Malgudi days is a collection of 32 short funny and witty stories.The stories happen in Malgudi, an imaginary town located somewhere on the banks of Sarayu (a river in South India). Even though it is common to call Malgudi an imaginary town, you will not feel it is imaginary while reading the book. You can trace it to any village in south India. The stories carry the scent and sounds of these villages and you instantly blend into the situations in the stories. You will feel as though you are the character in the story yourself and that is the secret behind the success of this immensely popular book.
Rather than revolving around a particular plot these stories wander off dreamily. Each of the stories describes the relationship between members in a family, the various social taboos prevalent in the mid nineties. All the stories will seem faintly similar but they are vastly different from each other. The stories deal with the most ordinary men and women and that makes these stories extraordinary. Each story deals with simple people and simple issues they are faced with in real life. The stories instantly establish a connection between the reader and the characters. Some of the stories are humorous while other will shake your soul so wildly that you might cry. Anyway I can dare to say that once you read these stories the memories will last you for your lifetime. You will carry them to the grave!
Indian villages which are often depicted as poverty-ridden, infested with epidemics, occupied by good for nothing illiterate fellows have another side to them. They have a charm, a charm which I cannot explain. This charm is depicted and presented in each of the stories in this book. Each story is so full of humanity and will invoke that part of you which you have forgotten in this deplorable rat chase called life.
The author will never reveal what happened at the end and will leave it to your imagination. It will make you go mad thinking what would have happened. The author will tease you by leaving you wondering for ever as those endings will never be written as the author himself is dead.
This book is one of those extraordinary books which you MUST read. If you do not, then you are losing something very valuable.
The Vendor of Sweets
R.K Narayan’s writing is easy and simple though the language is elegant to readers but it is not composed of difficult words. Even a school going child can understand his writing.
The main characters are Jagan and his son Mali. It revolves around the issues arising from the generation gap between father and son. In his early days Jagan loses his wife Ambika because of his belief in natural cures. He had never spent much time with his wife, something that causes discontent in his son Mali. Mali, without his father’s permission discontinues his education, and goes to America to get training to write a book. Mali has got his passport and tickets ready without even informing Jagan about his plans. But, the old man accepts even this diversion with good heart and treasures every letter received from Mali and proudly exhibits it to anyone who cares to listen. A few years later, he comes back very westernized and brings along a half-American, half-Korean girl, Grace. Jagan assumes that they are married, though Mali never told him this in a straightforward way, which causes great disappointment to Jagan. Jagan however develops affection for Grace and feels Mali is not giving her the attention she deserves.
Soon Mali expresses a desire to start a machine factory with some partners from America. He asks his father to invest in this factory. Jagan is unwilling, which causes friction between Jagan and Mali. Troubled by the turmoil, Jagan decides to retire from active work. Mali is caught by the police for drunkenness and deserts his wife. Jagan then asks his cousin to make sure that Mali stays in prison for some time, so that he can learn from his mistakes. Jagan also gives some amount of money to the cousin so that he can buy a plane ticket to Grace so she can go back to her hometown.
The conflict between the old and young generation, their ideals and the generation gap makes ‘Vendor of Sweets’ a memorable story. This novel was made as a TV serial in Hindi and subsequently dubbed into English.
II HEPP N
Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro is a British novelist of Japanese origin. He was born on November 8, 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan. His family moved to England in 1960. He is the author of six novels including the international bestsellers “The Remains of Day” that won a Booker Prize, and “Never Let Me Go” both of which have been adapted into major motion pictures. His work has been translated into forty languages. Most of his works are written in the first person narrative as is this book.
The story follows a group of students namely Kathy, Ruth and Tommy who study in an orphanage for children who have to group up and donate their organs to their “originals” or people they’ve been cloned from. The story does not go too much into the whole science of genetic cloning but it just gives a view of how the actual donors feel about this whole situation. The story is based largely on these three characters’ adventures and experiences in Hailsham, which is their school and residence during childhood, and then the Cottages where they stay till they become ready for their donations. The story shows every aspect of jealousy, nervousness, gaiety and curiosity this peculiar bunch of students have in the world in which they quite don’t understand their purpose or place.
“Never Let Me Go” turned out to be a beautiful story about letting go and about losing people you love. “Never Let Me Go” though takes place in a dystopian future where certain humans are merely created for increasing the longevity of other people’s lives and would gladly be shunned from the world, we feel connected to the characters and through this book understand the plight of people in today’s world who are suffering from anything in isolation, hunger or sadness and it just makes us grateful for our lives. It is a must read for anyone who has a heart. Though I found the book to be a bit dragging in the middle with excessive details about every conversation and every movement and description of every place, only when I got to the end of the book i realized how important those details were as they made the reader feel a part of Ruth, Tommy and Kathy’s little gang. This book describes what the main protagonist Kathy sees and feels and it brings you even closer to the characters as it is narrated by her. The thing that does it for me though is the beautiful, reflective and just simply wonderful ending to this story which makes you sigh, cry and weep with wonder at this amazing piece of storytelling. I recommend this a worthy read to anyone who has ever lost somebody close to them or simply wants a story that is heart wrenching and insightful without all that drama.
