Why Zuthsi was admitted to the hospital I do not recall. It must have been serious because he was there for quite some time and had to come often. On the two occasions that I had to come back to the hospital, he was there, as was Prakash. Why Prakash was there I remember very well.
Prakash was a bright spark that the Indian Navy had got hold of and his career path had been fairly well defined quite early. He was posted in the Executive Branch aboard the only oceanography ship that the Navy had at that time and he was one of their blue eyed boys. One day when he was on the Command Deck while work was going on mapping the contours and depth of the Seabed, suddenly he passed out and fell on the floor senseless. There was panic on board and he was immediately airlifted by a chopper and flown straight to the Naval hospital. There had been no warning about his being unwell. One minute he was hale and hearty, carrying out his normal duties on board, and the next instant without any warning he lay crumpled on the floor unconscious. For many days he lay in the Hospital in deep coma with the doctors not being able to do anything.
As far as I remember, no surgery was carried out. I am surmising all this because when I met him, which was quite some time after the incident, his head was not bandaged nor were there any wounds visible on his head. Any way, he lay in deep coma for several days, and when he regained consciousness, the left side of his body was totally paralyzed, nor could he speak a word. After a fortnight or so, he began to show signs of improvement and began to speak, slowly at first, improving as time went by. After a while he was able to speak quite clearly and move his limbs. How long all this took I cannot say with any certainty, because when I met him he was quite hale and hearty and in pretty good shape. One could not have guessed looking at him that he had come as close to dying as one possibly could. He was now coming to the hospital for periodic reviews but was not on duty on board any sea going vessel. Where he was posted during this period I do not recall. May have been in the hospital all the time for all I know.
I never was the excessively inquisitive type, going into gory details. Zuthsi’s problem I don’t know and in any case it has nothing to do with the story as such. He introduced the subject of the Chaya Shastra fortune teller and that is all that interested me then and now.
As time passed I got quite friendly with both of them, to the point that we were telling most of our personal details to one another and sharing our thoughts on practically everything on earth. Now hereafter the sequence of events gets quite murky and I cannot recall things as they occurred date-wise. So what I present, is the gist of the whole thing, perhaps not in sequence.
One day when Prakash and I were alone, he pulled out an inland-letter and showed it to me. I did not go into the contents very deeply. For one it was written in Hindi and none too legibly at that, plus reading some one’s personal letters was not my cup of tea. Secondly, it was a bit embarrassing because it pertained to sex. All I remember is that I just glanced at it and said yes, yes, quite interesting sort of thing, leaving it at that. Today I kick myself for not having examined it minutely and pored over the contents and tried to understand what was written in depth. What a fool I was, letting a God sent opportunity slip through my fingers. The letter just started off with a Dear Prakash (in Hindi ) and then went on to discuss sex and whether it was sinful and whether It prevented one from leading a holy life. Something to that effect. What I can recall, however, is that Prakash told me that the gist of the letter was that sex in moderation was not a sin, or something like that. The letter was written on both sides, and just ended after talking about sex and was not signed off with any name or formal closing words like yours sincerely or any such thing. Prakash told me that this was the second or third time that he had received such a letter. He had no clue as to who sent it and why. He said that what really intrigued him was that when in the night he was thinking about something and pondering over a problem or concept, he would receive such a letter the very next day, discussing just what he had been thinking about the night before. He showed me another similar letter in the same hand writing, but what was the content or subject matter, I do not recall. What I do remember very clearly was his saying that the night before the arrival of that letter he had been thinking about that subject and was looking for answers when this letter arrived next morning discussing just that particular problem and the answers to his doubts and nothing else. He went on to say that he had received several such letters quite recently, and that he had no idea as to who was writing them and from where. They would just land up out of the blue, so to say.
Here, I must add in explanation, that in our little chats, we did go into a bit about life, philosophy and that sort of thing, but it was nothing very heavy because we both were young and had far more interesting things to talk about. We naturally shied away from any heavy stuff. In any case I always was, a vacuous so and so, thus discussing anything of consequence could be safely ruled out.
One fine day, Prakash very sheepishly confided in me that on one of his ‘outings’ from the hospital he had taken Zuthsi with him to that Chaya Shastra fellow. Not only to take the wind out of Zuthsi’s constant talk about that astrologer and by proving that he was a hoax and that he was being hypnotized or some such thing. So the two had gone to this fellow armed with their three questions. Prakash had prepared his questions well in advance so as to prove to Zuthsi that it was all humbug and that it was all a fraud.
Well they went there, Prakash was taken out into the sun, his shadow was measured and then the pundit carried out his calculations and started off by asking Prakash his date and time of birth. Prakash told him. The pundit looked into the Patras that he had pulled out, and translating what was written on it, said that it was not matching. According to what was written there, in the Patras, it was such n such. So he again asked Prakash if he was quite sure about his date of birth and he said of course, I am absolutely sure, and that he had had it confirmed from his mother, sort of thing. Prakash had taken Zuthsi along, to translate what was written on those leaves, and he confirmed, that what the Astrologer was saying was true.
So they went out into the sun and took measurements again, recalculated, and came back with another set and there again there was a disparity. The man was quite puzzled and asked him if he was sure about his date of birth, because according to what was written on the Patras the date was not tallying with what Prakash was saying. In fact what surprised Prakash was that the date as written in the Patra, was in fact correct, and was his actual date of birth, and time! What really blew his mind after that was the next line in the Patras, which he read out and which Zuthsi translated “you are now arguing about your date of birth. It is not such n such but is such n such date”. That being resolved, he answered his second question. Before asking the third and final question, Prakash asked Zuthsi to leave the room as he wanted to ask that question in private. What he asked I do not know, but whatever it was, it turned out to be absolutely correct. In a way this was a turning point, because Prakash said that it just could not be a hoax, because what he had asked was known to only two people. His mother and him. He said that in no way could that person have guessed the correct answer. And that shook him to the core.
Later on in the ward, we did talk a lot about it, but none of us could come to any kind of conclusion. It left us all quite foxed and confused on this issue. A few days later, I went back to Jamnagar and back to my flying. Slowly the whole thing faded out of my world. Another mystery unsolved, but no big deal, because there were other things to do in life. Flying being one of them.
(to be contd……)
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