I am talking about the fortune tellers.
I remember one incident very vividly. I was about ten years old when my paternal grandfather passed away. We were at our hometown and most of it was blur, except for this 13th day function. A lady got down at our gate that afternoon and called on to my aunt. She wore a bright red colored cotton saree and a big bright spot of red kumkum was on her forehead. She had a wand in her hand and her lips were red from the betel leaves that she was chewing. She was made to sit down on a mat and infront of her the ladies of the house took turns to sit. She first read my aunt’s palm with her wand (which supposedly has magical powers) and told everything about the deceased – including his name, age, children and atlast how he lived his life. My aunt then asked her if he wishes anything to be done for him, to which the reply was none. Next my mom took her seat and the lady could tell who my mom was along with the other stuff. She took a sing-song tone most of the time and her language was hard to decipher. At the end of the session, she kind of fainted. When she got up to a big glass of water, she didn’t remember anything that she told us. She went back in a rickshaw with a big bag of rice and some money. This is the first time I heard of “Sodhi”.
For some reason, the ten year old me found all of this pretty scary. People around me were talking as if she is the missing link between my dead grandfather and us. When she answered the questions on behalf of him, I remember wondering if the ghost of my grandfather is around somewhere. He was not a very friendly person towards us kids and that became all the more reason for my fear.
Of all my encounters of “Sodhamma” (soothsayer), it was mostly at the houses where there had been a recent death. My aunt told me that its just not betel leaves that they chew, but some medicinal herbs that give them the power to predict stuff. And their wand guides them to the right person, with whom we wish to communicate (alive or dead). It was not that scary once I was a little grown-up and understand how their scheme worked. For sure, most people would like to know the thoughts of their beloved even after they have left us. And that is the right opportunity for Sodhamma. It was more of an entertainment than anything else for me once I understood this.
When we were in Dakshin Chitra couple of months back, we saw a similar soothsayer. Amma immediately wanted to know what was in store for her. I reprimanded her saying, its complete non-sense and a waste of time. Amma agreed and we left it there. On the way back home, we stopped at Mahabalipuram beach. While all of us went closer towards the waves, the parents decided to relax at the shore.
When we came back, what do we see? Amma showing her hand to a fortune teller. Sigh. Nevertheless, it was interesting to learn about her predictions. She was told her children love her very much. And that not all of them can show it in the similar way. One scolds you, but loves you deeply. *Amma immediately thought of me?!!!* You will have grandchildren around you, but none of them will be yours. *Even amma couldn’t decipher this* Your parents are in a happy place. You will live long years only that you need to eat properly, you are weak from inside *Now who cannot say this seeing my amma?!*
The highlight was the closing dialogue – “ Un marumagala kuda vara sollu ma, kuri pathu solren” (Ask your daughter-in-law also to show her hand, I will tell her fortune). At this, we all broke into a big laugh 😀 😀 What fortune does this lady have on fortune-telling, I don’t understand.