Fooled by the Golden Glow..!

The other day someone told me his sister had bought a phone worth a huge amount. “But your sister’s just picked up a job!” I said.

“With her job, she applied for a credit card!” I was told.

And today, that’s what I see; with no money in the wallet but with a piece of plastic in hand they move from shop to shop and buy more than they can afford.

That phone, that fancy car, that jewellery shine out for all to see.

On a hot sunny day in the city of Chennai, a tall coconut tree was on fire. The fire brigade rushed to the spot and put out the fire, but not before the tree had burned to the ground. The firemen looked at smouldering tree and wondered how it had been set ablaze.

It was then they saw a ruined crow’s nest lying in the middle of the burning branches and in the nest a short length of rope. A rope with one end glowing, generally used by customers for lighting their cigarettes and bidis. This happened during the Second World War when match boxes were scarce, a habit that persists till today of a bit of rope outside the cigarette shop with which smoker lights his king size, menthol tipped or filter cancer stick.

A crow seeing the red ember outside the shop thought that it would do well in the nest it was building and carried the burning rope into its home. It realised only too late that there was fire and destruction in that golden glow!

How many of us with credit card in our beaks bring back shiny glittering stuff that are the envy of neighbours but finally bring ruin to our very homes?    

During the same period of the Second World War, in a German town, a fire broke out in a readymade garment store. The fire brigade of that town consisted of women since all the men were at the war front. When they rushed to the store with their firefighting equipment, the women thought they would spoil the beautiful garments if they directed water and foam upon them. So they began pulling out the clothes from inside the store. The fire spread fast and not only burnt out the whole stock but destroyed the full building. The gold they saw in fancy bra, and panty hose brought destruction. They tried to save expensive clothing and lost it all!

We try to keep our fancy garnishing; expensive phones, extravagant parties, swanky limos and pretentious penthouses and with gold painted credit cards grab every bill that waiter places before fellow eaters, hoping all will notice the ease, the flourish that signing hand, signs bills away.

T’is later when banks demand their pound of flesh, when loan sharks, their wad of notes, we perceive too late, the card’s golden glow can cause a fiery inferno that reduces everything including us to ashes..!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at and can be reached at