Fate Fairy

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on December 16, 2016


One of my quirks is that I am superstitious. I don’t subscribe to any religions, I don’t worship any gods, I don’t keep any idols in my house or wear any talismans around my neck. But irrational beliefs about influencing the course of reality? Well, I have a few. According to Bins, they are only yet more signs of my rampant, undiagnosed dottiness.

For instance, I don’t like to reveal my dates of travel. This isn’t even a superstition that I grew up with but something I caught from a friend. He’s a well-known Indian writer and he’s been a dear friend for over 40 years. One day, just before he was due to fly off to Europe, I asked him when he was leaving and he said, “Oh ... if you don’t mind ... I don’t like to say.” Why? “Because I’m superstitious.” Wah! That amazed me. He is in every other sense, as much of a faith-free unbeliever as I am. Following his revelation, I added it to my own private list of irrational do’s and don’ts.

So when setting up appointments post-arrival, I’ll say, “I’ll be in Delhi some time next week” or “why don’t we meet after Wednesday?” This discussion, by the way, is not theoretical: I am indeed about to travel and my dates are coming right up. “So now you’re going to share your little secret with the 50 people who read your column?” Bins asks, smirking. He knows that he has a fan-following amongst these 50 readers and so he’s always looking out for opportunities to pose in the spotlight. “Shall I tell them that you carry an umbrella with you whenever you go out — in order to STOP THE RAIN?”

Ah, these heathens! “It’s NOT to stop the rain,” I tell him. “It’s to average out the quantum of inconvenience in the world. Carrying an umbrella is a nuisance. But getting wet in the rain is an even bigger nuisance.

So if I carry an umbrella ... it’s like paying an advance inconvenience tax, isn’t it? Plus, JUST IN CASE IT RAINS, I have an umbrella!” It’s so obvious. I don’t know what there is to discuss.

Bins crosses his eyes and hits himself on the forehead. This is his way of suggesting it’s time to buy a one-way ticket to the asylum.

“What about the one about publishing?” he wants to know. I never show work-in-progress to anyone but my editors. Because I believe it dooms the project. “There’s no inconvenience there!” I look away. “Okay, this one’s hard to explain,” I say. “It’s like wishes, right? Working towards a book is a lot of effort and if it doesn’t get published, then all that time goes to waste. So it’s similar to wishes. Wishes have to be a secret cos... cos...” I can’t go on. It’s embarrassing and ridiculous!

But Bins is sitting in front of me, with his hand cupped around his ear and grinning like a Cheshire cat. So I jump up and scream, “Cos if wishes are spoken out aloud, they get snatched up and eaten by the Fate Fairy!! So there!” And on this irrational note, I begin packing for my trip next week.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

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Published on December 16, 2016
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