Reena had, on her mother Sushama’s insistence, accompanied her to a local astrologer’s place. He lived in a three-room flat on the third floor of a building in Paharganj. They climbed steep steps to huff and puff into a narrow hall crammed with an old steel almirah, two wooden chairs and a computer.
The servant informed them that the astrologer, Mr. Gupta, was in the drawing room.
“May we come in?” Reena ventured, standing outside the drawing room door, feeling quite like a schoolgirl wanting audience with the principal.
“Please come in,” he said - his English was impeccable - and as they walked in, his voice boomed, “Good afternoon.” He sat cross-legged on his sofa.
He asked, “Kya lengii aap?”
He was polite as well. They agreed to lemonade.
The eyes were clear and piercing despite the folds of skin surrounding them.
“What do you want to know?” he asked, looking at Reena’s astrological chart. Sushama had handed it over to him.
Sushama said, “Guptaji, I am so worried. Too many ego clashes taking place between my child Reena, and her husband. I am scared of …” her voice faltered, “… divorce.”
Reena grimaced. Child? Her mother could be the limit. And if she chose to believe the nonsense of an astrologer over a reality that existed, well, she was welcome. Her mother refused to understand her, and had dragged her to this place. As if his predictions could solve matters.
Mr. Gupta began to speak. Reena could see her mother hanging on to every word.
“Beti,” he said to her, “make notes. Come back to me after 3 months and let me know if what I have said is true.” He handed her a pen and paper. As Reena began to take notes, she felt once again in school, a little girl taking orders, doing what was required, erasing herself.
She looked up. “Mother, I have a meeting to attend!”
Mr. Gupta said, “Beti, you have come here with a purpose in mind. You will be glad to know that despite the discord, your marriage will survive.”
Sushama heaved a sigh of relief. “She has too much pride,” she said.
Mr. Gupta looked at Reena. “Each individual is different. And changes. Your husband and you have changed in the course of the years. Don’t be impatient.”
“That is what I keep telling her,” said Sushama.
Reena flung the pen down onto the table. She crumpled the paper hard and stuffed it into her handbag.
Mr. Gupta said, “Relationships and egos, both are fragile things.”
“It is her ego. My son-in-law is quite adjusting type.”
Reena’s face burnt. “Shanti, beti, shanti, ” he said as she grabbed her bag and marched out.
”Don’t worry,” he said to Sushama, “better sense will prevail.”
Sushama walked down the stairs, her mind at peace, assured by the astrologer’s reading. No divorce, that’s all she had wanted to hear. Now fate could take its course.
published 5 April 2013