By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
In my last two articles, I had talked of how I once posed as a palmist while on a train journey with my friends and impressed people, albeit briefly. After reading the first part of my article, many readers who thought that I must really be a capable palm reader, started contacting me and asking me if I could be kind enough to read their palms and minds. To every one of them I replied that they would certainly change their minds after reading the second part of my article although they would certainly not be able to change their palms after I had read them!
But even to pose as a capable palmist or fortune-teller and be able to impress people, one has to first acquire the fine nuances of the art that are so integrally intertwined into it. According to me, this is the more essential part of the art which most people in the trade cultivate and acquire, well before setting off to make an impact on the minds of people which enables them to make a living from it. Without this very essential charm they can only end up being completely charmless!
There was a time many years ago, when I had much spare time to read up about this art in which I had absolutely no faith then, just as I do not have now and become quite proficient in it, after peppering it with a little gift of the gab! At small gatherings of friends and relatives, I used to sound pretty impressive and convincing when I used to analyse their personalities on popular demand, just as I impressed my audience and astounded the nun on the train journey I’ve written about. I was able to do this with greater ease and greater impact because I used to flaunt my skills not only in the field of palmistry but also at handwriting analysis both of which deal with having a clairvoyant insight into the minds and hearts of people.
Talking of skills, in the art of fortune telling, one has to be able to support at least some of his or her revelations on the basis of some fundamental tenets of the art which will invariably be known to someone or the other in the audience as being true. So if you are showing off as a palmist you have to know the bare minimum basics of what the most prominent lines and different humps and bumps on the palm stand for. Once armed with this knowledge, you can give any twist or turn to what the smaller and fainter lines mean or do not mean and yet sound like a professor of the art! And, if you are dabbling in astrology and plan to take your audience on a fake trip across the largely uncharted universe, you should at least know which of the planets and stars stand for good and bad. If you end up saying Rahu and Ketu are doing to them what they should not be doing according to their traditional roles, you are bound to expose yourself as being a complete charlatan and thus be at the grave risk of being shunned and shown the door!
Now if you are wondering how I acquired these skills sufficiently enough to impress people, I would like to tell you that I started cultivating them at a very early stage of my childhood. My first inspiration came from my great fascination for the many itinerant fortune tellers that I used to see plying their trade quite briskly on the pavement in front of K.R. Hospital and Cauvery Emporium on Sayyaji Rao Road. The main element of attraction for me there was the way their pet parrots used to walk three times around the pile of grimy cards before smartly picking up the exact one holding the clue to your destiny! And, having done their job, every one of these parrots, like very obedient school children, would walk back into their cages to be promptly rewarded by a few grains of rice or millet by their owners.
The most surprising thing for me then was why none of these wise parrots thought it wiser to just fly off from such a boring bondage and join the thousands of their footloose and fancy-free cousins roosting and raising a deafening cacophony on the tree branches just overhead. The mystery of their strange loyalty and servitude to their miserly masters was solved when I found out as I grew up, that their wing feathers were most cruelly clipped from time to time to prevent them from flying off from their life-long bondage and imprisonment.
After the parrot had done its job and although it made no sense to my comprehension then, I would nevertheless be impressed by the confident and scholarly way in which the unlettered owner of the parrot would pretend to read out what the cards foretold to the squatting client, who listen intently with an anxious countenance. Whether the clients gained anything from the revelation of their past or the prediction of their future mattered not in the least to the gains of the fortune-teller because they would all have paid his fee well in advance for consultation. And this fee, after being most reverentially waved three times around the picture of a deity, would have been pocketed safely by the fortune-teller, well before summoning his bird for its duty, thus putting him at the least financial risk!
Humour aside, very sadly, over the many years I have watched them, I have never seen the slightest change in the fortunes of any of the fortune-tellers themselves, who have been consigned by cruel fate to a hard and harsh life of abject poverty on the hard and dusty pavement! Years later, as a College student, I learnt that those trees on Sayyaji Rao Road, which are now fast disappearing along with their cacophonic guests, and the fortune-tellers too whom they have sheltered from the sun over so many years, were called Saptaparni or Scholar Trees (Alstonia scholaris) of the Apocynaceae family. Incidentally, I associate them with our Dasara because these trees will begin to flower next month and if you wish, you can visit the place to imbibe the strong sweet smell of their clustered, greenish-white flowers that will stay on till the end of December. And, while you are there, you can also listen to the rather harsh music of birds free of cost, while of course watching out for their not-so-nice smelling droppings which too come free of cost and are even considered a lucky occurrence by many people, both lettered and unlettered!
The second reason for my interest in the art of fortune-telling also had its origin from my childhood because of two books which used to stand next to each other in my father’s book cupboard. They were Cheiro’s Secrets of the Hand and Fortune-telling for Fun and Popularity by Paul Showers. The second one is a real treat because it tells you how you can impress people with your seemingly occult powers by touching upon some traits and quirks which unknown to most people, are present in every one of us!
Even as a child, I used to read them with great fascination and delight, although my dad would repeatedly warn me that they should be read only for fun and not with any idea of profiting from them! I still have those two books with me along with a few others on handwriting analysis, which I have acquired later out of my interest in exploring that fascinating subject too. And, although I am myself amazed even to this day, by what I have gleaned from them, many people approach me to analyse their own handwriting and sometimes the handwriting of people they want to hire for a job they have. Most surprisingly, a few others even ask me to analyse the handwriting of someone they are considering for a matrimonial alliance! Thankfully, perhaps because they have all remained happily married, my skills too have stood the test of time and remained in demand over a pretty long time!