Why does the astrologer pick up his special equipment and plan to pack up for the day?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The astrologer does not have any of his own lighting. When it gets dark he is dependent on the light of the groundnut vendor, whose place of business is nearby and who has a big flare for illumination. On this night the astrologer prepares to leave when the groundnut vendor puts out his flare. Without the flare the astrologer is in darkness except for a little shaft of green light which is insufficient for him to be noticed. He suddenly realizes that he has one customer who must have stopped in front of him just before the flare went out.

He picked up his cowrie shells and paraphernalia and was putting them back into his bag when the green shaft of light was blotted out; he looked up and saw a man standing before him. He sensed a possible client and said: "You look so careworn. It will do you good to sit down for a while and chat with me."

He is able to recognize the customer as Guru Nayak, but his former enemy does not recognize him because of the very bad lighting as well as the fact that the astrologer has changed his appearance by painting his forehead with ash and vermilion and is wearing a saffron-colored turban. The reader does not realize until much later that the astrologer knows Guru Nayak from the past, so the reader is amazed by some of the things the astrologer is able to tell his skeptical and potentially violent customer. The astrologer does not get home until nearly midnight. It is then that he tells his wife:

"Do you know a great load is gone from me today? I thought I had the blood of a man on my hands all these years. That was the reason I ran away from home, settled here, and married you. He is alive."