Followers

Monday, February 16, 2009

Indian Beautiful Stories -Malgudi days- By R.K.Narayan


Sent by- Shruti Aggarwal -
R. K. Narayan (October 10, 1906 - May 13, 2001), born Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami, is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists -writing in English.Most of Narayan's work, starting with his first novel Swami and Friends (1935), captures many Indian traits while retaining a unique identity of its own. He was sometimes compared to the American writer William Faulkner, whose novels were also grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life.Narayan lived till age of ninety-four, writing for more than fifty years, and publishing until he was eighty seven. He wrote fourteen novels, five volumes of short stories, a number of travelogues and collections of non-fiction, condensed versions of Indian epics in English, and the memoir My Days
His writing career began with Swami and Friends. At first, he could not get the novel published. Eventually, the draft was shown to Graham Greene by a mutual friend, Purna. Greene liked it so much that he arranged for its publication; Greene was to remain a close friend and admirer of his. After that, he published a continuous stream of novels, all set in Malgudi and each dealing with different characters in that fictional place.
Malgudi Days -
is a collection of short stories by
R.K.Narayan that focused on the trial and tribulations of a small Indian town of Malgudi. According to R.K. Narayan, Malgudi is a town "habited by timeless characters who could be living anywhere in the world" and is located on the banks of river Sarayu and surrounded by the Mempi Hills.


