An Astrologer's Day

by R. K. Narayan

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Compare the characters of the astrologer and Guru Nayak in "An Astrologer's Day".

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This is a difficult comparison. Surely being left for dead significantly alters a person's inner character. This raises the question: Is what we see of Guru Nayak his true nature or the manifestation of a traumtized nature?

What we do know is that Guru nayak's behavior is beligerent and antagonistic to a person whom he believes to be an innocent by-stander. When he first encounters the astrologer, he shaoves his palm toward him with a short insult:

whereupon the [Guru] thrust his palm under his nose, saying: "You call yourself an astrologer?"

The Guru follows this up by actually challenging and betting with the astrologer, insisting on the challenge, even when the astrologer tries to opt out in response to Guru Nayak's great antagonism.

We also know that the only reason he leaves his home village periodically is on a murderous quest of vengence. Whereas the astrologer attempted murder in his uncontrollable youth, in the heat of drunken argument, and over gambling debts, Guru Nyak wishes to murder according to premeditated, persistent searching and planning.

The final thing we know is that, after the astrologer astounds the Guru by telling him the whole dramatic event of his past brush with death, Guru Nyak leaves without fulfilling the terms of the challenge: he leaves only twelve and a half annas when he promised a whole rupee.

After their encounter, the astrologer's prevailiong thought is that he does not have blood on his hands:

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 ... . He is alive.

Guru Nyaks's prevailing thought at their parting was gratification at the report that his foe "was crushed under a lorry [truck]."

Both men have pursued employment and have done well, in the Guru's case--well enough to promise rupees and smoke cheroots--or only just well enough: "I can buy some jaggers and coconut tomorrow. The child has been asking for sweets for so many days ...." But not both have attempted to purify their character traits so that the violence of their youth doesn't govern their lives again: it is only the astrologer who has attempted to lay his  "silly" youth aside:

"He is alive."
She gasped. ":You tried to kill!":
"Yes, in our village, when I was a silly youngster, We drank, gambled, and quarrelled badly one day--but why think of it now?"

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