Tana na Tana na is what comes to my mind when I think of Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan. R. K. Narayan is a popular Indian Fiction writer known best for his collection of short stories. The stories are set in a fictional town, Malgudi during pre-Independence era. R.K. Narayan’s short stories, like Munshi Premchand and Manto, are real but peppered with humor. Malgudi days became extremely popular after it was adapted into a television series on Doordarshan. We bring 11 short stories by R.K. Narayan that you could either read or watch.
#11 Father’s Help
R.K. Narayan’s first published book was Swami and his friends. This short story is based on Swaninathan or Swami who studies at Albert Mission School. Like most of us, he wakes up on a Monday morning with Monday Blues. He is able to convince his mother to let him stay at home but his father is in no mood to listen. He lies to his father about his teacher, Samuel and how the teacher is brutal. The father decides to take things in his hands and writes a letter to headmaster. Will Samuel be sacked by the headmaster? Will Swami’s lie be caught? Father’s help will remind you of your childhood days.
Selvi is a timid woman married to Mohan. She is an accomplished singer whose talent is used by Mohan to become rich and famous. Mohan is a dominating husband who does not let Selvi talk to anyone. Her visits to her mother are also restricted by him. In the end, Selvi frees herself from the clutches of Mohan.
#9 The Cat within
This is a story about a shopkeeper who sleeps across his shop every night. As an added measure against thieves he had also set up empty cans on the floor of the shop as some sort of a primitive alarm system. When one night his alarm keeps ringing with no possible signs of human intrusion, everyone starts believing that an evil spirit has entered the shop and an exorcist claims that the shopkeeper must confess all his sins to get rid of the spirit. The beautiful narration of the story makes it a stud among the short stories by R.K. Narayan.
Certainly not the happiest of the Malgudi Days stories but Iswaran is an important depiction of how the pressure of academics can be unbelievably destructive. This one of the short stories by R.K. Narayan that still holds true in the world of Academics. Iswaran is a story of boy who has failed his intermediate exams nine times. He has given his exams for the tenth time but no one in Malgudi believes that he will pass. Instead of checking the result, Iswaran has already believed that he has failed and decides to watch a movie. Depressed and dejected, he decides to commit suicide. He goes to the river but then decides to check his results. Does Iswaran finally pass?
#7 The trail of the green blazer
This spectacular tale is about a pick-pocketer named Raju who is an absolute professional at his work. One day, Raju pick pockets a bulky wallet from a man wearing a green blazer. Raju opens the purse and hides the 40 rupees in his turban. He keeps few annas to give alms to the beggar. Just when he is about dispose the wallet, he notices a balloon in the wallet. Raju believes that the balloon is for a mother-less child. This melts Raju’s heart and he decides to return the wallet. Unfortunately, when he is trying to keep the wallet back; he is caught. The crowd beats him and he is sentenced for eighteen months.
This is one of the R.K. Narayan’s short stories that explores the relationship between humans and animals. The story about a boy whose father is a snake charmer. The father has named his snake, Naga and feeds him regularly. As the story progresses, the boy adopts a monkey and names him Rama. Rama is trained to do tricks. Soon the boy and his father together do road shows. The boy wakes up one day to find that his father has left him. The monkey is nowhere to be found and only Naga has been left behind. The boy takes Naga to the outskirts of the village and frees him but the snake returns to the boy. In the end, the boy takes Naga home.
#5 The Doctor’ Word
How many times have you visited a doctor and have trusted him blindly? Well, we always! After all doctors are always right! The Doctor’s Word is about Dr. Raman who is brutal with his patients. He is honest and never fabricates information. One day, he sees his best friend’s Gopal’s son in his dispensary. The son tells him that his father has not been keeping well. Raman rushes to see his friend and within few hours operates him. When Gopal opens his eyes and asks his friend if he’ll survive? Dr. Raman tells him he is all well now and needs rest. The doctor’s word gave comfort to Gopal and he soon recovers. Dr. Raman realizes how his lie helped save life of his friend.
#4 The Blind Dog
The Blind Dog is another story that explores the relation between humans and animals. A blind dog is a story of a street dog and a beggar. The dog is an ordinary dog who has raised himself in the streets of Malgudi. The dog soon befriends Sami, a blind beggar. They spend the say together at Market Gate and at night Sami’s wife takes Sami home. Shopkeepers are mesmerized by the bond Sami and dog share. Sami’s wife dies and the dog takes her place. But soon, Sami begins to abuse the dog. He beats the dog and keeps him leashed. The dog now begins to crave for his freedom. One of the shopkeepers at Market Gate cuts dog’s leash and the dog runs away. After few days, they again see Sami with the dog; the dog is now wearing a steel leash.
#3 Mother and Son
This short story will remind you of your bickering with parents. Mother and Son is about Ramu and his mother. Ramu has failed his intermediate exams thrice and has no job. His mother wants him to get married to her brother’s daughter. Ramu, who is no mood to get married, refuses which leads to an argument between the mother and son. In anger, Ramu leaves the house. The mother goes to bed thinking that her son will return. She wakes up in the middle of the night and realizes and panics when she realizes Ramu has not returned. Soon the evil thoughts come in her mind and she goes to check the water tank (since she feels Ramu may have committed suicide). She finds Ramu sleeping on the bench. She wakes him and takes him home with her.
#2 A Shadow
One of my favorite short stories by R.K. Narayan, A shadow is a heart wrenching story of Sambu. Sambu has lost his father and lives with his memories through the movie, Kumari. Kumari is a story of fourteen year old girl who runs away from her home to become independent. Sambu’s father played the role of Kumari’s father. Memories still fresh, Sambu’s mother is not comfortable watching her husband on screen walk, talk and sing.
#1 The missing mail
One of the best Malgudi days stories is the missing mail. Thanappa is a village postman who is liked by everyone. He is close to all the villagers to whom he delivers letters to but he is most close with Ramanujam and his family. Ramanujam works as a clerk at Revenue office. He has a wife and daughter, Kamakshi. Kamakshi has grown up and Ramanujam is actively looking for a groom for his daughter. With the help of Thanappa he finds a suitable groom and Kamakshi is married. After 15 days, Thanappa comes to meet Ramanujam and hands him a postcard. The latter realizes that his uncle is sick and he must leave for Salem. Thanappa hands him another telegram which states that the uncle has died. Thanappa confesses to Ramanujam that he did not want Kamakshi’s wedding to get delayed so he never delivered the mail.
Which are your favorite Malgudi Days Stories. Leave a comment below.