Book: The English Teacher
Author: R. K. Narayan
R.K. Narayan, famous for giving us the idyllic, fictional town of Malgudi in southern India, made his way into our hearts and our homes years ago with his simple and heart-warming story-telling. How can we forget Swami and his friends and their stories that made for an important part of our growing up years? I remember staying glued to the tele when Swami came for a visit and took us along with him on his adventures in Malgudi; its signature tune “ta na na na nana naaa…” comes to mind as I type this post!
The English Teacher is almost an autobiographical novel. It’s about Krishna, the English teacher, who teaches at the Albert Mission College, in Malgudi. He lives at the hostel, while his wife and daughter live with his parents-in-law. Their move to a rented house permits the young couple to enjoy marital bliss. But, like all good things come to an end, their story, too, takes an unexpected turn.
Krishna’s eagerness to live an uncomplicated life, and his search for inner peace and self-development is what the story is all about.
I bought this book months ago, but couldn’t read beyond a few pages then. The setting of the Albert Mission College, and Krishna’s mundane life as an English teacher staying at the hostel failed to grab my attention. However, last week, I picked up the book again and began reading from the very beginning. It was then that I discovered its sheer beauty hidden in the simple, everyday life of people far removed from the fast, tech-savvy world we reside in. Suffice it to say, it felt like petrichor after months of scorching summer!
The idyllic setting of Malgudi, the young couple learning to live with each other and bring up their little one, it all felt so peaceful. How I wished I could move there, bag and baggage.
The language – so fluid, unostentatious – brings alive the world of Krishna. His disagreement with the education system that forces the students to learn a language meant to be savoured, and literary works meant to be celebrated, will resonate with many a teacher of today.
The ease with which R. K. Narayan weaves together sorrow and joy makes one wonder if it is really so easy – expressing the varied human emotions in words!
The atmosphere of the place grows on you, as do the characters you wish you could meet in real life.
R. K. Narayan transports you back to that time when innocence and simplicity really existed. The book was written in around 1945, so you can imagine the life back then. No, actually, we really can not! Krishna, his wife and daughter, their lives, their world, their journey…you will wish you could walk along with them and live those moments with them.
How I wish I could give you a sneak peek into the plot, but I will leave you guessing.
Do read this book. I am sure it will make you yearn for an uncluttered life in an idyllic, small town by the river side! Oh, and without a wifi connection, as well!