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Day 280 : As I walked with Margayya

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Just like how we crave for a piece of chocolate or a pani puri (drool!) at times, I crave for reading certain authors and certain books. One such thing happened a couple of weeks ago. As I was reading a short paragraph written by my 'A', I suddenly got reminded of the eminent R.K. Narayan's writing. I have no idea what made me think of that but once I had that thought, it constantly nagged me as I did not have any of his books with me here in the States. I tried to remember his evocative style of writing even as I drove to work. So, when a friend suggested that I should check it out at the local library or the university library, I decided to give it a search. It so happens that my university library carried one copy each of a few of his books. Even though my plan was to re-read Malgudi Days, I ended up finding this book first. 'The Financial Expert'. Among the list of brilliant books by R.K. Narayan, I had missed reading this one. So, I decided to give it a shot. I am gratified that I was able to sneak in a little time between my teaching and writing and follow the journey of Margayya and time travel to a different era.
Image Courtesy: Google Images

Even though I have repeated this many a time, I can't help but reiterate the fact that a book is always one's best friend. Every time I feel let down, lonely, left out, or miss someone special, a book comes in a as a savior, holds my hand, and takes me on a journey to a different world with interesting folks.

This becomes better when the author is a magician. If they can weave magic by using their imagination and the pen, then, that is the best journey you can ever take in your life. R. K. Narayan is one such magician. He is a wizard. He weaves a beautiful plot and narrates a tale that helps you forget the 'today's world' and live in a time that was during the pre-independence era. So, as it happens, for the past couple of days, Margayya has kept me company and taken me around Malgudi.

I have followed him around the Vinayak Mudali street, gotten irritated at his lack of tact, and felt his pain and insecurity when he was trying to stand strong. I was able to feel the heat, the dusty roads, the hard work, his pain, and his ambitions. As I read, I peeked into his world, the small house with the well dividing the wall from his brother's home, the silent wife, naughty toddler, rebellious teenager, the friend-Dr. Pal, simple villagers, and all these other characters who play a crucial role in Margayya's life. I have travelled with them these past couple of days. As I read the book, I was drawn to the old British India and the simple yet complex life of people living in this small cozy town. The author's narration of complex nuances of a psychological drain in a man who was behind money is so beautifully portrayed that sometimes, those little things make you feel like interrupting Margayya and offering some suggestions. The complexity of the plot is seen in the simple narration of how the simplest village folks behaved with a man with a lot wealth, and otherwise. As I read the book, all I could do was feel the anguish, joy, and the disappointments of the simple and complex man- Margayya. The deep layers of life, the shattered dreams, and irony, all these are so elegantly portrayed in this book.

What I loved about this book is that even though his story is very simple and the characters are nothing special, once we finish reading it, they linger in our thoughts and mind. The complexity of the characters are reflected when we finish reading this book. There is a depth in the characters given and Margayya is surely one of the best characters written by the author. He is also a completely different character compared to the others in his previous books. Most of R.K.Narayan's books offer simple plots and simple men but Margayya has a slightly different take even in his simplicity. He is  very ambitious and a go-getter who is focused only on his ambition. From a world and economical view, this story can be a good analogy for the economic scenario or the current conditions on how we approach things. Even if this was written in 1952, the emotions of the man can be placed even in today's context.

As I look back at the writings of R.K.Narayan, I think, most Indian schools are doing a big blunder by not recommending and not making it a mandatory read for school children. I remember, we were never asked to read these authors and thankfully, due to self interest and parents who encouraged, my brother and I were lucky to have read this great man's work early in our life. Every child should be able to read these gems and they sow seeds that go a long way in life. If a teacher's goal is to teach the art of writing, this is one of the best ones to read and emulate. The author ensures we are not bored by the series of simple events in Margayya's life. The book is simple to read and about 180 pages (small type).  If you haven't read this one, please do and I am sure you will enjoy Margayya's life as much as I did.

Trivia: This was made into a Kannada movie called Banker Margayya. Directed by T.S.Nagabharna, this movie was released in 1984 and won the National Award for Best Feature Film (Kannada). 
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