the inner walls of the mine were all laden with gold. Gold was all what I could see everywhere. Soon the applause at something caught my attention.

Through the multitude, I glimpsed someone cheering on something dark as coal which he held in his hands, now raised. Upon inquiry, I was told that the first ‘gold-nugget,’ in the history of Saturn, had finally been unearthed and the meant that the ancient myth of gold, thought to be beauteously black, had proven to be true.

I further inquired about what all the burnished stuff at the mine’s entrance was, and to my bewilderment, I was told that it was mere gravel.

Gold on Earth was gravel on Saturn, and Earth’s coal was gold for the people on Saturn! This was outlandish. I knew with certainty that this so-called gravel was in fact gold. I was excited by this — I started to envision myself as a billionaire on Earth with an unparalleled jewellery empire, gold watches and what not!

But, then one thing came to my mind… how did I come here, and how would I get back to Earth?

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 26th, 2022

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