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FUTURE PERFECT

Can a picture foretell its own story? Can characters leap out of the picture frame and enact a future scene just like in a fairytale movie? Does a clairvoyant's instinct pick up these tales even before they are enacted? Or does he transport himself back to the future to glimpse a destiny already fulfilled in a co-relationship between time and space we are yet to comprehend?


We heard stories of how the family deity of the Shah Kings, Gorakhnath, appeared in person to King Prithivi Narayan Shah to prepare him for the unification of the many hill principalities of Nepal. Had he consumed in faith the prashad regurgitated by the saint as a test and not spilled it on his feet in disbelief and disgust, Prithivi might have been an emperor. The saint instead blessed him for conquests of lands where his feet touched.

People also talk of this gift lasting for 12 generations. We heard this when we were kids, when the reigning king was Prithivi Narayan Shah's 10th descendant. After the infamous Royal Palace Massacre of 1st June 2001 perpetrated by Crown Prince Dipendra, Dipendra, still in a coma after having shot himself, was declared the king of Nepal just for 2 days until he succumbed to his wounds. The 12th generation had made it, albeit for 2 days only. The monarchy is now no more!

Resunga Maha Prabhu had predicted the rise of Juddha Shumsher J. B. Rana from obscurity to prominence; from a junior Rana in the roll call he had become the Maharajah and prime minister of Nepal after his seniors left the scene one way or another. The ascetic from the mid western hills of Nepal was a clairvoyant and our family was besotted to him after this particular prediction came true.

There are some stories I clearly remember in my own family. There was this photograph I remember hanging on the wall along the large stairway leading to the two reception halls in my father's residence Kiran Bhawan. It was a group photograph with the Rana bigwigs in their finery, bedecked with medals across their chests and with plumed crowns on their heads. It was a photograph of the American delegation led by Loy W. Henderson, U.S. Ambassador to India and Minister to Nepal, taken together with the Rana prime minister Maharajah Padma Shumsher J. B. Rana, the second to last Rana prime minister of Nepal. Along with the foreign dignitaries and the prime minister were the leading Rana notables, the Commander-in-chief and other important post holders. Then there was the 2nd and 3rd row of lesser nobles.

The story goes that during one of the receptions hosted by my father in 1949 or so Shri Prakash Chand Thakur, politician, diplomat and clairvoyant was intent on looking at this particular photograph. Seeing his interest my father tried to explain who were in the photographs and on what occasion it was taken. Abruptly the guest pointed in the photo to the person standing in the 3rd row and exclaimed, "Here is the next Commander-in-chief of the Nepalese army. " The person he was pointing to was my father who had the rank of only a Major General! In the Rana Nepal of 1949 this remark was seditious and I can imagine my father getting alarmed!

The last Rana prime minister Maharajah Mohun Shumsher was ruling Nepal and the democratic winds had started blowing strongly from India after the Indian Independence of 1947. It was a mere 2 years later that Mohun Shumsher stepped down. Indeed as fate would have it my father General Kiran Shumsher J. B. Rana became the Commander-in-chief of a democratic Nepal in 1951. The reputation of Ambassador Thakur for prediction became legendary.

But there is a down side to future prediction too. Maharajah Juddha retired from the prime ministership partly because, people say, Resunga Maha Prabhu predicted his death in 1949, just 2 years after his retirement. This played an important role in his decision-making, as being a religious man, he wanted to live the last years of his life away from active politics. He actually lived 3 more years. My father believed strongly that his own fate was somehow linked to the number 8. Almost obsessively he would repeat that he would die at 48 years of age, and then at 58. As fate would have it, he died on the very day he reached 68, even as the birthday puja was being organized. I could never figure out whose prediction my father believed in so strongly.

It was foretold.

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  1. Another great story. Good to see Dhaka has not diminished your writing.

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