Back to: RK Narayan Novels
This is a story of generational conflict and struggles to bridge the gulf of time and age. The story revolves around Jagan, owner of a small sweet shop who is a devout Hindu.
He lives his life as prescribed by the Hindu scriptures and takes every superstition as a divine sign of the right path. He is married and has a son named Mali.
However, he loses his wife to illness. He believes in the natural system of medicine and healing and refuses medical help for his wife. This causes his son to develop resentment toward him for supposedly letting his mother die.
The father-son duo starts to drift apart even at this stage. As Mali grows up he decides to leave school and pursue a writing career. Harbouring aspirations of his own, Jagan sympathizes with the instinct to write in his son and supports him.
However, he surprises Jagan when he shows him his passport and ticket to the USA. He wants to go abroad and join a writing programme. Reluctantly, Jagan gives him his blessings.
As time passes, they exchange letters and wait for the reunion. When Mali does return, he shocks his father. He is accompanied by his girlfriend, a Korean girl named Grace.
Jagan is dumbfounded and confused but he accepts her gradually. In fact, he strikes a healthy relationship and communication with Grace who becomes the bridge between the estranged father-son duo.
Mali develops plans to create a machine for writing and describes it to his father. He wants his father to finance his ambition but Jagan refuses. He is still rooted in his traditional ways and comprehensions and considers Mali’s ambition as a fantasy.
Mali is disgruntled by his father’s refusal and gets drunk. Apart from suffering at his son’s whims all these years, Jagan decides to let him suffer and heal on his own.
Contrary to his first thoughts about renouncing the world, he turns to Grace as his daughter in law. He leans on her as his family, drastic reversal from his initial opinion of her.