The old man’s twinkling eyes caught her attention from across the street. With the agility of a much younger man, he sprang up from the folded blue plastic on the pavement where he was seated cross-legged that designated his domain. He flashed the foreign woman a calculated smile that revealed many missing teeth. “Madame, madame, I speak English. I can tell you many things. I am astrologer and palmist. Sit, please.” He said pointing to the folded blue plastic on the ground, now damp from the fine rain that was falling.
Propped up against the side of a building on the ground were astrological charts written in Tamil with detailed diagrams of hands. The astrologer studied the foreign woman’s face, recognizing the familiar signs of indecision. The woman shrugged her shoulders in capitulation. Why not, she concluded to herself.
As instructed, she lowered herself onto the blue plastic while a small crowd gathered around her. From a rusted tin box, the astrologer withdrew two sheets of paper and handed one to her. “Write your birth date.” He said. “Oh, you are Taurus like Queen Victoria, very powerful.” He did some calculations and told her, her lucky number. Carefully he lifted her left hand. “Oh, you will have very long life. You will have three children and you will own a house.” While he spoke, he traced the lines that zigzagged across her palm in blue ink. He did some further calculations and showed her some dates. “These months are best time for you. This is your golden time.” He smiled with satisfaction. He rummaged inside the rusty metal box and produced a small cylinder. “You keep this amulet in your pocket. It is for luck.”
They engaged in the age-old process of establishing the price. She gave him half of what he asked for and he was pleased.
The sun peeped out from behind the clouds. Buoyant from the prospect of the golden days ahead, the woman’s step took on a new lightness and the creases along her forehead smoothed.