Now that my thoughts on the whole of Malgudi Days is out there, let me get into my impression about the stories in this book. Unfortunately I will not be able to do this for all the stories in it because there are over 30 stories in it. So, here I have picked out my favourite five stories:
An Astrologer’s Day:
This is the first story in the book, and it de facto gets the job of introducing the reader to the fictional town of Malgudi. Though all that you get to read about in detail is where the astrologer (the protagonist) spends most of his day, and his house, it opens your eyes to the fine details that Narayan has in store for you. An Astrologer’s Day is a story about how an astrologer, who knew as much about his trade as the next customer who came to him. And one fine day, when a customer walks up to him, he knows all the right details. How did that happen?
The Missing Mail:
In the Missing Mail, you get a ticket to a small entertaining show that uncovers the lives that people in a typical small town would have led a half a century ago. It’s a town where the mailman is not just that person who delivers your mail, instead, he is the harbinger of good and bad news. He waits with you till you read your mail so that he can console you if you are upset and share in your joys if you are down.
He does not expect much – just your eagerness to share with him what’s in that piece of paper he brought to you. This mailman goes above and beyond this, and helps out a family just when they need him. But in his dedication to helping, he does something unexpected. Does it make or break his relationship with the family?
The Blind Dog:
When someone said a dog is a man’s best friend, he did not lie. But he did leave out one fact – a dog is a man’s best friend in any circumstance. In The Blind Dog, a dog’s loyalty is tested by his blind master. As I read the story, I wondered – is it the master that’s blind, or the dog?
The Tiger’s Claw:
In The Tiger’s Claw, Narayan tells the story in a setting where a tiger has just been killed by a group of hunters and people are milling around to see it. In the middle of the mayhem, a man draws a crowd, and narrates a story of how he almost killed a tiger a few years before. However, by now I knew it would be a little silly to expect the story to end with this narrator’s story. And soon enough, I find out that there’s a twist at the end. Small joys!
Engine Trouble was the first story I read – when I was in school. And it made for a nice nostalgic read when I read it again this time. In this story, Narayan narrates what happens when a young man has an unlikely win and how it changes his life.
What I just realized as I was making my list is that this does not include all my favourite stories – just the top five of them. So let me just mention a few others that I quite liked – Leela’s Friend, A Willing Slave, Attila, Selvi, and The Gateman’s Gift.