My father follows the Sun and the Moon like nobody's business. Reading our horoscopes, interpreting it, theorizing the consequences and offering possible solutions was his hobby and ever since he's retired, it's become a part of his blood stream.
He checks out horoscopes and calendar dates, compares the English dates with the Tamil dates, follows the planet positions and movement of the stars.
When we were in India, he would make us come home for any religious event. On 'No moon' days he would not let me cut my hair, because it won't grow back. It was OK for me to clip it off the next day, because it's the 'growth phase' and I will have thick and luscious growth. My hair's never grown beyond my shoulders, ever since I left college. I've never been patient enough to wait 5 years to let it.
On a few special days, he'd ask me to eat only sour food, on some other days, he'd insist I increase myu sugar consumption. I listened, then, because I had a cook and a maid.I listened because I had a nanny. They did all the work. All I had to do was pass the information on. Some days, Appa would make Amma talk to them directly.
But ever since moving to the U.S., I've asked Appa not to check on my horoscope. I just don't have the time to care. But I can't take his hobby away from him, his passion. So I've told him that he can read it as long as he doesn't tell me what's in there and make me do extra work to appease the celestial bodies. There are two other bodies I need to take care of, and they live with me right here on Earth, in my house.
To his credit, Appa has tried. But he's never been successful. If I tell him, that I have an important appointment, he'll immediately tell me what times to avoid, because of the influence of a particular demonic time eater, Rahu. After my 'request' he now doesn't say what time is auspicious and what's not, he just pauses and sighs.
"What do you want to tell me now?" I end up asking and he happily lays down the most auspicious and enchanting time of the day, even if it is extremely inconvenient and nobody wants to meet at 8:00 PM at night.
But 2014 saw a change in him, and me. I didn't respond to the sighs and he sighed a lot less. I would find out about festivals and events, after they had passed. I may not actually spend a lot of time preparing delicacies for the two beings in my house, but, you know, it's good to know. If I complained to Appa, he'd just say "You told me not to."
This year, I missed the kick-off festival. I missed Pongal today, the harvest festival, thanks to the non-sighing conversation.
So with the festival in the new year, there's a new deal between my father and me - "He can tell me what the occasion is, but he can't tell me what to do, and he cannot sigh."
"But you want to know?" Appa asks.
"Yes. I want D to know about our festivals."
"But you won't make all the 'necessary' dishes?"
"I don't want to exert myself too much, when I can make do with a curry and some rice."
"OK. Your wish." He sighs. "Happy Pongal. Tomorrow is Kanu. There's a lot of stuff that you.... don't have to do."
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