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Obsessed with glitter

chandigarh Updated: May 22, 2013 09:27 IST
Col Avnish Sharma (retd)

My mother stressed on the importance of savings. We still recollect her favourite, and at times irritating, sermon: "It is not what you earn and spend, it is what you save that caters to a rainy day." We grew up with this 'rainy day syndrome' often joking about the misplaced roots of the old lady. I still don't remember any drought-like calamity in my maternal lineage.

The concept of savings transformed over the years from piggy banks to the post office to private loans to fixed deposits to equity-based ventures to mutual funds to unit-linked insurance etc. For people like me who retired from the services, provident fund and tax-saving bonds were popular options.

Gold to most of us in the salaried class was more of an ornamental value that was passed on from women down the generations with reasonable accretion during weddings. The yellow metal as an investment never really figured in the spectrum of serious saving options.

During an informal social interaction, a bright colleague, ever ready to play to the ladies' gallery, came out with a revelation. "Ma'am, in our household, it is almost a tradition to buy a gold guinea out of our savings every month come what may," he told my wife. On the face of it, the conversation seemed routine and I did not realise the implication till my better half and I were driving back home. "How could you ignore buying gold for a rainy day?" my wife said, mocking at my mother's conviction.

Once home, a detailed rundown on this profitable investment was chartered. Unfortunately for me, I had missed out on the 'breaking news' on the gold prices and statements by financial experts terming investment in gold as lucrative as the real estate at that time. I felt sheepish on my vintage investment beliefs and promised to amend my savings profile to induct gold as a principal constituent.

However at that time, the price of gold was experiencing an unprecedented rise. Our meagre savings notwithstanding, my wife said, "We can now plan a decent wedding for our children." Getting children married in today's extravagant social environment is a challenge. From the venue to catering and above all the brand of liquor, it is a draining proposition. But a relieved man with a payback investment in gold, I had not a worry in the world.

With the assurance from our newly acquainted jeweller friend, exchange of gold with cash was just a blink away. Having meticulously planned the expenditure, I exuberantly approached the mother of my children to hand over her carefully collected gold booty. "Now don't expect me to part with my ornaments for expenses on your children's wedding. I didn't know you would take away the last resort of a woman's security," she snapped back.

I realised she wasn't joking. In the heart of hearts, I felt elated that my vintage conviction of gold as only glitter yet not litter had stood the test of time. When I approached my friend with the predicament, he didn't have much to say except: "Sir, women and gold are inseparable. Please think of other payback investments."

The writer can be reached at avnishrms59@gmail.com