The dark room


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The dark room

  1. 1. R. K. NarayanFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from R.K. Narayan)Jump to: navigation, searchNot to be confused with K. R. Narayanan. R. K. Narayan October 10, 1906 Born Madras, British India (now Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) May 13, 2001 (aged 94) Died Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Occupation Writer Nationality Indian Fiction, Mythology, and Non- Genres fiction Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Notable Akademi Award, AC Benson award(s) Medal, Padma Bhushan Influenced[show]R. K. Narayan (October 10, 1906 – May 13, 2001), shortened from RasipuramKrishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (Tamil: ) was an Indian author whose works of fiction include a series ofbooks about people and their interactions in an imagined town in India. He is one ofthree leading figures of early Indian literature in English, along with Mulk Raj Anand andRaja Rao. He is credited with bringing Indian literature in English to the rest of the world,and is regarded as one of Indias greatest English language novelists.Narayan broke through with the help of his mentor and friend, Graham Greene, whowas instrumental in getting publishers for Narayan’s first four books, including the semi-
  2. 2. autobiographical trilogy of Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts and The EnglishTeacher. Narayan’s works also include The Financial Expert, hailed as one of the mostoriginal works of 1951, and Sahitya Akademi Award winner The Guide, which wasadapted for films in Hindi and English languages, and for Broadway.The setting for most of Narayans stories is the fictional town of Malgudi, first introducedin Swami and Friends. His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for hischaracters through everyday life. He has been compared to William Faulkner, who alsocreated a fictional town that stood for reality, brought out the humour and energy ofordinary life, and displayed compassionate humanism in his writing. Narayans shortstory writing style has been compared to that of Guy de Maupassant, as they both havean ability to compress the narrative without losing out on elements of the story. Narayanhas also come in for criticism for being too simple in his prose and diction.In a writing career that spanned over sixty years, Narayan received many awards andhonours. These include the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature andthe Padma Vibhushan, Indias second-highest civilian award. He was also nominated tothe Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.List of worksNovels 1. Swami and Friends (1935, Hamish Hamilton) 2. The Bachelor of Arts (1937, Thomas Nelson) 3. The Dark Room (1938, Eyre) 4. The English Teacher (1945, Eyre) 5. Mr. Sampath (1948, Eyre) 6. The Financial Expert (1952, Methuen) 7. Waiting for the Mahatma (1955, Methuen) 8. The Guide (1958, Methuen) 9. The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961, Viking) 10. The Vendor of Sweets (1967, The Bodley Head) 11. The Painter of Signs (1977, Heinemann) 12. A Tiger for Malgudi (1983, Heinemann) 13. Talkative Man (1986, Heinemann) 14. The World of Nagaraj (1990, Heinemann) 15. Grandmothers Tale (1992, Indian Thought Publications)Non-fiction 1. Next Sunday (1960, Indian Thought Publications) 2. My Dateless Diary (1960, Indian Thought Publications)
  3. 3. 3. My Days (1974, Viking) 4. Reluctant Guru (1974, Orient Paperbacks) 5. The Emerald Route (1980, Indian Thought Publications) 6. A Writers Nightmare (1988, Penguin Books)Mythology 1. Gods, Demons and Others (1964, Viking) 2. The Ramayana (1973, Chatto & Windus) 3. The Mahabharata (1978, Heinemann)Short story collections 1. Malgudi Days (1942, Indian Thought Publications) 2. An Astrologers Day and Other Stories (1947, Indian Thought Publications) 3. Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956, Indian Thought Publications) 4. A Horse and Two Goats (1970) 5. Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories (1985) 6. The Grandmothers Tale and Selected Stories (1994, Viking)The Dark Room is the story of Ramani, the Branch Manager of the Engladia InsuranceCompany, his wife Savitri and his mistress Shanta Bai, the probationary insuranceassistant. The story revolves around these three characters. Ramani and Savitri have ahappy married life with three children Babu, Kamala and Sumati. Life is moving onsmoothly with the occasional agitations and angers. Savitri gets upset at times byRamani’s behavior and sulks in the dark room, ―a musty unlit store-room‖1 next to thekitchen. But life is still pleasant and happy. One day Shanta Bai joins Ramani’s officeand soon they develop a relationship. Savitri comes to know about the affair and tries tostop Ramani. He refuses, so Savitri leaves the house to end her life. However, thiscould not happen as she is saved by a low caste blacksmith Mari. He and his wife Ponnitake care of Savitri but after a few days of hardship and loneliness she returns to herhome and children.Narayan’s novels have many a female character but most of them are traditional Indianwomen who live a life within the confines of their home. The character of Savitri in thefirst half of The Dark Room is an apt example. Despite the rude nature of her husband,Savitri performs the duties of a mother and wife uncomplainingly. She takes thefrequent harshness with indifference. She behaves or talks only after judging his mood.She is the quintessential mother, wife and homemaker. She is the humble, patient, loyal
