Oracle from Oberhausen

Fame, it is said, has its own perils. Paul, the Germany-based octopus with psychic powers, is no exception. Apparently many Germans, frustrated over the semifinal defeat of their team in the World Cup, want the oracle-turned-villain in the Berlin’s Sea Life aquarium, grilled and served.

That of course is not fair. After all, you don’t shoot the messenger or the astrologer; certainly not after the results. It doesn’t make sense. It would have made sense if someone had thought of tying up the tentacles of the upstart before he embraced the Spanish flag to indicate his choice. Was Paul only a messenger or did he play a role in shaping the result? I for one believe he did play a part in the defeat.

As one watched all the matches, I felt that the German team didn’t run as fast or play as well as they did in the earlier matches. And that made me wonder if the doom prediction was weighing on their minds. With the octopus’ famed record of being ‘100% right’ working on their minds, had the German players conceded defeat, even before they entered the field?

I recall the child psychology lessons learnt in the BEd class. Call a child ‘useless,’ and s/he will turn out to be useless. Pat him/her on the back and say ‘you are improving’ and he/she would surprise you with remarkable improvement. These are termed as a self-fulfiling prophesies. Sow the idea into a person’s mind and the person sub-consciously works towards making it true. Was the German team psyched to lose?

There is a legend in our family concerning a forefather. Astrology was apparently a passion with this competent civil engineer. But would he have given up his life for the hobby? That is the question that gets debated, even today, at the family gatherings.

For, the not-so-old man, in apparent good health, suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Later, rummaging through his books, the family found a highlighted entry in his diary. The note gave the date of his death; which of course was the date on which he died. So the question is, did the ardent student of astrology make such an uncanny prediction, or did he so completely believe in his own prediction that his mind ordered the body to shut down on that day?

I hope the octopus is wrong in picking the ultimate winner. It would be a shame if a mollusk, caged in an aquarium, ends up eroding the self-confidence of millions of thinking men (and women), across the globe.

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