Fortune tellers and palm readers have to be kept at an arm’s length as I have always considered them a set of people trying to cash in on the vulnerability of the gullible masses. With the exception of a very few, most of them with the ‘gifted tongue’ purposely shift their abodes very often and hence never bother about the outcome of their predictions.
It was a busy Wednesday afternoon in 1986. As a senior banker in a nationalised bank in Chennai, I was having discussions with one of the most valuable clients of the bank. When my client was about to leave, I was able to see through the glass doors our security guard, at the entrance to the bank, having an altercation with a very young man, dressed in dhoti, his upper body draped with a loin cloth and wearing an eye-catchy red gear as his turban. A very prominent kunkum pottu on his forehead completed the picture.
I guessed that he must be a fortune teller for money or a representative of the gypsies seeking some bank support for their community. By now, I found him in serious conversation with my manager and after a few minutes the manager was knocking at my door. When signalled, the manager came in to say that the stranger wanted five minutes of mine as he had to say something to me and leave. He sent a message that it is not for money or any favour he was there but to convey an important news to me and leave.
There had to be a logical end to this impasse and the only way for this was to have oblige the stranger. I rang the bell to allow him in.
“Namaste Saab. I have brought some news for you!” Saying this he got himself comfortably seated in my room. After a few minutes, he opened his eyes and to my shock said, “At the most, for only two more months, you are going to be here in this seat” He then gave a pause and said, “your bank is sending you abroad on an overseas assignment.” On hearing this, I was convinced that he was a fake. There was no way of this happening as the process for overseas postings had just then been completed and some of my lucky colleagues had taken up their positions in our overseas centres. Above all, I had not even applied for an overseas posting.
From my body language and smile, he sensed my disbelief but he was not at all perturbed. He took out a coin with a religious symbol on it, anointed it with kunkum saying a prayer, sealed it in a colour paper, gave it to me and wanted me to keep it safe in my purse.
It might have been a good 20 days after it when once while returning to the office after a meeting, I was informed that I had a call from the ED’s secretariat and our ED wanted to meet me.
On hearing the news I was unable to believe myself and my eyes were brimming — primarily out of gratitude to my top management and also over the thoughts of the soothsayer who had predicted the posting well in advance to me. It is more than 26 years now since that gentleman-soothsayer left my cabin and still I sharpen my eyes and stretch my neck to see if I can spot him somewhere, perhaps in his unassuming style going about with his predictions.