The Daily Fore­cast

How true was it?

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By T. S. Priyaa

Amma was hit by the loss the most. I could feel her mind fid­get­ing with­out the morn­ing fore­cast show and rip­ples in her thoughts re­flected in her be­hav­iour. The tele­vi­sion was turned on to check out the spin of the wheel of for­tune for the day. The gifted man, Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan, was on with his daily dose of pre­dic­tions.

As the Feng Shui chimes swayed in the waves of air, the morn­ing was ac­costed with gen­u­flec­tion to the de­ity of in­tel­lect sym­bol­ised by the ele­phant. This is al­most the daily rit­ual in Hindu fam­i­lies of In­dia – the fam­i­lies who be­lieved in the pos­i­tive vibe cre­ated by the chime of the bells syn­chro­nous with the mantras, the phi­los­o­phy of ethe­real ge­n­e­sis and the be­liefs of as­trol­ogy.

In our home, to com­ple­ment this vibe, the tele­vi­sion was turned on to check out the spin of the wheel of for­tune for the day. The gifted man, Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan, was on with his daily dose of pre­dic­tions, and amma was glued to the sofa in front of him.

“Me­sha, will have a great day with suc­cess in work life, yet might have fam­ily dis­putes to­day,” he said as amma screamed out,”en­nanga, your day is go­ing to be good, but be care­ful if you talk to any­one from the fam­ily.”

Dad smiled and nod­ded his head; I could see mom’s warn­ing ex­it­ing his head through his other ear. Auguries for me and akka (el­der sis­ter) were in the queue. We were ac­cus­tomed to this. It had be­come a part of our cir­ca­dian rhythm since the pre­vi­ous month.

The prayers of the dusk com­menced as the sun bid adieu to the sky. Akka was busy re­hears­ing cook­ing, the art which comes in handy for the daily episode after mar­riage.

Dad came in and washed his hands and feet. The prayers were over. Amma’s face lit up, “How was your day?” she asked him.

“Not bad. Just work and noth­ing else,” he said.

“How was the lunch?” amma con­tin­ued.

“Hmm, okay,” said dad. His face looked like he was chew­ing on some thought.

“What do you mean ‘okay’?” mom gasped fu­ri­ously.

And that un­leashed a fran­tic bat­tle of words be­tween the two par­ties. Fam­ily wars were brought up, the dirty his­tory was re­told. After an hour, when the bat­tle seemed to lead nowhere, the paci­fier (akka) had to in­ter­vene and drill the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin. Soon, the ici­ness

“How was your day?” she asked him. “Not bad. Just work and noth­ing else,” he said. “How was the lunch?” amma con­tin­ued. “Hmm, okay,” said dad. At home, morn­ings were back to nor­mal with a tinge of as­trol­ogy and a blend of de­vo­tion. Horo­scopes kept pour­ing in for akka’s match­mak­ing.

thawed and we were all sit­ting to­gether at the din­ing ta­ble hav­ing supper.

Sud­denly, mom’s face lit up. “I know why we fought to­day,” she said and dad gave her the ‘please-don’tbring-it-up-again’ look. “Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan was right, his pre­dic­tions are so cor­rect. He is in­ge­nious,” she went on and on.

“They fight ev­ery day,” akka whis­pered in my ear.

“What are you telling her?” amma chided her in a loud voice, frown­ing.

“Noth­ing, ma, the din­ner isn’t as good as lunch be­cause I cooked it,” akka told her with the con­cocted smile of sphinx.

Both of us smiled to each other. I had big shoes to fill in the short run as the hunt for akka’s groom was on. I won­dered how I was go­ing to re­place the paci­fier.

It had been a week since the chan­nel graced by the gifted man’s ap­pear­ance had dis­ap­peared, and amma had al­ready started to worry. There was some­thing miss­ing ev­ery morn­ing, the pos­i­tive vibe no longer reached its usual sum­mit. My eyes and ears sub­con­sciously searched for the man in the rudraksh maala (gar­land) and yel­low silk dhoti when­ever I turned on the TV. Be­ing a stu­dent of science, I didn’t be­lieve much in his fore­casts, but there were some times when his pre­dic­tions came true and freaked me out. How­ever, when the mid­dle- class life has a few ebbs and a steady flow, noth­ing can ex­alt to re­ally good nor plum­met to re­ally bad. So any fore­cast would seem to come true.

Amma was hit by the loss the most. I could feel her mind fid­get­ing with­out the morn­ing fore­cast show and rip­ples in her thoughts re­flected in her be­hav­iour. Things took a bad turn after her in­vest­ments sunk after the chit fund shut down. On an­other day, the LPG leaked and al­most suf­fo­cated her. She was bro­ken. Akka told me that she said that she wanted some­thing that could give her por­tents. Her con­fi­dence had plunged down a dark abysmal well for no rea­son.

She hes­i­tated to in­vest in gold and ap­pre­hended the gas stove like never be­fore. She bought as­trol­ogy book­lets on a weekly ba­sis to read the fore­cast. Yet noth­ing seemed to work. When your mind be­lieves some­thing, it be­comes the law, be it truth or not. She be­lieved the pan­dit, and had cho­sen to blind­fold her­self in his words.

