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As dusk began to mantle the day and darkness enveloped the land, the nuts vendor began to pack up for the day. This was a signal to the astrologer to wind up too, because he depended on the light of the flare used by the vendor. As he picked up his cowrie shells and paraphernalia, he was accosted by a stranger.The astrologer sensed that the man could be a prospect, so he tried his usual trick to attract his attention. He began by saying that the man looked "careworn" and it would do him good if he sat and chatted with him awhile. The stranger thrust his palm forward and challenged the astrologer to tell him his future. The astrologer told him he charged three pies per question; at this the stranger flung an anna at him, saying he had some questions to ask, but if he found out that the astrolger was bluffing, he would take his anna back with interest. The astrologer felt piqued and said if all his answers turned out to be satisfactory, he would charge the man five rupees. After much haggling it was decided that eight annas was a tidy sum to charge provided the astrologer agreed to return twice as much if he proved incorrect.
As the astrologer sat down to predict, he had a glimpse of his customer's face. Suddenly, all desire to earn that extra bit evaporated and he told his client that it was too late, and he was no longer interested. But the stranger would not allow the astrologer to escape and demanded to know his future.
The stranger's first query was if he'd succeed in his present search. The astrologer muttered a few incantations and said that many years ago he was "left for dead". The stranger's interest was further arrested when the astrologer said that the man had been stabbed once. The stranger quickly bared his chest to show his scar.The astrologer continued to say that after being stabbed he was pushed into a well and left for dead.The stranger replied in the affirmative and also told the astrologer that he would have died if a passer-by hadn't chanced to peep into the well and got him out. The stranger's fervent desire, as he told the astrologer, was to take revenge on his assailant. He was much pained and frustrated when he was told that there was no hope in hell of revenge. In fact , he was informed that his name was Guru Nayak and the safest recourse for him was to take the next train and travel due north to his village, because there was danger to his life away from home.The astrologer told Guru Nayak that he'd live a hundred years if he never travelled southward again.
When the astrologer reached home at midnight, his wife enquired why he looked so worried. He sat down on the pyol and confessed to her that a great burden had been lifted off his soul that day. He told her how he'd lived in peril of the police and of being found out; how he had once nearly murdered a man and left him for dead and how he'd just found out that he was alive.
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