The Major Characters
Krishna is a lecturer at Albert Mission College in Malgudi, where had been a student earlier. He is about thirty when the novel opens and he goes about his job of teaching students mechanically by rote. He finds no satisfaction in it as he feels that his true calling is writing poetry. Narayan does not tell us about his physical appearance or anything else about him. Krishna does not think much of Principal Brown’s agitation over the dropping of a vowel when Brown convenes a meeting of the staff over the word “honours” being spelt as “honours” in accordance with American spelling. When his department head Gajapathy sides with Brown over this obvious blasphemy, Krishna tells him: Mr Gajapathy, there are blacker sins in this world than a dropped vowel… Let us be fair. Ask Mr Brown if he can say in any of the two hundred Indian languages: Later, he talks it over with his colleagues in the hostel and is told by Rangappa that the English department existed solely for dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s” But he is not satisfied. He does not think much of his colleagues any way and is surprised to find out that Sastri is interested more in house salesmanship than in teaching logic to students. On another occasion, Gajapathy admonishes him: You haven’t get dropped the frivolous habits of your college days, Krishna. Krishna has this “seriousness of outlook” only after he has a satisfying day in college. He remarks: I was on the whole very pleased with my day – not many conflicts and worries, above all not too much of criticism. I had done almost all the things I wanted to do, and as a result, I felt heroic and satisfied. Inwardly though, he is wary of the monotonous and mechanical nature of his work. He introspects: Who was I that they (the students should obey my commands? What tie was there between me and them? Did I absorb their personalities as did the old masters and merge them in mine? I was merely a man who mugged earlier than they the introduction and the notes in the Verity edition of Lear… I did not do it out of love for them or for Shakespeare but only out of love for myself.
He teaches in the college because he is paid a hundred rupees per month. Later when Susila finds him hesitant to explain lines in a poem to her, she makes a taunt that he is an English teacher in a school and not at home. Krishna is convinced that his real calling is poetry. To satisfy this urge, he decides to get up early in the morning every day and go to the riverside for a walk. He is inspired by his natural surroundings and writes a poem on the beauty of Nature. He aspires to be a great poet of Nature and resolves to write at least a hundred lines of verse every morning before sitting down to prepare his lessons for teaching his equally disinterested students. Comically enough, he tries to pass off Wordsworth’s lines; “She was a phantom of delight” to Susila as his own; he feels sheepish when she points it out to him. Later when he visits the medium man at his house, Krishna admires the house and the surroundings. It is truly a haven for a tortured soul like him with acres and acres of trees, shrubs, orchards, the murmuring casuarinas, a lotus pond and a ruined temple on its bank. These are ideal surroundings for communicating with the spirit of his dead wife.
When Krishna receives a letter from his father informing him of the arrival of Susila and the child, he gets nostalgic about his past. After his B.A. he refused to enter government service, as many of his generations did, but went back and settled in his village and looked after his lands and property. He still writes with a steel pen with a fat green wooden handle and in his trademark ink, the preparation of which Krishna still recalls. But more than that is the memory of his elder brother bullying all his siblings in the cart that took them to the nearest town, Kavadi, for buying ingredients for his father’s special ink. We learn that the elder brother’s wife, being the daughter of a High Court judge, could not get along with Krishna’s mother, a stickler for household order and neatness. But Krishna’s brother keeps sending presents on Deepavali to Leela and constantly enquires about Susila’s health when she falls ill, Krishna fondly remembers him. Krishna’s love for his wife and child transcends everything else in his life. He is thoroughly devoted to them. He loses all sense of time in looking after Susila when she falls ill. He tries his best to nurse her back to health and is completely devastated when she dies. He contemplates suicide but the thought of his daughter Leela stops him from taking this extreme step. He is “dumb, blind, and dazed” and loses all interest in life. He suffers from insomnia, tossing about his bed in agony. Condolences, words of courage, lamentations, or assurances – he is indifferent to them. His days are filled “with a peculiar blankness and emptiness” till he receives a message from a stranger who helps him to communicate with the spirit of his dead wife.
Krishna feels satisfaction when he comes to know that she is happy in the other world and she keeps a benign eye over him and the child. She wants him to be happy and relaxed. Gradually he learns to communicate with her on his own after he has improved his “sensibilities” and seeks satisfaction in the work that enjoys. He gives up his well-paid college job and starts working in the small children’s school run by the Headmaster at a pittance. He has the constant company of Susila’s spirit which provides him with “a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to Life and Death” as he goes through his life with the zeal of “an uncompromising idealist”.
