Column: Soldier of fortune
An earthen jar placed upside down resounded with 88 knocks when lawyer-turned-politician Ram Jethmalani asked the crucial question of how long he will live: ?If I take that as gospel truth then I have eight more years to go,? recalls the octogenarian Jethmalani.india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:12 IST
An earthen jar placed upside down resounded with 88 knocks when lawyer-turned-politician Ram Jethmalani asked the crucial question of how long he will live: “If I take that as gospel truth then I have eight more years to go,” recalls the octogenarian Jethmalani. Rewinding to the days when his father had packed him off to the Brahmacharya ashram on the banks of the Indus, Jethmalani spent evenings in the company of his teacher who could summon spirits in a dark room. “He would place a jar upside down and pose questions to the jar which would begin dancing on the table indicating an answer. The 88 knocks to my question on age haunt me to this day,” says Ram.
With that began his relationship with occult and astrology. It was not a one-off thing but something Ram took very seriously. Even in pre-Partition days, he tracked down an astrology institute in South India and paid Rs 10 to get what was then called ‘life readings’. Later, he started casting horoscopes himself, something he continues to do with fairly accurate results. As for looking into his own future, he relies on the ‘88 knocks-on-the-pot’ prediction, while telling you that he has an ‘exalted Mercury in the ninth house’ of his horoscope and ‘Jupiter and Moon in the tenth house’. “This combination is called ‘Gajkesari’ symbolising the elephant and the lion, both very powerful. The two together can accomplish anything,” Ram says reiterating that he has a “brilliant horoscope”.
Ask him about the rings he wears in three of his five fingers and he answers unabashedly: “The emerald signifies success and prosperity; the blue sapphire is to give power and the diamond represents Venus, the planet of love and passion.” Of these, his diamond ring has remained on his finger the longest: “That explains my being a ladies’ man.”
That he met his ‘black fairy’ much before the diamond is another matter. Unlike the many women he charmed at the badminton courts, Ram wooed Ratna, his wife-to-be, in the court of law. It was because of her black robes that she was named ‘black fairy’. The marriage was kept secret for four years and when the news came out, all hell broke loose. Despite being Shikarpur ruler Jyetho’s great- grandson, Ram was not accepted as he could not boast of the ‘bada sahib’ lineage of the Sindhi Amils. He also survived a hostile Mumbai that believed that between a snake and a Sindhi, ‘it was wiser to kill a Sindhi’. Also etched in memory is the trauma of living in refugee camps and the spate of suicides in the Carvelho guesthouse: “I think most people there died of hunger. In the name of three meals, we got wafer thin bread and a morsel of meat,” he recalls.
Ram dreads physical infirmity and pain. Mortally scared of languishing in a hospital bed, he would “choose to die while playing badminton”.