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Neither a borrower nor a lender be

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It’s a sure recipe to lose a friend.

“Come and return my money right away or I am coming to your home. It’s been more than a year, and you go on giving unending excuses,” a middle-aged man in one corner of a street was shouting on the phone. I was passing by, and I could hear him shout louder as the distance between us widened.

I could understand his stress and frustration. Certainly, this call must be after many follow-ups to get his money, maybe several times on certain days. I am sure that like me, you too must have encountered such scenes in public places.

In just the past month, I came across two similar scenes, one while travelling on a bus when a passenger got a call from one of his money lenders. He was smart enough to roll out some creative excuse, not to forget the sugar-coating, and slipped the phone back into his pocket post the talk.

Though borrowing money is a common affair, many misuse the generosity of the lender. If I stand with the borrowers, I could say their circumstances did not allow them to return the sum on the promised time.

When a cunning person asks for money from someone, be it a close friend, colleague or relative, his or her cup of politeness overflows along with many promises that sound so steadfast that it seems they will never be broken. In some cases, the show of politeness and kindness begins days before placing the request. Considering the close bond, one hands over the money.

Alas, when the time comes to return the money, a majority postpone, first with sympathetic tones and then with creative excuses, like the passenger on the bus. When postponing becomes a ritual, anger bursts forth from both sides like a volcano. “I am not going to run away with your money …” and such other statements follow. There are also some who prefer switching off their phones or simply running away somewhere. In the process, relationships shatter forever, though with a lesson.

But, on the other hand, there are those who leave no stone unturned to recover their money. I still remember when I was studying in Europe, a friend of mine borrowed nearly 300 Swiss francs promising to return the sum within a week. But almost a year passed, and he kept weaving excuses and then shifted to some other city. I still followed up through emails but it failed to help. Someone told me he was working in a restaurant, and I landed straight there, warning him that I would create a scene if he didn’t return my money. Within seconds, he pulled out three crisp Swiss hundred notes and handed them to me, red-faced.

Coming out, I felt victorious and was filled with joy despite losing his friendship forever. Neither was I interested in befriending him again. Later, I learned he had borrowed from many and never repaid, which is why when I saw him recently after decades at an airport, I preferred to change my path.

“Lend your money and lose your friend.” Of course, there are reasons for it!

rameshinder.sandhu@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:16:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/neither-a-borrower-nor-a-lender-be/article29864113.ece

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