Susila is the wife of The English Teacher Krishna. A loving wife and mother, she is the replica of an ideal Hindu wife. Even though she enjoys a short happy married life, her presence pervades the novel. Like Krishna, however, Narayan does not tell her much about her physical appearance. All that we know is that she is extremely religious, sprightly and devoted to her husband and child. Susila is introduced when she arrives at the Malgudi station along with the seven-month-old Leela and her father. Krishna has been pacing up and down the station, concerned about her and the child as well as the enormous amount of luggage she is bringing with her to set up the house there. Krishna’s mother is already there to train her in household chores and Susila acquits herself creditably.
After Krishna’s mother leaves, Susila takes up her duties as a responsible housewife and reigns with an iron hand. Krishna is extravagant, whereas Susila is parsimonious. She becomes his “cash-keeper” and proves to be “a ruthless accountant”. Krishna says: In her hands, a hundred rupees seemed to do the work of two hundred, all through the month she was able to give me money when I asked. When I handled my finances independently, after making a few savings and payments, I simply paid for whatever caught my eyes and paid off anyone who approached me, with the result that after the first days, I went about without money. With the arrival of Susila, all these have been changed. She keeps a strict check on household expenditure and whenever Krishna even slightly deviates from her list of groceries, it leads to a minor squabble between the two. Krishna remarks: I found that there was an autocratic strain in her nature in these matters and unsuspected depths of rage. Only once does it lead to a fierce quarrel when Susila sells his old alarm clock with some useless papers.
Krishna is livid and he shouts at her. They do not speak for forty-eight hours and eventually, it is Krishna who makes the first move as he cannot bear her sobbing and crying. Susila readily agrees and they go out to watch a film. They resolve not to quarrel because; as she firmly believes that such quarrels can affect a child’s health. Susila waits in the garden when Krishna returns from the college in the afternoon although she pretends: I didn’t come out to look for you, but just to play with the child. She serves him coffee and tiffin, and Leela is looked after by Krishna till she goes about getting the dinner ready. She regards the old woman sent by Krishna’s mother to help her in her domestic chores as an “unnecessary expense” but is soon reconciled to this. She firmly believes in the adage that one must live within one’s means, and save enough. She has extracted a firm promise from Krishna that Leela is going to be their only child and they must save for her marriage. Whenever he jokes about having more children, she covers his mouth with her fingers and reminds him of his promise. Susila shares Krishna’s love for poetry and encourages him to write. But when he reproduces Wordsworth’s lines, “She was a phantom of delight”, she is quick to pull him up for copying and Krishna ends up bookish sheepish. And whenever Krishna shows the slightest hesitation in explaining a verse to her, she declares that do not to try to Explain English at home. He should perform his duty as an English teacher only in school and not at home.
Susila is excited when Krishna’s father offers to loan them money to buy a house on Leela’s third birthday. They set out to inspect houses on an early Sunday morning. She is dressed in her favourite indigo saree and smells of jasmine. Krishna is bewitched; he decides to call her Jasmine hereafter and their house Jasmine Home. When he tries to flirt with her, she cautions him that she hopes you’ve not forgotten that they are on a public road. Krishna treats her to a sumptuous breakfast at Bombay Ananda Bhavan. Susila is taken up with the coloured marble tiles on the walls there and, despite Krishna telling her that such tiles are used in European bathrooms; she wants to have them in the house. When Krishna agrees, she quips: “What if they are! People who like them for bathrooms may have them there, others if they want them elsewhere …” Krishna is keen to please her. Susila’s “helplessness, innocence, and her simplicity” move him deeply. Her eyes always laughed”, he recalls, “there was a perpetual smile in her eyes” (Narayan: ). Before going to Lawley Extension, Susila wants to take a detour to the riverside to bathe her feet. Krishna agrees. He promises to take her on a tour to Europe when he has made enough money from the money he makes out of the books that he is going to write. She must see the world, he tells her. But, alas, this is not to be. Susila contracts typhoid after she locks herself in a filthy lavatory in the house they have seen and liked. Krishna is so devoted to her that he loses all sense of time as he tries his best to nurse her back to health. He is devastated when she dies after just five years of happy married life. There is a sense of “peculiar blankness and emptiness” in Krishna’s life. He is stunned at this sudden loss till Susila’s spirit decides to communicate with him, first through a medium and then directly.
