Literature & Life

An Astrologer’s Day by R.K. Narayan

(A Story of Guilt, Fear and Identity)

An astrologer’s day is a short story written by the well-known Indian English writer RK Narayan who wrote many novels, short stories and essays. His most famous works are the Man-Eater of Malgudi, Waiting for Mahatma, The guide etc.

The short story astrologer’s day is about a fake astrologer. the short story has themes like mysticism, religious hypocrisy, guilt, fear and identity etc. In his short story, RK Narayan gives every minute detail of the astrologer which gives the readers the perfect idea of the astrologer’s character and his personality. The astrologer in the story is not a holy man nor he possesses any superpowers yet he seems to be a very convincing man because of his knowledge and understanding of human psychology.

At the beginning of the story, the astrologer comes to an unnamed town and starts his profession there. He is a very punctual man he would come and sit under a tamarind tree every day. His personality and appearance help him a lot to attract his customers. He possesses all the required pieces of equipment related to his profession which include cowrie shells, a piece of cloth, an obscure mystic chart, and a notebook and a bundle of palmyra writings. These pieces of equipment compliment his mystical appearance. He would apply sacred ash and vermilion to his forehead. His eyes would sparkle with a mysterious gleam and he always wore a saffron-coloured turban on his head. This sort of appearance would easily attract people towards him. He had chosen a perfect place for his profession. He used to sit beside the busiest road in the town. This road didn’t have a street lamp yet he chooses this road as the crowd of the people would always move up and down throughout the day. However, the shops on this road have their lights therefore the astrologer was able to manage without his own lamp. with the beautiful light rays and moving shadows the place would seem the perfect place for an astrologer.

We know very little about the background of the astrologer. At the beginning, however we come to know that he belonged to a family of farmers and he had come to this profession accidentally and we don’t know yet how did he come to this profession. However, we only know that he didn’t have any knowledge of the stars and planets yet he was very successful in his profession. We also know that he had an excellent understanding of the human mind. In the beginning, he used to make a keen observation of the person sitting before him. Most of his answers, solutions, and advises were based on the information given by his customers. He would read the palms of people and start talking as if he knew everything about the person sitting in front of him. He had seen and advised many customers in his life; therefore, he knew the difficult problems of the people. Hence, he would start his conversation by saying that despite great efforts, you are not getting good results. Most of the time he also would give a character analysis of the person. This sort of conversation would help the astrologer to win the hearts of the people.

Every evening when the other shops are closed the astrologer used to collect his pieces of equipment and leave for home. One day, as usual, he was putting his pieces of equipment in the bag suddenly, he finds that a stranger is approaching him. The astrologer takes him as a customer and invites him for fortune telling but the man had no intention to know his fortune. So, he didn’t show any interest in the astrologer. After trying hard, the astrologer gets successful in convincing the man for fortune-telling. The stranger sits near the astrologer but does not speak a single word. Finally, the stranger tells the astrologer to tell him something true about his life and if the astrologer tells everything true to the stranger will give him some good money but if the astrologer fails to tell the truth about the stranger, then the astrologer will have to return double the money paid by the stranger.

The astrologer agrees that suddenly the strange lights his cheroot. The astrologer watches the face of the stranger in the dim light and he gets very afraid to see that face as the stranger was his old friend and the astrologer had attempted to murder him and left the village thinking that he is dead. Now the attitude of the astrologer changes and he gets a bit defensive and tells the man that he is not ready to accept his bet and therefore he is going to return his money but the stranger doesn’t agree to this and asks him to tell his fortune. The astrologer starts his conversation as usual but the stranger stops him there… and commands him to come to the point. This time the astrologer holds his palm and tells him that he had been attacked by a knife and the man who attacked him, left the place and ran away. Then the astrologer called him by his name; Guru Nayak. The man gets very surprised because whatever the astrologer told was correct then the stranger asks the astrologer curiously that where could he find that man who attacked him. The astrologer tells him that it would be vein to search for him because he died in a terrible accident. He was hit by a lorry. The astrologer suggests him that he should not travel the south and he should get next train and return to his village and if he followed his advice, he would live for hundred years. The stranger gets happy and satisfied to know that the man who attacked him died of a terrible death. He then gives money to the astrologer and goes away from that place.

The astrologer returns home and confesses everything in front of his wife and also tells us that he feels very relieved now because he had left his village thinking that he has killed a man but today when he saw that man alive, his burden is relieved.

Jogan More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *