An Astrologer's Day

by R. K. Narayan
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In "An Astrologer's Day," what is the character sketch of the astrologer? 

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In "An Astrologer's Day," the main character is the astrologer. He is an ordinary man who practices to be a genuine astrologer. At midday, he begins his job by seeking out people who need to know more about their futures. 

Punctually at midday he opened his bag and spread out his professional equipment, which consisted of a dozen cowrie shells, a square piece of cloth with obscure mystic charts on it, a notebook, and a bundle of palmyra writing. 

In a prophetic like glare, he seeks out customers. They take his mysterious stare as being genuine in that he knows something about the future. 

His forehead was resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion, and his eyes sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam which was really an outcome of a continual searching look for customers, but which his simple clients took to be a prophetic light and felt comforted. 

The astrologer worked in an area that had poor lighting. At night, he used the light of the neighboring vendors who sold nuts, fruits, and ice cream to name a few things being sold. He did what had he had to do to earn a living.

When a client would sit down, he would allow the client to talk for ten minutes. By this time, the astrologer had enough information to go on. He was a good judge of character. He could read people very well. His job was one of guess work for "he knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself the next minute."

The astrologer was shrewd. He understood the problems of life. He understood financial woes and marriage problems. He would guess his way through an encounter with a client.   

He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. Yet he said things which pleased and astonished everyone: that was more a matter of study, practice, and shrewd guesswork. 

No doubt, the astrologer knew what to say after he listened to a client for ten minutes. He understood life's problems and he could guess what was wrong after hearing his client pour his or her heart out. 

As evening approached, the astrologer saw a man passing by and assumed he would be a potential client. This client was Guru Nayak and he would not be played with. He tried to get away from the astrologer, having little faith in his abilities. Guru Nayak lit a cheroot and the astrologer recognized him as a man he had stabbed and left for dead many years ago. Nervously, the astrologer tried to back out the deal the two had made. But Guru Nayak would not hear of it. He insisted that the astrologer would tell him if the man he searched for was alive or dead. Guru Nayak wanted to know where the man was who had stabbed him and left him for dead years ago. 

Finally, the astrologer tells Guru Nayak what he wants to hear. He claims the man who stabbed him is dead. The astrologer knows what to say since he was the man who had stabbed him years ago. Fortunately, Guru Nayak does not recognize the astrologer. He satisfies Guru Nayak and makes extra money off him. 

Guru Nayak leaves, satisfied that his attacker is dead. The astrologer makes it home late. His wife is waiting at the door. He gives her the extra money and shares his story of meeting a man whom he thought he had killed years ago. The astrologer is relieved to know he didn't kill the man. He stretches himself out to sleep a good night's sleep. 

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