Monday, June 6, 2016

The “Punter” – A Story

Short Fiction – A Story

He was not a Bull. 

He was not a Bear. 

He was a Punter. 

Yes  that is why we nicknamed him: “Punter”.

He did not bother about gobbledygook like fundamentals, technicals etc. 

He did not have an inkling of financial algorithms and risk heuristics.

He never “analyzed” the share market – he just speculated by sheer gut feeling.

He instinctively knew how to time the market. 

That is why he always made money  whether the stock market boomed  or it 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  the “Punter” got a kick out of “making” money  rather than “enjoying” his money

So – despite his advancing years  the “Punter” kept on playing the share market with more and more vigour  and  he continued to make more and more money. 

Earlier  in the good old days  he would spend his entire time in the ring at the Stock Exchange on Dalal Street. 

Now he would sit all day  all stressed up  in his room  glued to his TV  flipping all the financial channels  his fingers alert on his Laptop and Smartphone  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. 

That was his only passion in life.

One day  his lifestyle took its toll  and  he had a massive heart attack. 

They rushed him to the best hospital in Mumbai.

The doctors said he would require a bypass surgery. 

So  they admitted him to the best room in the hospital. 

Instead of relaxing in his hospital room  he sat whole day watching the stock-market channels on the wall-mounted TV  doing feverish online trading on his smartphone  and  he continued making a lot a money  and he was very happy.

But  the doctors were not happy.

The doctors 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 his smartphone  and  they even banned all visitors except me  his best friend  and his son  who was a successful investment banker.

“Total rest,” the doctors warned all of us, “he needs total rest  both mental and physical  and only then will he be able to stabilize and be ready for the surgery.”

It was the first time he had to suffer a day of total rest isolated from the outside world.

It was the worst day of his life. 

The entire morning he kept asking about stock prices  and  he asked me for my cell-phone to connect up with the stock exchanges and find out  but I refused  since we were told to strictly isolate him from that world of shares and stocks and trading. 

I could realize that he was passing through hell  he was suffering unimaginable mental agony at not getting information about the stock market – the very thing that had been his bread and butter  even the raison d'etre of his existence.

After lunch he dozed off.

Then he suddenly he woke up  and he asked me: “What is the time?”

“2:30,” I said.

“Good. There is still time. I want to speak to my son,” he said.

“He is coming at 4 PM...” I said.

“No. I want to speak to him now. It is urgent,” he said.

“Your son will be busy now  in his office…” I said.

“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 dialled his son’s mobile number.

Soon  his son came on the line.

I asked him to speak to his father.

“Sell all shares – 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. You just do what I say. Sell all my shares – do you understand  sell all my shares  everything. Do it now. Today. Before the closing bell. Sell everything online. Right now. You know the user id and password of my trading account  don't you...? So – just log on now and sell all my shares – do it now...” the old man shouted to his son.

“Okay, Papa,” I could hear his son’s voice, before he disconnected.

The old man kept on pestering me to ring up his son and confirm that his son had sold all his shares, as instructed – 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 he went to sleep peacefully.

That night  at home  sitting before my TV set  I watched with concern as all the share-market experts on the financial channels predicted that the market was very solid and bullish.

All financial experts recommended that everyone buy shares  as the market was going to go up and up and up. 

“Invest ... Invest ... Invest ... Buy ... Buy ... Buy ... all the experts said in unison. 

It seemed to me that my old friend the “Punter” had made a big mistake by selling all his shares – at a time when the stock market was sure to rise and shoot up.

What a blunder he had committed.

The market was at an all time high  but things were looking so good  that it was going to rise phenomenally  and your investment would probably double in a few months  all the experts predicted. 

The experts kept quoting analysis in technical jargon I never understood to substantiate their predictions. 

Everyone said that the stock-market was going to shoot up to new heights.

Next morning the stock-market crashed

It was the biggest fall ever in the history of the share-market. 

Most investors were wiped out. 

Everyone incurred huge losses – except the old man and me.

Did I say: “The Old Man and Me...?” 

Yes  the “Punter” and Me seemed to be the only two people who had made a profit in this stock-market crash.

Dear Reader  you’re surprised  aren’t you? 

Let me tell you what I did. 

On the previous afternoon – the moment the Punter had finished speaking to his son telling him to sell all his shares  I went outside the hospital room.

I called up my broker  and I told him to immediately sell off all my stocks and shares.

The broker was hesitant – but I told him that I needed the money urgently – so I wanted to book my profits and get out of the stock market for now. 

As I told you – the very next morning after we sold all our stocks and shares – the stock-market crashed.

The Punter must have made a huge profit selling off all his shares just before the stock-market crashed.

And  as always  playing along with him  I too had made a small fortune by selling off the few shares I had. 

As always  I had blindly followed the Punter.

And  as always  I had profited by blindly imitating whatever he did in the stock market.

The Punter heard the news of the stock-market crash from a careless nurse.

The Punter got so excited on hearing the news of the stock-market crash  that he almost went crazy with excitement and happiness  thinking of the huge amount of money he had made. 

The frenzy of ecstasy caused his blood pressure to go haywire  his heartbeats ran amok  and suddenly  the Punter collapsed and he died instantaneously.

I gave a condolence speech at the old man’s funeral in which I praised him profusely.

I told everyone how I had made a fortune in the stock-market by just following him blindly.

Later  the old man’s son took me aside  and he 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 I am an investment banker. I don’t go by gut instinct, like my father did. I analyze things. I never imagined the stock market would crash so badly. In fact I thought the market would go up and it would be foolish to sell such excellent blue chip shares,” the young man said.

I looked at Punter’s son  and I asked him: “Are you trying to tell me that you did not sell all the shares as your father had told you to do...?

“No. I never sold those shares. I am big fool. Had I listened to my father and sold all the shares  I would have made a big fortune. But  I did not sell those shares – and now – after the stock-market crash – the prices of the shares have rock-bottomed...” the young man said, with a tone of regret in his voice.

“I cannot believe it. You never sold the shares...? Not even a single one...?” I said.

“No  I did not sell even one single share,” he said.

“Then why did you lie to your father that you sold all the shares...?” I asked.

“I told him that I had sold all the shares because I wanted him to die happy,” he said, I lied to my father because I wanted my father to die a happy death.”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story is a Revised Version of My Story THE PUNTER written by me 5 years ago in the year 2011 and earlier posted by me online in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 25 May 2011 

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