Fortune Teller's Prophecy book cover

From Chaos to Calling

Author: Lally Pia

As a child, a Sri Lankan priest foretold that Lally would be “a doctor of doctors.” The prophecy was a troublesome one, half burden and half embarrassment. Add to this the stress of being the oldest child, the one with the dubious honor of being the first to set an example, to make something of herself, to follow the rules of culture and the rules for a woman. From the beginning of The Fortune Teller’s Prophecy, Lally’s path hardly seemed star studded. If anything, her destiny appeared to be one of frustration and bad fortune.

It all starts with a military coup in Ghana, which shuts down Lally’s medical school just as she is almost finished with her degree. Then there is a snafu with her American Green Card, an unexpected stay in Wales, a falling out with friends, a bad marriage, motherhood, a stint on welfare, a job dismembering bodies, and more. Things go from bad to worse and a young Lally is faced with her own destiny. Perhaps she wasn’t meant to be a “doctor of doctors.” Perhaps she wasn’t even meant to be happy.

The Fortune Teller’s Prophecy is at times uplifting, beautiful, empowering, and heartbreaking. This is a memoir that runs the full gauntlet and hides nothing. Lally shares both her good and bad (very bad!) decisions with us. She experiences love and betrayal, an abusive relationship that erodes her sense of self and self-esteem, motherhood, and a desire for a career. Through it all, she faces the stigma of breaking with tradition versus the desire for survival. Lally is taken very low sometimes, but she never gives up, and even in the darkest moments, there are glimmers of beauty. Lally’s soul is strong, and the young girl who found herself in a broken country alone, traveled to Wales alone, and finally found her way to America and to her destiny, manages to see glimmers of transcendent beauty and find a way, each time, to land. It’s not always a good landing, not always a soft landing, and once you meet Lally’s usurious older husband, prepare to be at turns enraged and at other turns broken hearted.

Image by Abhijeet Pratap from Pixabay

The Fortune Teller’s Prophecy is a poignant book that talks about some heavy topics, including spousal abuse, abortion, and Lally’s journey into psychiatry; just as Lally has freely shared the private, painful moments of her life, she doesn’t filter her good and bad experiences as a doctor. Some of her patients do well, and others we are left to wonder and worry over. To see her find her calling and embrace it while building her family, settling in a new place, and finally crying in her new Lexus at the end is a gut-wrenching journey. We’re at turns empowered and exhausted by the sheer trauma of this long-way-around journey studded with moments of grief, depression, and unlikely opportunities.

Lally is the kind of person we all want to befriend. It’s hard to say goodbye at the end of this journey. Few people are so open, so honest, so willing to share their pains and joys. By the end, we feel like we have grown alongside Lally. Her memoir is impactful and hopeful, but also brutally honest and completely relatable. Through her eyes, we also learn things about our world, about giving and taking, about needing and helping, about love and survival, about settling and about destiny. Unforgettable. Highly recommended.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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