I read R. K. Narayan’s “The English Teacher” for my AL English. From the first page onwards it was a journey through humor, sorrow and inner peace.
The story is woven around a newly married college teacher, Krishna and his wife Susila and infant daughter, Leela. The grace, innocence, smartness and frugality of Susila are explained beautifully in the novel. One feels that one is lucky to have such a wife. Krishna is inexperienced in family affairs and Susila makes amends by being smart.
The fragrance of jasmine and Susila is mentioned lengthily in the novel to depict the sweetness of the love between the two. Susila is a shy, modest young woman but has the courage to bear up any challenge that life thrusts upon her.
Unfortunately, to everyone’s grief, Susila dies an untimely death due to typhoid she caught from an unhygienic hotel. Krishna is helpless and is completely devastated with the shock. But he decides to take the challenging life of taking care of the daughter and continuing with his job.
Later, through the acquaintance of a stranger, Krishna starts to communicate with his dead wife telepathically. This gives him new hopes for life.
In fact Narayan’s own wife, Rajam, died young of typhoid and hence the novel becomes autobiographical as well.