R.K.Narayan was born on 10th October,1906.His full name was Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami.He was an Indian writer,novelist and short story writer,best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi.In a writing career that spanned over 60 years,Narayan received many awards.These include the AC Benson medal from the Royal Society of Literature and the Padma Vibhushan,India’s second highest civilian award.This review is based on the book ‘The Guide’.
Railway Raju[nick named] is a disarmingly corrupt guide who falls in love with a beautiful dancer,Rosie,the neglected wife of archeologist Marco.Marco doesn’t approve of Rosie’s passion for dancing.Rosie,encouraged by Raju,decides to follow her dreams and start a dancing career.They start living together and Raju’s mother,as she does not approve of their relationship,leaves them.Rosie becomes a successful dancer with the help of Raju’s marketing tactics.Raju gets involved in a case of frogery and gets a two year sentence.After completing sentence,Raju passes through a village where he is mistaken for a sadhu.As he does not want to return to Malgudi.He stays in an abandoned temple.There is a famine in the village and the villagers expect Raju to keep a fasting order to make it rain.
Raju’s life appears in three phases in the novel:his positions as a tourist guide,his adventure with the dancer Rosie and her husband Macro,and finally his positions as a swami in a village,mangala.In all these phases raju is a cheat.He cheats the tourists by giving exaggerated descriptions of things.Yet signs of goodness rest in raju’s heart.He tells lies as a tourist guide not to fullfil his selfish end.but solely to make his tourists excursions meaningful.The tourists come with preconceived knowledge that these or those are worth-seeing things at malgudi and themselves give exaggerated descriptions of those things before raju opens his mouth and raju simply cannot node only not to mar their interest.Tourists guided by him considered themselves lucky:”If you are lucky enough to be guided by raju,you will know everything.He will not only show you all the worth-while places,but also help you in every way.”
The book was worth reading as the book tells us how we get chances to prove ourselves.Narayan seems to make a corrupt man a spiritual guide with the help of the mythic elements taken from Indian mythology.Raju’s tranformation corresponds to the lives of many Indian mythical sages like nezam aoulia peer,or valmiki.Nezam aoulia, a thief by profession,one day came across a pious man whom he wants to rob but the man asks the thief if his family members will share his sins.The thief leaving the man tied with a tree in the jungle goes home and asks everybody if they will share his sins of robbing people but none agrees.
Finally, it can be said that it is not that raju worked to be a saint;rather he had to be a saint under a compelling pressure over which he could not establish any control,He just reluctantly accepts the greatness thrust upon him by the innocence,ignorance,superstition and deep beliefs in religions of the simple,rustic people of the village of Mangala.