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Rocky Hill United States of America
Hours of Pure Bliss!
Jul 18, 2013 10:52 PM 76177 Views
(Updated Jul 24, 2013 10:03 PM)



We see through the eyes of the enchanter,

The pretty little Malgudi on the banks of the Sarayu,

In the stories dipped in simplicity and playful banter,

Hours of pure bliss exist here for me and you!

About the author: RKN needs no introduction. His fictional town has managed to put each reader in a trance and wonder if there really is such a town somewhere in South India.

The stories listed here are my favourites in the order of preference.

1. Engine trouble (Lucky enough to win a road roller): This, according to me, is the best of the lot! In the movie Khatta Meetha (new one with Akshay Kumar), the only scene that stands out is the hilarious road roller mayhem! This lone worthy scene is inspired from a Malgudi days short story! Here the protagonist wins a road roller as a prize in some fair! The same minute start his troubles when he has to transport the huge vehicle to his home. He has to then pay rent to park the vehicle on a field. He manages to   employ a driver, a temple elephant and 50 coolies for transporting it in the midst of an amused crowd of onlookers. This arrangement itself makes the poor guy half bankrupt. On the way, the road roller crashes into a compound increasing the expenses double-fold. In the end, he manages to wriggle out of this mess with nature's intervention!

2. Attila: (The friendly dog): History says Attila was a brave and dynamic leader. But this story is of Attila, the huge pet dog in a Malgudi household. The dog has a formidable and obnoxious appearance but is of a very friendly nature. He won’t bark at any stranger or even a thief for that matter, much to the dismay of his masters! One night, a petty thief manages to steal ornaments and make away with his booty and Attila follows him quietly all throughout thinking him to be a casual guest. How Attila manages to unintentionally get him caught forms the rest of this hilarious story.

3. Fathers help: (Remembering School Days!): This features our little friend Swamy, who shirks homework, tries all ways and means to stay away from school (In short, all the qualities that were present in us when we were young). One morning, to stay away from school, he builds up a false story of how his teacher canes and punishes all students. He narrates it with such potency that his father gets furious and hands over a long letter to Swamy to give the principal. What will Swamy do now?

4. The willing slave: (Playing with Granny): This touching story is about the innocuous and sweet relationship between a 70+ year old maid and a 5- year old little girl. No doubt this story would transport us to our childhood when a similar elderly granny would play with us.

5. Selvi: (The renowned voice):  This is about a 25 year old famous singer. She is meek, obedient and submissive. All her singing concerts, bank accounts, visits to her own mother and each step of her feet are controlled by her husband. This story is about how she liberates herself from her husband’s clutches. In the end, he finds himself alone pleading her to come back home. *

6. Second Opinion: (Don’t trust just one doctor):This story changes from tragic to hilarious! A carefree youth is enjoying his life till his mom expresses a desire to get him married. The youth easily spurns the idea and moves on. He gets to know from the town doctor that his mom faints periodically and she might pass away anytime. This put him in a state of gloom and he agrees to marry the girl his mom has selected. Now, he suddenly feels he should have a second opinion of another doctor. Finally, it so turns out that his mother is perfectly fine! What will he do now?

7. The Cat within: (Ghost in the jug): A satirical story mocking at age-old belief on ghosts and evil spirits. In those days, when any person was beset with such a spirit, exorcists would be called in. Such an exorcist is once called to chase away a noisy ghost from a jug in a shop. Vigourous clanking noises emanating from the shop in the graveness of the night send chills down the spines of villagers. Since there is no electricity, no one has the courage to go in. Eventually a cat emerges from the shop with a jug stuck on its head!


"The astrologer was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. He knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself next minute. It was shrewd guesswork."

"Swamy realized that it was a Monday morning. He hoped that an earthquake would reduce the school building to dust, but that good building had withstood similar prayers for over a hundred years."

"The municipality in Malgudi decided to nationalize the names of all streets. Mahatma Gandhi Road was the most sought after name. Eight different ward councilors were after it."

"Ranga, the knife sharpener said, “If you give your knife to that other fellow down the road, he will impart to your knife the sharpness of an egg. After that, I won’t be able to do anything.”

"Once he took home a bottle and coaxed his wife to taste the drink. She knocked it off on the floor. He had drunk more than normal and felt spirited enough to strike her, whereupon, she brought out the broom from its corner and lashed him with it."

Pros: Heartwarmingly simple language, vivid descriptions and instant metamorphosis from the hustle bustle of today’s life to a beautiful old town of Malgudi.

Cons: At the cost of being called blasphemous, I admit that there are some cons which prevent me from giving 5 stars. Some stories had such an abrupt ending that I regretted having read the story at all! At the most interesting point, where one longs to know what happened next, the story ends. I was left trying to find whether some pages have been torn by some malicious reader but all the page numbers showed continuity.  It took some time for me to recover from the shock then.

Lastly,  I do not remember the serial Malgudi Days since I was too young then and did not know Hindi. But I could spot a glisten in the eyes of friends as well as ‘almost strangers’ when they saw me carry this book around at workplace and in the bus. ‘Wow’ was a general remark I got. No other book I have carried has ever commanded such respect! That speaks volumes of its popularity and I felt proud at it.

As New York Times has rightly said, “Mr. Narayan's strength is that his material seems inexhaustible. He has only to look out his window, take a walk, hire a servant, to pick up story after story.”

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Malgudi Days - R K Narayan