Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



 

Uncommon Life Saga 

Occurrences in My Life 

by Jagan Nath Kachru  

Our family tree shows that for seven generations, we did not have a male child. My father was adopted and so was my grandfather and so on. It was only when my father joined the family that male children were born in the family. But before they could grow to their real potential, disintegration in the family started beginning 1935-36.

Grand father:

My grand father was well off. We had two five storey and one two storey house, besides a big garden at Habba Kadal. He did business and handled supplies to the State Armed Forces. We had three servants at home and two at the shop.

My grandfather was responsible in establishing Sharika mandir at the base of Hari Parbat. He would go every morning there to start puja. I was very young, but I remember him taking me along with for somedays. Pujaris and all those who came for prayers every morning, waited for the arrival of my grandfather before starting the prayers. They all respected my grandfather. He was a father figure at that point of time.

After the death of his wife, my grandfather at the age of more than fifty years, married again. The girl was from a poor family but young. The seeds of disintegration in the family were sown at this point of time, and relationship started turning sour.

Before his second marriage my grandfather dotted on my father. He bestowed all his love and affection on him. It is said in the family that my father was fed with a silver if not golden spoon.

Separation :

After some years of his second marriage my grandfather’s attitude towards his son started changing. There was complete about turn in 1935. My father at that time was working in 'Nazool' (revenue department).

My father, who was of religious bent of mind, had made a puja room attached to his bedroom, and would spend most of the time there. To start with he could not understand the tension brewing in the family. When things became worse, a Panch of elderly relatives assembled in our house and decided separation in the family. They decided that my father should get the house in the front out of three houses. This was of four storeys including basement area. My grandfather agreed to this decision of the Panch.

Swami Anandji :

As my father was a very religious person from his very childhood he would mostly indulge with persons with similar background. One day he came to know through one of his such friends of a swamiji, named Anandji, living in not so distant village. He planned to see the Swamiji, and one day made it. Father, entering the room of the Swamiji, saw him with dishelved hair covered with not so clean quilt. In the room there were four/five eminent persons. Some reciting mantras and some pressing Swamiji’s legs. When evening approached, the men in the room started leaving the place, but Swamiji told my father to stay back. Half afraid and half curious, and not knowing what to do, father stayed back. Swamiji covered himself with the quilt and prostrated himself in preparation for sleep, telling my father to start pressing the feet.

After a moment swamiji started snoring. Father starting doubting as to whether swamiji was a real one or a fake, as he had heard that real saints never sleep. Just when this thought flashed in his mind, the Swamiji shook his legs telling my father ‘hooni muth di’ (bitch continue pressing). Father cursed himself for such a thought passing his mind. After an hour similar experience was repeated. Father fell at the feet of the Swamiji and sought his forgiveness.

This was the moment the Swamiji became father’s Guru (spiritual teacher). Ever since we have got the photograph of revered Anandji in our house/ residence.

When I was 6/7 years of age and the family had not separated, one morning I coming down from my third floor bedroom, where my father that time was pulling on a hooka (Hubble-Bubble) and had just reached last but one step of the second floor, I saw the door of our ‘Thokur Kuth’ (Prayer room) open. A sadhu with unkept long hair was performing puja. I got frightened and ran back upstairs to my bedroom. My father, seeing me panting asked ‘what has happened to you’. I haltingly narrated what I had seen. Father pointed to the portrait in the room, and asked whether the same man was the person I saw in the puja room.

On my nodding, father took me in his arms and hurriedly came down the stairs. To my surprise I saw the puja room bolted from outside. (Our puja room remained bolted usually, except from 8.30 am to 10.00 am when our Pujari would be offering daily puja in our house).

Till this day, even at the age of 80, I carry the ashirwads of Swamiji, and cherish the same. Anandji brings comfort to my tormented soul.

Ghar Devta :

After separation our hard times had begun. As is the practice even now, offices in the State move from Srinagar to Jammu and back during winters and summers. This is called Darbar Move.

My father also moved to Jammu for six months leaving his family at Srinagar in the house we got as our share in the property after the separation in the family.