Malgudi days
CHAPTER I
Monday Morning

It was Monday morning. Swaminathan was reluctant to open his eyes.
He considered Monday specially unpleasant in the calendar. After the
delicious freedom of Saturday and Sunday, it was difficult to get into the
Monday mood of work and discipline. He shuddered at the very thought of
school: that dismal yellow building; the fire-eyed Vedanayagam, his classteacher;
and the Head Master with his thin long cane. ...
By eight he was at his desk in his 'room', which was only a corner in
his father's dressing-room. He had a table on which all his things, his coat,
cap, slate, ink-bottle, and books, were thrown in a confused heap. He sat on
his stool and shut his eyes to recollect what work he had for the day : first of
course there was Arithmetic—those five puzzles in Profit and Loss; then
there was English—he had to copy down a page from his Eighth Lesson, and
write dictionary meanings of difficult words; and then there was Geography.
And only two hours before him to do all this heap of work and get
ready for the school!
Fire-eyed Vedanayagam was presiding over the class with his back to
the long window. Through its bars one saw a bit of the drill ground and a
corner of the veranda of the Infant Standards. There were huge windows on
the left showing vast open grounds bound at the other extreme by the
railway embankment.
To Swaminathan existence in the classroom was possible only
because he could watch the toddlers of the Infant Standards falling over one
another, and through the windows on the left see the 12.30 mail gliding over
the embankment, booming and rattling while passing over the Sarayu
Bridge. The first hour passed of quietly. The second they had Arithmetic.
Vedanayagam went out and returned in a few minutes in the role of an
Arithmetic teacher. He droned on monotonously. Swaminathan was terribly
bored. His teacher's voice was beginning to get on his nerves. He felt sleepy.
The teacher called for home exercises. Swaminathan left his seat,
jumped on the platform, and placed his note-book on the table. While the
teacher was scrutinizing the sums, Swaminathan was gazing on his face,
which seemed so tame at close quarters. His criticism of the teacher's face
was that his eyes were too near each other, that there was more hair on his
chin than one saw from the bench, and that he was very very bad-looking.
His reverie was disturbed. He felt a terrible pain in the soft flesh above his
left elbow. The teacher was pinching him with one hand, and with the other,
crossing out all the sums. He wrote 'Very Bad' at the bottom of the page,
flung the note-book in Swaminathan's face, and drove him back to his seat.
Next period they had History. The boys looked forward to it eagerly.
It was taken by D. Pillai, who had earned a name in the school for kindness
and good humour. He was reputed to have never frowned or sworn at the
boys at any time. His method of teaching History conformed to no canon of
education. He told the boys with a wealth of detail the private histories of
Vasco da Gama, Clive, Hastings, and others. When he described the various
fights in History, one heard the clash of arms and the groans of the slain. He
was the despair of the Head Master whenever the latter stole along the
corridor with noiseless steps on his rounds of inspection.
The Scripture period was the last in the morning. It was not such a
dull hour after all. There were moments in it that brought stirring pictures
before one: the Red Sea cleaving and making way for the Israelites; the
physical feats of Samson; Jesus rising from the grave; and so on. The only
trouble was that the Scripture master, Mr Ebenezar, was a fanatic.
'Oh, wretched idiots!' the teacher said, clenching his fists, Why do you
worship dirty, lifeless, wooden idols and stone images? Can they talk? No.
Can they see? No. Can they bless you? No. Can they take you to Heaven?
No. Why? Because they have no life. What did your Gods do when
Mohammed of Gazni smashed them to pieces, trod upon them, and
constructed out of them steps for his lavatory? If those idols and images had
life, why did they not parry Mohammed's onslaughts?'
He then turned to Christianity. 'Now see our Lord Jesus. He could
cure the sick, relieve the poor, and take us to Heaven. He was a real God.
Trust him and he will take you to Heaven; the kingdom of Heaven is within
us.' Tears rolled down Ebenezar's cheeks when he pictured Jesus before him.
Next moment his face became purple with rage as he thought of Sri Krishna:
"Did our Jesus go gadding about with dancing girls like your Krishna? Did
our Jesus go about stealing butter like that archscoundrel Krishna'?Did our
Jesus practise dark tricks on those around him?'
He paused for breath. The teacher was intolerable to-day.
Swaminathan's blood boiled. He got up and asked, 'If he did not, why was he
crucified?' The teacher told him that he might come to him at the end of the
period and learn it in private. Emboldened by this mild reply, Swaminathan
put to him another question, 'If he was a God, why did he eat flesh and fish
and drink wine?' As a brahmin boy it was inconceivable to him that a God
should be a non-vegetarian. In answer to this, Ebenezar left his seat,
advanced slowly towards Swaminathan, and tried to wrench his left ear off.
Next day Swaminathan was at school early. There was still half an
hour before the bell. He usually spent such an interval in running round the
school or in playing the Digging Game under the huge Tamarind tree. But
to-day he sat apart, sunk in thought. He had a thick letter in his pocket. He
felt guilty when he touched its edge with his fingers. He called himself an
utter idiot for having told his father about Ebenezar the night before during
the meal.
As soon as the bell rang, he walked into the Head Master's room and
handed him a letter. The Head Master's face became serious when he read:
-Sir,
'I beg to inform you that my son Swaminathan of the First Form, A
section, was assaulted by his Scripture Master yesterday in a fanatical rage. I
hear that he is always most insulting and provoking in his references to the
Hindu religion. It is bound to have a bad effect upon the boys. This is not the
place for me to dwell upon the necessity for toleration in these matters.
I am also informed that when my son got up to have a few doubts
cleared, he was roughly handled by the same teacher. His ears were still red
when he came home last evening.
The one conclusion that I can come to is that you do not want non-
Christian boys in your school. If it is so, you may kindly inform us as we are
quite willing to withdraw our boys and send them elsewhere. I may remind
you that Albert Mission School is not the only school that this town,
Malgudi, possesses. I hope you will be kind enough to inquire into the
matter and favour me with a reply. If not, I regret to inform you, I shall be
constrained to draw the attention of higher authorities to these Unchristian
practices.
I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
W. T. Sreenivasan.'
When Swaminathan came out of the room, the whole school crowded
round him and hung on his lips. But he treated inquisitive questions with
haughty indifference. He honoured only four persons with his confidence.
Those were the four that he liked and admired most in his class. The first
was Somu, the Monitor, who carried himself with such an easy air. He set
about his business, whatever it was, with absolute confidence and calmness.
He was known to be chummy even with the teachers. No teacher ever put to
him a question in the class. It could not be said that he shone brilliantly as a
student. It was believed that only the Head Master could reprimand him. He
was more or less the uncle of the class.
Then there was Mani, the mighty Good-For-Nothing. He towered
