Lateral Thinking Midas touch in Paradise Island
By R.S. Karunaratne
The infamous Central Bank Bonds Scam has taken the available space in almost all the newspapers in Paradise Island because it is the hottest topic. Those who were allegedly involved in the Bond Scam blame the others who were in control of the Government Treasury.
A Royal Commission was set up to find the culprits although Paradise Islanders are rather doubtful about its outcome. But it is no secret that a few people have turned into gold with the bond money.
Turning people into gold is nothing new. As a child I read a story titled "The golden touch". It is all about a king whose name was Midas. He had a daughter, but the narrator did not mention her name. For the sake of convenience, let us call her "Marygold."
Like most of the politicians in Paradise Island, King Midas was very fond of gold. He used to wear a golden crown. Although he loved his daughter, Midas had an unquenchable greed for gold. He wanted to fill his treasury with gold. Politicians in Paradise Island follow the same principle.
They collect wealth for their own families and even future generations. A leading politician's son once confessed that his father had amassed wealth for six generations to come! Most politicians do so because their hearts are full of the milk of human kindness.
Mint of money
The politician mentioned above started life as a Local Government Council member and made a mint of money through contracts. Then he entered Parliament and was appointed as a Deputy Minister. As luck would have it, he soon became a minister. And now he is another multi-millionaire.
One day, Marygold ran to welcome her father returning from a visit to a foreign country with a bunch of yellow rose flowers.
Accepting the bunch of flowers Midas wondered whether the flowers were as golden as they looked. Unlike politicians in Paradise Island, Midas never cut down trees in royal lands. Instead he maintained a royal garden full of beautiful rose bushes. He spent many hours looking at the pretty flowers and inhaling the sweet smell. One day, however, he wondered how much the garden would be worth if each of the rose petals was a thin plate of gold.
People in Paradise Island know that they are growing more and more foolish with each passing day.
This is because they choose the same rogues to rule them. Midas too was getting more and more foolish as he grew old. He spent much time in a dark room in his palace. He used to lock himself up in the room and count the gold coins he had collected. A narrow sunbeam fell from the only window in the room. He laughed happily when the gold coins shone in the sunlight.
Those who became multi-millionaires overnight in Paradise Island, like Midas, were also laughing happily. Their happiness knew no bounds. They wanted to multiply their wealth through dubious means.
They appealed to Bacchus, the God of Wine and Revelry to open up a distillery so that they could enjoy themselves. Another man appealed to Vishvakarma who readily gave him a readymade mansion. However, most of them were not happy because happiness is not a destination but a journey.
Midas too was not happy with what he possessed. He wanted to be the richest king in the world.
When people entertain such ambitions, strange phenomena take place. One day, Midas was taken by surprise by the presence of a stranger in his secret chamber. It was a young man with a cheerful face. Midas wondered how the stranger sneaked in through the locked door. However, he realized that the stranger posed no threat to his life. Midas had a gut feeling that the stranger would do him a favour.
"You seem to be a wealthy man, but are you satisfied with what you have?"
"Certainly not. I want to grow richer every day."
The stranger thought for a moment and asked Midas what he would like to have.
"I wish everything that I touch to be changed into gold," said Midas.
"Oh, you want the golden touch! Are you sure that this will satisfy you?"
"Of course, it will," said Midas.
"Be it as you wish," said the stranger vanishing into thin air.
Midas could not sleep well that night. He saw all sorts of dreams. Early in the morning on the following day, Midas wanted to test whether he had the golden touch. So he touched the linen cloth on his bed. Hey presto! It immediately turned into gold.
Like those who received unjust enrichment through the Bonds Scam, Midas too had a kind of joyful madness.
He touched everything in his royal chamber and they turned into gold. He picked up a book from a table and it too became book of golden leaves. Then he touched one of the bed-posts and it turned into a golden pillar.
He quickly put on his royal clothes and they too turned into gold.
Finally, Midas realized that he could not expect any great good without some small evil. Then he saw little Marygold coming down the steps to have breakfast. When he saw his daughter in tears, Midas stretched his hand and was about to touch her.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"All the beautiful roses have turned into gold and they no longer give out any sweet smell."
Then Midas bent down and kissed his daughter.
"My precious Marygold!" cried Midas, but she made no answer. Then he realized that Marygold too had turned into a golden statue!
In Paradise Island, those who touched the Bonds Scam too have turned into golden statues. They have lost their memories and human feelings. The king in Paradise Island is wondering how to deal with the golden statues that cannot be arrested.
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