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Revisiting the Big three of Indo-English literature-contd

by Ramlal Agarwal
(Jalna, Maharashtra, India)

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While his two peers wrote about social issues, R.K. Narayan wrote about the lives and manners of people living in a small South Indian imaginary village called Malgudi. He wrote about their quirks and foibles, traditions, customs, beliefs, ups and downs in their lives, and their responses to them.

The Guide is his most famous novel. It starts with Raju selling cigarettes and matchboxes to wayfarers at the wayside hut shop of his father. When a railway station comes up in the vicinity, he starts moving there and becomes a vendor and then a tourist guide. One day, a couple arrives in Malgudi. The woman is called Rosie. She is vivacious, and the man whom Raju calls Marco is curt and self-centered. Soon, Raju and Rosie become lovers. The husband learns about Rosie's affair and leaves Malgudi without Rosie. Raju takes her home.

He is so possessed by Rosie that he neglects his shop and profession and lands in financial trouble. He is sued for bankruptcy. The lovers are forced to give public performances and soon become rich and famous and start living in style.

One day Raju gets a document for Rosie's signature for retrieving a box of jewelry from the bank. Raju is tempted and forges Rosie's signature. Macro sues him for forgery, and Raju is sent to jail for two years. When he is out, he takes refuge in a temple, where he is taken for a saint. Raju is reluctant to play the role but keeps it because of the generous offerings and veneration of the people. Soon there is a drought in the region, and people expect him to perform a miracle. Raju accepts to go on fast until it rains, much against his will. He suffers from hunger and wants to steal food, but is unable to do so because of the people around him. He becomes weak, has a high fever, and lies, dreaming of rain. The writer attributes the vicissitudes in Raju's life to fate, a very common belief among Indians. The Guide became very popular and is studied as a text by students of Indo-English literature.

‘The Big Three’ of Indo-English literature resolved the doubts about Indians' ability to write in English, ended the drought of Indian writing in English, nourished its growth, and gave it a standing that is winning laurels in world literature today.


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