“Sir, would you like to know your day? What your fate holds for you today? I will tell you what the stars want to tell you and you can avoid all the obstructions to reach zenith. Come to me”, the astrologer urged while arranging his tarot cards under the same banyan tree. For the past 3 years he has always placed his cage of parrot to his right, just beside the red stone which he got for himself when he was learning his art of astrology from Rajasthan. His “dhoti” that has the shade of cream shone as usual in the dim beacons of sun rays that passed the leaves dangling along the branches to finally fall on him to light his aura. The blue bag that holds his tarot cards and the little cloth carpet, was hung adeptly to one of the low lying branches of the banyan tree. His parrot doesn’t seem to get startled when something corporal passes the small lane of Asavgunj, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. But when the street dogs make a claim of property, the parrot would withdraw itself to the rear end of the cage until Athyarth, the astrologer, scared them away with a pebble or two. Athyarth always came by 8 am and proclaimed his spot by the banyan tree to tell the future of the people and earn a bit of fortune.
“Sir, would you like to know what the future holds for you? Please come and know what your stars are up to”, he signaled an invitation to one of the two merchants who seemed to have given a glance at him. But they walked away. He drew a long breath and looked at his parrot, who seems to enjoy the joblessness for quite some time.
“Sir, you should be extremely careful today”, he pitched his voice loud enough for Vedyansh to hear, the mediocre clerk at the office of a dogmatic landlord. Vedyansh has always believed that he shared a rather unpleasant relationship with his stars and that it was his stars and luck which failed him in his metric exams and made him succumb to a mediocre life to live with his ailing mother, his only parent left.
“What should I be careful of?” he drew himself nearer to Athyarth’s display and sat himself on the little evened granite stone that Athyarth picks up every morning from the nearby municipal dump yard and places it back beside the wall in the evening.
“Sir, I feel your stars are conspiring against you. You should be careful today”, Athyarth tried to sound as dramatic and convincing as possible. “What sort of conspiring? Please tell me”, Vedyansh sounded perfectly convinced that the stars have gone against him again and since the astrologer was declaring the fact, he has all the proof to blame his failures on the stars. “Please tell me”, he urged Athyarth.
Athyarth pulled a deck of tarot cards and adeptly placed them at the left corner of the carpet holding them beneath his palm. He then spread them towards the right in a straight line until every card earned a place without overlapping each other. He then stretched his arm and opened the cage. With the least desire to fly away and earn freedom, the parrot walked like a dwarf from the cage. It walked past the seven cards before picking up the eight card, the card of fortune. Athyarth pulled the card from its beak and it walked back to its cage placidly and withdrew itself to the rear end as if the fortune telling was nothing sort of excitement anymore for the little featured one.
“Sir, this card will tell you you’re fortune”, Athyarth raised his brow and the old age wrinkles that seemed to make him knowledgeable and convincingly adept at his art just disappeared for a little while. “Sir, this card says that you are financially broke with a very little fortune to spare.” It did not require a tarot card to tell that. His bedraggled blue shirt and his black trouser which possessed a good number of stiches and patches screamed for themselves. “Tell me more. Am I going to loose my job? What does the card say?” Vedyansh was more desperate to know his luck today than look at his watch to realize that he was running 15 minute late to office which was going to reflect on his wages.
“Sir, today you should not give anybody even a dime. It will angry your stars to see you spend today and the only way to avoid the wrath is to donate a fair amount of money to an old Brahmin who owns a parrot”, Athyarth was sure that no other Brahmin in the colony owned a parrot except for him. He made his signs clear enough to plant the thought of donating him a handsome revenue in Vedyansh’s head.
“An old Brahmin who owns a parrot!” Vedyansh murmured. “Who in the colony is an old Brahmin who also owns a parrot”, Vedyansh kept himself involved in his thoughts while Athyarth drew himself to rest against the façade of the tree.
“Oh! Yes, Muthyarth swami has been recently gifted a parrot by his grandson and I also owe him a fair amount for the financial aid he provided for the repairing of my house”, Vedyansh spoke while starring in to the empty space above Athyarth’s head.
Athyarth was startled by his murmuring but soon wiped the expression on his face to avoid suspicion of conspiracy. “Yes sir, you must know it better”, Athyarth tried to sound non-differing with the idea.
“Thank you panditji”, Vedyansh folded his hands in formal Namaste, picked up his bag and pulled himself from the granite stone to walk away.
“Sir!” Athyarth sounded surprised. “Sir what about my fee?” he was more perplexed than concerned. Vedyansh looked back at him, adjusted his bag strap on the shoulder and blatantly whimpered “Sorry panditji, you have asked me to not spend a dime today. I cannot afford to angry the already wrathful stars for you”. Athyarth could not utter a word but watch Vedyansh walk away.