R.K.Narayan (Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer) 10th October 1906-13th May 2001
Notable Works – Malgudi days, Swami and friends, The Guide, Under the banyan tree and other stories, Vendor of sweets, Financial Expert, Waiting for the Mahatma etc
The only thing that reminds people of R.K.Narayan is the 80’s television show – Malgudi days directed by actor Shankar Nag. People loved the illustrations that appeared in the opening credits. These illustrations were sketched by none other than R.K.Laxman, the other genius in world of cartoons and journalism. As a child, I only recollect the episodes of Swami and friends penned by R.K.Narayan. Swami was my favorite ones as I could identify with him as a kid who was scared to go school and loved to play and enjoy every moment of his boyhood. The legacy of R.K.Narayan is not just limited to the television adaptation of his books – Malgudi days and Swami and friends. He was a genius, a simpleton at heart and the simplicity always reflected in his short stories and full length novels.
I have read the full collection of short stories – Malgudi days written by R.K.Narayan and every short story in the book is close to reality. The hero of his short stories are the common masses we see in our day to day life – an office clerk, a teacher, student, mother, astrologer, pick pocket, servant, labour, merchant and shopkeeper. Through his short stories, he highlighted the heart breaking struggle of a common person, striving to make his best fortune in his life or adjusting himself to the rigorous situations of life. Especially the short story ‘Forty five a month’ in his book – Malgudi days is a clear representation of common man’s helplessness to choose between his job and his family. There are several stories in R.K. Narayan’s book which are a fine blend of light humor and bitter realities.
A recipient of Sahitya Academy award, R.K.Narayan was very different from other contemporary authors and what separated him from others was his knack to narrate even a complex story in a light hearted and simple way. This is what still appeals to readers even for today. His full length novel – Guide was adapted for major Hindi motion picture starring Dev anand and Waheeda Rehman. Though today’s contemporary authors write on love story, call centers, breakups, campus and sensational thrillers, they are nowhere closer to the legend called R.K.Narayan.
Though Malgudi was a fictional city created by R.K.Narayan, people still search it on maps and search engines to visit that place. Such was the charisma of R.K.Narayan’s writings which was believable. The place ‘Malgudi’ is the spirit of our India’s rural places and reflects the simplicity, culture, custom and traditions that we still preserve, respect and practice. In every small town or village, you will find a talkative man who keeps bragging about his courage through his stories or a kid like Swami who wishes to enjoy his childhood moments for eternity.
My bookshelf is adorned with the bestselling titles of R.K.Narayan – Malgudi days, Swami and Friends & under the banyan tree & other stories. Every time I feel nostalgic about my hometown, I definitely pick his books to visit the enchanting place called Malgudi. Through this article, I have taken a small effort to showcase my thoughts on the great genius – R.K.Narayan who wrote about the common people and was loved by the common people all over the world.