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‘Out of Business’ is a short story written by R K Narayanan. It talks about how seeking the easy way out is not a solution or substitute for hard work, how fruitless it can prove to be.
About the Author:
Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Narayan (1906-2001) was a noted Indian author. Born in modern-day Chennai, he is known for his simplistic eloquent mode of writing. Famous works of his include Swami and Friends, A Tiger for Malgudi, and Malgudi Days.
The theme of this short story revolves around the idea of hardship one has to suffer when their life turns for the worse all of a sudden. How wishful thinking is dangerous is also a theme portrayed here.
The story begins with Rama Rao, who had been the Malgudi agent for a gramophone company. However, as that company had been shut down Rama Rao finds himself thrown in the streets. With whatever small savings he had in the bank fast melting, he found himself forced to withdraw his children from the ‘fashionable’ school they had been going to change them to a free school. His wife too had to send away her household help. They had to move to a small house than the bungalow they had been living in.
In his forty years, Rama Rao found it next to impossible to find a job. Everywhere he went, he was turned down, much to his frustration. He saw his wife and children suffer due this and felt miserable himself. Their only source of income was the rent from the bungalow they had previously lived in. The meagre cash they had was fast dwindling.
At this point, it came to this notice that four thousand rupees was given as the first prize for those who solved the four pages of crossword puzzles in The Captain journal. He threw himself at it, hardly taking notice of his family, his only goal to attain the prize money. To his sore disappointment, he found that he was not a recipient of the prize. Upset but undeterred, he vowed to win it the next time.
Much to the chagrin of his wife, he kept asking for more money to buy the journal, only to lose again. His hope got renewed as he saw a special edition stating that the journal offered eight thousand as the prize money. Rama Rao dreamt of all he could do with the money if he won, how he would then go to Madras to find work. As expected, he didn’t win.
Depressed, Rama Rao decided to take his own life. Instead of going home, he went to the railway station, laying down on the tracks. However, no trains came. When Rama Rao went to inspect, it was revealed that a every train had been delayed due to an accident. Taking it as a sign from God, Rama Rao returns home to his worried family and receives the news that their tenant wishes to buy their bungalow. He immediately agrees, vowing to his wife that he’ll never again do crossword puzzles and instead would go to Madras to find a job.
This is a story that talks about the struggles a person has to go through when facing a difficult time and the choices he has to make as a consequence. Rama Rao, although having slipped, regains his senses. Taking the easier way out, he realised, will never be the right option to make.