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Fighting a loan battle

india Updated: Jun 24, 2010 23:37 IST
Lalita Panicker

For as long as I can remember, my father in his weekly sermon would tell me ‘neither a lender nor a borrower be’. Well, it’s easier said than done as I discovered when trying to pay back a bank loan well before time. No sooner did I announce my intention to the bank, two ‘relationship’ managers materialised in my office in the manner of Star Trek.

“You want to pay back the loan?” said one in tones of such shock that you’d have thought I’d told him that I’d just spotted Subhash Chandra Bose in Connaught Place.

“Yes,” I bleated. “Most unwise, most unwise,” intoned the more portly of the two. I would apparently lose a lot by tax savings. But what about the money I’ll save on interest? A mere bagatelle, compared to tax savings, said the other. Suddenly, one asked, “How will you pay?” I have enough to settle the loan, I answered. They looked at each other with the expression of Dracula on spotting an inviting neck. “You have liquidity?” asked one making me sound as though I were incontinent.

“She must go in for bars,” said portly. Oh, is this what liquidity is all about? I wondered. Madam, the gold market, is, well, shining, a few bars in your locker, which we will, of course, provide, is just right for someone your age. Age? No, I must pay the loan back, I said now feeling cornered. “She may not want gold, clearly, she wants to park her money in mutual funds,” said the not-so-portly. “Don’t worry, we will put together a portfolio,” he added.

Please, I must pay back the loan, it is my money, after all, I whinnied. Yes, quite, said one, madam clearly wants to pay back the loan in order to take a much bigger loan, said one. Sensing a way out, I concurred. A bigger loan, that’s it. “It’s in your interest to keep this loan and at the same time take out another. We happen to have the appropriate papers where you could sign at the appropriate place for the appropriate amount.” I was on my knees now. Please, please let me pay, penalty for early payment and all, I begged. “With variable interest rates, given the economic growth trajectory, it is in your interest (that word again) to not pay back loans,” said one suddenly metamorphosing into the Alan Greenspan of cheques and imbalances.

I’ll get back to you, I said. Take your time, take your time, your interest is our interest, they said. I’ll show them I’m a person of some account, I thought. I’ll give them another call next month after I’ve paid my next instalment on the loan.