Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Trail of the Green Blazer" by R. K. Narayan

Pickpockets in Malgudi?

V"Trail of the Green Blazer" (1956, ten pages) by R. K. Narayan was originally published in The Hindu, where many of his other short stories were first published.   As was to be expected, the publication imposed some directives as to the length of his short stories, most come out to ten or fifteen pages.    Any shorter and subscribers might feel shortchanged, much longer and they might lose interest.   Most all of the subscribers read English as a second language.    It was latter included as the second story in his collection Lawley Road and other Stories and has now been included in an expanded collection of his short stories

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The more works I read set in the fictional community of Malgudi India (said to be in South India-some may know the name from the old TV series based on the stories), the more I like it for the brilliant way Narayan makes the characters in the story so real for us and lets see how the customs and commerce of the town shapes the lives of the people who live in it.   There are lots of good, hardworking men and women in Malgudi but that is not all there is.   I admit I was shocked to learn in Man-Eater of Malgudi that the town has a lot of what were euphemistically referred to as "Public Women".

People are always warned about the pickpockets that work the big markets, blending into the crowd while they stalk their prey, carefully watching them as they try to discretely pat their wallet to make sure it is still there not knowing they have just given too much information to someone.    "Trail of the Green Blazer" is about the work and life of a professional pickpocket.   He tries to dress so as to blend into the crowd, he wants to be as bland and nondescript as possible.   We share his elation when a wallet contains enough to live on for a month and share his  annoyance when it only has a few coins.   We also learn about the market for stolen fountain pens, something he almost feels is a waste of his time.   He has been in trouble for this before so now he tells his wife the money he brings home is from his commissions.    She never stops to think what that might be or maybe she just does not want to think about it too much.    Narayan does a great job depicting with just a few lines the dynamics within a marriage.   Even a pickpocket has a wife he must answer to.  Anyway he steals the man's wallet and (this is a bit of a plot giveaway) something prompts him to return the wallet (keeping the money of course).   He gets caught trying to slip the wallet back into the green blazer.   The man grabs his arm and holds him until the police come.   A crowd gathers and everybody has a great laugh when he says he was trying to put the wallet back.   He ends up doing 18 months in jail.   He changes a bit when he gets out and the story proposes an interesting lesson in morality.
"Trail of the Green Blazer" is another really good Narayan story, I do not think there is probably a bad one!

Mel u


bookspersonally said...

sounds like a great story! (one never thinks of the pickpockets wife - intriguing.) Happy holidays.

Mel u said...

bookspersonally-Narayan's stories are really enjoyable, in story line and in the prose style-thanks so much for your comment and visit

Anonymous said...

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