It was only a few days be­fore a few more chan­nels went miss­ing. “Why do we pay four fifty per month for the ca­ble, you should talk to that guy to­mor­row,” papa told me as he fer­vently switched over the TV chan­nels that night.

The ca­ble op­er­a­tor was out busy and he had left the tech­ni­cal per­son in charge of his work.

“Hi, Shekar, could you please fix up my prob­lem? We sud­denly don’t have MTV, CNBC, Sun TV and one lo­cal chan­nel I don’t know the name of,” I said with a frown on my face as I tried hard to re­call the name of amma’s favourite chan­nel.

“Hmm yes, I think there has been some prob­lem be­cause of the rain. I can fix it up, but first let me check the num­ber of chan­nels you have paid for,” said Shekar as his eyes ran through the light blue card in his hand.

“Yes, you should get MTV, CNBC and Sun TV,” he said.

Is­miled. ”Thanks, what about the lo­cal chan­nel where there is as­trol­ogy and all that?” I asked him. “Hmm, I’m not sure. On that lo­cal chan­nel, the owner plays some tapes, old and new, ev­ery day and some­times new movies too. Some­times he just uses fillers be­tween the movies. I don’t know

Amma smiled. Her eyes were brim­ming with life. “I am go­ing to find the best groom for my lit­tle girl,” she said as her voice cracked a lit­tle due to the dry­ness of the jour­ney. “Na­maskaram, how can I help you?” said pan­ditji’s lookalike. “Na­maskaram, we are look­ing for Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan. We want to match the horo­scopes of our daugh­ter with one of these horo­scopes,” said amma.

who shoots for all of them and when,” he said.

“No, I’m sure that the daily fore­cast is shot ev­ery day,” I told him.

“Maybe, but I don’t think so. I am more into the tech­ni­cal side of it, so I might be wrong. Any­way, I think I can get you that chan­nel, it’s free,” said Shekar.

“Okay,” I said with the smile of a Cheshire cat. I could now breathe a sigh of re­lief when I thought about amma.

At home, morn­ings were back to nor­mal with a tinge of as­trol­ogy and a blend of de­vo­tion. Horo­scopes kept pour­ing in for akka’s match­mak­ing. Akka’s face turned pink each time ei­ther of us spoke about mar­riage. She had found a cou­ple of guys com­pat­i­ble but noth­ing could be fi­nalised with­out amma’s nod. She left it to the stars to de­cide. Of course, a good astrologer would be the third um­pire!

“I have noted down Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan’s ad­dress from the show,” she said to me. “We will go there with the horo­scopes and find out the right match for Padma to­mor­row. He is the best astrologer in this state and his pre­dic­tions have been so cor­rect for the last one year. I have booked a bus to Thiru­van­mayur and from there we can take an auto. So, be ready by six in the morn­ing.”

No­body nixes the de­ci­sion of higher ones and so I nod­ded in af­fir­ma­tion.

By six in the next morn­ing, we set out to Thiru­van­mayur on a jour­ney to fol­low the stars in bright day­light. Never had amma been so punc­tual for any jour­ney. Her eyes grew big­ger as the bus pro­ceeded to­wards the des­ti­na­tion. I could feel her heart rac­ing with the ticks of her watch as we ap­proached Thiru­van­mayur.

The road was un­even and the smell of the wet mud filled the air. The chirps and coos seemed to take us back to the lap of na­ture. As we got down and walked into a small lane with houses of mud, women in saris cleaned up their porches draw­ing beau­ti­ful de­signs of ran­goli on the ground.

Amma smiled. Her eyes were brim­ming with life. “I am go­ing to find the best groom for my lit­tle girl,” she said as her voice cracked a lit­tle due to the dry­ness of the jour­ney.

The search for the right guy for akka was go­ing to come to an end within a few hours. As we reached the house of the Pan­dit, which had a few mango leaves en­twined into a gar­land hung at the en­trance, my eyes caught a younger ver­sion of Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan. He joined his hands, then walked to­wards us. As he ap­proached I stared at his nose which was not as pointed as the Pan­dit’s.

“Na­maskaram, how can I help you?” said Pan­ditji’s lookalike.

“Na­maskaram, we are look­ing for Pan­dit Mu­ru­gap­pan. We want to match the horo­scopes of our daugh­ter with one of these horo­scopes,” said amma. “Pan­ditji’s pre­dic­tions are al­ways the best. I have been lis­ten­ing to his shows for the last one year,” she con­tin­ued.

The Pan­dit’s look alike raised his eye­brows. His mouth opened and he stared at amma in wideeyed amaze­ment. He held this pose for a few sec­onds as the colour drained from his face. He then wiped his fore­head with his hands and re­sumed talk­ing, “Appa died three years ago and I don’t know how you watched his live tele­cast for the last one year. He used to do a daily fore­cast up to a month be­fore he was el­e­vated to heaven. As far as the horo­scopes are con­cerned, I can do the match­mak­ing.”

I re­mem­bered what, Shekar had said.

Smile in the mir­ror. Do that ev­ery morn­ing and you'll start to see a big dif­fer­ence in your life.

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