She assures him that she is happy in the other world and that she is keeping a constant watch over him and the child. She is aware of their day-to-day activities and would like him to be calm and relaxed, and improve his “sensibilities” if he wants to be in constant communion with her. Under her benign watch and influence, Krishna goes about his work with a light heart. The day seems to be full of surprise and joy even in such a dull, dreary and monotonous routine that he follows in college. At every sitting, she reminds of her ivory sandalwood box and the fourteen letters written by her to him which he hasn’t been able to destroy.
Fortunately, Krishna finds the box in his mother’s possession but is unable to trace the letters. Krishna finds fulfilment at last and takes up the work that pleases him and gives him immense satisfaction. He gives up his college job and starts working in the school for small children at a quarter of the salary he was getting in college. With Susila’s spirit constantly by his side, he experiences “a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to Life and Death”. As in life, Susila is constantly with him even after her death, thus testifying to the power and permanence of true love. She indeed proves to be “a phantom of delight” for her husband as she continues to guide and inspire him long after she has departed from this world. The Peasant Krishna is devastated after the death of his beloved wife Susila. He is “dumb, blind and dazed”; everything is over in the world for him. He contemplated committing suicide but the thought of his child Leela stops him from taking this extreme step. He goes about his work in college like a zombie, devoting all his time to Leela’s care and upbringing. He feels “a peculiar blankness and emptiness”, and is indifferent to condolences, words of courage, lamentations, etc. all his senses are “blurred and vague”. He sleeps irregularly and is tormented by memories of his short happy married life. In the darkness I often felt an echo of her voice and speech or sometimes her moaning and delirious talks in sick bed,” he says. There were subtle links with a happy past… (Narayan: ). Then one day he received a message from a stranger through a boy. The note says: This is a message for Krishna from his wife Susila who recently passed over… She has been seeking all these mouths some means of expressing herself to her husband, but the opportunity has occurred only today when she found the present gentleman a very suitable medium for expression.
Through him, she is happy to communicate. She wants her husband to know that she is quite happy in another region, and wants him also to eradicate the grief in his mind. We are nearer each other than you understand. And I’m always watching him and the child (Narayan: ). The message rejuvenates Krishna. He accompanies the boy to his father’s house. He is in a state of ecstasy and excitement when he meets a chubby, cheerful-looking peasant who welcomes him warmly and takes him to a quiet retreat near a lotus pond, the mango tree and the lovely ruined temple and explains to Krishna how he took a chance by contacting him through his son. As the casuarina murmur in the background, the peasant sits down with a pad and pencil. The pencil starts moving on its own as the spirits convey to him how they have been clamouring to “bridge the gulf between life and after-life’”; they have been looking for a medium through whom they could communicate. They ask the peasant to relax his mind and transcribe what Susila’s spirit wants to convey to her husband. The message begins: Here is Susila, wife of Krishna, but as yet she is unable to communicate by herself. By and by she will be adept in it (Narayan: ). Wednesday afternoons are fixed for communicating with Susila’s spirit through the medium of the peasant who closes his eyes through these trances as his fingers move automatically on the paper. He is in a frenzy as he keeps on transcribing on paper till the spirits ask him to slow down asking him to stop writing in precisely half an hour. Susila’s spirit conveys it through the medium that she is eager to communicate with him. But she is very much excited and she is also not able to collect her thoughts easily. After a false start where Susila’s spirit gives the name of the child as Radha (whereas it is Leela), she assures him that such initial difficulties will be gradually surmounted. All this while the peasant acting as the medium is unself-conscious and his mind is passive. Conditions are favourable at their next sitting and Krishna successfully communicates with the spirit of his wife. Susila asks him why he has destroyed all the letters she wrote to him but says that there is still a bundle of fourteen letters that he hasn’t been able to lay his hands on and destroy. She asks him to find the bundle as well as an ivory-sandalwood box that was her favourite and in which she kept her knick-knacks. Krishna returns home, opens Susila’s trunk but is unable to find these two objects mentioned by her. At the next meeting, she asks him not to fret about the child. The child is happy; she has started going to a nearby school for small children. In fact, the child is closer to her than her husband as “children are keener-sighted by nature”. She refers little to her departed mother because she doesn’t want to hurt her father’s feelings. There is a certain peace about her which the elders lack.
