“We are a flawed, weak species, he gently reminds us in these pages, focusing his attention, clearly and without sentiment, on those who will stoop low, those who will stop at nothing. What makes us care for such frequently pathetic characters is that they, like most of the rest of us, are strivers, driven by hopes for a slightly better life.”
― R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days
The former excerpt is a tiny quote from the famous book Malgudi Days written by the prominent author Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, popularly known as R.K. Narayan. It consists of thirty-two beautifully and yet simply written stories. The amazing thing about the book is that the stories are not out of the world but the author has carefully picked the characters from our surroundings itself. R.K. Narayan has created a fictional town named Malgudi which is situated on the banks of river Sarayu. All the stories are based in Malgudi and bring out the essence of simple Indian life.
The stories do not contain any specific plot but they rather proceed themselves just like a normal person would pass his day. The author uses rich language and describes the surroundings in such a manner that the reader starts feeling to be a native of Malgudi.
One of the stories many of us would have read (since it was prescribed in ICSC’s English Literature syllabus) is “Astrologer’s Day.” The story describes the daily life of an astrologer who has not formally gained any knowledge but still practices astrology for sustenance. The author gives a comely description as of how the astrologer applies vermilion on his forehead and how the place where he sits offers an environment that attracts people towards him. Even though the astrologer had no mastery over the subject, still his experience had taught him so much that within five minutes the astrologer could make the predictions. As quoted from the story-
“He had a working analysis of mankind’s troubles;
marriage, money, and the tangles of human ties.”
As the story proceeds towards the end, we see that all the vendors around the astrologer are wrapping up and leaving but just as the astrologer too decides to do so, he senses a client. They argue for money but then there is a twist in the plot. The astrologer turns out to actually know the client personally. He was the same person whom the astrologer had tried to kill when he was young. Astrologer got frightened but then he ends up earning twelve and a half annas from this person and also felt relieved as all these years he used to think of himself as a murderer.
Such is the beauty of R.K. Narayan’s stories. They are simple but still, they carry within them a spark which urges the reader to read more. Many of us have watched the Malgudi Days television series based on R.K. Narayan’s book and as children, all of us have loved it. Obviously, the involve more fiction and undoubtedly they are good.
R.K. Narayan has definitely created a masterpiece for not only children but adults as well.