One such time, while sleeping in the big bed room in the second floor, I woke up in pitch dark to find some one with a pencil torch in hand, moving from the sister’s (who was 5/6 years then) end of the bed to my bed end then reversing his steps moving back and forth three times, and then entering the adjoining room which remained locked, and therefrom to the third bedroom making similar movements. The movements in the other rooms I could comprehend only through the sound of foot steps. In the big bedroom, just after my sister would sleep my mother, then my younger brother and lastly myself. The vision made me panicky and I could not utter a word. My heart became heavy and I could not even move my hand and touch my brother who was sleeping by my side. In utter fear some sound must have come out of my mouth. My mother, who slept light, heard the sound and put the bed switch on. There was no one in the room.

My mother consoled me and with the key, which she pulled out from under her pillow, opened the lock of the central room and then that of the next bedroom. Everything was in order, and all the windows and doors were bolted from inside. She left the bedroom light on for the remaining part of the night.

My father returned from Jammu after a week or so. I rushed towards him, and he pulled me up to kiss me. When I started telling him about our night experience, he stopped me short, and asked me whether the man I saw, was in Army attire with a cross belt with cartridges on his fattish body moving from one end of the beds to the other etc. I was stunned. Father explained that the apparition was the Ghar Devta (deity of the house), and he was guarding all of us in father’s absence. Father added that in the other building (where our grandfather stayed) such a deity was wrapped up in a saffron colour clothes. ‘Yes’, said my younger brother. He claimed he had seen such an apparition or deity in that building.

Father's Sanity :

Father, as said earlier, was fond of the company of sadhus. He found togetherness with them congenial for discussing topics on godliness, devtas, good spirits etc. During one such discussion they decided to hire a Doonga (big boat) and go to Tulamula (Kheerbhawani) for darshan. I was 13/14 years of age then. One day I was in the balcony of the house. This balcony falls towards the approach lane leading to our house, from the main road touching Habba Kadal – 2nd bridge in Srinagar. I saw four/five persons holding my father on either side and leading him to our house. After dumping my father in the living room near the shutter windows, they told my mother how father had played miracles in the Doonga on their way to Tulamula. They said that they felt that he had been overcome by some spirits and lost his senses. They further narrated that at the holy place of Tulamula, father had torn his clothes and thrown them along with his golden buttons, chain and wrist watch in the holy Naag (water pond around the Mandir).

We were all distressed. Some one ran to Mama’s (mother’s brother) place, and brought him along with. My mama was a doctor. He tried his best but could not normalize the condition of the father.

Mother at this point of time went to Durganag, where father’s Guru-brother (Swami Anandji’s other discipline) stayed. He came to our house immediately and did some puja. Father’s condition to some extent got mollified. He repeated the puja again in the evening. During that night he told us that he knew a Tantric who, he said, could cure my father. In the morning, he fetched him and told us that he originally was from Kishtewar, and presently working as a cook in the kitchen at Durganag (a place at the base of Shankarchariya temple). We left father to his care alone in the third floor hall, where his legs and hands were tied up. When the Tantric came down for lunch he told us that he could completely cure father, but that the condition of the father will pass on to the person who created the problem of mental disturbance for the father.

That evening father’s condition became near normal. While I was being fed by my mother, my grandmother’s (second wife of my grandfather) brother, who lived across the river at Zaindar Mohalla, came rushing and informed that his mother had started behaving just like my father.

My mother, in her innocence, ignoring what the Kishtwari Tantric had said, rushed with the informer to his house and actually witnessed the scene.

The Tantric continued his puja during the night and in the morning my father was completely normal. We received the news that my grandmother’s mother had passed away.

Shifting Residence :

My father was becoming unhappy both financially and also with the vicious atmosphere created at our place of residence. He sold the Habba Kadal house and purchased one at Karfali Mohalla. As financial condition went from bad to worse, he fell for and sought the help of the Sadhus (both fake and real) to improve our condition, although his Guru-brother had warned him about the sufferings in the present life, unless next life was desired to be messed up.

In this build up, a Tantric came to stay at our house. It was 1941-42. He used, I was surprised, mutton and wine (hard drink) while performing his puja. But nothing happened. Our condition did not improve. Instead the small business, started by my father, got phut. It went into liquidation.

