Book, Reviews

Grandmother’s Tale by R. K. Narayan – Book Review

Grandmother’s Tale by R. K. Narayan is the story of R. K. Narayan’s great-grandmother Bala. It is the story of how Bala grew up to be the woman she becomes and what she endures during her journey.

I have written an article on R. K. Narayan’s work in my article- Story Teller unlike any other R K Narayan. The famous fictional town ‘Malgudi’ from R. K. Narayan’s stories of Swami & his friends is now existing in reality. I learnt from a comment made by Elaine on my post and did some research which led me to Agume, Karnataka. The town where R. K. Narayan’s stories were immortalized as ‘Malgudi Days’ serial. The town of Agume, Karnataka is now called ‘Malgudi’. Have you seen Malgudi days yet?

Book Title: Grandmother’s tale by R. K. Narayan

Pages: 97

Publisher: Indian Thought Publications

ISBN: 9788185986159

Buy It Here:(Amazon) | The Grandmother’s Tale (Flipkart)

Book Summary: (My own way. Might be a little longer than the on one on Goodreads.)

Child marriage is still happening in many parts of India as we read and review books like this. R. K. Narayan’s great-grandmother is one such bride. One evening as she is playing with the kids her age in the street she is called home by her mother. Bala (a South Indian girl of age about 10) is told that her marriage has been set with Vishwa (a boy of about 12, still in school). Thus begins Bala’s journey into becoming a woman. Bala and Vishwa are married on an auspicious day and both have no idea what is happening except that now they are husband and wife. Soon, when Bala attains maturity one more ceremony will be held after which she can go to live with Vishwa, until then she is to live with her parents.

However, the young and hot-blooded Vishwa can hardly keep his distance from her. He keeps trying to find a way to converse with his docile bride. One day he sees Bala in her backyard and he tries to have conversation with her, which Bala promptly ignores by asking him to come through the front door if he wants to talk. But young love can only be contained so far. Conversations begins over the wall of Bala’s backyard between the two.

One day, Vishwa comes over the wall just like he always did and informs Bala that he will be going away. ‘Where?’ a very worried Bala asks him. Before he rushes off he only tells her that he is joining the pilgrimage party which is staying across the river and a place’s name where they are going.

Soon, the village comes to know about Vishwa’s disappearance and gossips start about Bala’s fate.  Bala continues living her life, like a normal married woman once she attains maturity but oh the village has eyes. Everyone starts different rumors about Vishwa’s apparent death and how Bala’s behavior as a married woman is not honorable. Hence the temple priest goes to Bala’s home to talk with her mother. It only increases Bala’s anger and she packs her bags. She runs out of her home telling her mother that she will find Vishwa and show these people.

Now you know why Bala crossed the village boarders. So does she find Vishwa? Does Vishwa want her anymore? How does her circumstances change her into a woman that she never thought she can be?

Read the absolutely amazing book.

Rating: 4/5


Husband hunting anyone? R. K. Narayan has been writing for almost six decades when he published this book. His journey began as simple story writer of India in 1935, it spanned his lifetime and gave us a master story-teller.

While R. K. Narayan heard this tale from his Grand Mother, narration of this story happens in a 3rd person view. We see Bala grow from a docile young girl to a strong, smart and surprisingly cunning woman. How Bala finds Vishwa and how she gets him back is the main part of the story. Most of all, I can not imagine this strength and vigor in a young lady of today. There is a  radical change in women in R. K. Narayan’s stories from 1935 to 1992.

Grandmother’s Tale by R. K. Narayan is a must read for the amazing (unexpected) Bala. No wonder since R. K. Narayan did not stop writing when he was rejected for publication, it is not in the family blood.

As opposed to the women of 50’s India, Bala is another strong character from his tales.

Maybe if you are in for a story of husband hunting & unexpected character development then go for this novel. For the love of stories, please don’t expect it to be another grandma tells you stories of Gods & Godesses or summer days with mangoes and pickles. Finally, its story of a woman that’s it.

5 thoughts on “Grandmother’s Tale by R. K. Narayan – Book Review

  1. I think that it’s essential that woman are portrayed in powerful and positive roles in moves, books, and film. It’s a powerful way to change the collective thoughts of a nation from the patriarchy that it’s in, to a place in which life will be more equitable for women.

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