A Short Story
He was not a Bull. He was not a Bear. He was a Punter. Yes, that’s we nicknamed him: “Punter”.
He did not bother about gobbledygook like fundamentals or technicals. He did not have an inkling of financial algorithms and risk heuristics and never “analyzed” – he just speculated by sheer gut feeling.
He instinctively knew how to time the market. That’s why he always made money, whether the stock market boomed or crashed.
He had made so much money that he could have retired and enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, but then, he had got addicted to making money by playing the stock market.
Yes, he got a kick out of “making” money rather than “enjoying” his money. So despite his advancing years he kept on playing the market with more and more vigor and continued to make more and more money. Earlier he would spend his entire time on
Dalal Street, now he would sit in his room glued to his TV, flipping all the financial channels, his fingers on his laptop for instant online trading via the internet. He had no interests, no hobbies, no pleasures, no loves – he just enjoyed one thing – playing the stock market and making money.
One day his lifestyle took its toll and he had a heart attack. They rushed him to the best hospital in Mumbai and they all said he would require a bypass surgery. So they admitted him to the best room in the hospital. Instead of relaxing there, he sat whole day watching the stock-market channels on the wall-mounted TV, doing feverish online trading on his laptop and he continued making a lot a money and he was very happy.
But the doctors were not happy and said that all this share-market business was causing him a lot of excitement which was not good for his already erratic heart, so one morning they suddenly removed the TV and the laptop and even banned all visitors except me and his son, who was a successful investment banker.
“Total rest,” the doctors warned all of us, “he needs total rest, mental and physical, and only then will he be able to stabilize and be ready for the surgery.”
It was the worst day of his life. The entire morning he kept asking about stock prices and asked me for my cell-phone to connect up and find out, but I refused since we were told to strictly isolate him from that world. I could realize that he was passing though hell, unimaginable mental agony at not getting information about the very thing that had been his bread and butter, even the raison d'etre of his existence.
After lunch he dozed off, and suddenly he woke up and asked me, “What’s the time?”
“2:30,” I said.
“Good. There is still time. I want to speak to my son.”
“He is coming at 4...”
“No. I want to speak to him now. It is urgent.”
“He’ll be busy now, in his office…”
“I told you it is urgent. Just get him on the phone…” he said excitedly, his breathing getting heavy.
“Okay. Okay. Calm down,” I said. I dialed his son’s mobile number, and when he came on line, I asked him to speak to his father.
“Sell all shares,” the man shouted at his son via the mobile phone.
“What?” I could hear his son’s surprised voice.
“Don’t ask any questions. Just do what I say. Sell all my shares, understand, all my shares, everything. Do it now. Today. Before the closing bell. Sell everything online. Right now. You know the ...”
“Okay, Papa,” I could hear his son’s voice before he disconnected.
He kept on pestering me to ring up his son and confirm, so I rang up his son half an hour later.
“Yes, Papa, I have sold all the shares in online trading,” the son confirmed.
The old man seemed tremendously relieved and went to sleep peacefully.
That night, at home, I watched with concern as all the share-market experts on the financial channels predicted that the market was very solid and bullish and recommended that everyone buy shares. Invest, invest, invest, buy, buy, buy, they all said in unison, the market was at a high but things were so good that it was going to rise phenomenally and your investment would probably double in a few months. They kept quoting analysis in jargon I never understood to substantiate their predictions.
Next morning the stock-market crashed. It was the biggest fall ever in the history of the share-market. Many were wiped out. Everyone incurred big losses, except the old man and me.
Did I say: “The old man and me?” Dear Reader, you’re surprised, aren’t you? Let me tell you what I did. The moment the Punter had finished speaking to his son, I called up my broker and told him to immediately sell off all my shares.
The Punter had made a huge profit and I too hade made a small fortune. As always, I had blindly followed the Punter and profited.
The moment he heard the news (from a careless nurse who told the old man that the hospital was abuzz with news of the stock-market crash) the Punter got so excited with a frenzy of ecstasy that his blood pressure went haywire and his heartbeats ran amok and he died.
I gave a condolence speech at the old man’s funeral in which I praised him profusely and told everyone how I had made a fortune in the stock-market by just following him blindly.
Later, his son took me aside and asked me, “Did you really sell all your shares?”
“Yes,” I said, “I had blind faith in your father.”
“I wish I had blind faith in his mysterious ways, but then I am an investment banker, I don’t go by gut instinct, I analyze things. I never imagined the market would crash so badly. In fact I thought the market would rise and it would be foolish to sell such excellent blue chip shares. So, I never sold those shares,” said the young man.
“You never sold the shares?”
“Then why did you lie to him?”
“Because I wanted him to die happy.”
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
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About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune
with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. India
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Fiction Short Stories Book
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.