During this depressing period our neighbour, a Muslim old lady, came to plead before my mother, to help her to get her grown marriageable daughter suffering from fits, cured by Tantric at our house. Father agreed to help, and so did the Tantric.

One Sunday morning the old woman neighbour came to our house along with her daughter. I now recollect her name as Zeba. They sat in front of the Tantric in the room. The other occupants of the room were, my father, my mother and myself. The girl’s head and face was completely covered under a dupatta. The Tantric had a Kangri (fire pot) containing burning coal before him. He threw something on the burning coal and recited some mantra. The girl swooned and fell down unconscious, her head and face bare. The dupatta had fallen on one side. The tantric asked her as to who he was. In a resounding male voice she uttered some name and said one day he was enjoying sunshine near the adjoining river bed when this girl came and pissed on him. Since then, he said, he has got control over her and will never abandon her. The Tantric threatened with more mantras and ordered him to leave the girl or face getting burnt with hot tongs. He advised him to go and enchant some rich person where he would be properly fed and looked after. He named some person. The ghost, or whatever he was, said that he will try.

Tantric shouted and forbade anyone coming up the stairs. The ghost informed the Tantric about his departure. Immediately the girl came back to life and sat erect pulling back her dupatta. We, including the girl’s mother were flabbergasted. After some time the girl again fell unconscious, and rough voice regretted that he could not make it, as the house of the person, he had gone to was well guarded. The rough voice excused himself. The Tantric again ordered him to leave the poor girl in peace, and recited some threatening mantras and beat the unconscious girl with a stick. Apologizing, the ghost left, leaving the girl in a sitting position smiling.

The girl’s mother thanked the Tantric and my mother for the help.

Marriage and Higher Studies :

In 1942 I got married when I just completed 18 years in age. Immediately thereafter I joined Lucknow University for higher education. At the University a single bedroom was allotted to me on the 2nd floor of the Mohmadabad Hostel. This room was just close to the corner double room adjoining the toilet block.

A Stranger who became the President :

One day when I was in the hostel, a stranger elder to me came and enquired about the double room and its occupancy. I informed him that the room was occupied. He further enquired whether the occupant could agree to change the room for a single bedroom one. I simply replied that I was not aware. Next day a Madari (monkey man) came to the hostel to entertain the students with some monkey tricks. In the company of my hostel colleagues, mostly from Kashmir, I got mischievous and asked the Madari to take his monkey in the double room. The occupant of the room was not a mixer by nature, but at the sametime was snobbish.

The entry of the monkey in his room got him jump from his bed, and in panic run from one corner of the room to the other in fright, while inmates of the hostel laughed and cheered. Having got unnerved, the occupant of room left the hostel and hired a private room. The stranger who had met me earlier came to occupy the room. His name was Shankar Dayal. He rose in life to become the President of India.

Thrown on street :

In 1945, when I returned after completing the course of my study in the University, I faced a grimmer period. My grandfather had sued my father for having got disproportionate share in the property earlier, through the decision of the Panch (elderly relatives). My goody goody father had lost the case. Our Karfali Mohalla house was put to public auction and we were thrown out onto the street. This was the greatest setback to the family, and I, who had come back with high expectations, was shattered. My initiative gone to pieces. Father managed a rented house in Zaindar Mohalla, where we finally shifted, dejection looming large on everyone’s face in the family.

Joined the Bar :

With the mental condition much depressed and the economy of the State most disappointing, it was out of reach for an individual like me to find a job. In frustration, I got myself enrolled as a Pleader in the Court of the District and Session Judge, Srinagar, Kashmir. However, only exhilarating experience I went through, during this period, which even now sometimes transports me back to that lost era of my life, was my getting in touch with some senior upcoming personalities like Saddiq (who subsequently became the Chief Minister of the State), Jia Lal Kilam (who became Justice) and D.P. Dhar (who became Central Minister). I remember, in winter, when I along with my other colleagues, who had returned with me from Lucknow, were warming themselves in front of an ‘Angeethi’, D.P. Dhar would come up to the room and ask me for my overcoat during lunch breaks. He alongwith Jia Lal Kilam would go to Pestonjee's hotel nearby for a drink or two.

