The Guide Summary
Raju, the tourist guide has just been released from the jail. He sits cross-legged beside an ancient shrine near the village Mangal. The shrine is on the banks of the river Sarayu. The villager named Velan comes there after seeing his married daughter.
Raju has his last shave only two days before after his release from the jail. The talkative barber says, “You look like a maharaja now”. The barber is a master and wise man. He guesses rightly that Raju has been released from the jail. Raju repeats, “Not a bad place”.
Velan looks at Raju with a great devotion and Raju tells him, “I am not so great as you imagine. I am just ordinary”. But Velan has his own problem to be solved.
Then Raju recalls his own past. He thought that Rosie has not come from a foreign land. She was just an Indian like Devi, Meena, Lalitha or any one of the thousand names in India. Rosie was a great classical but an orthodox dancer. Raju was the first man to appreciate her art of dancing but her husband was a grotesque creature in his life. He looked like a space traveler and was dressed like a permanent tourist.
Raju thought about his past life as a tourist guide. He lived in a small house opposite to Malgudi Railway Station. His father had a small shop and all day he sat there selling peppermint, fruit, tobacco, betel leaf, parched gram, and whatever else the wayfarers on the Trunk Road demanded. It was known as the ‘hut- shop’. Raju recalled his childhood memories of his own life, his father, mother and his trips to the town.
When Velan raises his own problem about his father’s last wife’s youngest daughter, Raju talks magnificently like a holy man of Lord Buddha and the dead child. Raju then tells him that everyone has a problem. Velan’s problem is that the girl shows no gratitude and is unwilling to accept his plans for her marriage with his cousin’s son. Raju asks Velan to bring her there and he would talk to her. When Velan goes away, Raju is left alone. He says himself, ‘I shall be rewarded for this profound service to humanity. People will say, “Here is the man who knows the exact number of stars in the sky. If you have any trouble on that account, you had better consult him. He will be your right guide for the skies”. While counting the stars in the sky, he fell asleep under the open sky.
Next morning Velan comes to Raju with his step-sister of fourteen years old. Velan has brought a basket filled with bananas, cucumbers, pieces of sugar-cane, fried nuts, and copper vessel brimming with milk. Raju sat in silence, eyeing the gift for a while and then picked up the basket and went into an inner sanctum. He placed the basket of edibles at the feet of the image and said, “It’s His first. Let the offering go to Him, first; and we will eat the remnant.” Then he began narrating the story of Devaka, a man of ancient times who begged alms at the temple gate every day and would not use any of his collections without first putting them at the feet of the god. This story was told him by his mother but he couldn’t remember the whole story.
Suddenly Raju said to Velan, “I am not going to think of your problem, Velan, not now.” Velan retorts ‘why’. Raju says, “When the time is ripe for it”. He also tells Velan that he should think over the problem and further adds, “Whatever is written here will happen——-.We may not change it, but we may understand it”———- ‘And to arrive at a proper understanding, time is needed’. Velan understands and appreciates his wisdom. Raju looks at Velan’s difficult sister and says, ‘What must happen must happen; no power on earth or in heaven can change its course, just as no one can change the course of that river’.
Raju as a child is now growing fast. Very soon the train is to be introduced in Malgudi. He sees the men busy in the track outlines of Mempi Hills. Then Raju’s father does not send him to Albert Mission School but to a Pyol School in Kabir Lane. Raju begins to learn the alphabet and numbers there. Thus Raju’s education begins. The school master gets one rupee a month and some gifts by the students’ guardians or parents. Raju then is sent in Board High School for the first standard.
Velan comes near Raju with the news of a miracle and tells him that his sister’s problem is over and she is ready to marry her cousin. Before The assembled family she said, “I have been a bother to you all these days. Forgive me, all of you. I shall do whatever my elders order me to do”.
One day Velan comes back and invites Raju to his sister’s marriage but Raju avoids the wedding ceremony. After wedding the girl regards Raju as her saviour and tells everyone, “He doesn’t speak to anyone, but if he looks at you, you are changed”.
Very soon a huge mob begins to gather in the evening at the temple on the river bank of Sarayu and takes him as a saint. But Raju felt that he himself was an intruder. After release from the jail he tried very hard to think where he should go next and what to do.
