Posts Tagged ‘astrology’

Heart aches at 50


I’m looking for astrologer Panicker. Does anyone know him? He was our family’s soothsayer through the promising 70s and potential 80s. Not seen after the disastrous 90s. I have some old scores to settle with him, and some new ones too. Not that his predictions didn’t come true. They have- in fact, each one of them. My problem is with the way in which they have come true.

On a bright sunny day in 1978, he had told my mom that my life would be a never-ending song-and-dance sequence of a Yash Chopra film. Well, not exactly that. He had picked a mallu director of the same genre. But you know how wretched fantasies are- they always go overboard.

After that day, every time I watched a Yashji’s film (Yes, I’m sucking up to him. You have a problem?), I would imagine myself in it- walking through mists and running through snowfall. His films kept changing, his heroines kept changing, his locations kept changing, but the mists, snowfall and the hero remained the same. I lived in this soft-focus, slow-motion hope until recently when my aunt had come visiting our flat.

She had looked out of our flat and said, ‘Aiyo, maybe this is what Panicker meant!’ I had looked out of the pigeon-shitted, feather-stuck balcony grill and seen the Ganpati visarjan song-and-dance rituals. The Lakshmi industrial estate was spewing white smoke and there was the thermocol dust flying around their packing area. Mist and snow indeed.

Through the 80s, Panicker had become our dream merchant. Selling my mom unrealistic expectations of me. He had once moved pebbles on his celestial grid and exclaimed to my excited mom, ‘Your son will remain an evergreen hero all his life, much like our Prem Nazir!’

‘Who amma?’ I had asked. ‘Equivalent to Dev Anand,’ she had said with an air of a star mom.

I remember stealing a glance at Panicker’s oil-stained, sticker-bindi filled mirror, and nodding in Devji’s style. (Yes, I’m sucking up to even him. I’m desperate and actually why not? He makes movies faster than I can post on my blog.) I had looked horrible, but at that age you tend to blame the mirror and are always ready to accept favourable lies as maybe-truths.

Today when I look at the mirror, I squirm. I do look like Devji. That rascal Panicker was right- about every wrinkle, every freckle.

By early 90s when we had first realised that my life was heading to where I’m today, my mom had panicked. So she Panickered! (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)

‘No worries, your son is a late starter. A slow-off-the-block stallion. Once he bolts, there would be no stopping him. At an age when people take sanyas, he would be having romantic heartaches like a teen! Evergreen romantic hero, your son!’

That was the last we had heard from him and of him. I would have forgotten about him too, but for what I have been going through in the last few days.

The aches, pains and pangs of separation have happened. I’ve been having this lost look, and a without-you-I’m-a-broken-kite expression at dinner table until someone snaps me out of it. I have written with water droplets on frosted windows and on dusty car bonnets the only two initials that matter to me these days- I and V. No, they don’t stand for the bikini model Ingrid Venosa, but for my damn Inner Voice.

Oh, how I hate myself for all this! Trust me, I have done all I can to shake myself off this nonsense. But the heart is no cookie jar to just upturn and empty it.

A few days back I even thought up a brilliant way out: Make Panicker’s predictions come true in a nicer way.

I cosied up to my wife in a younger Devji sort of way hoping she would in turn do a Zeenat or at least an Asha Parekh on me. She did snuggle up to me and parted the grey overgrown hair in my ears- to whisper sweet nothings and to nibble, I hoped.

She said in a husky tone, ‘Maid wants a raise, Rum!’

I blushed and said, ‘Someone’s talking dirty here!’

‘What dirty? Maid wants to know if we can give her a raise this month or no?’ she screamed into my bald ears.

That’s the problem with age. It’s never a lack of interest or intention, but there are simply a million more serious issues to talk, ask, worry, discuss, argue and decide than at 20. So, where’s the time for sweet nothings, tell me?

When I narrated this to our neighbour Jain saab, he said, ‘You’ve got it all wrong, Ramesji (wink, wink). The yog is not for romance but for heartache. And you can’t get heartaches from wives. Only headaches. But don’t you worry; I’ll take you to a one-stop shop for romance, heartaches and everything. Everything (wink, wink)!’

So that’s how that night I landed at this dandiya for the first time in my life. Devji in garba costume.

The atmosphere was heady. Music so loud that forget hearing my Inner Voice, I wouldn’t have been able to even think of it.

‘You are doing well for a beginner, Ramesji (wink, wink)!’ you-know-who said, as I got into the groove pretty fast. I swirled around like a pro, letting it all fan out like a circus tent, enveloping a few kids under it on the way. I swung, swirled and swayed from partner to partner- my dandiya meeting their dandiya, my smile meeting their smirk, my howdy expression meeting their WTF expression. I would have gone on and on but for three reasons.

  1. The million mirrors in women’s skirts were reflecting back my embarrassment a million fold.
  2. For some reason every time we stopped swirling, I landed up with Jain saab as my partner. ‘How is it going Ramesji (wink, wink)?’ was too much to take, and I was scared of Panicker’s predictions coming true this wink, wink way.
  3. I was completely out of breath. Forget heartaches. It was more like heart attacks.

I stopped and limped across to the Pepsi dispenser. I put in enough coins for a couple of cans. Nothing happened. So I fiddled with the buttons and when nothing worked, I gave it an old-fashioned bang. It whirred, whined and spat something on to my hand. Too small for a can for sure. Horror! It was a condom. Actually, condoms. Ten and still counting. Damn, who would expect a condom vending machine here!

I turned around to quickly escape. Too late. The music had stopped. I heard the DJ announce, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have tonight’s first condom buyer. On behalf of our Anti AIDS Mandal, I call him up on stage. He is our Eveready Romantic Hero of the night!’

That jerk on the console even threw a spotlight in my direction. The whole junta turned around in a surreally choreographed way. There stood Devji at 80 dressed in garba costume, with both his hands full of condoms.

The last I remember of that embarrassment was the DJ’s voice, ‘Give him a big hand, folks!’

Oh yeah, big hand (wink, wink), I thought and blanked.

Sitting here now, I can’t help but recollect what my Inner Voice had said many many years ago.

‘It’s not whether astrology or astrologers are right or wrong. The problem is that they begin to take control of your life and dictate every deed of yours. Life itself becomes an effort to either prove them right or prove them wrong. And remember, it’s always a worry if you make something outside of you more powerful than your mind, your soul and your self, because mind is a great master but a terrible slave.’

How I wish I could hear all of it again even if only to argue and disagree.


Bloody Panicker!

Psst…I’m going to be disappearing from your lives. But not for too long. Will be back on 3rd November. See if you feel the aches, pains and pangs of separation, too. 🙂

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