Mugdha was a lecturer in political science and had immensely studied the literature of Marx, Lenin, etc. In spite of all these, she was conventional by heart.
Mugdha cast a restless glance at the wallclock. Oh!
6:30 A.M! The newspaper had not come as yet. Normally, the vendor used to reach the gate of the housing complex right by 6 A.M! Why getting late only today? Rubbish!
In front of her first-floor balcony, lay the main road stretched on both sides like a big boa. The whiteness of the day had not yet bloomed and there was few traffic on the road. The vendor was a young chap of about 14-15 years. He used to come on a cycle, cumbered with heaps of different papers on the handle as well as on the carrier. Mugdha sometimes wondered how such a small boy could run a cycle with so much of load. The boy would park the cycle by the foot-path near the main gate, pick out her copy from the heap, roll it up and then hurl it upward in such an artistic way that the paper would swirlingly land straight in the balcony with rattling sound. Mugdha remained astounded at this sight. A crazy thought often roamed in her mind had this boy been a member of the cricket team, he would have stood a dire chance of doing marvellous job as a fast bowler.
Generally, Mugdha waited eagerly for the newspaper each day. But wait for Sunday’s issue would turn into a madness. She would come to the balcony right by 6 A.M on Sundays and would lie in wait for the paper in the same way, as a lover boy waited for his girlfriend. Actually, Sunday issue of this paper contained detailed forecast, pertaining to each zodiac sign for the whole ensuing week and two full middle pages remained devoted to this purpose. Astrological analysis with authentic predictions were regularly made by famous astropalmist Dr. Taadiwala. It was in the air that Dr. Taadiwala’s predictions never went vain and futile. Mugdha deposed full belief in his vision and calculation.
Mugdha was a lecturer in political science in the Asansol Girls College. She had immensely studied the
literatures of Marx, Lenin, Angeles etc. The “Das Capital” was her favourite book. She firmly believed that Marx’s theory of class struggle and material dialectics was the right maxim in the present socioeconomic set-up. She was out and out progressive in thoughts. She could deliver long sermons on the topics pertaining to Women’s lib, Reservation and Dalits’ (depressed) movement. In spite of all these, she was conventional by heart. She inherited from her parents love for Indian culture and religion as well as spiritual belief. Marx’s ‘fatawa’ as to ‘Religion’ being opium seemed ridiculous to her. She agreed with Freud’s contention that religion was a matter of personal belief and faith. She kept fast on every Full Moon and used to perform Satyanarain God’s worship at home on that day.
ue to faith on religious deeds, she firmly held belief in astrology as well. Dr. Taadiwala was her favourite astro-palmist and she was his frantic fan. She subscribed to this newspaper only because Dr. Taadiwala regularly made in it weekly analytical predictions of all the zodiac signs. She had met Dr. Taadiwala personally also and was wearing four types of stones as per his advice. Use of these stones soon showed explicit results. Her thesis which remained pending for a long time got approval and she was awarded PH.D the next year. Simultaneously, she got promotion in the salary as well.
Such apparent contradiction in her personality attracted very often sarcastic remarks from her colleagues. Heated arguements would follow thereafter. On one occasion she invited Prof. Pandey to her residence on tea. The T.V was on with news headlines floating on the monitor. Suddenly a fluttering news drew their attention -’ Stars of Abhishek and Aishwarya outrageous! Mars putting troubles in their marriage! Big B to perform a ‘yagna’ to pacify them!’
Prof. Pandey got excited and sniffly grumbled -’ What the hell astrology is all about Mugdhaji? Just a tool to exploit innocent people on the fear of religion and superstition. Totally unscientific and illogical!’
‘Wrong Prof. Pandey, ‘Mugdha immediately protested with flickering eyes_’ Our astrology is fully based on Vedic sutras and you cannot repudiate it in a lighter vein. Rather, astrology is more a matter of faith than of mind.’
