The Astrologer told me to be careful with the choices I make in the next few hours, for those would be the one which were to make a massive impact on what the future holds for me. It sounded funny. You know why? Well wasn't I going to make those choices in the future itself. I mean the 'next few hours', is obviously future, that is if you are not traveling in a time machine and by some misfortune have tuned it to the past.
I have never believed in Astrology. Its always been one of those taboos for me. I mean how can a man who knows me only as much as my name,my DOB, and by his fortune,my birth place, if I be so kind so as to tell him, ever be able to gauge my future. I don't say that I don't believe in the science of seers, its just that no one has yet been able to give me any convincing proof about its legitimacy in terms of accuracy. And what amazes me the most is the fact that we be fool enough to give away such crucial pieces of our personal information to others, just on the trust that they can predict when could we meet our true love or the fatal death. Come on now!! These days you don't give away any personal detail to a stranger, "you never know", they say.
This was what I thought, until that day....
It must have been some chilly day in December. I don't exactly remember the date. All I remember is that each day that December was chilly.6 PM in the evening, and i was walking across the streets of Kolkata. I was having one of those days, when you try to remember all the happy incidents that have occurred to you during your vacation, before you actually leave the place. As I stood on the Howrah Bridge overseeing the river, someone grabbed my hand and pulled me beneath. I was about to return the ingratitude, when I realized that the hand that was tugging upon my cuffs was a little boy, some 8 years old, I guessed. I found it rather unnerving. the hand had an unusually strong grip for that of a boy so young.
I resorted to reprimand and demanded an explanation for this unkindly act. The boy was scared and wouldn't utter a word. The only thing that it did was to pull my hand as if trying to make me follow him. I did not know what to do. A unknown city, my last day, an Astrologer's prediction and now this fishy boy. But there are times in life, when certain forces make you do things without the consent of your will.
15 minutes later, I was standing against an ailing man, who seemed to be in his last few hours. And the only other thing that registered was the familiarity of the face. The vibrant smile that had spread across the pale face, that now lie before me. It was Munshi Rama, the man who had driven me to my holiday suite, the day I arrived in Kolkata. He had been the one who had taken me to every spot that a tourist would want to visit on a vacation. He was the one who had shared his funny anecdotes,each day throughout the last week to me, and made me laugh my wits out.
He was hit by a bullet, by some rougue who had hired his taxi the last night, after he had dropped me to the hotel. He did not have much courage to talk. The only thing that he did was to explain to me that this boy was one of the many whom he took care of. He wasn't his father. They were orphans. He did not have the money to open an orphanage. the only thing that he wanted to do was to help them whenever, and in whatever way he could. with folded hands, he asked me one favour, to carry on the work he did for so many years, in whichever way I could.He did not want them to be questioned and sent to corrupt orphanages or insensitive foster homes by the police.
Again the same dilemma faced me. The same questions within me rose. How could a man who knew me only as much as I offered to tell him, alter or direct the path of my life. The next day Munshi was cremated as per his religious rituals. I flew back to Bhopal by the evening flight.
6 months on, and I am down in Kolkata to celebrate the birthday of the boy who had tugged upon my hand. All of his friends, the same whom Munshi had looked after are gathered around the cake that the birthday boy will cut soon, in a small public park, where we have this little reunion. The only thing that i can focus on are the words of the Astrologer and the dying face of Munshi.
Maybe, someone who knows me only as much as I let him know me, 'Can' guide me to my destiny......