One evening he hides behind a bush to avoid the villagers. One of the villagers said, “He is a big man, he may go anywhere, he may have a thousand things to do”. Another man said, “Yogis can travel to the Himalayas just by a thought”. Next morning Raju realized that he had no alternative. He has to play the role Velan had given to him. Raju begins to play the role of a saint. He calls Velan’s nephew and asks him to tell his uncle that he has come again.
One day, the Railway station building at Malgudi is ready. The Stationmaster and a porter began to stay in stone house at the back of the station. Raju’s father became a prosperous businessman. He acquires a jutka and a horse in order to go to the town and do his shopping. He uttered the word ‘bank’. As a shopkeeper he runs a shop at the Railway station. Because of Raju’s mother’s continuous opposition, he sells the horse the carriage.
The stationmaster and the porter named Karia came to observe Raju’s father’s shop. As per the suggestions of the stationmaster, the shop is filled in with bananas, Mempi oranges, fried stuff, colourful papermints and sweets, loaves of bread, buns and cigarettes. Occasionally Raju is made the in-charge of this hut-shop and the customers did not find in him a good companion for them. Very soon, Raju’s father asks him to handle the business in the new shop at Malgudi Railway Station and it stopped his schooling.
The banana which Raju gave to Velan’s nephew worked a miracle. The nephew told everyone that the saint is back at his post. Naturally, men, women, and children assembled there in a large number. Raju advised them about education. Next day, the schoolteacher visits Raju and Raju tells him the importance of education. He advises the teacher, “After all self-help is the best help”, and “It is our duty to make everyone happy and wise”. The teacher responds him that he will do anything under his guidance.
The result is that the teacher went back to the village as a changed man. The students came there and Raju spoke to them on godliness, cleanliness, and the Ramayana. Raju gets hypnotized by his own voice.
Raju’s father dies and his mother becomes a widow. Raju closed down his father’s hut-shop and set the new shop at Malgudi Railway Station. He felt like an actor who had come on the stage.
Velan comes there and asks Raju, “Give a discourse, Sir”. The only topic on which he could speak with any authority was his own jail life and its benefits for one mistaken for a saint. He says, “All things have to wait their hour”.
Raju soon realized that his spiritual status would be enhanced if he grew a beard and long hair to fall upon his nape. His prestige as a saint had grown beyond his wildest dreams. His influence on the mob was unlimited. He not only chanted holy verses but also discoursed on philosophy. He began to prescribe medicines to children who would not go to sleep. Even he settled the disputes and quarrels over the division of ancestral property.
Raju became famous as ‘Railway Raju’. Perfect strangers began to ask him about the famous spots around Malgudi. His friend, the old shark is Gaffur, the taxi- driver. Gaffur takes the tourists in his car to various places. Within a few days Raju became a full-blown tourist guide. Occasionally, he asks the porter’s son to look after his shop and he goes with tourists in Gaffur’s taxi. At home, Raju’s mother asks him to accept the proposal of Lalitha, the young daughter of her brother.
In a few months Raju became a seasoned guide. He became a part-time shopkeeper and a full time tourist guide. Malgudi and its surroundings were his special show. His tourists are of many kinds and types and he tries to please them of all. One day a very strange tourist named Marco came to Malgudi along with his wife named Rosie from Madras. Raju made their lodging provision at the Anand Bhavan Hotel. Rosie had a figure. A slight and slender one beautifully fashioned with sparkled eyes and dusky complexion. As soon as she set foot in Malgudi, she asked Raju, ‘Can you show me a cobra- a King Cobra it must be- which can dance to the music of a flute’.
While Marco is engaged in investigating carving episodes from the Ramayana on the stone wall in Iswara Temple in North Extension, Raju took Rosie in Gaffur’s taxi to watch a cobra dance at Nallappa’s grove on the other side of the river. Rosie swayed her body in a dance giving the snake- girl performance. Rosie appears to be the greatest dancer of the century to Raju.
Rosie’s husband, Marco is an extraordinary hateful fellow. When Raju tells his mother about their visit to a snake charmer, she doubts about the girl as a snake- dancer. Thereupon Raju says, ‘Mother, she is a good girl, not a snake-worshipper. She is a dancer’.
