R. K. Narayan is one of my favorite writers. I have, I believe though maybe I have missed some, read and posted on all his novels and a number of his short stories. Jhumpa Lahari classifies him among the greatest of 20th century short story writers and, for what it worth, so do I. English was not the first or primary language of most of his first target readers. (Many of his works were first published in the Hindu Times.). I lack the ability to describe it but there is something wonderful about his prose. Most of his fiction is set in the imaginary south Indian city of Malguidi. Yesterday Google Indian observed the occasion of his 108th birthday with a Doodle. My posts on Narayan have been recommended by The Economic Times of India. Narayan should have gotten the Nobel Prize.
To those wanting to read the short stories of Narayan I highly recommend a collection of thirty stories edited and elegantly introduced by Jumpa Lahari, Malguidi Days.
"Guru", set in Malguidi, is a kind of rambling story centering on a sixty year old married man with two grown and themselves married daughters. He is a government agent. When a poor person needs to apply for help from a government program, the man decides if they will get aid or not. Tipping is expected based on how much aid you will get. It is no huge income but it allowed him to support his wife and daughters. His wife is always complaining about how cheap he is and he complains of her indifference to his lifetime of labor for his family. We learn about the daughters, their spouses and their arranged marriages. He regrets he has no son to light his funeral pyres. His brother has five sons so he legally adopts his twelve year old nephew, to disastrous results.
"Guru" was fun to read. It gives a good picture of a marriage, one of the things Narayan is very good at. I read it in a Harper E a Book, Grandmother's Tales and other Stories. Stick for your first venture into his short stories to Jhumpa Lahari's collection of his work.