‘Right you are... ‘Prof. Pandey exclaimed at this repartee -’ The point is that whatever you people call faith is actually superstition itself. No maxim can stand without proof in this modern age. I would very humbly want to know, if your astrology does have power to foresee the future, then why doesn’t it preanticipate probable on coming dreadful perils and disasters? Like Latur earthquake! Like Andaman’s tsunami! Like 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack! Like Bus gang-rape in December 2012! Had predictions been made for these calamities, proper precautions could have been taken. But alas! It did not make, because it can’t! In astrology, you have only one remedy for all problems of whatever kind. Just wear this and that stone or gem and everything will be O.K! How strange! If stones really do have the divine power to change the fate, I’m ready to wear those in all my fingers as well as toes, let some enthusiastic astrologists come forward with total guarantee of success!.’ Prof. Pandey
Mugdha gazed at Prof. Pandey’s face in utter surprise. A sharp rage roamed through her spine. She wondered what made her to invite such idiotic uncultured person on tea. She however deterred her rage from creeping in on the face and apparently said in firm voice ‘Pardon Sir! I can’t agree. Only an atheist would disapprove of the sanctity of Astrology.
burst into silly laughter.
Mugdha gazed at Prof. Pandey’s face in utter surprise. A sharp rage roamed through her spine. She wondered what made her to invite such idiotic uncultured person on tea. She however deterred her rage from creeping in on the face and apparently said in firm voice ‘Pardon Sir! I can’t agree. Only an atheist would disapprove of the sanctity of Astrology. Astrological calculation corelate to the Vedic sutras. If you can just recall to memory, scholars like Max Muller have rightly consented that Astrology begins from where modern science does end.’
Pandey ji loudly giggled as if Mugdha had cracked a gab -’ Madam, Whatever arguements you give in support of Astrology, I can’t change opinion. Astrology does make a man futurist and does go to destroy his wisdom and sensitiveness.’
fter one month of this unpleasant altercation, once when mugdha had hone to dr. Taadiwala for consultation on a problem, she was surprised to find prof. Pandey at his chamber. Later on it was known that Mrs. Pandey had given birth to three female babies one after another. She again conceived for the fourth time two month ago and prof. Pandey had approached Dr. Taadiwala for some astrological remedy to ensure a male baby this time.
Suddenly a rattling sound made mugdha to come to sense. The newspaper she had been anxiously waiting for, had flyingly landed upon her head like a missile. Mugdha’s eyes glittered in bliss. Her heart began to throb with joy.
She picked up the paper and ran straight to the bedroom. Rapidly began turning pages one after another. Full two inside pages remained studded with weekly predictions for each zodiac sign. Her sign was Leo. As her eyes minutely ran through Leo predictions, joy crept into nerves and ribs. Utter excitement gave a glow to the face. Predictions for on coming six days were so-so, but for today it was wonderful -’ accute chance of getting wind fall cash, keep eyes open. Remain alert to grab it!’
h! Wind fall money from unknown source ! Since dr. Taadiwala had said so, it had to be true.
She did have full belief on his calculation. Her eyes closed in utter thrill. She hurriedly began to analyse the probable source from where money was to come. She was not addicted to buying lottery tickets so as to stand a chance of winning an unexpected prize. Her parents were also not likely to visit her today so that she could expect cash gift from them. She finally grumbled that she did not need poke her rib into this business. Dr. Taadiwala’s predictions always remained authentic and were bound to come true, come what may.
Time was rolling fast in its own way. Aditya was on an official tour and was to return next morning. College was closed. Soon noon came upon. She took her launch and lay in bed to take a short nap. After sometime, the musical sound of the call-bell startledly made her wake up. She cast a curious glance at the clock - 5.15 p.m. Who the hell might be at the doors, she wondered! A divine angel with an envelop of money! She rushed to open the doors with throbbing heart. The midwife was standing there. In her total excitement she had forgotten of her daily usual time to turn up for work. A faint smile crept in over her lips. Three-fourth of the day had passed off. Not even scanty sign of that windfall cash was there. Mugdha’s heart nonetheless did not hasten to accept that Taadiwala’s prediction would fail. No, there was still time for the day to collapse. Even a nano second is enough for a miracle to happen. A few days ago she had bought Marquez’s famous novel ‘hundred years of solitude’. Took out it from the shelf and sat down to read. The novel was so interesting that she could not drop it in the middle. It was 7.30 when She finished it. The entire excitement which was roaming madly within her the whole day was now swiftly dwinding off. She became restless, face turned morose. With a view to repel anguish and grief, she locked the flat and came out of the complex to take a short stroll.
