Tuesday, 22 May 2018

R.K. Narayan – The Guide, May 18, 2018

The Guide - first edition cover 1958

Seven readers and a guest, Devika Achuthan, came to read The Guide by R.K. Narayan, a deceptively simple book with much insight into the life a small town in South India, Malgudi.  A quicksilver character called Raju takes shape before the reader’s eyes, growing from boyhood to self-sufficiency under the tutelage of his strict parents. 

Saras, Kavita, Hemjit

What has prepared him in his modest upbringing to make sense of the great art of Bharata Natyam? How did romance enter his life through his fascination for a neglected devadasi, wife to an asexual man who is absorbed in rock inscriptions and cave paintings? 

Saras, Hemjit, Devika

How did Raju counter the prejudices of his mother toward entertaining Rosie in their one-room house? And then stand up to to his formidable uncle who threatened to castrate him if he misbehaved?

Devika, Saras, Kavita

How did Raju become an impresario to the magnificent dancer, Rosie now Nalini, booking her in all the major cities of India, supervising travel arrangements, hiring accompanists and halls, and presiding over her performances?

Devika, Saras, Kavita, Hemjit having parippu vada

And how did he fall from grace by an error of judgement that results in a case of forgery and has him thrown into prison? Raju survives all and comes out a chastened man who would feign live out his life in peace except for a terrible drought that descends on the countryside. The people look upon him as a saint who by fasting will bring on the rains. But the enforced saint is thinking of bondas to eat.

Shoba, Geetha

Here we are at the end, having thoroughly enjoyed the humour and rich humanity of R.K. Narayan’s novel.

Joe, Geetha, Kavita, Saras, Devika, Shoba, KumKum, Hemjit (seated)