I have grown up watching “Malgudi Days” and have always wanted to read something by R. K. Narayan and finally I read The Guide by him!
It was a nice welcome change, small.. quick to read…short book written in a simple manner. The story is set in 1958 in fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. When I was a kid, I believed it to be real!
It’s about Raju who runs a shop at the Railway Station and becomes famous as Railway Raju after he starts working as a Tourist Guide. The book starts with Raju being released from jail and then there are flashbacks to his earlier life alongwith the present. As a guide, he fell in love with Rosie, neglected wife of an archaeologist Marco. Marco loves his work, Rosie loves dancing and Raju loves Rosie. Quite a fancy name for a woman in that era in South India!! Anyways, Raju leaves his job, house and mother for Rosie and helps her establish a successful glittery career as a dancer.
After some good times, he is convicted of forgery. When he comes back, he is mistaken to be a saint and lives a contrastingly different life. He lives in an abandoned temple, always thinks of good food and fasts to please the rain God!! The book shows his transformation from a simple boy to a man so much in love, a criminal, a rogue to a saint. The end is a bit inconclusive but it satisfies the reader to see him repent. Overall a nice fast paced short book, set in a different era so simple that nothing complicated can be written about it!!
P.S. It was made into a movie in 1965 which is considered to be a masterpiece in Indian Cinema!