Krishna is elated. These days he goes about his work with renewed zeal; a void seems to have been filled in his life. He devotes himself to his studies energetically and then plays with the child, hearing her ceaseless prattle. One day he discovers that the child has gone to a neighbourhood school. He takes her there and enrols her as he is impressed by the headmaster’s views on the education of children. The headmaster is another profound contact he makes. At every subsequent sitting, Susila keeps providing him with more and more details about their short but happy married life. She now shares with him the perfume that she has put on and says that it is a pity he cannot smell it. She assures him that she is happy and that he should not worry about her, adding: Time as such does not exist in heaven. Life there is one of thought and experience, of aspiration, effort and joy, A considerable slate is taken up by meditation. The greatest ecstasy lies in feeling the Divine Light flooding the souls. She asks him to develop his “sensibilities” through meditation and have a calm and relaxed mind to facilitate direct communication with her. Krishna is unable to communicate with Susila for the next three or four weeks as the peasant is either ill or busy with family affairs. Then they decide to try sittings in absentia. They sit in their respective places at a fixed time and meditate on Susila’s spirit. The medium then conveys the message through letters to Krishna. Susila has found “fulfilment” in the other world. She informs Krishna that she is always by his side watching his every move. She tells him how she is dressed and what perfume she wears at a particular sitting. Krishna cannot, however, sec her by his side, sitting to his left on the floor with her arm resting on his lap. She starts appearing in his dreams. And if he wants to verify her presence in the room, she asks him to keep some jasmine buds under his pillow at night and he would feel the difference when he smells them in the morning. Krishna now wants to communicate directly with his wife’s spirit and seeks the medium’s guidance in this matter. The spirit conveys to him that he must not allow his mind to be disturbed by anything; he must not be gloomy and unsettled if he wants to establish direct communication with her. You must keep your body and mind in perfect condition before you aspire to become sensitive and receptive. Finally, she advises him: “Relax, be passive and think of me, and be receptive.”
Krishna follows her instructions and henceforth he can communicate directly with her. But the importance of the peasant who initially acted as the medium between Krishna and the spirit of his dead wife Susila cannot be minimised. He plays a vital role in coming to Krishna’s rescue when the latter is despondent and has given up all hope in life. After coming in contact with this stranger, Krishna discovers new meaning in life and the afterlife. As he relaxes and rids his mind of gloomy thoughts, he is gradually able to establish direct communion with the spirit of his dead wife. He is obsessed with her in death, as in life. This leads to an all-pervasive harmony in his life.
Susila’s spirit urges him to seek inner satisfaction and he consequently resigns his college job to work in the headmaster’s school for a quarter of his college salary to pursue his experiment in education. Susila’s spirit is there with him to guide him and this leads to “a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to Life and Death”.
The Headmaster, who runs a school for small children in Krishna’s neighbourhood, has no name. When Krishna asks him his name, he says; “Just Headmaster will do…” We are introduced to him when one day he comes to Krishna’s home to drop his daughter Leela, who has been attending his school while Krishna is away at college. The headmaster appears to be an eccentric character. He is a slight man, who looks “scraggy” as he evidently doesn’t much care for his appearance. His hair falls on his nape because he neglects to cut it, and his coat is frayed and un-pressed. Krishna likes him immensely and he wants to know more about him. There are no restrictions in his school as children can come and leave at any time they like. Leela is extremely happy when her father decides to enrol her there. She keeps on talking about school all the time. She wonders why her father doesn’t teach at her school, which is nearby, and at one which is far off. There are no holidays. Children excitedly come to school even on Sundays, and so does the headmaster. He hasn’t taken a holiday in the last fifteen years since he has been running this school which keeps so busy and fruitfully engaged that he has not felt the need for a holiday at all. “Holidays bore me,” he tells Krishna who finds him “an extraordinary man”.
When Krishna goes to enrol Leela in the school, the headmaster is “in raptures over the new arrival”. He takes Krishna around the school. He has partitioned the main hall into several rooms. The partition screens can all be seen, “filled with glittering alphabets and pictures drawn by children – a look at it seemed to explain the created universe”. One can find everything one wants there —” men, trees, and animals, skies and rivers”. The headmaster explains proudly: “All these – work of our children…. Wonderful creatures! It is wonderful how much they can see and do! I tell you, sir, live in their midst and you will want nothing else in life. In the narrow space, he has crammed every conceivable plaything for children, see-saws, swings, sand heaps and ladders. “These are the classrooms,” he says: Not for them. For us elders to learn. Just watch them for a while. The children are digging into the sand, running up the ladder, swinging, sliding down slopes all so happy.
