The Guide – R. K. Narayan


 

The Guide

I read “The Guide” by R. K. Narayan last year. It was as interesting as any other books by R. K. Narayan. The usual setting, the town of Malgudi is where the novel is based on. The protagonist, Raju is originally a tour guide and later becomes a manager of a dancer and then a hermit. The transformation of the character is excellently illustrated by the veteran novelist Narayan.

This is the only novel of Narayan that includes sex from the novels I have read by him. Railway Raju (his nickname) falls in love and seduces a beautiful young dancer wife of Mr. Marco, an archeologist who neglects his young wife’s desires. Raju makes use of this opportunity and starts making love to beautiful Rosie while guiding her as a tour guide.

Marco doesn’t like Rosie’s dancing and never gives her due praise. Instead he insults her telling that her dancing is like “street acrobatics” and compares it with “monkey dances.” This is too much for the promising dancer.

Raju starts living with Rosie, together with his mother who disapproves the unacceptable union. With the help of Raju, Rosie starts a dancing career that brings her unexpected popularity and she becomes a professional dancer. Fame follows money and Raju, with his successful marketing strategies, becomes her manager.

When Rosie is at the helm of fame, Raju gets involved in a case of forgery and incarcerated for two years in prison.

Rosie, though in an improper relationship with Raju, still respects her legal husband, Marco. Though her husband totally ignored her dancing prowess and mocked at it, she is very passionate about dancing and when she is left in Malgudi by Marco she devotes completely to dancing and keeps practicing hard with the help of Raju. But with his imprisonment things start to fall apart.

After spending two years in prison, Raju is released and walks through a village and is mistaken for a hermit. Since he has no desire to return to Malgudi as a disgraced man he stays in an abandoned temple in the village and performs rituals for the devotees.

During a tough drought, Raju, now a hermit starts a fast till it rains. Large crowds, including the press gather around him. Days go by and no rain comes. Novel ends without telling the reader what happens at the end with the sentence of ‘Raju said “Velan, it’s raining up the hills, I can feel it under my feet.” And with this he saged down’.

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