Fault in our stars

He predicted a profession of artillery and a four-figure salary in 10 years.

“Astrologers and palmists in peril.” Such were the headlines in newspapers recently, alluding to the Anti-superstition Bill. That took my mind back over the years, to many encounters.

In the late fifties, a palmist in a safari suit (!) used to stand outside Teppakkulam, Trichy, from 6 pm to 7 pm. His paraphernalia: one-foot-square table, foldable stand with a till and a tiny bulb and a huge magnifying glass hanging from his neck. The rates were four annas (25 paise) for a quick palm-reading and a rupee for five written answers.

Even four annas was a king’s ransom when coffee or masala dosa cost just 2 annas! While examining the palm and rattling off names of ‘mounds and lines’ in English, he would ask for “approx age.” A brief gist in Tamil of your future would follow: studies, employment, salary, illnesses and life-span, usually ending with “No danger to life in the near future.”

In 1958, a collegemate insisted we try it for fun. Out went two four anna coins, which he deftly moved to the line of coins. One had to follow the sequence, when he would move it into his till. He predicted a profession of artillery (I had not even finished my degree then nor planned a career) and a four-figure salary in 10 years (while graduates were only earning Rs 140 to Rs 200 in 1959). Both proved amazingly true and my friend narrates it even today.

Another encounter was with a 90-year-old blind retired Physics professor, who offered free consultation for matching horoscopes. If you read out the chart, he would calculate mentally and offer his views. There was a hitch when he compared mine (my exact time of my birth wasn’t recorded) with the prospect and told dad so.

My love-life was in danger! After a year, at my insistence, my sister and her husband went to him again. The moment he read it, the professor said: “I had asked you to avoid it when your father had brought the same set. But, if they insist, let them (the couple) be happy for 15 years.” The time limit wasn’t revealed to me then.

It was my brother-in-law who finally broke it to me when I lost my wife after 15 years and 2 months of marriage. Two years later, when I was facing a rough patch in my career, my father-in-law took me to an astrolger in Vyalikaval, who extrapolated my time of birth as 12.10 pm. He rightly predicted that I would be rid of my troubles in three years, and I was.

As a Brigadier, I met the younger of the two famous astrologer-brothers near Jammu where I had been the Station Commander earlier. This man predicted that my elder daughter would pass CA before the age of 23 with flying colours, join investment banking at a seaside location and later go abroad.

The same year, a colleague in Belagavi insisted I meet a ‘rice- reader’ at 5 am just to know my future. I did. He, too, predicted almost the same but insisted on seeing the girl once. While most of it came true, she passed away a few months later in Bombay. This made me lose faith in astrologers, who hadn’t warned me of the impending doom. It’s been 23 years; I have not consulted anyone since.

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