  4. 4. wife mentioned in the scriptures. Savitri is such a humble and down-to-earth person thatafter hearing about her husband’s affair, she does not believe it. Later she feels Ramaniis not to be blamed. Perhaps, she is not beautiful anymore and hence Ramani gotattracted to Shanta Bai. In her innocence she starts paying attention to her looks. Onceagain she dresses up not only to look good but in the manner in which Ramani likes. .Narayan comments on the status of Savitri in her home where he says that she was soimpotent even after fifteen years of marriage. And, the progress of Savitri’s charactershows that she had the essence of feminism in her but it had been suppressed for allthese years. The mental torture that she has been going through draws out her innerstrength and that gives her the courage to talk back.Besides Savitri, there is Shanta Bai, the educated, manipulative seductress who knowshow to use a woman’s charm to win the man. She is the cunning, clever type whomakes every right move to trap her prey. When he visits her home for the first time, herstyle of talking is conspicuous of her intention of enticing him.Another character, though a minor one but plays a major role in the turn of events in thenovel, is Ponni, Savitri’s saviour who is the dominating type. She does not talk toTypically situated in Malgudi, RKN weaves the characters with such depth that leaves astrong impact on us. His main protagonists —Ramani (working in senior position inEngladia Insurance Company) and his wife Savitri shared a volatile relation withrespect to each other. This middle aged Tam Bram couple with 3 school going children-Babu, Sumati & Kamala along with their cook and helper lead a very comfortable life inMalgudi.Ramani, the MCP, expected perfect order in the house. Right from seeing him to theoffice to opening the motor shed when he returned back in his Chevrolet, the meek anddocileSavitri had to be there at his beck and call. Every morning, apart from doing thedaily chores, giving bath to Kamala, tying up daughter’s pigtails, packing them off toschool; she had to listen to the nasty comments Ramani passed on when his choice offood was not served. Poor lady endured all and always had a sigh of relief the momenthe left. She had to wait in the afternoon to serve meals to her daughters when theyreturned from school. Her only recreation was to go to her friends Gangu and elderlyJanamma’s house to share the day’s story.Once when Ramani discovered that Savitri was not in the home to receive him when hecame early from the office, he burst at her. He immediately dragged her to watch old
  5. 5. Krishna movie ---“Kuchela‖ leaving the kids at home to fend for them. Savitri triedhelplessly to convince her husband to take the kids but he adamantly upheld his views!Savitri, being very traditional and religious celebrated all the festivals in devoutmanner. During one such Navaratri, wherein plenty of clay dolls of various Gods,Goddesses, animals, people etc were arranged on steps made out of wooden planks,the entire family except Ramani was enthusiastic in decoration. Babu with his half -baked knowledge on electricity added some extra lightings to enhance the dolls. But inthe evening, as he put on the switch, the fuse blew away and the house was plunged indarkness. When Ramani came to know about it, he thrashed Babu. Savitri could not seeher son mercilessly being slapped and she revolted. But being conservative, she couldnot utter more, wept and threw herself to the DARK ROOM, next to the store.This DARK roomepitomized Savitri’s revolt against her husband’s inhumane nature.She would always sulk there, sometimes for days, with unkempt hair, not eat food ortake bath, brood at her fate, feel helpless at her sordid state, pity that she is beingtreated like dirt by him.As Savitri lay there, it did not move her husband at all. According to him, no one wasindispensible and ordered the cook to do the chores without bothering to cajole his wife.He behaved extra nice with the kids and completely ignored Savitri’s tantrums and leftfor office. The daughters were shocked that mother had not yet come out of the darkroom and ran to Janamma for help. Later after being convinced by her friend how menare, Savitri came out of the dark room and returned to her chores.Ramani’s office was hiring female probationers to canvass about their life insurancepolices meant for women. During one such interview, Ramani happened to meetMrs.Shanta Bai from Mangalore who had left her alcoholic husband. He wasimmediately drawn to her beauty though she never showed any interest in him. Beingsingle, he didn’t want Shanta bai to stay in hotel. Instead, provided room in his office forher to stay much to the amusement of the staff. He showered extra concern in takingthe spare cot, few vessels, a chair and the teakwood bench ---the only favorite piece offurniture of Savitri from his house to have illicit affair with Shanta.Savitri realized that,despite protesting he did not listen to her. Soon she started hearingrumors about his infidelity.She became sulkier, cursed her fate and even starteddressing up well for him. But Ramani returned very late at nights and even did not havetime for the kids. Once when he did not come by night, Savitri grew more suspicious.Later in the evening, she had a major argument with him about leaving this woman onceand for all. Ramani bounced back and in a fit of rage asked her to get out of the
  6. 6. house.It was for the first time that she had stepped out in late night. She was so disappointedthat she enteredSarayu River to end her life. At that time, Mari—a blacksmith cumrobber saved her and took her to his village. His wife took care of Savitri. But Savitriwas adamant to be self-reliant and work for herself. Finally she got a job in a templeto clean Gods idols at the mercy of an old priest for half measure rice and quarter coin aday. Savitri was overjoyed with her own earnings for she no longer had to be dependenton Ramani. That night when she had to stay alone in a small dingy room adjacent to thetemple, strange thoughts crept her. She couldn’t believe how she had revolted againsther husband in this manner. As any mother, she was feeling guilty in abandoning herchildren. She worried how they would cope up and who would take care of them. Heartof heart, she decided to gulp her husband’s insults and immediately, set off for Malgudito return back home….Many would feel that RKN has made Savitri --a very weak character that finallysuccumbs to the male dominated society. Instead of coping up with challenges in life &succeeding it, RKN has given twist to the Savitri’s character in accepting that life ismeaningless without husband and kids. But on the other hand, Shanta bai seems toportray the ―liberated woman‖ who lives life according to her terms without botheringabout the society. Whatever the author had in mind, this striking contrasts between boththe women is a reflection of the Indian society prevalent around 1938. This poignant talehas plenty of drama and subtle humor that makes an interesting read…