An Astrology’s Day Summary

“An Astrologer’s Day” was written by an Indian author, R. K. Narayan. It is a thriller, suspense story describing a day in the life of an astrologer who makes his living by selling cosmic insights to gullible villagers, though he has no knowledge of the cosmos or actual spiritual insight.

There was an astrologer who spread out his professional equipment rightly at midday. He had a dozen of cowrie shells, a square piece of cloth with unclear charts on it, a notebook and a bundle of palmyra writing. He put sacred ash and red colour on his forehead. Similarly, he wore a saffron-coloured turban around his head which showed him as a professional person in this field. His way of dealing, eyes, and moustache added professionalism in his appearance.

He told people’s future based on his study, practice and shrewd guesswork and the people were also convinced with him. He made his family survival with the earning from this profession.

One day, a stranger appeared there to show his palm. The stranger bargained with him very much that if he could not tell about his truth; he would take all his money instead of paying him. The astrologer had not encountered this type of challenge before. He did not like to face that challenge but the stranger was stubborn in his decision. So, the astrologer was forced to do it. He was chanting the mantras. Meanwhile, the stranger lit up his cigarette and in that light the astrologer quickly recognized him. He felt very comfortable in it.

The astrologer knew that he was Guru Nayak. When he called the stranger with the name, he was surprised and curious to know about the past and the person whom he had been searching to take revenge. The astrologer told him that a knife had passed through him once and he was left for dead. As soon as he heard it, he uncovered his chest and showed the scar (dried wound). He also added that he should have been dead if some passer-by (person walking through), had not looked into the wall and rescued him. Then he asked about the person who had stabbed him the knife to kill. The astrologer told him that he died before four months in a far-off town crushing under a lorry. So he would meet him only in the next world. He suggested him that it would be useless to search him anymore. The astrologer told his other facts and reality that his village was two days’ journey due north of his town and he would have to take the next train and go. He added him that there would be another great danger to his life if he would go from home. Then he gave him a pinch of sacred ash and told him to rub on his forehead and go his home. He advised him not to travel southward again so that he would live for hundred years. The stranger thought that person died and that was what he is supposed to have been deserved. The stranger gave a handful coins to the astrologer and went away.

Then the astrologer collected all his equipment and packed them up in his bag. He went to his house. It was nearly midnight when he reached his house where his wife was waiting for him. He gave all the coins and she counted them all. She was over happy because she could buy some jaggary and coconut the next day. She would also buy some sweets for her daughter as she had been asking for so many days. At last, the astrologer told his wife that he met the person whom he stabbed the knife to kill when he was a silly youngster. He added that they used to drink, gamble and quarrel. After that fight, he ran away from the village, married her and followed this profession for their survival. Telling it, he was so tired and started yawning to sleep.

The story tells us that the astrologer has disguised himself as an astrologer just to hide his crime and for his survival. So we should be careful while showing our palms to know about our future because the astrologer may also not know about his own future/fortune.

An Astrology’s Day Questions And Answer: Understanding the text

Answer the following questions. 

a. How does the astrologer’s appearance help him attract customers? How does he help the customers satisfy their needs ? 

Ans: The astrologer looks like a professional ones because of his appearance. He has a typical appearance. His forehead is resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion. He has the dark whiskers which show his maturity in his profession. The saffron-coloured turban around his head has crowned his effect to attract the customers. Likewise,. his eyes sparkle with a sharp abnormal gleam continually searching look for customers. His professional equipment that he spreads under the branches of tamarind tree also plays a key role to attract customers.

He helps the customers satisfy their needs telling their past, present and future about practical and business affairs based on his study, practice and shrewd guesswork.

b.How do you characterise the astrologer’s attitude toward the stranger? 

Ans: The astrologer’s attitude toward the stranger is positive because he is the bread winner of his family and it is his profession for a regular income. He spreads out his professional equipment very carefully so that the customers will have a glance upon him. He begins his business at noon and works hard with his shrewd guesswork to make money. He has a way of telling fortune of others which is very impressive. If someone is standing in front of him, he takes him as his potential customer. He looks like a money-minded person because he strictly bargains with the customers. He tries to convince his customers talking about the solar system so that they will be happy to pay him enough money. Although he has no knowledge of astrology, he tries his best to satisfy the stranger through his study, practice and shrewd guesswork. He does everything dramatically just for the sake of money. He has a fake attitude that even he does not know whether he is telling truly or falsely to his strangers.

C.What details does the astrologer give the stranger about his past ?

Ans: The astrologer at first does not recognize the stranger. Later, when the stranger lights his cigar, the astrologer quickly recognizes him as Guru Nayak. But the stranger does not recognize him. So, the astrologer is able to give him his real details of the past. He says that he was attacked with a knife on his chest which he shows to the astrologer. He adds that he was left for dead pushing into a well. He even tells him about his name and address. Moreover, he tells that he will find his enemy in the next world saying that his enemy died before four months being crushed under a lorry. He suggests him to return to his own village to be safe.

d. Why does he advise the stranger to go home immediately? 

Ans: He advises the stranger to go home immediately because he is afraid of him. The astrologer was also suspected as a criminal. He himself tried to kill Guru Nayak whom he finds in front of him now. He also understands the intention of the stranger that if he meets his enemy, he will choke out his life. So, there is a risk for him if the stranger recognizes him. To be safe, he trickily advises him to go home immediately showing that the stranger is going to face a great danger.

e.What is your reaction to the conversation between the astrologer and his wife? 

Ans: I am very glad with the conversation between the astrologer and his wife. He reaches his house nearly at midnight and his wife is waiting for him. He has also got a rid of his guilt which he did in his past. They are happy with their earning. She is surprised hearing his silly work that he did when he was a youngster. At last, my reaction is negative toward the astrologer to believe such a person as a fortune teller in this profession.

