• anjali mohapatra

A Good Liar

Updated: Jul 28

Asutosh Dubey lived his entire life in a small, crowded town.

He worked on a farm all his life as a supervisor. He never earned enough, but somehow, he managed his small family - wife and one handicapped son. He was lean, thin, of short height, and was generally considered an intelligent guy. Thinking about his future would give him the shivers though, as he was never sure of what to do post his fast-approaching retirement.

One fine day, after a long, tedious deliberation with himself, he decided to be an astrologer once he retired.

He genuinely tried to become an expert in this new endeavour of his. His sincere endeavour ensured that he captured the calculation of astrology accurately within a short time. And he achieved his goal! His name spread like wildfire! From far and wide, people gushed to his house to show their horoscope. Slowly but surely, he started earning enough to stop worrying about his money matters.


*****

Every day in the morning, after finishing his regular routine, he sat in his office room waiting for his customers. A pen, scale, and a hand lens he kept on the side of his astrology book. His mind was always vigilant, remembering every line that he had read in that book. He was completely in awe of what he had learned from it! ‘What wonderful effects these stars and planets can display in our life! How true it is!’ he whispered in the air.

One day, a new customer came to him with his horoscope. The customer was a middle-aged man. He gave him a folded paper and eagerly said, ‘Sir, this is my horoscope. Please let me know what it shows.’

Ashutosh looked at the paper, then gently said, ‘It’ll take time. Please let me see it thoroughly. At least three to four hours to study and to give some accurate results. You can collect it tomorrow.’

The man on the other hand was too enthusiastic to know it the quickest way possible but had no choice. Hesitatingly he shook his head and went away. After his left, Asutosh babu opened the paper, keenly went through the horoscope. Reading a bit, his face started distorting. He leaned back on his chair. Releasing a deep sigh, he started writing something on a paper.

The next day morning, the man reached at the astrologer door, anxious to know about his future,

'Is it done, sir?’, humbly he asked.

‘Oh, ye-yes,’ Ashutosh said, and continued, ‘one request- please do not open this paper now. Keep it as it is for two days. Later you can read it.’

The man was a little surprised and worried too at his unexpected request. Holding his breath he stuttered, ‘Why, sir?!’

The astrologer pretended as if he was searching for something. ‘It's important, very important that you don’t open it,’ curtly he replied without eye contacting with the man. The man kept quiet, understood his gesture. Silently nodded his head and left the place.

On his way back, he was constantly thinking about the paper. After reaching home, he kept the paper in a safe place. His wife felt weird seeing his husband’s gloomy face. She dared not to ask any question but worried about him not being happy.

'Hey, can you hear me? Don't open the paper, ok? No mistake, got it? We both can go through it when I’ll be back from the tour,’ the man said to his wife reminding her of the astrologer’s request.

The next day, the businessman had a tour to a nearby place. Before leaving his home, once again he reminded his wife about the warning of the astrologer.

Overwork forced him to stay back there overnight. After finishing his work he was ready to return. On his way back, however, he met a fatal accident. The businessman’s wife was shocked to get the heart-breaking news of her husband. She broke down.

*****


20 days later

‘Aarti have you heard the news?’ Ashutosh asked his wife

‘What news? Don't bite my head off. This stupid work will never end,’ Aarti grumbled from the kitchen.


Ashutosh knew Aarti’s grumbling nature-especially when the fish curry was not on the menu. She is always busy, hardly having any time for relaxation. No helping hand was there. On top of that- their handicapped son’s future always bothered her most. She cursed herself for not being well educated. But it was too late. Sometimes she cried before Ashutosh Babu thinking about their son.

'Can't you do anything?’

'What? What anything?’

'I mean-your astrology-about our son. Can't you change its unreal?’

'Arati, you must have gone crazy! How can I change somebody's fate?! I am no God. Simply an astrologer.’

'Hmm-seems everything is filled with darkness!’ she breathed a long breath.

These arguments were always there between the couple. So many times, Ashutosh tried to pacify her but never could he succeed. He became acquainted with his wife’s arrogant nature. If she became furious, then she never hesitated to use abusive words also.

When Ashutosh came close to the kitchen room, Arati wiping the salty water droplets from her forehead asked, ‘Wh-what news?’

'That gentleman who came few days before to show his horoscope, he died in an accident.’

'So?! What’s the big deal?’ she gave the statement arrogantly.

'No- no- nothing big, but…’

'But-what?’

'But, I predicted this would happen in advance,’ answered Ashutosh Babu in a regretting voice.


'Wh-what? Are you crazy? Or do you think you are next to God? Why didn't you mention something else? See that Ramanathan. He is also an astrologer. He has already built two houses on his earning. But you, you have become Satyabadi Harishchandra!’ Arati retorted with sarcasm.

'Arati, it's nothing like that. I just calculate the position of stars, their movements, and their effect on that person. That's it. And it came true. Now I am afraid that his family members blame me.’

'Why- why on the earth they’d blame you? Why don't you be a liar-a good liar?’

'Hmm..my mistake-I wrote on a paper and warned him not to open that before two days and within that two days, he died.’

'Do you think he could have saved if he would have read it?’

'No-not at all! Even if he would be at home, he was going to face the accident.’

Arati slouched against the wall still holding the half-washed saucepan in her hand. ‘Hmm…we’ll see.’

Ashutosh gave a blank look to his wife. He knew that he was barking at the wrong tree. He didn't expect any support from Arati.


****


Few days passed. Suddenly one day the dead man’s wife remembered about the astrologer’s paper that her husband told her. She searched her drawer. At last, she got it. When she read, her eyes welled up with tears. It was written-

'Ghatak yoga is there! Your stars predict that there will be a fatal accident shortly.’

Nothing more was written. Saddened by the death of her husband, she cursed herself for not seeing the paper before his trip. ‘If I’d have seen this before, I could’ve saved his life.’ That’s what she assumed. When her son came to know about this, he got furious. He was a college dropped out and ruffian young man. Outraged with anger, he went to the astrologer’s house, screamed aloud from the gate, ‘Hey you astrologer! Come out! Why didn't you make my father clear about the danger, you stupid dumb? You killed my father.’

Few neighbours of Ashutosh assembled on the spot to know the reason for this young man’s sudden attack with abusive words. But the astrologer knew who he was. Ashutosh's wife couldn't tolerate the ruffians’ language anymore. She opened the door, came forward, stood before the young man.

She sternly looked at the ruffian’s face. Strongly said, ‘Hello! What do you think?’

'Wh-who are you?’ he asked in a rough tone.

'Me-why? Who else could be? What do you want? I am his wife,’ she screamed again.

'Your husband is a killer. He killed my father,’ he screamed with anger.

'H-hey-hey hold your dirty tongue. My husband is a good astrologer. He can not change anybody’s destiny. One thing he is lacking is that-he is not a Good Liar like others. Do you understand me? Now go, don't bother us anymore.’

The young man grunted with filthy words and left the place. Ashutosh was watching the terrible scenario that was going on outside of his door.

He never imagined that his wife would ever be empathetic towards him. He was stunned by his wife’s arguments. Her hidden support for him and appreciation for not being a ‘good liar’ was reflected in her arguments. But, he was confused, ‘Is it fair enough to tell the truth or one should do foul play on the horoscope? Should I be an honest astrologer or be a ‘good liar’?

Finally, he decided that it would be much better, to be honest in the profession rather than foul play just to earn enough money!


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