Joined Bank :

Financial position getting bad to worse, I was compelled by circumstances to join the services of a bank. One Mr. Malhotra was Manager of the bank then.

Secretary Halqa Committee :

Political situation getting grimmer and grimmer before and during the period leading to the partition of the Country, we formed an All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Halqa Committee at Zaindar Mohalla, of which I became the Secretary. During Pakistan raids we managed to keep tranquility and order in our area, as well as boost the morale of the local populace. Shri A Raina, Advocate, was the President of this Halqa Committee.

D-Day for Kashmir – Parker Pen lost :

I still remember one eventful day, when while walking back on the Parade Ground road, I saw an empty truck pass by me. On looking up I saw our beloved Jawahar Lal Nehru, standing in the truck. He smiled and waved at me. I did the same in return.

Then on a make shift wooden stand at Lal Chowk, Nehru was standing along with some local prominent persons. D.P. Dhar was on the same platform on the left side of Nehruji. Bakshi Gulam Mohammad was with us in the assembly of a dozen or so people. D.P. Dhar came down from the stand and took away my parker pen from my pocket, for noting something. The pen was never returned, and I suffered pang of grief for the loss.

I remember, to be witness to a plane load of Army flying over us at the Lal Chowk, and Bakshi in his dramatic gesture throwing his cap upwards in praise of ALLAH.

Abdullah Enthroned :

On the day Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was to take over as the Chief Minister of the State, we, as volunteers got lined up inside the Shergadi (then State Secretariate Building) gate to welcome the dignitaries. When lastly Sheikh Abdullah arrived, a loud cheer went up the congregation, and the crowd thronged forward pushing each other.

Some volunteers, including me gave a protective cover to Sheikh. While he was going up the stairs leading to his official room on the first floor, among the crowd one person followed him closely shouting ‘Sheikho Balai Lagai’ (Sheikh I will sacrifice myself for you). In that ecstasy when he came closer to Sheikh on the last step, shouting and opening his arms for embrace perhaps, Sheikh turned, slapped the man so hard that he fell back still and dumb on the crowd following. He at last shouted ‘Tse Dhakh’ (you get ruined). I recalled this incident first when Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and put behind bars in jail for nearly ten years at Kodiakanal in Tamil Nadu, 

Move to Delhi :

The whole state administration was in turmoil. At the same time my family’s financial condition was getting from bad to worse everyday. As we were completely bankrupt after losing of house and our small business, it was not possible to make two ends meet. There was no spare source/cash to fall back upon.

Kashmiri students who were with me at the University started moving out of the State for better opportunities. I also began contemplating similar action.

I sought from the bank my transfer to Udhampur, where from I planned moving to Delhi with the help of my transfer TA money, I would receive. I received some two hundred and odd rupees as my transfer TA. I moved to Udhampur, where I stayed for two/three months and then advanced to Delhi in search of a better opening.

On reaching Delhi I had no where to go. Two/three nights I slept in Cannaught Place shopping verandha keeping my old suite case with the shopkeeper during the day. Shopkeeper, I remember, was a Sardarji. He was very kind and accommodating. I now hazily recollect it was perhaps Brocca Press at Cannaught Place.

Being short of cash, it was not easy going in search of a job everyday. Having got my name registered in the Employement Bureau, I accepted a job of an accountant in a Cannaught Place firm, namely Dhoonimal Dharam Dass on monthly salary of Rs.150/-. The firm dealt in stationary items. I stayed during this period in Madras Hotel in Cannaught Circle. Then Employment Bureau sponsored my name for the post of Divisional Accountant to the office of the Custodian of Evacuees Property, the Ministry of Rehabilitation. I got the basic salary of Rs.160/- per month from October, 1948.

Family joining :

In the meanwhile I got rented a room in Nai Wali Gali, Karol Bagh, and brought my family. My wife had given birth to a beautiful daughter named Usha.

During our stay at Nai Wali Gali, we got acquainted with other Kashmiri families living in the vicinity, who had also left Kashmir during and after 1947 raids. At this time I can recollect the following names, Som Nath Koul (nick named governor), Som Nath Zutshi (nick named Sehgal for his singing beautifully), Bola Nath, Shambu Nath khachru etc. In 1949 November, I was blessed with a son, Ramesh.