Reference to the context

a. Suspense is the feeling of anticipation you may have as you read. In this story, what details contributed to your feelings of suspense and surprise? Explain. 

Ans: This story is presented very nicely and interestingly with a perfect combination of suspense and

surprise. The author has given a professional description of the astrologer in the beginning. He tells about the customers’ futures based on his study, practice and shrewd guesswork. He finds a stranger as his client. There is a strict bargain between the astrologer and the stranger on telling his events

satisfactorily. The astrologer tells him about his facts of getting a knife on him and pushing him into the well to leave dead there, and so on. He even tells his name and address. The stranger is entirely satisfied and convinced with the astrologer; but I have a feeling of suspension that how he is telling each detail correctly and accurately.

Later, when I hear the conversation between the astrologer and his wife, I am shocked and surprised that he was suspected as a criminal and he tried to kill Guru Nayak. Then he escaped away from his village and became an astrologer as he is today. Oh my God! Even such a person can be an astrologer?

b.Analyze the conflicts in “An Astrologer’s Day.” Explain how the conflicts are resolved and what they reveal about the characters involved in the story. 

Ans: The astrologer looks like a professional ones with his appearance and professional equipment. He is able in convincing the customers while telling their futures. His life runs very peacefully but there is a conflict when he finds a stranger bargaining with him on telling his details correctly and accurately. He does not want to open his mouth because the stranger is challenging to tell about his incidents. The astrologer feels uncomfortable and uneasy when he recognizes the stranger as the Guru Nayak in the light. The stranger is stubborn in his demand. So, the astrologer tells about his past correctly and accurately. He is surprised and convinced with the astrologer. He convinced him that his enemy died four months age and he will not meet him anymore. He advises him to return his home to be safe from another great danger. Finally, he is able to resolve the conflicts between him and the stranger. This story also presents that whom we trust much can be the false ones.

c.“All right. I will speak. But will you give me a rupee if what I say is convincing? Otherwise I will not open my mouth, and you may do what you like.” 

i. Who is the speaker? 

Ans: The astrologer is the speaker.

ii. Who is he speaking to? 

Ans: He is speaking to the stranger (Guru Nayak).

iii. What does the expression ‘open my mouth’ mean? 

Ans: The expression ‘open my mouth’ means convincing the stranger.

d.Description helps readers visualize what is happening in a story. What details and techniques does the author use to describe the astrologer ? 

Ans: Proper description is an effective way to help readers visualize what is happening in a story. The author has used various details of the astrologer like his appearance, way of spreading out the professional equipment, convincing way to his customers, etc. Similarly, the author has used a narrative technique in the story. He has narrated the story from the beginning to the end. He has narrated about the astrologer in the beginning, his encounter with the stranger (Guru Nayak) in the middle, and his conversation with his wife at the end, which says about his reality in the past. So, the author is successful to arise suspense and surprise in readers through description and narration. Irony is a contrast between appearances and reality. 

e.What is ironic about Guru Nayak’s meeting with the astrologer?

Ans: It is true that irony is a contrast between appearances and reality. Guru Nayak thinks that he is a good astrologer who can tell about his details. He bargains with him to be sure that he tells everything correctly and accurately. The irony is that the astrologer himself is a fake person in that

fortune telling profession because he is the culprit who stabbed a knife on the stranger when he was a youngster. But the stranger cannot recognize him; may be, because of his appearance. The astrologer makes him satisfy telling all the details correctly and accurately but he himself does not know about his future. He is surprised in finding Guru Nayak before him as he thought that he was already dead. So, the reality and the appearance of the astrologer and his telling are ironic because there is a contrast in his reality and the appearances.

f.How does the astrologer’s manner of dress suit his character ?

Ans: The astrologer’s manner of dress suits his character because he has smeared his forehead with sacred ash and vermilion. The saffron-coloured turban around his head has crowned his effect upon the customers that he looks like a professional fortune teller. He becomes figure of attraction for the pedestrians in the street because of his dress up. Along with his dress, he can satisfy his customers based on his study, practice and shrewd guesswork. He looks as if he is a true professional astrologer.

Reference beyond the text

a.The astrologer attracts many customers in the street who are pleased and astonished by what he tells them. What does this tell you about the people of the town walking in the street? 

Ans: The astrologer attracts many customers in the street who are pleased and astonished by what he tells them. It tells us that the people of the town walking in the street are gullible because his manner of dress gives them a positive impression about him. He dresses up very attractively as if he is a professional astrologer. Moreover, he satisfies the customers through his study, long practice of the work and shrewd guesswork. He tells them about their practical affairs which make them think him as an intelligent person in this field. He is very smart in his profession that he can tackle all the situations of their curiosity about the futures. They are also innocent and believe in fortune telling. 

b. Why do most people want to know their future? Do you think astrologers can really help them know their future ? 

Ans: Most people want to know their future because they are very curious about it and want to hear about good things to happen so that they can manage everything accordingly. Besides, they want to even hear about bad things that may occur in the future in order to be cautious to avoid them. I think the real astrologer with full of knowledge in astrology can help them know their future. But the fake ones are the cheaters and they are just disguised as a fortune teller for the sake of money as the astrologer we have in the story.

C.Is astrology a good practice of fortune telling or is it just a blind faith? Give reasons. 

Ans: I think astrology is a good practice of fortune telling as there is the study of universe (solar system: about the condition of the planets); in which, it is said that they have roles in our life for better or worse conditions in the future. It is seen that in the society people are convinced with the astrologer and they frequently visit him. So, I do not think it is a blind faith.