An Astrologer’s Day by RK Narayan Summary and Main Theme & Events
This short story ” An Astrologer’s Day” has been written by an Indian writer R.K. Narayan. “An Astrologer’s Day” is a thriller, suspense story which describes a day in the life of an ordinary but fake astrologer. The main character here in this story is an astrologer who is unnamed. He earns his livelihood through making prophecies or selling cosmic insights to gullible villagers though he does not know the cosmos or actual spiritual insights.
This story has presented a very typical situation of the astrologer where he faces his past life’s story. Here, he has become successful to save his life through his proper use of mind.
Here in this story, we find various themes related t human nature as hypocrisies, shrewdness, revengeful nature and selfishness.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ASTROLOGER AND HIS BUSINESS:
According to the writer, astrologer always opened his astrology business during midday. He used to sit and run his business under a tamarind tree on the Town Hall road. That road led to Town Hall park which was quite good for his business to lure his customers. The road was amply crowded with different people with different trades and professions. The groundnut vendor also used to sit beside him. The gaslight of groundnut vendor enabled the astrologer to run his business even after the sunset. The astrologer was quite skilful at analysing human nature and psychology.
When he started his business during midday, he decorated his business of astrology making various preparations. He took out his professional tools like square cloth piece, cowries shells, charts, Palmyra: writings etc from his bag. He also dressed typically like an astrologer to attract customers. He put sacred ash and vermilion on his forehead. Due to his makeup, his forehead seemed quite bright. He placed a saffron turban on his head. Thus, the astrologer presented himself perfectly to attract his customers.
The astrologer was a shrewd person who hardly had any knowledge of astrology. He just made guesswork to satisfy his customers. According to him, he left his village because he didn’t want to continue the traditional occupation of his forefathers i.e. farming. He never had any plans to return his native village. He had to work s hard to earn his wages using his smart mind. He gave his day time earning to his wife in the evening time.
MAIN EVENT IN THE STORY:
One day, when groundnut vendor blowout his gaslight, the astrologer also started closing his shop. While• packing up his professional tools, he saw a man standing in front of him. He thought the man as his prospective customer. When the astrologer invited him, the man challenged the astrologer and his astrology science. The man-made a bet with the astrologer. He provided an anna to the astrologer and demanded his satisfactory answer to his question. He even added that if he didn’t answer satisfactorily, he would have to return his anna with interest. The astrologer denied saying that he charged three pies for per question’s answer. He demanded five rupees charge for a satisfactory answer. But, finally, he demanded eight annas for a satisfactory answer. The man became ready to pay up. But, he put up a condition in front of astrologer. According to him if the astrologer answered his question satisfactorily, he would provide him with eight annas. But, if he failed to satisfy him with his answer, he would have to return double amount i.e. sixteen annas. The bet was made. The astrologer prayed to heaven. A bit later, when the man lit up his cheroot, the astrologer caught a glimpse of his face. He denied the challenge and asked the man to let him go. But the man held him tight on his wrist. The astrologer trembled in fear. He accepted the challenge unwillingly. The astrologer started telling him about the woman but the man stopped him being unsatisfied. The man had a single question whether he would get that what he was searching for. The man promised the astrologer to pay him up a rupee after getting a satisfactory answer. The astrologer again prayed a few incantations before replying. The astrologer revealed about the incident of the man in the past time. According to him, the man had been attacked by an unknown person with a knife on his chest. The man became excited to hear astrologer’s words. In the past, he had been attacked with a knife. After he got wounded, he was thrown into a well nearby to die. A passerby saw and rescued him. The man wanted to know about culprit’s detail from the astrologer so that he could take revenge. But the astrologer informed about culprits death four months ago in a far town. The man was disappointed to hear this. The astrologer even identified the name of the man before him as Guru Nayak. He told the man that his village was located in the north and took two days’ journey to reach there. He warned him to go back home and never to travel south again. He asked him to return to his hometown immediately. He related the man that he might get into the trouble if he left his home again. The man wanted to know the cause behind. culprit’s death. The astrologer satisfied him by informing that the culprit was crushed under a lorry. The man left after giving the astrologer a handful of coins. The astrologer also packed his belongings and went home.
The astrologer reached home quite late. His wife was worried about him. The astrologer flung the coins at his wife to count. There were altogether twelve and a half annas. She became so happy to see that amount. She planned to buy jaggery and coconut for their child, who was demanding sweets for a long time. However, the astrologer looked worried and was not happy like his wife. He was angry with Guru Nayak who promised him to give him a rupee but provided him only twelve and a half annas. After dinner, he shared the secret of his life with his wife. He said that a great burden of his life was gone that day. He always felt that he had killed Guru Nayak. So the astrologer had run away from his native village due to the fear of being accused as a murderer. He settled in Malgudi and married and decided that he would never return to his native village. The man who tried to kill Guru Nayak was the astrologer himself. So he was able to make accurate predictions about him though he hardly knew astrology. The astrologer confessed to his wife that in his youth he was into bad company with Guru Nayak. He drank, gambled and quarrelled badly one day. In that fight, he almost killed Guru Nayak.