This stone will change your fate!

by Towheed Feroze

010A few years back, I came across an astrologer who, after inspecting my hand with a grave face, declared: take a stone. This means, you need to buy a gemstone (Ruby, sapphire, Topaz, Emerald) and wear it to ward off the malicious influence of inauspicious cosmic forces.
At least that is what the gem peddlers say as a standard line of trade.
The man suggesting that I wear stones had all variety of rings on his ten fingers. The stone man, he came to be known in my area.
In fact, his main duty was to attract people with his smooth talk and then make them buy a stone. One curious person asked me once: accha boss, does he take them off during sex; I mean people will get hurt with all the extra rings and stuff.
Maybe one day I will ask him…
There are plenty of such stone-selling astrologers around the country. Some have plush offices to given an impression of success whereas others, who can’t afford to be ostentatious, decide to take the opposite route.
They hang out in dark alleys – let’s say, the third alley by Star Cinema hall in Wiseghat of Old Dhaka. This category of people exploits the much publicised/perpetuated enigma of the old portion of Dhaka to create a mystical aura.
Just imagine, a damp alley, a small room lighted by an old lantern, filled with heady incense and, on one corner, a man with a sedate look is seated in meditation.
One would be pardoned for taking the whole atmosphere as mysterious.
Once, I found myself in such a surrounding. The guru looked at us, gave a smile and told us to come back on Friday at one minute past three.
It must be exactly one minute past three, otherwise we could forget it. Another trick to impose a pressure on the gullible who would possibly think that the mentioned time is auspicious.
I did not argue since the main objective was to talk to this man and learn about his operation. As a matter of fact, I had come across such sham astro-healers in the past.
Long ago, in the early nineties, one of my uncles, a self-declared bachelor with an insatiable appetite for the opposite sex, faced some hurdles in his performance in the boudoir. So, we ended up in front of a tantric, a so-called veteran astrologer, who publicised his expertise by telling people that he had learnt his craft in the dark caves of Kamrup Kamakkhya.
My uncle’s request was simple: give me potion or some talisman which will give me the vigour of a twenty-five year old, or to be precise, the stamina of a porn star. Koi baat nehi, the astrologer roared, ‘I shall invoke spirits from the underworld and take the formula of a magic concoction from them.’
We were persuaded that the other side is filled with experts who can easily help people in this side with their sagging libido. A whole night has to be spent at the crematorium, he added and since it was winter, a bottle of whisky would be most helpful.
Would the helping spirits also join? After all, good old scotch can do wonders!
Anyway, after a bottle of Teacher’s was supplied, we waited just outside the crematorium. Soon, a group of shady people walked towards an area where the supposed parley with the dead was to be carried out. One of them carried cucumbers, carrots and bottles of vinegar.
Early in the morning, the half-drunk astrologer came and handed my uncle a small vial and a red stone. ‘Tie the stone around the waist and take a drop from the vial, mix it with water and drink it,’ he ordered.
And then….he took a pause and said for dramatic effect: prepare yourself for hundreds of sleepless nights of bliss!
No, uncle did not impress the producer of ‘Debbie does Dallas’! Instead, he became ill!
The stone later on turned out to be fake and the liquid in the vial was spurious local hooch or Bangla spirit.
Not so long ago, someone called Dewan was handing out astro counselling and selling stones at one of the largest shopping malls in the city. In one of his adverts, well known media personalities were seen vouching for his supernatural power plus the efficacy of the stones sold at his shop.
One such actor, now deceased, says: My life turned back to normal, the wife who left me came back and is now addicted to me just because of the power of the stone….
Another said: after taking the stone, producers who neglected me began flocking around me like bees to honey.
Then one day, the stone seller went into hiding. His shipment of stones allegedly had Yaba tablets!
To end, I must say, once someone tricked me into wearing a red stone. Soon, I heard a lot of people were referring to me as the baldie with the red stone.
It didn’t sound nice at all. Took off the stone and allowed rationality to rule.
Anyway, at one minute past three when we walked into the dingy room we found a lot of activity. The men in uniform had our astrologer in chains.
Apparently, as a method of curing an epileptic patient, he demanded to sleep naked with the mother of the victim for one whole night ending the nocturnal activity by showering with pure goat’s milk.
The husband was not amused!
By the way, how did I come to know of this man? Kaliji, my football buddy took me to him.
Yes, from Wise ghat we came back a little wiser…