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  • Wednesday, 16 January 2008

    The Sensation

    Narayana was a queer one. He did not have much formal education but was well educated by voracious reading. He had done odd jobs – issuing tickets in a touring drama company, for instance. He loved mathematics. He was a skeptic. He was a Gandhian. He was a Marxist. He was curious about everything scientific.

    That was a really small thumbnail portrait of a very interesting man.

    He had finally settled down as a farmer, got married and had raised a family, three sons and three daughters. One of the daughters had died while still young, years ago.

    He was on one of his infrequent visits to the big city – Bangalore. He did not like the hustle and bustle of the city. Things that made the trip tolerable were the opportunity to meet some intellectuals and buy or borrow interesting books.

    On this trip, he found a book he had heard a lot about and was very eager to read - Eddington’s “Nature of the Physical World”. He bought it right away and returned eagerly to his cousin’s house, where he was staying during this visit. He could not wait to start reading it.

    As he came in, the family was getting ready for lunch and he had lunch too. He avoided the long post lunch conversation and moved to a tiny room. He spread a mat on the floor, moved around a trunk and a pillow and settled down to reading the book. It was fascinating. He was at it for a few hours and was feeling a little tired when he heard a familiar voice outside. Another cousin, Rajanna, had come to see him. Not too reluctantly, he gave up the book and started chatting with him – the price of rice, the weather, prospects for a good harvest the next season, the trials and triumphs of each others’ family members, suitable boy for another cousin’s daughter . . . .

    Rajanna had recently found a new astrologer, Pandit, who was making waves. Pandit had a growing reputation and had a huge following, already. The talk turned to this new phenomenon even though Rajanna knew Narayana’s skcepticism. He was sometimes irritated by it and sometimes he liked to irritate Narayana by talking about astrology. Today he was in the latter mood. He extolled the virtues of the new sensation and how he could read the past, present and the future. He watched Narayana grow distant, with great anticipation. He was sure of the coming arguments.

    To his great astonishment, Narayana said that he wanted to show a particular horoscope to this Pandit and ask his opinion about it. Rajanna looked for a catch in the whole thing. Narayana looked his usual self, but a little eager perhaps. It so happened that Rajanna was meeting Pandit that very evening as he had become quite friendly with him.

    Narayana went in, opened his ‘trunk’, opened a cloth cover and fished out a sheet of paper, folded it and put it in his pocket. Off they went walking to a well-appointed house in Gandhi Bazaar. They were ushered in and they chatted a while with Pandit. After sometime, Narayana gingerly took out the horoscope and gave it to Pandit.

    Pandit took a quick look at it, then a serious one and continued to chat with the two cousins. Finally he took out his books, sheets of paper for calculations, a few cowrie shells … all the paraphernalia of the profession.

    Finally he gave his considered opinion. Narayana was assured that the boy had a very bright future. He would do this and that and the other. But, in his middle teens, he would have some health problems and that he had to be a little careful, and a few other things. All the while, Rajanna was looking eagerly at the Pandit and Narayana. His face was impassive. But Rajanna did discern a slight sign of what he thought was a sense of happiness in Narayana’s face. With a look of relief and gratitude, Narayana took the horoscope back, folded it again and pocketed it.

    They two cousins brought the visit to an end and left the place after paying the customary fees.

    On the way back, Rajanna hesitantly asked Narayana, whose horoscope it was.

    Narayana replied, “It was Kamala’s horoscope. My dead daughter’s horoscope.”

    Note: This is a story from real life, from about fifty years ago. The name of the astrologer and the daughter are imaginary. The details of the rendering are my own.

    1 comment:

    Starry-eyed Shruti said...

    Hmmm...this is a serious story. Birth is by chance and Death is by default. Whose story was it by the way, I'd like to know.

    One of my friends is 'Non-Manglik' and the one she wants to marry is Manglik. When I asked her whether she would like to marry the guy even after all those religious conflicts, YES, was the answer.

    Marriages are made in heaven. Then why are astrologers involved at all?