Next day, Raju went upstairs to Room 28 on the second floor of the hotel. Marco, the strange man wanted to study the friezes. He also wanted to study the cave-paintings. Rosie is not willing to come with Marco to see caves. But Raju goes back to Room no. 28 and persuades Rosie to come along with them. He appreciates her dance, form and figure and introduces himself in these words, ‘My name is Raju’. Then he asks her to be ready and remarks, ‘Who would decorate a rainbow?’ Yet she is not willing to join them but Raju says, ‘Because life is so blank without your presence’. She responds, ‘Wait a minute, then’.
Now Rosie, Raju and Marco go to the Peak House in Gaffur’s car. The Peak House is situated on the topmost cliff on Mempi Hills. The river Sarayu is seen sparkling at a distance. Joseph is their caretaker. He is nearly sixty years old man. He was converted into a Christian by the missionaries. They have to stay there for a night. Joseph gave them some useful suggestions and said to Rosie,’ If you sit up on that veranda, you can watch tigers and other animals prowling about. But you must not make any noise; that is the secret of it’.
At seven-thirty in the evening, Raju tried to serve the dinner. At that time Rosie said, ‘No, no. Let me serve you both, and I will be the last to eat, like a good housewife’. When Raju tries to serve a dish to Marco, Rosie snatches it from his hands and it is her golden touch on which his memory lingers on. The soul of Raju is crying to say her that won’t she be his sweetheart. After the dinner Raju and Rosie went to the glass veranda to watch animals and Marco was lost in his papers.
Next day, Marco and Raju went to the valley to study caves keeping Rosie in the Guest House. Marco is engaged in his ruin collecting activities. Immediately, Raju went back to the Guest House where Rosie was alone. Rosie surprisingly said, ‘Looking for me?’ Raju learnt from Rosie that they had quarrels every night. But Raju said, ‘Being with you must be such a bliss’. Then Raju praised her dancing and spoke out his love for her. He spoke of her as ‘an artist……World’s artist number one’. Then she said, ‘You are a brother to me’ and gave all details of their married life. She told him that she belonged to a family traditionally dedicated to the temples as dancers. The women in her family are considered as public women and are not considered respectable. She has taken her master’s degree in Economics. Hers is a registered marriage with Marco and he is a man of high social standing; He has a house outside Madras. But he is interested in painting and old arts. Raju overcame with the sadness in her life and said, ‘In his place, I would have made you a queen of the world’ and put his hand on her shoulder.
Marco’s car didn’t come back because of breakdown, so they stayed there for another night. When Gaffur’s car came there, Marco asked Raju to bring his black trunk from the hotel. At that time Rosie seeks his permission to go back to hotel and says, ‘We may not be able to return tonight’. After coming back to Malgudi, Raju goes to his home to change. His mother comments, ‘Becoming a dandy’ Gaffur, too, warned him, ‘She is a married woman, remember’. Thereupon Raju said, ‘She is like a sister to me’. At night Raju and Rosie went to see a movie and returned to the hotel after the picture. At midnight, he stepped in Room No. 28 and locked the door on the world.
Several years have passed. Men and women are busy worshipping Raju as a saint. His disciples brought him special gifts according to seasons and festivals of the year. So he did not require a calendar. His beard now caressed his chest and his hair covered his back. He wore a necklace of prayer-beads around his neck. His eyes were filled with the light of wisdom. Whatever gifts his disciples brought him, he gave them all back to the women and children at the end of each day. He protested to Velan and said, ‘I am a poor man and you are poor men; why do you give me all this? You must stop it.’ But people called him Swami.
In the first half of the year there were rains; but in the second half of the year there were no rains. The summer seemed to continue. Raju asked, ‘Where are the rains?’ The millet crop is all scorched on the stalks. A thousand banana seedlings are dead. Raju’s reaction is, ‘Such things are common; don’t worry too much about them. Let us hope for the best.’ However, the cattle do not get grass to eat. The river Sarayu became dry. Sugar-canes were wilted. The villagers always talked about the scarcity of the rains. Raju decreed, ‘You must not think too much of it. The rain god sometimes teases those who are obsessed with thoughts of him.’ Yet it was reality that cattle stopped giving milk and flocks of sheep became dry. The wells in the villages were drying up. The earth was fast drying up. A buffalo was found dead on a foot track. Velan took the Swami to observe the scene in the village. The Swami raised his hand and said, ‘Be peaceful; I will fix it with gods.’ He gave several explanations of the losses and pleased the villagers.
