The Daily Forecast
How true was it?
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.