NEELA PADMANABHAN

MALGUDI DINANGAL — Translation of R.K.Narayan’s ‘Malgudi Days’: Translated by Roy Kuruvila; DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 140.

R. K. NARAYAN AND his masterpiece Malgudi Days are famous not only in India but the entire world. This book is a translation of that anthology of 32 stories made up of selections from his An Astrologer’s Day and Lawley Road and some new stories. They bring to life ordinary people of Malgudi (the fictional world of Narayan) in an interesting, humorous, and simple style.

Although the people whose tales are unfolded in the stories were ‘ordinary’, most of the central characters get into crisis or bizarre situations that are quite extraordinary. Eventually, of course, they learn to live with them or manage to pull themselves out in their own ways, but not, every time, the way the reader expects them to do.

Contradictions in human behaviour as depicted in stories such as ‘Vaiki Ethiya Vaartha’ (The missing mail), ‘Leelayude Changathi’ (Leela’s friend), and ‘Selvi’; confrontation with the self as well as other fellow beings as in ‘Joolcian’ (An astrologer’s day); and second opinion, even with a dog as in ‘Anthan Naaya’ (The blind dog) or with a snake as in ‘Nagan’ (Naga) — these are among his favourite themes. ‘Punnagavaraali’ (The snake song) is an exceptional story, which is woven with a mystical thread. In the last story ‘Emden,’ the life story of a man in his nineties, who yearns for one of his old mistresses, a dancer, and tries to meet her secretly with gifts is presented interestingly.

It is to the credit of Roy Kurivila that he has been successful in translating the salient features of the fluent style of the original.