Thursday, July 7, 2016

MY DAYS BY R K NARAYAN: A Guide for Wannabe Writers

The Commentator says;

The calamity of today’s higher education in English literature in India is the blind tailing of western canons. This bias has incurred serious damage to the products of such a handicapped academia: the students. Major English writers in India are sidelined for the shameless inclusion of those whose Indian-ness could only be proved after referring to a dozen researched articles. Five years back, I used to teach R K Narayan in the MA English classroom, his novel The Guide. I read it as a maters’ student too. Now, a few years later, this author’s name appears only as a passing reference in the history of Indian English Literature. Sad— sad for the whole generation of students.

R K Narayan’s short stories are often prescribed for students in lower grades as if they are not worthy of the perusal of university students. My Days is R K Narayan’s autobiography. This book deserves to be in the reading-list of any serious scholar of literature. Unlike many semelparous authors India has seen, R K Narayan delivers quite a busy ride in the complex arena of fiction. His fiction, mostly written in the social realist tradition, offers with clarity the images of rural as well as an emerging urban India.
R K Narayan/ Image Courtesy: Google
My Days begins with an enticing description of the childhood of Narayan. The boy with a peacock and a monkey as playmates acts as a sharp contrast to contemporary childhood. The Commentator feels that it may sound backward reading but R K Narayan’s autobiography works in today’s India-the post-liberalized, post-modern, post-globalized cultural space-as a reminder of a synchronic reality that shaped most of the present thought leaders in this nation. In order to understand India’s cultural present, one must, the Commentator believes, go imbibe the cultural past that is mostly revealed through R K Narayan. This man is India’s keeper of a nostalgic past. His words are not mere signs that have signifiers; they are both signs and signifiers all in one.
Image Courtesy: Google

Young Narayan wanders the streets of Chennai and discovers as a young boy the various lives that would appear in his fiction, later. As a young man, he falls in love and keeps his family afloat by writing stories. The only job he was ever able to acquire was a teaching job. Narayan gets this job through a recommendation made by his father, the former principal of a major school. However, the young man was unable to kindle enthusiasm in teaching students. So he runs away and chooses a different life for himself.

My Days is also a book with nuggets of wisdom on the life of a writer. My Days is a must read from a teacher’s point of view. This book can inform as well as inspire wannabe writers. My Days feels like a vantage point because it projects through its pages the big picture behind the foggy realities of failures and struggles. While perusing the book, the Commentator experienced the surge of inner knowing and the awareness towards understanding life’s trials dawned on me. The reader gets a good look at the totality of life, the inherent feature of any good biography, whether written by oneself or by others.    


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