Back to: RK Narayan Novels
Table of Contents
The story is about Swami who becomes an accidental hero and pride of his family. As a young boy, Swami dislikes going to school or work hard at anything. He likes to spend time with his friends and hear stories from his grandmother. He is pampered by his grandmother and so he only sleeps by her side.
However, this situation disturbs Swami’s father who wants to discipline Swami and wants him to become independent and self-reliant. He read stories of great feats by young children and wants his son to be one of them.
After trying all that he can, he finally asks Swami to spend his night in his office in place of his grandmother’s bedroom. This startles Swami who tries to resist the move. He employs many tactics like appealing to his mother and grandmother but to no avail.
He also seeks advice from his friends who suggest him to go to bed early and avoid being caught awake by his father. Unfortunately, Swami’s father does not fall for any of his tricks and coerces him to retire to his office.
He relents to a degree by allowing Swami to sleep with open doors and windows. This is because Swami is spooked by ghosts which are something his friends have warned him about. He trembles at the thought of being visited by a ghost and requests to open the window to find a quick escape.
Something Breaks In
The night passes without an alarm until Swami is woken up by a stir. He looks at the window and finds a shadowy figure trying to break in. He fears that it is the ill-famed ghost and latches on to its legs. He bites into the limbs and cries out for help.
Hearing his shriek, the family rushes to the office and the thief is apprehended. When the police arrive they congratulate Swami on his act of courage and heroism. However, Swami declines an invite to join the force. He does not want to be involved in any further acts of heroism or danger.
He decides to go back to his old ways and return to grandmother’s room. He continues to sleep in the comfort and loving care of her. When his father tries to make him sleep in the office again, it is his mother who intervenes and asks him to back off. She wants to protect the innocence and playful abandon of her child, as long as she possibly can.