above all the other boys of the class. He seldom brought any books to the
class, and never bothered about home-work. He came to the class,
monopolised the last bench, and slept bravely. No teacher ever tried to prod
him.
It was said that a new teacher who once tried it very nearly lost his
life. Mani bullied all strangers that came his way, be they big or small.
People usually slunk aside when he passed. Wearing his cap at an angle,
with a Tamil novel under his arm, he had been coming to the school ever
since the old school peon could remember. In most of the classes he stayed
longer than his friends did. Swaminathan was proud of his friendship. While
others crouched in awe, he -could address him as 'Mani' with gusto and pat
him on the back familiarly. Swaminathan admiringly asked whence Mani
derived his power. Mani replied that he had a pair of wooden clubs at home
with which he would break the backs of those that dared to tamper with him.
Then there was Sankar, the most brilliant boy of the class. He solved
any problem that was given to him in five minutes, and always managed to
border on 90 %. There was a belief among a section of the boys that if only
he started cross-examining the teachers the teachers would be nowhere.
Another section asserted that Sankar was a dud and that he learnt all the
problems and their solution in advance by his sycophancy. He was said to
receive his 90% as a result of washing clothes for his masters. He could
speak to the teachers in English in the open class. He knew all the rivers,
mountains, and countries in the world. He could repeat History in his sleep.
Grammar was child's play to him. His face was radiant with intelligence,
though his nose was almost always damp, and though he came to the class
with his hair braided and with flowers in it. Swaminathan looked on him as a
marvel. He was very happy when he made Mani see eye to eye with him and
admit Sankar to their company. Mani liked him in his own way and brought
down his heavy fist on Sankar's back whenever he felt inclined to
demonstrate his affection. He would scratch his head and ask where the
blithering fool of a scraggy youngster got all that brain from and why he
should not part with a little of it.
The fourth friend was Samuel known as the 'Pea' on account of his
size. There was nothing outstanding about him. He was just ordinary, no
outstanding virtue of muscle or intellect. He was as bad in Arithmetic as
Swaminathan was. He was as apprehensive, weak, and nervous, about things
as Swaminathan was. The bond between them was laughter. They were able
to see together the same absurdities and incongruities in things. The most
trivial and unnoticeable thing to others would tickle them to death.
When Swaminathan told them what action his father had taken in the
Scripture Master affair, there was a murmur of approval. Somu was the first
to express it, by bestowing on his admirer a broad grin. Sankar looked
serious and said,
'Whatever others might say, you did right in setting your father to the
job.' The mighty Mani half closed his eyes and grunted an approval of sorts.
He was only sorry that the matter should have been handled by elders. He
saw no sense in it. Things of this kind should not be allowed to go beyond
the four walls of the classroom. If he were Swaminathan, he would have
closed the whole incident at the beginning by hurling an ink bottle, if
nothing bigger was available, at the teacher. Well, there was no harm in
what Swaminathan had done; he would have done infinitely worse by
keeping quiet.
However, let the Scripture Master look out: Mani had decided to
wring his neck and break his back. Samuel the Pea, found himself in an
acutely embarrassing position. On the one hand, he felt constrained to utter
some remark. On the other, he was a Christian and saw nothing wrong in
Ebenezar's observations, which seemed to be only an amplification of one of
the Commandments. He felt that his right place was on Ebenezar's side. He
managed to escape by making scathing comments on Ebenezar's dress and
appearance and leaving it at that.
The class had got wind of the affair. When the Scripture period
arrived there was a general expectation of some dramatic denouement. But
nothing happened. Ebenezar went on as merrily as ever. He had taken the
trouble that day to plod through Baghavad Gita, and this generous piece of
writing lends itself to any interpretation. In Ebenezar's hand it served as a
weapon against Hinduism.
His tone was as vigorous as ever, but in his denunciation there was
more scholarship. He pulled Baghavad Gita to pieces, after raising Hinduism
on its base. Step by step he was reaching the sublime heights of rhetoric. The
class Bible lay uncared for on the table.
The Head Master glided in. Ebenezar halted, pushing back his chair,
and rose, greatly Hurried. He looked questioningly at the Head Master. The
Head Master grimly asked him to go on. Ebenezar had meanwhile
stealthily inserted a finger into the pages of the closed Bible. On the word of
command from the Head Master, he tried to look sweet and relaxed his
brow, which was knit in fury. He then opened his book where the finger
marked and began to read at random. It happened to be the Nativity of
Christ. The great event had occurred. There the divine occupant was in the
manger. The Wise Men of the East were faithfully following the Star.
The boys attended in their usual abstracted way. It made little
difference to them whether Ebenezar was making a study of Hinduism in the
light of Baghavad Gita or was merely describing the Nativity of Christ.
The Head Master listened for a while and, in an undertone, demanded
an explanation. They were nearing the terminal examination and Ebenezar
had still not gone beyond the Nativity. When would he reach the Crucifixion
and Resurrection, and begin to revise? Ebenezar was flabbergasted. He
could not think of anything to say. He made a bare escape by hinting that
that particular day of the week, he usually devoted to a rambling revision.
Oh, no! He was not as far behind as that. He was in the proximity of the Last
Supper. At the end of the day Swaminathan was summoned to the Head
Master's room. As soon as he received the note, he had an impulse to run
home. And when he expressed it, Mani took him in his hands, propelled him
through to the Head Master's room, and gave him a gentle push in.
Swaminathan staggered before the Head Master.
Ebenezar was sitting on a stool, looking sheepish. The Head Master
asked: 'What is the trouble, Swaminathan?'
Oh—nothing, sir,' Swaminathan replied.
'If it is nothing, why this letter?'
'Oh!' Swaminathan ejaculated uncertainly.
Ebenezar attempted to smile. Swaminathan wished to be well out of
the whole affair. He felt he would not mind if a hundred Ebenezars said a
thousand times worse things about the Gods.
You know why I am here?' asked the Head Master.
Swaminathan searched for an answer: the Head Master might be there
to receive letters from boys' parents; he might be there to flay Ebenezars
alive; he might be there to deliver six cuts with his cane every Monday at
twelve o'clock. And above all why this question?
'I don't know, sir,' Swaminathan replied innocently.
'I am here to look after you,' said the Head Master.
Swaminathan was relieved to find that the question had such a simple
answer.
'And so continued the Head Master, 'you must come to me if you want
any help, before you go to your father.'
Swaminathan furtively glanced at Ebenezar, who writhed in his chair.
'I am sorry,' said the Head Master, 'that you should have been so
foolish as to go to your father about this simple matter. I shall look into it.
Take this letter to your father.
Swaminathan took the letter and shot out of the room with great relief.

5 comments: