RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days – Part 1

Malgudi Days has been one of those books that most of us have heard of as children. Whether we’ve read it or not, we’ve known about it because our parents have read it, or someone in the family has read it and loved it. While reading the book, I discovered that one of the short stories in it was part of our school course work. And I got a small jolt of nostalgia.

On the whole, Malgudi Days is written the way the common man thinks. The stories take you on a trip through some of the houses (and their inhabitants) in the small fictional town of Malgudi. RK Narayan’s style of writing is quite different from what I’m used to reading in action-filled, fantasy, humorous or any other type of fictional book.

These being short stories, he delves into details about situations and settings through the most part of the story, and the last part – where the twist and punch lie – he gets it over with quite fast. No complaints about it. Also, he is describing a town set in an age that’s gone by, something that’s a little hard to relate to. And it’s in a small town setting that’s quite poles apart in nature from the one that I live in. Yet, it takes only about three stories for RK Narayann to slowly pull you into this small town.

By the fourth story, I was walking through the town, going where the characters were, and feeling what RK Narayan would have wanted me to feel when reading it. Was I hooked on to the stories? No. I could read five stories one day at a stretch and then go for a couple of days without reading more or feeling the draw to pick up the book. But, once I turned the pages again, I was right back in Malgudi, among the simple, small town characters that were waiting for me. That was an experience unlike any other I’ve had until now.

When I started the book, I planned to read a story a day and finish the book – just as Jhumpa Lahiri suggested in the introduction. But, as I soon found out, it was a test of my will power to put down the book. I kept making excuses like what if I’m unable to read a story tomorrow? I might as well read it today, and stay ahead by one. And so one went my silly excuses, till I realised I did not have to fool myself to continue reading the stories. I just could!

When I set out to write this post, I wanted to share my impressions about five of the thirty-three stories that I had read. Well, since this post is already so big, I will hold back on it for now. Just for now. In my next post I will share my thoughts on these five stories. Yay!

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