The place is dotted with the coloured dresses of these children, “bundles of joy and play”. The headmaster explains: This is the meaning of the word joy – in its purest sense. We can learn a great deal by watching them and playing with them. When we are qualified we can enter their life… When I watch them, I get a glimpse of some purpose in existence and creation. He is putting into practice the game-way in studies which everyone talks of but no one practises and he is enthusiastic about it. When Krishna accompanies Leela to school one Sunday, he is surprised. There is no sign at the school to show that it is a Sunday. It is alive with the shouts of children – about twenty of them have already gathered and are running about and playing: the swings and see-saws are all in full use. The headmaster is already there, enthusiastically participating in their games. He engages them in singing, hearing stories and playing.
He takes Krishna into his room. It is thatch-roofed. The floor is uneven and cool, and the whole place smells of “Mother Garth”. It is a pleasing smell that takes Krishna back “to some primaeval simplicity, intimately bound up with earth and mud and dust”. Along the wall is a sort of running ledge covered with “a crazy variety of objects: cardboard houses, paper flowers, clumsy drawings and beadwork”. These are the work of children “the trophies of the school”, the headmaster explains. Then he shows to Krishna the first creation of his child – a green boat. Krishna is thrilled. There are no tables and chairs. The headmaster considers children “the real gods on earth” and expounds his philosophy of education to Krishna: This will do for a school…. most of our time being spent outside, under the tree… The main business of an educational institution is to shape the mind and character and of course, games have their value (Narayan: ). He is against much time being devoted to sports and games. He is a firm believer in “the simplicity of human conduct” which the company of children has taught him. That explains why he cannot get along With adults. He actively involves the children in his storytelling session and promises to get a cat for Leela when she insists on it. Krishna invites him home for a meal before they proceed to the headmaster’s house in Anderson Lane. After he has washed himself, the headmaster does not require a towel to dry himself. He keeps standing till the water evaporates before sitting down for the meal. Leela is delighted to have her teacher’s company. Then they proceed to Anderson Lane where the headmaster lives. It is a neglected part of the town full of dust, dirt and grime. The headmaster’s wife turns out to be a virago and his three children are uncouth and wild. She starts quarrelling with him and doesn’t stop even when he asks her not to “speak rubbish” in the presence of “a cultured visitor who will laugh at us”. There is no cat to be found in the house and a disappointed Leela returns home with Krishna and the headmaster. After seeing the headmaster’s wife, Krishna wonders, “Why people marry such wives?” The headmaster explains his wife’s behaviour to Krishna. He wanted to remain a bachelor to pursue his interests in life without any encumbrances but he was married against his will. Then he refused to pursue law after graduation and take up a regular job. So he opened this school for children. Paradoxically, his own children do not attend his school. “I could sooner get the Emperor’s children. My school is for all the children except my own,” he tells Krishna. So he finally, his wife is bitter because he refuses to enter into litigation with his stepmother and her children over his deceased father’s property. But he sticks on to her because he is convinced that “we should not despair for even the worst on earth”. The headmaster firmly believes in an astrologer’s predictions about his future. So far, he tells Krishna, his life has gone precisely according to what the astrologer had told him. The astrologer has given the precise date and time of his death, which the headmaster is convinced will turn out to be true. So one night, while Krishna is getting ready to communicate with the spirit of his dead wife Susila, the headmaster comes and tells him that this is the last night of his existence on earth and that he wouldn’t live to see the light of the next day. Deeply disturbed, Krishna assures him that there is nothing wrong with him and that he should not think of death. But the headmaster is adamant. He leaves Krishna to spend the last night of his life with his wife and children.
