Back to: Maharashtra Board 12th English
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This is a story about an astrologer who made his living by using his wits and shrewdness. One day, he is confronted with a truth that had once made him flee his village home. This confrontation and the subsequent revelation lifts a heavy load off his chest.
The Astrologer’s Persona
The central character of this story is an astrologer who carried the persona of an all-knowing man. His attire made him appear like a divine prophetic man. Adorning a saffron-coloured turban on the head, the Astrologer sat under a tamarind tree and began his work at midday.
His forehead was always smeared with sacred ash and vermilion. Due to this, his eyes looked bright and attracted many people. The Astrologer had left his ancestral home years ago without telling anyone and had never gone back to his land and people.
The Astrologer’s Work
The Astrologer was not a learned man and did not possess the knowledge of stars that was required for his work. It was his shrewdness that kept his trade going. What made him sound convincing to his customers was the knowledge of human life and crude guess work.
He simply used his basic understanding of human life and his experience of years of practice to make predictions about those who sought his services. He knew enough about man’s troubles of marriage, money and the complex web of human bonds. This deep understanding coupled with his wits enabled him to get insights into the personalities of others and make predictions about their futures.
The Unusual Encounter
One day, the Astrologer was approached by an unusual customer. He stirred up an old memory of the past in the Astrologer’s mind. Unlike others, this customer was not easy to fool to convince. He challenged the Astrologer to predict some worthwhile things about him.
The Man asked him to predict whether or not would he succeed in finding the object of his search. The Astrologer initially felt uneasy but accepted the challenge, and the two men even struck a bet.
As the Astrologer began to reveal details of the Man’s past, the customer was stunned. He correctly guessed the customer’s name to be Guru Nayak and even disclosed that he knew that the Man had been attacked with a knife and even pushed into a well.
The Astrologer’s knowledge about how Guru Nayak had closely escaped death and was thus looking for the man to seek revenge, totally convinced the customer. To answer the Man’s question, the Astrologer told him that he will not succeed because the person he was looking for was dead.
He also warned Guru Nayak of an imminent threat to his life and advised him to return to his village. Convinced by the Astrologer’s advice, the Man left after giving him a handful of coins.
Disclosure of the Truth about Astrologer’s Past
As the Astrologer went home that day, his wife was elated to see the day’s earnings. It was then that he disclosed the truth that had made him flee his home. The man whom Guru Nayak had been searching was the Astrologer himself.
As a young man, the Astrologer had once got into a minor feud with him and had tried to push him into a well. He had assumed Guru Nayak to be dead and had lived with a guilt-ridden conscience for all those years.
This unusual encounter proves to be a blessing for the Astrologer. As he says, ‘a great load’ or the burden of guilt is lifted off his chest. No longer plagued by a guilty conscience, the Astrologer straightens himself on the pyol and is eventually at peace.