Mar 21, 2006

"The Vendor of Sweets" - not so sweet

Another master piece by R.K.Narayan I managed to complete. Mind you, this is not as humourous as "Swami and Friends" or "Bachelor of Arts". It is more on the lines of "The English teacher"; sad, gloomy, frustrating and feeling pity for the protogonist Jagan. He is a down-to-earth person with simplistic values in his life, well illustrated by his beliefs on nature's cure for diseases and his ever-releasing book. His son Mali, a completely different person who doesn't believe in college education and wants to become a writer. The mental misunderstanding between the two forms the crux of this little novel.

One of the characters I like the most in this story is 'The cousin". There was never a mention of his name, atleast I couldn't figure out. But this cousin always helps Jagan with valuable suggestions and information about Mali. A neatly etched character, I should say. Towards the end, there was a short flashback about how Jagan meets his wife and their engagement ceremony. Very interesting, typically seen in old Tamil movies. The ending was damn good. Jagan could have given all his money to Mali and just continued with his sweet shop and normal routine. Instead, he decides to start a new life at 60 and goes ahead with his dreams of constructing the temple.

RKN has this unique talent of making the audience visualize Malgudi streets, market road, the houses, Mempi hills etc etc. But the expected RKN humour is missing in this novel. The story is also not as gripping as his other novels. Still, it's worth a read if you are a RK Narayan fan.

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