The next morning Krishna goes to his house to enquire about him and is surprised to find out that the headmaster has not been home at night. When he informs his wife of her husband’s death, she lets out a wail and people crowd the house. She collapses on the floor and laments that her children have become fatherless orphans. But the headmaster appears near the school gate as Krishna is returning home. First, he thinks that he has seen a ghost but later he is happy to see the headmaster alive. He tells Krishna that the prediction about his death has been “weighing” him down all these years but now he can live “free and happy”. Krishna persuades him to go home to his wife and children. He is surprised to see a crowd of people offering condolences to his wife and comments: I never imagined that I had such a large public! I thought I was fairly obscure!. But the headmaster refuses to live with his wife and children now. He tells them that they should give him up as dead from now onwards. He will give them a monthly allowance but they should never try to see him again. He now wants to devote all his time and energy to looking after his pet project, the school for small children. His wife and children, however, visit him often. He treats them kindly but refuses to visit them home, and strictly forbids them to call him father or husband. His wife is a chastened person now. She begs him to allow her to bring him food but he firmly declines the offer. Contact with the headmaster has a profound influence on Krishna. He feels that his real calling lies not in pursuing his monotonous, dull and dreary job at Albert Mission College but elsewhere. He resigns and joins the headmaster’s expanding school at a quarter of the salary he was getting in college to seek inner satisfaction. His dead wife’s spirit guides him in this and, under these twin influences, Krishna attains peace of mind.
Dr Shankar Krishna’s wife Susila falls sick when she locks herself in a filthy lavatory in the house they have gone to inspect in Lawley Extension. Her fever does not go down and she keeps lying on the floor all the time. Food is distasteful to her. It is then that the old lady working in Krishna’s house suggests that a doctor be consulted to treat her. At this stage, we are introduced to Dr Shankar of Krishna Medical Hall in Malgudi. But despite his reputation as “the greatest physician on earth” and “easily the most successful practitioner in the town”, Dr Shankar fails to cure Susila and she dies an untimely death. When Krishna reaches the doctor’s clinic, he is away but all around the benches and chairs are filled with patients and patients’ relatives. An accountant and a clerk sit next to each other at the entrance pouring over leather-bound ledgers and making entries. The walls of the clinic are lined with glass shelves loaded with the panacea that drug manufacturers invent – attractive boxes, cellophane wrappings. Bitter drugs are a thing of the past. A dispenser is distributing medicines to patients, issuing instructions and charging them money. He routinely answers the patients’ questions but some of the patients are keen to consult the doctor himself and tell him in detail about their ailments. The doctor’s car stops and he steps out. Everyone presses around him. He looks like a film star being mobbed by his admirers. He waves his hand, smiles and gently presses all his admirers to their seats. When his turn comes, Krishna tells the doctor about his Wife’s condition. Calling him “professor”, Dr Shankar writes down a prescription for his wife and puts it away for the dispenser. Then he starts attending to another patient who gives him a long-minded account of pain in the back of the head which travels all the way down to his ankle and then goes up again.
The doctor hardly gives attention to him. He cracks a couple of jokes at the expense of the patient and writes down a prescription for him. Krishna is disappointed with the mechanical red tape method and returns home with the medicine for Susila. Dr Shankar appears as a mere “automaton” to him. But when Susila’s fever doesn’t come down and Krishna wants the doctor to visit her at home, he confidently tells Krishna: Oh no, it is just malaria. I have fifty cases like this on hand, no need to see her. When, however, Krishna insists, Dr Shankar condescends to examine Susila at home. There he seems to be an old friend amiable and cheerful. He tells Susila: Many people take it as an opportunity for a holiday…… Although his visit cheers Susila it does not in any way help cure her. Then he decides to conduct a blood test and he revises his earlier diagnosis of typhoid. He assures Krishna that it is a mild attack and prescribes new medicines along with issuing instructions for looking after the patient. He is now certain that he can cure Susila. Malaria, according to him, is the most critical and temperamental thing on earth. He seems glad that it is typhoid, the king among fevers – it is an aristocrat who observes the rules of the game. He is confident that Susila will be back on her feet after typhoid has run its course. Susila’s room is turned into a sick ward with Krishna and his father-in-law alternately keeping vigil over the patient.
Dr Shankar’s visits, though regular, are of no help. To cheer up Susila he narrates the humorous story of a daughter-in-law of a family who was in bed for two weeks during which she had put on weight. Her husband came to the doctor privately and requests him to cure his wife as early as possible. On hearing this story, Susila laughs so much that her face becomes red and she breaks into a sweat. As Susila’s condition deteriorates, Dr Shankar brings a reputed, Madras physician to elicit a second opinion but to no avail. Dr Shankar eventually gives up hope. Narayan has very skillfully portrayed every character in this novel. All characters perform the leading role to get the desired effect on readers. Through these characters, the novel enlivens the readers fully.