It was an unimaginably sultry that day, he had just got out of his home and fought his way through the bustling crowd to reach Beach Junction. The clock tower at the Junction struck 9, his biorhythm was perfectly tuned to this antique time piece. Ranga, the soothsayer, was on his way to work.
Struggling to hold on to the paraphernalia with both his hands he snaked through the rushing traffic. He almost bumped into a crimson sedan that was as incongruous as a melanin deficient phirang among skin rich desis. The driver for a instant couldn’t comprehend the rush of events, as he gathered his senses he immediately went into an offensive mode to shield any censure that might come his way for his reckless maneuvering. The beach junction potbellied traffic policeman dawdling towards then yelling in his baritone “Keep it moving”; it appeared he had taken a vow to carry the entire public burden on his abdomen.
Standing next to the two-storied tower, Ranga was strategizing the location for his next stall. Marketing honchos could easily take a cue from his adept application of the 4P paradigm, he had mastered the art of identifying areas which were replete with credulous souls. Last week he had set-up his tent at the famous Kali temple, this was one another instance of his industrious mind, waiting to pounce on his prey as they poured in to take blessings of Kalimatha on occasion of the auspicious Navarathri. The week long celebration at the temple was nothing short of an extravaganza, the perfect backdrop Ranga needed to allure prospective clients.
It was the fourth day in a row for Ranga at the Kali temple premises. His 3 feet by 2 feet pavilion positioned just adjacent to the expansive pond, was right opposite the steps which served as a seating area for devotees. Ranga, as always was dressed for the occasion, clad from neckline to foot in his dazzling orange robe. His entire forehead smeared with ash was dissected perfectly by the kumkum trail which began its journey between his eyebrows and entered straight into a vast entangled burgundy jungle. The multi-colored mat with brightly lit lamps placed on its corners added more splendor to his stall. The twilight seemed to accentuate the entire effect, there was absolutely no chance of anybody overlooking his stall.
Seated in his yogic posture, Ranga saw a 40 something rotund figure approaching his den, he immediately realized it was time for action. Feigning that he was oblivious of the cacophony around him, it looked as if he was meditating with his bloodshot eyes wide open. Now, the prey was right in front of him, Ranga gestured him to sit down. As he settled down, he scanned the customer to make a quick analysis and jotted down a few pointers in his mind - businessman, superstitious, hard-working, worried. While he was working on the imaginary client profile, the impatient eyes of the client anxiously looking around chanced upon the Kali portrait placed behind the lamp on the left corner. The prey had entered the den.
He mumbled “ I would like to know how my fortune is placed for the next couple of months “. Connecting the dots in his mind Ranga concluded that he was a entrepreneur who had recently run into business challenges. The phony magician was ready for the show, his eyeballs rolled up delineated a perfect crescent, he raised his hand pointing towards the heavens, and then in his coarse effeminate voice he started, “Kalima says your mind is not in peace, your business is in trouble, and this has brought you here”
Lowering his tone as he brought his hand down, he said “Psychic powers bestowed on me by Kalimatha tells me your business is closely related to nature, the likes of water, forest or anything connected with these.” This was indeed a masterstroke which took the customer by surprise. Few particles of saw dust that Ranga had observed on the client’s sandals and on the lower end of his wrinkled trouser did the trick.
Seated clumsily, looking straight into Ranga’s eyes, he said, “My name is Bhola, I am a timber merchant, and I have a couple of furniture showrooms in old city”.
After a momentary silence, Bhola continued, “ A new company providing quick to assemble furnishings is fast gaining popularity, their showrooms right next to my shops are pulling away my clientele”
Ranga needed to take the bait to a higher level, pretending to be awakened from a trance he body jerked suddenly, he reached out to the copper rod and placed it on the kumkum on Bhola's forehead.
Opening his eyes slowly, he said, “Your planetary positions are unfavorable, Sani has entered the eight house, Sun god has relegated to the sixth house and he is directly in the visibility spectrum of Sani. And this is the reason for all your troubles.” Apparently, Sani had constructed a sprawling bungalow and settled down in the eight house for the past 20 years, ever since Ranga had started his career.
Bhola, listening intently, said “They have come up with an offer, they would buy all my wood at discounted rates, which forces me to close all my showrooms."
It was time for Kalima’s self proclaimed disciple to advocate her devotee and direct him to the right path, Ranga’s recommendations were always open ended, and this was one of the key reasons for his success in this profession.
In a melancholy tone, Ranga started, “The stars would be in this state for the next few years, you will have to face more challenges, probably few concerns in personal matters also, I can definitely say it is difficult time for you ahead. You should be cautious with any decision you take”. After a brief pause, he wrapped it by saying, “Kalima’s blessings are with you, there are better times in the future “. The fortune-teller was predicting that what goes down will certainly come up.
Arranging his belongings carefully in his sack, he rolled his mat over signifying that the show had come to an end. He walked up the stairs, a tough day at work had concluded, panting for breath he reached the summit. There was bus stop few yards away, 12B which would take him to beach junction began coughing. Holding his hand out, Ranga ran towards the bus, he managed to get in with all his baggage.
The conductor woke him up, the beach junction stop had arrived. Ranga walked a couple of meters to reach beach junction, the clock tower struck 9.