GUWAHATI, Sept 25 - For the people hit by the abnormal rise in the prices of essential items, the story that follows has every element to sound incredible. But, successful businessman Ram Niranjan Goenka maintains that it is a fact.
Goenka claimed that a seer/sihr (1.25�kg, or, 1.792�pound) of coarse rice used to cost buyers six annas (one anna = 4 paise), while one seer of fine rice used to cost a buyer 14 annas in 1940.
Talking to this correspondent, Goenka, who is now 84, claimed that he could remember quite well the prices of most of the essential items of that time. He was a 7-year-old schoolboy at that time.
Three seers of wheat used to cost Re 1 (16 annas) then. Similarly, five seers of bajra also used to cost Re 1.
Firewood dealers used to sell each bullock cart load of firewood for one rupee and 4 annas, while a tin containing 15 seers of kerosene oil then used to cost one rupee and 8 annas.
A seer of sugar used to cost 10 annas and a seer of gur used to cost 8 annas in those days.
However, of all these items, ghee used to be the costliest. One seer of ghee used to cost one rupee and 12 annas then.
In those days, atta mill owners used to take their remuneration in kind; they used to keep aside a small quantity of atta as grinding charge and the labourers engaged by the traders also used to get their wages paid in kind, not in cash.
While a nimki used to cost one anna, a small sized rasgolla used to cost 2 annas and a big sized rasgolla used to cost 4 annas. A long or a goja used to cost one anna then.
One mitha patti paan used to cost 2 paise, while a Bangla patti paan used to cost one paise then. Four pairs of Assamese tamul-paan used to cost one paise in those days.
The Rani brand Japan-made cloth used to cost 6 annas per yard (1 yard = 0.9144 metres), while the Mango brand Japan-made Markin cloth used to cost 5 annas per yard. The two Horse brand pure silk manufactured in China used to cost 14 annas per yard.
The gamochas produced by the Bengal mills used to cost 4 annas per piece. An Assamese handloom-made gamocha embroidered on one side used to cost 6 annas per piece. A piece of Sengupta dhoti used to sell for 14 annas, while a piece of common sari used to cost one rupee and 2 annas.
A Benarasi sari used to cost between Rs 30 and Rs 40 then. A beautifully embroidered Benarasi sari used to cost between Rs 70 and Rs 80 in those days, said Goenka.