More cattle were found dead here and there. The village shopman started charging high prices. As a matter of fact, there was a battle between the shopman’s relatives and sympathizers and Velan and his men. Next morning Velan’s brother came to Raju with sad news that several villagers and Velan got injured skulls and burns. After listening to the story of the village quarrel from Velan’s twenty-one years old brother, a semi-moron, Raju said to him, ‘Tell your brother, immediately, wherever he may be, that unless they are good I will never eat.’ Raju has given the message that he will not eat till they are good. Velan’s brother of the lesser intelligences ran into the assembly of his village elders and said, ‘The Swami, Swami, doesn’t food anymore. Don’t take any food to him.’ When asked ‘Why’, the boy replied that it doesn’t rain and there should be no fight. Then all the villagers declared, ‘Let us all go and pay our respects to Swami, our saviour.’
Raju was waiting for his usual gifts and food. He had suggested them to bring him wheat flour, rice flour and spices so that he can prepare something new. He has liking for bonda, which he used to eat in the railway station stall. It was composed of flour, potato, a slice of onion, a coriander leaf and a green chili. Now he sees a crowd coming to him. They called him Mahatma. They touched his feet. Velan said, ‘Your penance is similar to Mahatma Gandhi’s. He has left us a disciple in you to save us.’ Velan remains there to look after him. When Raju says that the next day he will take his usual food, Velan asked him, ‘Do you expect it to rain tomorrow, Sir? Velan expected him to stand in knee-deep water, look to the skies, and utter the prayer lines for two weeks, completely fasting during the period- and so the rains would come down, provided the man who performed it was a pure soul, was a great soul. Raju had told them, ‘When the time comes, everything will be all right. Even the man who would bring you rain will appear, all of a sudden’. Then he asked Velan to live him alone that night and come to see tomorrow night. Velan agreed to do so.
Now Raju suddenly thinks of leaving the place for good or he might be in trouble. If he left the place, people will conclude that he had gone to Himalayas. He cooked his food and kept a reserve of food for a second meal at night.
Finally, Raju tells Velan that he is not a saint; he is an ordinary man like anyone else. He tells his life story to Velan. Velan listened to him without uttering a word of surprise or interjection in all humility.
Marco accepted Rosie as a member of the family. He was just an impractical and absolutely helpless man. He married Rosie out of desire to have someone care for his practical life but his choice was wrong. The girl herself was a dreamer. However, Raju gave up all his routine jobs in order to be of service to them. At Peak House he was in entire charge of Marco’s all affairs. Gaffur’s car was permanently engaged for Marco. Joseph looked after Marco’s needs at the hotel and Raju spends much of his time looking after Marco and Rosie. Marco paid him his daily rate also allowed to look after his ‘routine jobs’.
Raju is more interested in Rosie than her husband. Gaffur is not happy with Raju because he does not like that he should get involved with her. While going back to the hotel, Gaffur says to Raju that an old, uneducated wife is better than the new type of girl. Raju is obsessed with thoughts of Rosie. He is now spending more money on being looking very smart. His shop is being managed by the boy. Raju’s mother always warns him to keep eye on that boy. Then Raju went over to the shop and checked the accounts. The boy informed him that the two tourists who were interested in sightseeing went away disappointed. The boy always called him ‘Raju sir’. Raju did not care for his own mother, the shop and his bank balance. The only reality in his life and consciousness is Rosie. The man at the desk and the boys at the hotel were watchful about Raju’s arrival and departure in Room No. 28.
