Short Story | ‘The Muhurtham’ by Rudy Ravindra, Illustration by Alankrita Jain

Illustration for 'The Muhurtham' by Alankrita Jain

Nagesh Kumar had diabetes ever since he was a little boy, and his parents did their best to deal with a difficult situation. In spite of this problem, Nagesh turned out to be a good-looking fellow, albeit a little frail, with a head full of dark curly hair. He was by no means a ruggedly handsome six footer and broad shouldered. He was what some girls called cute. When he heard that a hot babe in his college called him cute, he was devastated, and assumed he had no chance with that beautiful damsel. In his book cute applied to babies, puppies, kitty cats, not to a debonair and dashing guy like himself.

He did reasonably well in his studies and got an engineering degree from a mediocre college. Unlike some of his cousins, he was definitely not in the top one percent of his university, and hence had no chance in hell of getting into one of those elite engineering colleges built at the command of the first Prime Minister of India. However, as was (and still is) the case in India, it was all about who you knew; his father’s contacts in the higher echelons of the Karnataka State government helped Nagesh find cushy a job.

In addition to his knowledge of chips, bytes, and mother boards, Nagesh acquired a smattering knowledge of Sanskrit and astrology and palmistry. He was prone to recite Sanskrit slokas at the drop of a hat, talked about Jupiter and Saturn and planetary positions with regard to this or that. This earned him a sobriquet—Nag Baba. People in India called all those self-proclaimed religious and mystic leaders ‘Baba’—Satya Sai Baba, Meher Baba etc. Some of these ‘God’s men’ had millions of followers, including powerful politicians, film stars, cricketers, to name a few. But in Nag Baba’s case, it was just the immediate family and friends who indulged his idiosyncrasy. Before he undertook any task, however trivial, Nag Baba referred to his little book of planets and their position with respect to the sun and the moon; to determine the best muhurtham (an auspicious time) to begin a particular task. His friends made fun of him, “Who cares about an auspicious time to go to Brigade Road to have few drinks?”

When it came to his marriage, his parents had a tough time, as most of their acquaintances and relatives in and around Bangalore were aware of his diabetes, and no one wanted their daughter to be saddled with a diabetic. So, his parents cast their net a little wider and sent feelers to people in Northern Karnataka where Nag Baba’s health was not public knowledge. After screening many girls, Nag Baba and his parents settled for a nice, doe-eyed girl, Padma. Neither the bride nor her parents were informed about the groom’s diabetes and his frequent episodes of hypoglycemia.

Anyway, on their honeymoon, the cat got out of the bag. It was a big night for Nag Baba and Padma as they were looking forward to consummating their marriage in the opulent honeymoon suite at a five star hotel in Ooty, situated close to the beautiful lake, where so many Bollywood movies were shot. Just when Nag Baba was getting into the swing of things, having successfully gained entry into, you know what, he started sweating and shivering, and became clammy. The clueless Padma thought he was in the throes of his very first orgasm, whereas, in realty, he was in his umpteenth hypoglycemic episode. Perhaps Nag Baba, in his hurry, forgot to consult his little book to determine the muhurtham to begin his mission.

Illustration by: Alankrita Jain

Rudy Ravindra attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Summer 2012). His fiction has been published in Yellow Mama and The Story Shack. His work has been accepted for publication in Enhance, Southern Cross Review and Bewildering Stories. He lives with his wife in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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  • http://garyives.wordpress.com garyives

    Well crafted tale. What a climax! Loved the art work too.

  • g3srini

    A nice juxtaposition of the old customs vis a vis the modern life in the Indian context.

  • Laxmi Narayan

    Simple story well told, depicting the all pervasive hypocrisy in our society