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Others Guest Column Newsmanic: I was supposed to die three days ago, so were you!

Guest Column Newsmanic: I was supposed to die three days ago, so were you!

Author | BV Rao | Friday, Jul 10,2009 8:17 AM

Guest Column Newsmanic: I was supposed to die three days ago, so were you!

If you are reading this you have already lived three days more than mandated by IBN7 and some unnamed expert astrologers. We were all marked for death on July 7. I can’t ask you to celebrate because there is more danger coming. July 22, August 6 and then… Apocalypse!

My remote stopped on an IBN7’s promo for a special half-hour show on the infrequent celestial phenomenon of three eclipses in the space of a month/year: “Apocalypse! Three eclipses in a year spell doom/Indications of upheaval in country/Witness the earth’s destruction”. Sarvnaash!/Saal me 3 grahan padne par hoga vinash/Desh mein badh sakta hain uthal-puthal/Dekhna hoga pruthvi ka vinaash!”

Rivetting stuff. I sat down to watch the show with trepidation. Of course, I could have used the remote, but if I were to die anyway I might as well die being stiff scared, that way I would be half-way there and death would be easier to deal with when it came by.

The show lived up to the promise of the promo. It was titled “Mahavinaash! Mahavinaash!”

If the threat perception had gone up from vinaash to mahavinaash in such a short while, I told myself, these guys are doing great service to the country. The deadly warnings kept coming with ferocious regularity: “Huge outcry!Doom and drought/Crops in danger/Epidemic of diseases/Severe energy crunch/Disasters one after another/Breach in coastal security/Dark shadows of terror on India.” (Hahakaar!/Tabaahi aur sookha/Phaslon par sankat/Bimariyon ka hamla/Urja ke strotoh me kami/Ek ke baad ek haadse/Samudra taton ki suraksha mein sendh/Desh par aatankwad ka saaya.)

Even during the ad break, the warnings did not cease. “Three mantras for destruction of mankind/Three indicators of doom/Now showing, Sarvanaash!” (Insaan ke tabaahi ke teen mantra/Tabaahi ke teen sanket/Jaari hain, Sarvanash!)

I wouldn’t have cared if this was some astrology mumbo-jumbo. But these guys were giving me scientific proof. There was this professor and his wife from Chennai, who had done painstaking research for three years to come the conclusion that three eclipses in such quick succession meant disaster. For example, thousands of mythological years ago, Mahabharat happened and the divine city of Dwarka was swallowed up by the sea. In recent history World War I, World War II, the Jewish holocaust and nuke bombing of Japan happened. They all killed millions and they had one thing in common. They all followed eclipses.

But the anchor was a tough nut, not given to propagating myth, hearsay and superstitions, she veered the discussion towards hard scientific evidence: “But scientifically speaking, could this just be a coincidence,” she asked. “But so many examples can’t just be coincidences? In science there is something called empirical evidence, this is empirical evidence,” said the good professor.

The anchor also took care to see we do not misunderstand the channel’s intent. “Let me tell you, it is not our intention to spread fear. We are just turning a page in history to understand, to analyse…” I was shattered. How cheap, some people can actually doubt the channel’s intentions! Why would that sweet little girl lie on national TV? Is there no honour in public service anymore? What’s going on this world?

Thankfully, the anchor recovered faster than me and continued with her selfless service.

“We can see a mixed pattern of scientific evidence and myth. So, what happens scientifically when eclipses occur? Do waves rise? Is there some effect on the Earth that gives rise to such natural calamities,” she probed further. The good professor talked about how a full moon impacts the tides on the sea, etc., So, of course, eclipses would have an impact.

Wars are natural calamities? Hmm… that was a bit hard to digest, but when the channel was trying so hard, I felt it was my duty to stretch the imagination a bit. “You see,” I told myself, “if you look at enmity between nations as a natural phenomenon, then by “natural” extension World War I and II, the Holocaust and Hiroshima-Nagasaki all become “natural” calamities.”

I impressed myself with that and satisfied whatever little spirit of scientific enquiry I had left in me. I was now willing to believe anything she said. This for example: “The troika of eclipses is important for India because we are already feeling the heat of the upheavals in our neighbourhood. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tibet are facing economic and political upheavals. In this climate, three eclipses coming one after the other is a bad omen.”

Heavens! From mythology and history, we were in the present, the immediate now. The danger is present and clear, just across the borders?

You don’t get it, do you? It’s no longer across the borders. It’s right here. Listen to this: “In astrology, it is said that the evil spirits (preth aatma) are in slumber in the depths of the ocean. When an eclipse occurs, they wake up, can’t stand the tranquility all around and launch into a death dance (tandav). Astrologers say that if you denote these evil spirits as terrorism, their impact has already been felt on India’s seas – on 26/11 the terrorists already did their death dance on the high seas – so we need to improve our coastal security. The planets are now drawing our attention to the situation when Mahabharat happened. Mahabharat was a bitter war between brothers…so three eclipses one after the other could indicate India and Pakistan are headed for war.”

So it was clear, it was unequivocal, the evil spirits were coming for me (and for you, too, silly). I was about to take the last gasp and drop dead, but the anchor wrapped up the show with some hope and a warning: “We hope this is not an indication of Mahavinaash, but if there is some scientific evidence we cannot ignore that either… Thanks all of you… we will return with the headlines after a small break…”

As cool as that? Lady, you just read out my death warrant. And you want me to come back for the headlines? Chuck the headlines, take your time, I don’t mind if your break lasts an entire day.

As for me, I called my lawyer and dictated the Will just in case the family survives: house for the wife, laptop for the daughter and my last 12 media columns for the son. Then I waited for July 7, my first date with death. It didn’t come. (The son must be happy, his inheritance just went up by one more column!) But I won’t smile too much. That little girl wouldn’t lie to me. I believe her. July 22 and August 6 are not far off.

Just you wait!

(Venkat, as the author is called, assures you that he is not hallucinating, that all this was actually aired on the channel. That he is aware other channels might have done similarly instructive and scientific shows, it is his misfortune that he missed them. That he was told about Zee News’ show on the same topic, titled “Nothing to fear”, and so says to ex-colleagues at Zee: “Have you lost your mind? I’m going to die and there’s nothing to fear?”)

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