As the time passed, we got in touch with other Kashmiris who had migrated earlier. Most helpful among them to young migrants were Late S.L. Shakdhar (Parliament fame), Late Prem Nath Dhar (AIR-Awaz fame) etc.

Inception of Association :

Shri Prem Nath Dhar lived in Karol Bagh itself. We would sometimes go to his place for guidance and Kahwa (Kashmiri tea). One day in 1950 he came up with an idea that Kashmiris living in the vicinity may have a ‘Damoulu bata’ party get together. As my son’s first birthday was coming up on 30/11/50, I volunteered to have such a get together at my place on that date.

We all met on 30/11/50 in the afternoon for the party. Late Prem Nath Dhar broached the idea of forming an association of Kashmiris in Delhi starting with our Karol Bagh area.

Everyone present agreed to the suggestion. It was decided that the association be named as ‘Kashmiri Sahayak Samiti’, and that a monthly subscription of paisa 25 be collected from the members of the baradari. The Samiti was subsequently registered as ‘Kashmiri Sahayak Samiti (Registered)', Delhi (South Zone).

At this meeting late Prem Nath Dhar was selected President, myself as Secretary, and Som Nath Koul, as Treasurer. I still remember how in cold and foggy winter and blistering summer Sundays, we would go from door to door to collect paisa 25 per family.

Subsequently baradari members from other localities in Delhi were roped in, and the Samiti started growing from strength to strength. Prominent, among them, I recall, were Shambu Nath Khachru, Prithvi Nath Dhar (Planning) and S.L. Shakdhar (Parliament).

In 1959, under my Secretaryship, a resolution, approving the Election Rules (drafted by me), appointment of a Returning Officer for conduct of election to the Executive Council of the Samiti, and three members to represent the Samiti in the then Kashmir Samaj, was passed by the then executive, on 22nd February 1959. The elections were held at Lodhi Gardens, under the supervision of the returning officer, Shri K.N. Dhar of IV-33/208, Lajpat Nagar, on 12th April, 1959.

During the period 1950 to 1962, while I for a length of time, continued to look after the Samiti’s affairs as Secretary, the Presidency rotated hands from Prem Nath Dhar, Prithvi Nath Dhar and Sham Lal Shakdhar.

In the capable hands of the later teams the Samiti got well established Kashmiris and its office got permanently established at Lajpat Nagar.

Joined Election Commission:

In 1951, I had joined Election Commission, India, as an Assistant. Before taking up ONGC assignment, I was blessed with a daughter (Asha) and a son (Deepak).

Joined ONGC :

In 1962 (May) I landed a job of an Administrative Officer in Oil & Natural gas Commission now Corporation, and lost touch with Delhi and the Samiti. In ONGC, I had to suffer transfers to various projects. I moved from Dehradun to Ahmedabad, and then to Dehradun, then Jammu followed by Srinagar, Jawalamukhi and Mumbai. I retired from Mumbai in 1982/83. My last assignment being that of a Consultant.

Tulamula Incident :

Sometime in 1970- 71 when Asha (daughter) was ten years of age, she alongwith her mother, Nani (mother’s mother) and mama etc, went to Tulamula (Kheerbawani). The place was fully crowded.

While catching the bus for the return journey, Asha was thrown on the ground and the bus started its backward motion. The jampacked crowd stood in awe as Asha was in a minute going to be trampled under the rear wheel of the loaded bus. At this moment, Asha took a turn and crowd sighed in relief. The bus stopped when someone shouted that the Durgamata has saved the girl.

When someone in crowd asked Asha how come ‘you turned at the right time in the right direction’, she replied, “I do not know. Someone told me ‘dee dulgund’ (take a turn). I did it without knowing what was its meaning." (Asha did not know Kashmiri language then).

Father's sanity-daughter's marriage :

During my posting at Ahmedabad, my father again became victim of Devangi/ Mastangi/insanity. One day when my wife was attending him, he pointed to the floor of the room and asked her whether she did see ‘Human Ganapati’ sitting there on the floor. My wife as a traditional daughter-in-law kept quiet.

