“life is about making right things and going on..”
― R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days
Tanana tana na na na …..
Somewhere in my mind, plays the title track of one of the most famous television series of yesteryears – Malgudi Days as I quietly step into a whitewashed duplex house tucked in a residential area of Mysuru. There’s no one in the room except the four of us.
– R K Narayan’s House Mysore –
As I look around I see a wall adorned with old pictures while on the other side lay a couple of vintage looking furniture. I walk closer to the wall of the room which once used to be a living room, I see a lot of family photos but what caught my eye is a picture of a child sitting on a chair wearing a white crisped shirt, neatly combed oiled hair, his expressions composed and serious and below the picture it read ( R. K Narayan ) – the Man who is famous as The Malgudi man for many of us.
R. K. Narayan, born as Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, is known for his famous book Malgudi Days. The book is a collection of 32 short stories about a fictional town, Malgudi, located in the South of India. It was published in 1943 by Indian Thought Publications and later republished outside India in 1982 by Penguin Classics. The stories revolve around various characters, their struggles, virtues, and learnings. The book which was later made into a television series directed by the late Kannada actor and director Shankar Nag. It was quite a hit and was one of the most loved serials. It used to be aired on Doordarshan Network.
I still have fond memories of watching the episodes sitting with my entire family. I don’t remember any of the stories but the tune of the title track and the sketches during the opening track is still fresh in my mind. The title track of Malgudi Days is etched into the memories of many Indians and for me, it comes 2nd on my list after the title track of The Jungle Book.
During my recent visit to Mysore, I got an opportunity to visit none other than R K Narayan’s house which was just 10-15 minutes away from the Grand Mercure Mysuru.
Transforming it from a dilapidated house to a museum was itself a struggle. The house where he used to stay is now restored by the Karnataka State government.The work for the house commenced in 1948. He has shared about the house in his autobiography, My Days, about how he built his own house and his problems with the contractor which was settled in the court after years of struggle.
He used to stay in this house until the early 1990’s and later moved to Chennai to stay with his daughter due to poor health. Later after his death, his grandchildren decided to demolish the house and redevelop it.
In 2011, one of the Mysore daily started the campaign to save the house. In September 2011, the house was declared by the Government as a heritage building and the demolition was stopped. But it did not end there as there were protests by other local writers who thought that there was no point of wasting tax payer’s money in the memory of the writer who did not contribute to Kannada literature.
But eventually the very same year the government purchased the property for 24 million rupees and 3.45 million rupees was used for restoration.The restored house is now a small museum dedicated to his belongings, books, awards, and pictures of his childhood and his family.
Ending this post with one of his quotes:
“The Past is gone, the present is going, and tomorrow is a day after tomorrow’s yesterday. So why worry about anything? God is in all this.”
― R.K. Narayan, The Painter of Signs
Do let me know if you too are a fan of the show or the book?
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