Waiting for the Mahatma

Waiting for the Mahatma

by R.K. Narayan

As a mark of his coming of age his grandmother allows his the pass-book to his savigns in the local bank, but Sriram is growing up in other ways, too, and an enchanting and unpredictable girl leads him into the entourage of Mahatma Gandhi.These are the opening events in R K Narayan's novel.

It is the finest thing he has yet achieved, and his story of the triumphs and tragedies of a raw young zealot in the service of Gandhi is distinguished for its warmth, its humour, its lack of sentimentality and the stamp of absolute truth.Sriram's evolution into manhood is, for him, strange and bewildering process.

Bharati, the girl he worship, is witty, infuriating, capable and, wonder of wonders, condescending to the moonstruck Sriram.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.85
  • Pages: 256
  • Publish Date: October 15th 1981 by University Of Chicago Press
  • Isbn10: 0226568288
  • Isbn13: 9780226568287

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Despite being a devoted follower of Gandhi, Sriram understands very little of Gandhi's philosophy.

Having said that i really enjoyed reading this book and simultaneously got frustrated with Sriram and found myself helpless in some situation. I think that explains the beauty of R.K.Narayans writing.

Many similarities with his other works.

What better way to talk about Mahatmaji than by breathing a bit of his immense soul into the words of the novel? Waiting for the Mahatma may still (and probably always will) be a mystery to me, but it a mystery I love and don't wish to solve, rather I feel this mystery has been solving me ever since I read it, like being touched by the Spirit of Light.

His story is woven with the emotions of a man with simple desires and even simpler tastes. This is a simple story from the kitty of the Narayan. The pleasure the reader gets is in the way the man's life and characters slowly unfolds with the story.

Waiting for Mahatma centers on a young man named Sriram who lives with his grandmother. It is decided that Ghandi will stay in the mansion of the wealthiest man in Malgudi. One of the very interesting things in the novel was seeing that not every one revered Ghandi even though everyone is supposed to. It was a bit amazing and shocking when Ghandi appears as a character in the novel. Narayan ends the novel (he is brilliant at ending his fictions-not an easy thing to do) in just a shocking event that took so much sheer nerve to include in his book. Narayan brings cosmic events down to the streets and homes of Malgudi in a brilliant and loving fashion.

The boys cried: 'Oh, the master is looking through his spectacles, oh! The teacher pushed his way through and cried: 'Add if possible one "e" before "t"; what we need in this country is not a "Quit" programme, but a "Quiet India" Why don't you write that?' Sriram finished his job writing. He turned and said to the teacher: 'Please do something more useful than standing there and talking, master. Please see that this ladder is returned to its owner, I forget his name, and you will have done your bit to free our country.' It is moments like these that define the narrative. The whole absurdity of his struggle for India's freedom is built around his sole aim to end up with Bharathi, and everything he does is guided only towards that end. RKN stays clear of the politics of the time, concentrating on the common man and Sriram's struggles with himself as he's pushed to become someone else to get Bharathi. In a way, Gandhi gets Malgudi'ed, reduced to being human while being seen through the eyes of the common man - Sriram.

It is not that the book lacks it, it is that, under my point of view, it is more focused on characters's feelings and in historical events rather than in the plot itself. It is very simple and easy to follow, it is written in a very plain style, but Narayan includes a lot of Indian vocabulary mostly related to food, Indian cultural figures and untranslatable concepts such as 'ahimsa', which I personally loved and though it forces you to make a little research or go to the end of the book to check the glossary, I think it gives the whole work a sense of authenticity. I think that perceiving Gandhi as a human being rather than 'just' as a cultural figure definitely was what made me love the book in the end. To sum up: the characters, the subtle introduction of the historical context and the treatment of the figure of Gandhi made me fall in love with the book.

R.K Narayan takes us to a place called Malgudi which is a fictional town, familiar to readers of his stories.This is a love story which takes place at the time when Mahatma Gandhi was one of the key players in leading India's struggle for freedom.

Most of Narayan's work, starting with his first novel Swami and Friends (1935), captures many Indian traits while retaining a unique identity of its own. He wrote fourteen novels, five volumes of short stories, a number of travelogues and collections of non-fiction, condensed versions of Indian epics in English, and the memoir My Days.