Swami and Friends - Malgudi Schooldays

In this book, R.K. Narayan describes the simple adventures of Swami and his friends, Rajam and Mani. The stories are set in a fictional town called Malgudi, on the banks of the river Sarayu. Swami’s world is distinctly different from ours. There are no televisions, computers, mobile phones, cartoons, movies, etc. The story is set in the pre-independence era. Swami’s daily routine is consumed by thoughts of skipping class, watching trains go by, playing tricks on his grandmother, throwing stones at the school windows, and so on. He and his friends form the MCC: The Malgudi Cricket Club and organise a cricket match to challenge Young Men’s Union, a team from the neighbouring village. Even in his different world, Swami and his friends are much like the schoolboys of today. For instance, Swami was scared of his father and disliked mathematics. If you love a simple school story, then this book is for you.

A Tiger for Malgudi

Raja is unlike the other tigers you have seen. Although he is majestic and 11 feet long, he is a surprisingly docile creature who learns about the world the hard way. After humans kill his family, he goes to the village in search of them. Only then does he realise that the villagers' cattle are an easy catch, much easier than hunting for food in the jungle. For months that follow, he cheerfully uses the path that steers clear of human activity. One day, he commits the mistake of returning to his old hideout where he is captured and taken to a circus. Raja doesn't understand why the man in the circus walks around with a whip and a chair. Soon, he finds out that he is being trained to perform. After many painful months of whiplashes, starvation and probing with a chair, Raja is ready to perform in the silver jubilee function of the circus where he attracts the attention of a movie director. Will Raja be the next superstar or will he find an elusive escape route?

The Grandmother's Tale

Set before the Sepoy Mutiny, in a small town in Tamil Nadu, seven-year-old Bala is married off to 10-year-old Viswa. After their wedding, they are allowed to meet only during auspicious occasions. One day, Viswa tries to meet his young wife stealthily but is chided by her. Not long after, he informs her that he's going on a pilgrimage to Pandaripur. He never returns. As years go by, people start gossiping about her missing husband. Irked, Bala, now a young woman, decides to go in search of her husband. She reaches Poona and is penniless. However, as fate would have it, she finds Viswa, now a well-to-do merchant. Will Bala be able to persuade her husband to return home? The novel follows the transformation of Bala from a shy, innocent girl to a determined, traditional housewife. The novella is a biography of the author's great grandmother as narrated to him by his grandmother, Ammani.

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