An Astrologer's Day Questions and Answers
by R. K. Narayan

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In "An Astrologer's Day," what did the astrologer tell the customer about the attempt made on his life?  

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The astrologer is in danger of being killed because his customer, Guru Nakak, is looking for him but doesn't recognize him because of several factors. For one thing, many years have passed since the attempt was made on Guru Nayak's life, so both men have aged. For another, the astrologer paints his forehead with sacred ash and vermilion and has grown a beard. Furthermore, the lighting is very poor. The astrologer has no lighting of his own but depends on lights from nearby shops. The astrologer relies on the fact, or hope, that his client will not be able to recognize him in order to make very specific statements about the man's past. He begins by saying:

"You were left for dead. Am I right?"

The tough, skeptical, dangerous customer is impressed. He says:

"Ah, tell me more."

The astrologer goes on to provide even more specific details:

"And then you were pushed into a well nearby in the field. You were left for dead."

The client is amazed.

"I should have been dead if some passer-by had not chanced to peep into the well," exclaimed the other, overwhelmed by enthusiasm. "Where shall I get at him?" he asked, clenching his fist.

Having convinced his nemesis of his omniscience, the astrologer is able to persuade him to stop hunting him and to stay out of his life forever. He tells the client that the man who tried to kill him was killed four months ago, crushed under a lorry in a far-off town, and warns him:

"Your village is two day's journey due north of this town. Take the next train and be gone. I see once again great danger to your life if you go from home."

What makes all of this intriguing to the reader is that the author has established that the astrologer

. . . knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself next minute. He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers.

In fact, he can't even see the stars because he is seated under a tamarind tree and the area at night is "a bewildering criss-cross of light rays and moving shadows."

What finally convinces the customer of the astrologer's supernatural powers is that the audacious fakir takes a rather desperate risk of calling him by name:

"Guru Nayak."

"You know my name!" the other said, taken aback.

"As I know all other things."




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