The Ponzi Scheme
11am: I am comfortably sprawled on the couch and sipping coffee, when both my children start harassing me because they are bored. I invent a new game where they are superheroes, grab two electronic mosquito swatters from the kitchen and set them off on the path to fight the tiny flying menace trying to destroy our nation. When Ebola finally hits India, I may have to come up with a new game. That is, if we are lucky to first survive dengue.1.30 pm: My mother informs me that an old acquaintance from Delhi is coming over this evening. The lady in question has been trying to persuade mommy dearest to partake in a great money-making scheme and mom has already decided that it is a fabulous opportunity and is now persuading me to take advantage of her friend’s generous offer.
4 pm: I am writing my weekly column when my 21-year-old cousin comes over, strips off his T-shirt, shows- off his abs and starts doing rather painful looking crunches on the floor.
I really don’t understand this whole sic, eight, 10-pack thing, but if looking like a segmented insect is what makes most people happy these days then perhaps my middle-aged brain is simply missing the point.
6 pm: Our much-awaited visitor arrives. She is articulate, intelligent and extremely charming. I am almost convinced that I must part with most of my money, when I start mentally doing some calculations and an alarm bell starts ringing. I protest that nothing in the world can help you earn 125 per cent per annum especially when the bank is just about giving 9 per cent. Every question I ask is met with vague answers like angel investors, trading in yen, etc. till the meeting comes to an abrupt end.
8.30 pm: My mother receives an SMS from her friend which states, ‘I am very disappointed with your daughter’s attitude. What does she keep mumbling percentages for? Does she even know what she is saying? Under these conditions, I take back my kind offer of granting you place in my scheme. Its your loss.’
Mother starts berating me for having spoiled this great prospect and when I try explaining to her that this is just a money-making racket as the numbers don’t add up, she again yells at me for behaving like I am ‘some kind of maths teacher’ in front of her friend. Hurt about the maths dig, I remind her that I had scored 97 out of 100 in my Board exams on the same subject. She must remember that at least, since she and my aunt had made fun of me saying, “The Human Calculator not only gets 97 marks but also weighs 97 kilos.”
She gets even more irked so I sneakily grab her phone and send her friend a message back: ‘CBI has just arrested MP Ramchandra and two ex-MLAs in a Ponzi scheme, would you like to join them?’
A month later, mom calls me and says ‘I have been trying our Delhi friend’s number but she hasn’t returned my calls. Really, you should have been nicer to her. Didn’t even serve her biscuits properly with tea that day. But I agree with you, it’s better to be safe than sorry. What is too good to be true, usually is.... Anyway, listen, I got a letter from a nice Nigerian man who wants to give us some money...’.
Before she can continue, I yell, ‘Oh my God!’ She starts giggling
and says, ‘I am just joking’. I tell her, ‘It’s not funny, mom. Sometimes you really do make stupid mistakes.’
She snorts, ‘That’s true, I made you.’