II CAME L
Sense & Sensibility
Jane Austen is widely known for her romantic fiction. She highlights realism and social desperation in her works which has gained her popularity. Her works usually portray how women in 18th century depend on marriage for economic and social security. She has written many other novels like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park etc.
Sense and Sensibility was written by Jane Austen in 1811 earlier under the name A Lady. It was set in southwest England between 1792 and 1797 and portrays the lives of the Dashwood sisters. It talks about how the Dashwood sisters adjust in their new home which is a cottage on a distant relative’s property where their life takes a turn and a new chapter of their lives unfolds .It all begins when Mr. Dashwood dies in his house and all his property passes on to his only son Sir John . His second wife and their two daughters Marianne and Elinor are only left with a small income. Their father not only passes on the property but also the responsibility of taking care of his second wife and his daughters to his son. But as Sir John’s wife is greedy, Marianne, Elinor and their mother becomes an unwanted guest in their house. Their mother decides to shift to a new place which is a cottage on the property of a distant cousin. It is in this cottage where the Dashwood sisters experience love, heart break and various other struggles in life.
The elder sister Marianne gets attracted to exemplary qualities of the young and handsome Sir John Williboudy. Her feelings for him gets deeper despite her sisters’ warning but later gets to know that he was engaged to another woman and hence experiences heart break .Meanwhile Colonel Brandon falls in love with Marianne but due to him being a middle aged bachelor she is not interested in him. Elinor the younger sister falls in love with Edward Ferrars. In the end destiny brings Marianne and Colonel Brandon together and Marianne ends up getting married to Colonel Brandon and learns to love him. In Elinor’s life all the confusion gets cleared and she marries her beloved Edward Ferrars..
This novel is an enjoyable one which is full of manners, humor and romance and beautifully realized characters . It is written in an old fashioned language and is a hard reading. It needs patience but it gets the readers totally engrossed in it. It mainly talks about how the sisters have learned to accept what life had for them, the author has left for the readers to decide whether Sense or Sensibility truly prevails .
II CAME L
Oscar and the Lady in Pink
The narrator of the book, Oscar, is ten years old. He has been living in a French hospital for a lengthy period of time as his leukemia has not reacted to the medication. His parents come to visit him very often and always make sure to bring him little presents. Dr. Dusseldorf is Oscar’s doctor. Although his doctor and the nurses are compassionate and considerate, they are deceitful and outlying in their communications with him. Oscar is unaware of what is likely to happen to him which often makes him feel secluded and lonely.
Mamie-Rose, who is Oscar’s favourite person, also known as “pink lady” is a very elderly nurse in the hospital. She chooses to remain reticent about her age as she is too old to be working as a nurse. She brings honesty, comfort and warmth as she enters Oscar’s life. The boy grows stronger as Mamie Rose, a marvelous person, tells him stories about her past as a wrestler. Who wouldn’t under the influence of the Strangler of Languedoc?
Oscar is soon to die due to his cancer. He writes letters to God in order to feel less isolated as proposed by Mamie Rose. “So God, on the occasion of this first letter I’ve shown you a little of what my life in the hospital is like here, where they now see me as an obstacle to medicine, and I’d like to ask you for clarification on one point: Am I going to get better? Just answer yes or no. It’s not very complicated. Yes or no. All you have to do is cross out the wrong answer. More tomorrow, kisses. P.S. I don’t have your address: what do I do”
With Mamie-Rose treating him like a real kid, and Oscar writing very candid letters to God, the first-person story about desolation, love and compassion is presented with spirited imagination. Oscar’s story is quite extraordinary and a must read.
II HEPP N
Trying To Grow
Firdaus Kanga is a writer and actor who lives in London. He was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the year 1960. This famous writer was born with “osteogenesis imperfect” – a condition also known as brittle bone disease. He spent his childhood in a small apartment in Bombay with a family of five, undergoing several painful fractures. He was against the Indian socialist co census and was a supporter of Reagan and Thatcher politics. Some of his famous works are “Trying to Grow” and “Heaven on Wheels”.
In his semi- autobiography “Trying to Grow” Kanga has focused on the lifestory of a boy named ‘Brit’. Brit was a boy born into a Parsee family and as the name suggests he had very weak (brittle) bones which made him a handicap throughout his life.
The story is situated in Bombay after the Second World War where Brit and his family try to become modernized. The story follows with Brit’s parents trying to find a cure for him but ends in vain.
Although Brit couldn’t grow physically, he started to grow mentally where he enjoyed teasing and blackmailing his sister. Due to his intelligence he was accepted in a Christian institution for his education under a particular teacher whom Brit missed a lot after her death. As time passed Brit tried to keep his sister out of marriage which he couldn’t succeed. He started enjoying his life after he made a new friend for the first time and had good days until his father passed away. Now with a single parent, Brit finished his graduation and fell in love with his friend’s girlfriend which ended in a relationship.
The story sadly ends with the passing of his mother after which Brit tries to be on his own and lately gains self confidence.
This a truly inspirational story, where the author has introduced a character based on himself. Although it is a story of a handicap, yet the author has entertained the readers with various jokes and aspects of life. It fills the minds of the readers with courage and passes on a message to readers especially with handicaps that, “Nothing is impossible.” Hence this is a must read book.
S Sudarshan Mahadev
I CAMS K