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An Astrologer's Day is such a simple short story, but the end grabs you. It makes you think differently about everything.
The story starts explaining the day of an astrologer. His day starts of as a simple day. The astrologer is not a real astrologer, but he relies on his wit and his ability to read people. When he sees a man standing on the road, he wants to make him a client. The two start chatting and the astrologer learns that this man is looking for a man from his past. The man wants to find a man that had left him for dead. He pays the astrologer to help him. When the astrologer gets home, he tells his wife, that in the past he thought he had killed a man. He was now happy to know that the man he helped today was not dead, for he was the man he thought he had killed. It is a shocking twist at the end. From the beginning you get a sense that the astrologer is trying to cheat people, but not that he could be a killer. There is a sense of peace around him.
Having read this short story, from the first page, I didn't care for the astrologer. I didn't think he was a fair man. I thought he cheated people and made them believe he was something he wasn't. However I never thought of him as a killer. It was a clever plot twist, to throw in the man he thought he had killed, as a potential scam for him. He deceived the same man twice. The conversation he has with his wife shows what kind of man he really was and still is.
I felt gratified that the astrologer had gotten rid of his guilt and fear and had managed to earn a little extra money that day. I was struck by the picture of the simple lives these people lead. The astrologer's whole collection of coins for one day was only enough to keep them alive until the next day--but because of the confrontation with Guru Nayak, the husband was able to bring home enough extra money for his wife to buy some simple little treats for their daughter. The wife gets pleasure from giving pleasure to their child. No doubt the astrologer gets pleasure from giving pleasure to his wife. They are such simple people!
"Twelve and a half annas," she said, counting. She was overjoyed. "I can buy some jaggery and coconut tomorrow. The child has been asking for sweets for so many days now. I will prepare some nice stuff for her."
It seems as if the main story line is not the real story but only a sort of thread to pull the reader through the real story, which is the story of the poor people of densely overpopulated India. Countless millions of them live from day to day and from hand to mouth like the astrologer and his wife. It is hard to make money where the people have no money. The child will have to grow up and learn to survive in similar conditions--if they don't get even worse.
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