Penny wise, pound foolish

Penny wise, pound foolish

Penny wise, pound foolish
Thata, I have company for my fish now...” It was Aditya, my grandson, calling from New York, where he is studying in class six. He had won a fish in a competition in school and brought it home. But the fish was alone and to end its boredom, Aditya had now added a companion and shared that news with us.

But the tale is not that simple. And as narrated by his mother, it is a cent- wise but not necessarily a dollar-foolish incident. At the annual day celebrations, the school had arranged many competitions and in one such competition, the prize was a goldfish. Aditya’s eyes were set on that prize. He wanted to bring a goldfish home. The game was simple. Throw a TT ball at a glass bowl from a distance and if it lands in the bowl, you can walk away with a goldfish. Aditya coaxed his mother to part with five dollars as entry fee for which he was given a set of 20 TT balls. 

The game began. Aditya threw the 20 balls with all the dexterity but none hit the target. He was disappointed. He had a meeting with his classmates. He then went to his mother and asked for another five dollars. “Please amma,” he pleaded. Her heart melted. She parted with the sum but with the rule that it would be the final chance. Aditya agreed and rushed to the playing arena to try his luck again.

Meanwhile, as a dollar-conscious mother, my daughter calculated that even if the son won a goldfish, it would cost a whopping 10 dollars, but how much would it cost in a pet store, she mused. Casting her financial thoughts away, she watched her son at work. He was all focused as he carefully threw the balls towards the glass bowl. He was egged on by his friends: ‘careful, don’t be that fast’, ‘aim now’, ‘shoot slow’. He finally managed to put a ball in the bowl and took home the coveted goldfish in a water-filled plastic pouch. He beamed like an Olympic gold winner.

“Would you like to buy food for the fish?” the organisers asked. Enter the father now. “Thanks, but we anyway have to head to a pet store to buy a fish tank. So, we will buy food from there itself,” he said. Father, mother and the elated son carrying the prized possession headed to the pet store. The fish perhaps was wondering as to where its new home would be. The mother was not too keen on a fish tank and suggested a glass bowl. But the husband overruled her and looked for a tank with all the associated paraphernalia. The pet store was a universe by itself. The father-son duo debated and finally settled for a fish tank that cost 70 dollars. The paraphernalia made them poorer by 20 dollars. And the fish food was bought for 10 dollars.

In the meanwhile, the mother was eager to know how much a goldfish  cost in the store. “Only 35 cents each madam,” said the salesgirl, little knowing that the family had paid 10 dollars for the vertebrate. Walking back home with the goldfish, fish tank and the food, my daughter calculated that it had cost a neat 110 dollars to house a goldfish that should ideally cost only 35 cents. Was the fish laughing all the way? One never knew.

A few days later, the son found the fish to be aimlessly swimming in the tank and realised it was lonely. He started to worry. His empathy worked and the parents obliged to get another fish. The goldfish could no longer complain about his loneliness in the aquarium. Will it be threesome soon? We are waiting for an overseas call.