As we were still there, she was curious to know about you, your destiny, and your future as desperately as I was. She suggested we consult a fortune-teller in the vicinity.’ Mother continued in one of her relaxed agony confessing sessions with her son, Girish.
‘And I agreed. One afternoon, when your father was away chasing jobs and who, eventually, preferred to remain jobless; I and the pious-land-lady-in-love went to see an astrologer. The astorloger lived in the temple premises around two miles away from our place. As we reached the temple compound, we noticed there was his name ‘Pundit Ballabh Joshi – Astrologer and Palmist of World Repute’ written on the large billboard erected on the wall of the temple. His fee was very high, as high as eleven rupees for a single session of horoscope reading. Don’t be surprised, son. It was long back when Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had just died of the aftershocks of a Chinese invasion and a bruised India was hardly able to pay salary to her civil servants. At that time the monthly salary of a babu used to be around fifty bucks. You might be wondering how I paid his fee, son. The astrologer was known to the land-lady and arranged to see you on complimentary basis – alms – something started right from your birth. The astrologer was a multitalented fortune-teller. He read horoscopes, he read lines on the palm, he read lines on the forehead, he calculated things based on the numbers in a persons’ date of birth, he guessed results based on the letters in one’s name etc. etc.’
‘So, there was no chance of misleading predictions or untrue prophecies. As we entered his room, Pt. Joshi was sitting across a large table, as big as a table for table-tennis game. He was wearing white kurta and an immaculate white dhoti, and a red scarf loosely hung over his shoulders. A thick layer of artificial sandalwood-paste was smeared over his forehead and red vermillion dot decorated the centre of his forehead. He gestured to make us sit across the table, you on my lap, and the land-lady smiling besides me. He donned a pair of thick glasses as he tried to read the obscure tiny lines on the delicate palms of one year old baby. Still unsure, he picked his magnifying glass and put over your both hands. And, another glance on your tiny forehead. He asked your name and wrote ‘Girish’ followed by date on the top of a page. He jotted down few lines on that piece of paper. Then he asked the time, date, and place of your birth. He drew some more lines on yet another piece of paper, some rectangles and some triangles. And wrote single syllables on each cell created by drawing of these rectangles and triangles. He mysteriously looked at me and my forehead, and you and your forehead. He again hastily jotted down some illegible phrases on the piece of paper.’ Mother explained each moment spent with the fortune-teller.
‘Then, what the astrologer said I couldn’t follow that time and can’t follow it now. You can decipher it if you want and if you can and if you must. He read from the piece of paper he had then scribbled. He wrote smoothly, but he halted when he spoke. So the prophecy became as unintelligible in hearing as it was in writing and more difficult in comprehending.’ She opened her old rusted worn-out green tin trunk, pulled out a dilapidated piece of paper, which had turned yellowish, and the ink had turned as blurred as the rhyming prophecies themselves. Mother dictated the words of the astrologer…verbatim. Now the astrologer’s words follow: