Tag Archives: Malgudi Days

Creative World

“Though his beat covered Vinayak Mudali Street and its four parallel roads, it took him nearly six hours before he finished his round and returned to the head office in Market Road to deliver accounts.” (page 14)

This is the beginning line of The Missing Mail and it leaves the reader wondering who “he” is. This quote also describes Malgudi and what it looks like. As the story goes on the reader figures out why Thanappa (he) does not deliver the mail.

Notes: mystery as to who “he” is, Malgudi landscaping, celebrations are the cause of the letter not reaching the house.

The axe and the tree – Short story genre and Modernism

The dull noise of a blade meeting a tough surface reached his ears. He got up and rushed out. He saw four men hacking the massive trunk of the old margosa tree. He let out a scream: ‘Stop that!’ He took his staff and rushed at those who were hacking. They easily avoided the blow he aimed. ‘What is the matter?’ they asked.
Velan wept. ‘This is my child. I planted it. I saw it grow. I loved it. don’t cut it down…’
‘But it is the company’s orders. What can we do? We shall be dismissed if we don’t obey, and someone else will do it.’
Velan stood thinking for a while and said, ‘Will you at least do me this good turn? Give me a little time. I will bundle up my clothes and go away. After I am gone do what you like.’ They laid down their axes and waited.
Presently Velan came out of his hut with a bundle on his head. He looked at the tree-cutters and said, ‘You are very kind to an old man. You are very kind to wait.’ He looked at the margosa and wiped his eyes. ‘Brothers, don’t start cutting till I am really gone far, far away.’
The tree-cutters squatted on the ground and watched the old man go. Nearly half an hour later, his voice came from a distance, half-indistinctly: ‘Don’t cut yet. I am still within hearing. Please wait till I am gone farther.’ (107)

The axe, in R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days, Penguin Classics Edition, 2006

Notes: The short story genre is a very fascinating exercise in style. The author manages to set a solid relationship between the reader and the character(s) of the story, within a few pages only. It is interesting to consider this genre in a modernist perspective, as an experimentation and a break of conventions, but still a rigorous practice in its formal effects and its use of epiphany.

Out of Business

“For the next few days his head was free from family cares. He was intensely thinking of his answers: whether it should be tallow or follow…Week after week he invested a little money and sent down his solutions, and every week he awaited the results with a palpitating heart…He was too impatient to wait…” (167)

Notes: pacing, entire story told so succinctly & simply; a lot of little plot happens, nothing significant though, this adds to the fast-paced feel; language, spanning days & weeks, spending money, “awaited,” “impatient” suggests strange anticipated feeling quickening pace and waiting; strange mixture of hope/disappointment, disillusionment

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Swami and Samuel

“Swami went to his seat with a bleeding heart. He had never met a man so good as Samuel.”

“He is very violent, especially with boys who come late. Some days ago a boy was made to stay on his knees for a whole period in the corner of the class because he came late, and that after getting six cuts from the cane and having his ears twisted. I wouldn’t like to go late to Samuel’s class.”

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Notes: I was wondering if these stories that Swami tells about Samuel are fabrications to get him out of school. I think they are. Even when Samuel eventually canes Swami, he does it reluctantly, it seems like. 

 

 

Appearances in Malgudi Days

“His forehead was resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion, and his eyes sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam which was really an outcome of a continual searching look for customers, but which his simple clients took to be a prophetic light and felt comforted. The power of his eyes was considerably enhanced by their position–placed as they were between the painted forehead and the dark whiskers which streamed down his cheeks; even a half-wit’s eyes would sparkle in such a setting. To crown the effect he wound a saffron-coloured turban around his head. This colour scheme never failed. People were attracted to him as bees are attracted to cosmos or dahlia stalks”  — An Astrologer’s Day, 1

Notes: abnormality as comforting?, misconceptions, appearances, attraction to the unknown, mysticism, artificiality.

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Oh the Irony…

“[Swami] asked the peon, ‘Where is the headmaster?’ ‘Why do you want him?’ ‘My father has sent a letter for him.’ ‘He has taken the afternoon off and won’t come back for a week. You can give the letter to the assistant headmaster. He will be here now.’ ‘Who is he?’ ‘Your  teacher, Samuel. He will be here in a second.’ Swaminathan fled from the place” (72).

Narayan, R. K. (1941). Malgudi days. (p. 72). New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Notes: The ending of this short story really peaked my interest because it was a surprise and ironic ending.  I was certainly not expecting for the assistant headmaster to be Samuel, and being surprised really can peak a reader’s interest. After this point, I expected to be surprised in the other readings and found myself trying to solve this puzzle of sorts before I finished reading each short story.

Out of Business

“His heart quailed as he opened the page announcing the prize-winners. Someone in Baluchistan, someone in Dacca, and someone in Ceyol had hit upon the right set of words; not Rama Rao. It took three hours for Rama Rao to recover from this shock. The only way to exist seemed to be to plunge into the next week’s puzzle; that would keep him buoyed up with hope for a few days more.”

Notes: I found this quote amusing yet slightly saddening at the same time. Rama places so much of his time and effort into the crossword puzzle in hopes of winning some money for his family. His reaction to finding out he is not a winner is almost comical.

 

In Light of Finals Week

“He was soon out of Ellaman Street. His feet ploughed through the sands of the riverbank. He came to the river steps, removed his coat briskly and went down the steps. ‘Oh God,’ he muttered with folded hands, looking up at his stars. ‘If I can’t pass an examination even with a tenth attempt, what is the use of my living and disgracing the world?'” (57).

Narayan, R.K.Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.
Notes: This passage right here reminded me of how finals week has just about descended on us. And how we all at one point or another, regardless of whether we’re religious or not, turn our heads up and ask some higher power for all the help we can get. But Iswaran isn’t exactly asking for help, but rather to be smited out of disgrace.  And the ending turns out a bit ironic, because his prayers are somewhat answered. Yes he passes,  which was the basic idea of why he was calling out to God in the first place, and then he literally passes away. But because he didn’t straight out say, “Oh God please help me”, it seems as though whoever answered his prayer took what he said literally. The entire story was interesting because of the miscommunication for help, and of the exact wording Iswaran chose.

Attila

“He hung his heavy tail down so loosely and looked so miserable that the burglar stroked his head, at which he revived. The burglar opened the gate and went out, and the dog followed him. Attila’s greatest ambition in life was to wander in the streets freely. Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.

Attila liked his new friend so much that he wouldn’t leave him alone for a moment. He lay before Ranga when he sat down to eat, sat on the edge of the of his mat when he slept in his hut, waited patiently on the edge of the pond when Ranga went there now and then for a wash, slept on the roadside when Ranga was at work” (Narayan 100).

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Notes: This passage is intriguing since the focal point is a dog. The dog Attila was constantly personified such as when he was described as having an ambition “to wander in the streets freely.” The author also utilizes free indirect discourse to place readers inside the dog’s head when the passage reads, “Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.” One of the ironies within the short story was the dog’s purpose was  supposed to protect the house from intruders, and he not only allows the burglar in but gets attached to him.