Father further told her that she was ‘Pativarta’ and that her husband i.e. myself will outlive her (my wife). When my wife still kept mum, father in that trance told her whether she was worried about the marriage of Usha (our eldest daughter who was not of marriageable age then). He repeated that he will solemnize her marriage and she (my wife) need not worry on that account (marriage of daughter).

Unfortunately, when I was posted at Jammu, father passed away. It was the year 1970.

In 1974, when I was posted at Srinagar, the marriage of Usha took place. I having returned to Srinagar after 22 years had hardly anyone to guide me.

So much had changed in our relationships and the State administration. In the marriage of my daughter three main persons actually proved helpful to us. One was my landlord (he helped permits and articles of ration etc for the marriage), my brother-in-law (he helped with cash when needed) and my senior officer at our Jammu office (with other requirement and logistics support). All these gentlemen were lame by left leg.

Will you believe, so was my father because of an accident with a cyclist at Delhi some years ago.

Some days before the marriage I was told about prevalence of guest control order on marriages in Srinagar. I had therefore, one day gone to Collector's office and filled up a form. I had mentioned therein that the Barat will come to our place on such and such date at 7.30 pm. On the day of Barat’s arrival, I was in the adjoining ground making arrangement of Shamiyana etc, when I was called to my residence. I saw two three people including a policeman standing inside the compound of the building. When I entered the same, a person asked me whether my name was so and so, and whether I was officer of ONGC and whether my daughter’s marriage was being solemnized that day.

To all these statements I made affirmation and nodded my acceptance.

Same person told me that he was a magistrate so and so, and accompanying persons were his staff. Then he asked me “Where are the baratis”?. I looked surprised, and told him that they will be here in the evening at 7.30 pm. The surprised look passed on to him. He asked the police official to check and found what I said was correct and that some clerk in his office had mentioned in a slip with him the time of Barat as 7.30 am instead of 7.30 pm. He laughed, patted my back and said,” Go ahead, you are lucky. Allah is with you.” The party had come to take action against me if I had failed to follow the guest control order. I would have been arrested if the Barats arrival time was in the morning. When I invited him for the evening, he simply smiled and left.

Residential Flats arranged :

Having lost moorings in Kashmir after becoming homeless and moved out of the State, I had ever since been craving for owning a residence. The intensity touched the roof when my retirement date was closing in. One day in my office when I was in deep anxiety on the subject, Mr. Junjunwala, an estate agent of top builder in Mumbai stepped into my office room. I was surprised. He suggested that I become the promoter and float membership drive for retiring ONGC officers for owning flats in Goregaon/Malad area. He promised to help. Rest is history.

56 flats (28 flats each in Godavari, and Krishna buildings) at Shuchidham, Malad (East) were got built and allotted by draw of lots to eligible members. I thus got my own residence.

Second Daughter's Marriage- Phenomenal Occurance :

In 1984, after my retirement I solemnized the marriage of my second daughter (Asha). When we were arranging things in a room for Devgon (a puja before marriage), we found a corner side place had turned hot. The rest of the room was normal and no fire for havan was lit till then.

We all present in the room checked this phenomenon with surprise. The Panditji, who was a knowledgeable person said that some good soul has come to give ashirvad. After the puja, in the evening we found the same small hot place normal without any warmth.

It was a surprise and an astounding phenomena for all of us.

Gratitude :

I feel indebted to my wife Kanta who did not spare any effort in bringing up of our children even during our hand to mouth existence. Her calm, calculated courageous and realistic approach has been a source of inspiration to the whole family.

After having settled in Mumbai, our children (two daughters and two sons) are fairly established and making best of their lives. Our eight charming grandchildren (four granddaughters and four grandsons) are also coming up very well. The grand children swarm around us and flood us with their love, affection and joy and post us also with their achievements, thus making our lives worthwhile even at our present advanced ages.

I thank the Almighty for giving me courage and strength to face the world without begging or cringing before any person for my personal favour or gain.

He gave me strength to stand erect, straightforward and honest, and also enabled me to help scores of needy Kashmiri young boys and girls as well as others, seeking employment, to stand on their feet. What more could I have asked for.

I sometimes wonder as to who did all that happened during my life span of 80 years, and whether I will find time and energy to tell what will happen hereafter.

 

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