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Your question regarding who saved Guru Nayak in “An Astrologer’s Day,” a short story by Indian author R. K. Narayan (1906-2001), requires a brief review of the plot and a little careful reading on your part. The brilliance of this fast-paced story lies in the author’s timing. The tale takes place in a busy and colorful outdoor market where vendors of all sorts hawk their wares. Among these is the astrologer, depicted from the beginning as a charlatan who knows just how to draw in customers with a false air of mystique.

The astrologer “was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent victims,” but his cunning nature allows him to earn a living in a bustling city. The author tells us that if the astrologer had remained in his ancestral village, he would have been a farmer like his forefathers, but, for some yet-undisclosed reason, “he had to leave home without telling anyone, and he could not rest till he left it behind a couple of hundred miles.”

The character of Guru Nayak appears late one evening. He is a passerby drawn in by the charlatan’s invitation. Openly disdainful and suspicious , Guru Nayak challenges the astrologer’s abilities and makes a wager that is, at first, turned down, but the belligerent would-be customer insists. The author tells us that when the astrologer has a look at the man’s face, he is startled. We are briefly left to wonder how it is that this fake astrologer not only knows Guru Nayak’s name, but also accurately states that he had once been stabbed and left for dead in a well.

To this revelation, Guru Nayak adds, “I should have been left for dead if some passer-by had not chanced to peep in the well.”

Using the situation to his advantage, the astrologer tells his victim that he will live “to be a hundred” if he goes back to his village and never comes to the city again. Furthermore, he assures Guru Nayak that the perpetrator of the crime has indeed “died as he deserved” by having been “crushed under a lorry” (a lorry is a truck).

As readers, we are left to ponder how easily people can be deceived by false exteriors, as well as why someone may be compelled to create a false self that is presented to the outside world.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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