The fault in our star-gazers

When I met him recently, my brother-in-law asked casually, “Do you believe in astrology?” As if he had read my mind, he continued without cease, “But you know I have belief in astrology. And a recent talk with my astrologer cousin has reinforced it.”  

The mention of astrology jogged my memory of a fortune-teller known to me. I was in my mid-teens then and I was living with a distant uncle of mine in his village. The astrologer did a roaring business. Even at odd hours, his house teemed with clients. One day, my uncle wanted the service of this astrologer and asked me to bring him home. “I already had a talk with him yesterday and he is aware that he would be sent for today,” he explained. “As a matter of courtesy, you should accompany him,” he added.

While walking back home with him, the fortune-teller asked me if I knew anything about the boy. Since I had overheard the discussions my uncle and aunt had had with the broker, I had a fair idea from whom the proposal had been received for my cousin. I also knew that the boy was a teacher in a high school and stood a good chance of becoming the headmaster soon. I told him whatever I knew, leaving nothing behind!

“How do you know all this?” he quizzed me pryingly. “I listened in to what the matchmaker told my uncle,’’ I responded, opening my big mouth, much to his amusement. Scarcely did I know that this was a sort of information gathering in which astrologers usually indulged and I was unwittingly playing into his hands.

Children were not allowed to be anywhere in the vicinity when the astrologer was verifying the horoscopes. So I did not know what transpired between him and my uncle. However, later after he had left, I eavesdropped on my uncle and aunt who were talking in whispers. “The astrologer’s predictions look accurate,” said uncle delightedly. “Yes,” responded the other, beaming!

They were quite impressed by him. They wondered how he could be so correct about the boy’s profession and his chances of advancement in the job without their mentioning it to him.

They concluded that if he was right about the present, his predictions about the future would not be way off the mark! In fact, the fortune-teller had talked quite highly of the boy’s character as if he was once his next-door neighbour! Alas, a few months after the marriage, the boy began to show his true colours. He ill-treated my cousin and robbed her parents’ the peace of mind until their deaths with his numerous demands.

Today, I reflect with a shudder on how angry my uncle would’ve been with me if he had come to know that the astrologer had relied his predictions mainly on his talk with a blabbermouth like me, making him seem like an authentic foreteller! I am, indeed, remorseful at the turn of events.

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