‘Lenin Chowk’ , the main market place was at a walking distance. Usual din and bustle of the market was on the wane. Shutters of shops were gradually getting down. Beneath the left side lamp post, stood a ‘puchka wala’ (pani puri) with his cart. She could not resist herself from thrusting some ten ‘puchkas’ right into her throat. Tamarind spicy water made her mind fresh and joyful. A bit ahead, Ramdhan was there with his mango cart. As mugdha was his regular customer, Ramdhan expectantly welcomed her with a smile -’ Namaste Madam ji, sweet and fresh ‘langras’! Like to buy?’
ell Ramdhan, give two kilos’ Mugdha told. Ramdhan promptly weighed accordingly -’ eighty rupees Madamji’ Mugdha handed over a hundred rupee note. Before Ramdhan could return balance amount, his mobile started ringing up. He took out the mobile from pocket and responded to the call. After finishing it, he paused for a second to ponder and then picked out four hundred twenty rupees from the pocket and gave it to Mugdha. Mugdha’s eyes widened with surprise -’ Properly counted the balance money bhaiya.?’
‘O yes madamji, me not so weak in Math. U bought for eighty, gave five hundred. Four hundred twenty back, right?’ he giggled innocently. In a blink, Taadiwala’s forecast splashed in mind - windfall cash today from unknown source! Her heart went pit a pat with overwhelming excitement. Miracle she had been waiting for had ultimately happened. She quickly grabbed the money, thrust it into her purse and tottered towards the flat.
Next morning, she woke up as usual. Classes were off today also. Aditya would
As soon as Mugdha saw the ring, a fear of guilt roamed through the spine. In a blink, her eyes crept over left ring-finger. Oh! the finger was empty. She remembered, as per the advice of Dr. Taadiwala, she had worn a diamond embedded gold ring just two months ago. The cost of the ring was about thirty five thousand.
return by 2 p.m. She came in the balcony chalking out within herself a grand plan to celebrate this unexpected achievement. It was early dawn. She peeped below over the road, stretched long on both sides. It was empty so to say. Suddenly she noticed Ramdhan toddling swiftly with long strides towards the housing complex. Ramdhan at this time! In a nano second, a thought struck her mind. Surely he had happened to detect his fault, could not sleep whole night and was now coming to demand money. Her face became pale. Heart started throbbing in anticipation of an ugly altercation with him. Mugdha was at a loss to decide what pleas should she take to defend her pseudo innocense. The more she thought of the pleas, the more they sounded hollow. She ran quickly to the wash basin and splashed handful of water over the face.
few minutes later, Ramdhan came upstairs and pushed the bell.
‘Ramdhan you? So early morning? Everything o.k.?’ Mugdha opened the doors and drew signs of surprise on the face.
‘Yes Madamji, could not sleep whole night!’ Ramdhan chuckled within the lips -’ A blunder just been detected’
‘If so Bhaiya, make amends and take up your dues if any, right ?’ Mugdha grumbled in anger to exercise psychological pressure on him - ‘why giggling this way?’
‘Dues?’ Ramdhan for a moment grew nervous at this rebuke -’ U talking of
what dues Madamji? Rather not me, but U are to get something.’ Then he quickly took out a ring from vest’s inside pocket and showed it to Mugdha -’ Look is not this yours?’
As soon as Mugdha saw the ring, a fear of guilt roamed through the spine. In a blink, her eyes crept over left ring-finger. Oh! the finger was empty. She remembered, as per the advice of Dr. Taadiwala, she had worn a diamond embedded gold ring just two months ago. The cost of the ring was about thirty five thousand. She wondered when and how the ring did silently slip off the finger so as not to make any hint at all.
‘Last night while closing shop, I just found this amidst mangoes in basket. Same moment I knew, ring is yours. Surely, slipped off while picking mangoes yesterday. Mine small hut! Weak doors! Could not sleep for fear of theft!’ Ramdhan stammered all in detail. Mugdha took the ring and stood dumb for a while, knowing little as to how to thank Ramdhan for this obligation. Ramdhan broke silence with loud laughter -’ Oh Madamji, why now sad? Be cheerful that God saved you from big loss! Bye!’ Ramdhan turned back in a jiffy and strode towards stairs. Mugdha with tottering steps ran to the bed room and stood before the big mirror of the dressing table .
She was surprisingly frightened to see that the stature of the Mugdha, which incarnated in the mirror was slowly and gradually dwindling down and down inch by inch!