एक बुक जर्नल: Grandmother's Tale by R K Narayan

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Grandmother's Tale by R K Narayan

Rating: 3/5(2: for the novella 1: for the sketches by R K Laxman)
Finished On : October 24th, 2014

Edition Details:
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 97
Publisher: Indian Thought Publications


First Sentence :
I was brought up by my grandmother in Madras from my third year while my mother lived in Bangalore with a fourth child on hand after me.



Grandmother's Tale by R K Narayan is the story of Bala and Viswa,parents of RK Narayan's maternal grandmother Ammani. They were married when Bala was seven year old and Viswa was ten.  One day Viswa bids her goodbye and leaves with a group of pilgrims on their way to Pandaripur.  Years fly by and when there's no trace of Viswa, Bala, exasperated by the taunts of villagers, sets out on a journey to bring her husband back. Will she succeed?What will she have to do to bring Viswa back? How does the life of Bala and Viswa turn out? You'll have to read the book to find answers to these questions.

This is a very thin book more of a long story than a novel. The story is about transformation of Bala from a shy village girl to devious manipulative woman(so as to bring her husband back)  and then finally to a subservient housewife after she had brought Viswa back to her village. There are some moments when we have a glimpses of Narayanian humor but they are not enough to satiate a Narayan fan. If you haven't read Narayan's other works please go through his other works like Swami and Friends, The english teacher, Mr Sampath : the printer of Malgudi  and The painter of Signs.

The story clearly depicts the prevalent customs and their follies like child marriage and how it affects the people who are bound by this. The persecution woman has to go through if her husband is supposed to be dead and how this  was the main impetus for Bala to go after her husband. And one can also observe that though women seem to be subservient but they are the one actually who wield the power.This book doesn't have many details and is written as supposedly Narayan's grandmother told it. And if you think you are not getting enough details look what she told Narayan when he asked for it:

"Why do you ask me? Am i a wizard to see the past? I'll never be able to complete the story. I can only tell you what i've heard from my mother.  I just listened, without interrupting her as you do now. If you don't shut your mouth and keep only your ears open, I'll never tell you anything more."

So in my humble opinion it's an okay book by Narayan sir . If he could have fictionalized it a little and elaborated the stories of Viswa when he left his village to the point when he met Bala and story of Bala as to how she could eventually locate Viswa, then it could have been more interesting for the reader, but i guess he wanted to write it this way only. Apart from the story the sketches by R k Laxman sir that are incorporated in this edition add a charm to the book and it was because of them that i  had to notch it up from 2 stars to 3 stars out of five.

If you want to read the book you can give it a go but don't expect too much from it. Its a short book that could be completed in a single sitting. It has its own moments but like i said earlier they are sparse.  It can be read once but i wouldn't read it again like i do his other works.


Some lines from the book:

"Yes," he said,"Is your name Balamal? It's too long."
"Call me Bala,", she said,picked up her bucket and suddenly retreated into the house. He waited, hoping she would come back. But the backdoor shut with a bang, and he jumped off muttering, "She is funny. I should not have married her. But what could i do? I was never asked whether i wanted to marry or not..."


Standing on the pile of bricks,he told her: " On Tuesday evening i went to the temple."
"Did you pray? What for?" she asked. Seeing his silence, she said,"Why go to temple if you don't pray?"
"I don't know any prayer."
"What did you learn at home?"
He realized she was a heckler and tried to ward off the back. "I know some prayers, not all."
"Recite some," she said.
"No,I won't," he said resolutely.
"You will be sent to hell if you don't say your prayers."
"How do you know?" he asked.
"My mother has told me. She makes us all pray in the evenings in the pooja room."
"Bah!" he said. "What do you get to eat after the prayers? At the temple if you shut your eyes  and prostate before the God, they give you wonderful things to eat. For that you must come with me and Ramu..".


Someone suddenly questioned Viswa's father,"Are you in the habit of beating him?"
"Sometimes you can't help it."
Viswa's mother said,"Whenever his teacher came and reported something, you lost your head..." and burst into tears . "Teachers are an awful lot, you must pay no attention to what they say."

You can buy the book from the following links:


Amazon link
Flipkart link

If you have read the book or are going to read the book please. do tell me your views regarding it.







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