It is difficult to Raju to understand Rosie’s mind. She allowed him to make love to her husband on the hill. She would say, ‘After all, he is my husband. I have to respect him. I cannot leave him there’. Furthermore she cries, ‘Is this right what I am doing After all; he has been so good to me, given me comfort and freedom. What husband in the world would let his wife go and live in a hotel room by herself, a hundred miles away?’ Again she says, ‘As a good man he may not mind, but is it not a wife’s duty to guard and help her husband, whatever the way in which he deals with her?’ Raju is now in a confused mood. He feels that Marco would come down the hills and take her away. He asks Rosie, ‘Why don’t you stay up with him, then?’ She tells that he sits up all night writing and all day he is in the cave.
Rosie asks him whether he is also like her husband not interested in her dancing. Raju replies, ‘I will do anything for you. I will give my life to see you dance. Tell me what to do. I will do it for you’. This remark delighted her. She gets a bronze image of Nataraja, the god of dancers. At five in the morning she would start her practice and continue for three hours. She would then spend an hour or two in studying the Natyashastra of Bharatmuni. Raju is not really interested in her music and dancing but keep up the false face. Rosie tells him so many things about the dance and says, ‘What a darling. You are giving a new lease of life’.
Rosie along with Raju goes to the hill to see her husband. Marco talks about a wonderful third cave. Then he showed him some marvelous cave paintings. But Raju is ignorant about them. But still he went through them with a show of interest. Marco told him, ‘When this is published, it’ll change all our present ideas of the history of civilization. I shall surely mention in the book my debt to you in discovering this place.’
Two days later Raju went back to the hill and Joseph told him that Marco and Rosie had gone down and didn’t return yet. After some time Marco returned and Rosie followed him silently. Suddenly Marco said, ‘It’ll not be necessary for either of you to come in’ and shut the door of his room. Rosie then passed up the steps without a word, opened the door of his room and went into the room. This behaviour baffled Raju. Meanwhile, Gafffur came round to ask, ‘What time are we going down?’ Raju said, ‘Why are you in a hurry, Gaffur?’ Gaffur came close to Raju and said, ‘Raju, this in not at all good. Let us get away. Leave them alone. After all, they are husband and wife; they’ll know how to make it up. Come on. Go back to your normal work. You are so interested and carefree and happy then.’
Raju thought over Gaffur’s advice for a while and asked him to wait near the car. Then he heard Marco calling Gaffur, ‘Driver, are you ready to go?’ Marco picked up his bundle and started walking to the car. It puzzled Raju. He tried to cross the hall and open the door but it was bolted. Then Raju went near the car. Marco had already taken his seat. Raju asked Marco with courage, ‘Where are you going?’ Marco replied, ‘I’m going down to the hotel to close my accounts there.’ Then Raju said, ‘Take that man wherever he may want to go and bring me back the car tomorrow- and you will make complete settlement of all your bills with him. Keep a separate account for my own trips.’
There is a quarrel between Raju and Marco. Raju opened the door of the car and pulled Marco out of it and said, ‘You can’t abandon a wife in this place and go away.’ Marco asked, ‘Who are you? What is your business?’ and said, ‘And I dispense with your service from this minute. Give me your bill and be done with it.’ Again, he said, ‘Let us be done with everything, and then you get out of my sight.’ Raju asked Joseph to open the other suite and account it to him. Raju entered in this new suite and left the door open. Marco had gone and bolted himself in his own room.
Half an hour passed without any speech or movement. Raju was worried about Rosie’s food. So he himself put the food on plates, put them on a tray and walked to their room. Rosie was lying on her bed with eyes shut and Marco was sitting in his chair. Raju placed the tray before Marco. Rosie opened her eyes and said, ‘Don’t waste any more of your time with us. You go back. That’s all I have to say.’ Raju said, ‘First, you must have your food. For what reason are you fasting? She repeated, ‘I want you to go.’ Raju became weak and cowardly at her tone and thought that she had been in his arms forty-eight hours ago and was asking him to leave. Raju came back to Gaffur and left the place. Gaffur said, ‘It’s time your elders found a bride for you. Raju I’m senior in years. I think this is the best thing you have done. You will be more happy hereafter.’
Then a more miserable period of his life started. He had no taste for food, no sound sleep, no stability, no peace of mind, no sweetness of temper or speech- no. no. no. a number of no’s. Everything looked so unreal. He relieved the boy and began to look after the shop. He started to work as ‘Railway Raju’, the guide. However, he did not forget Rosie. Thirty days passed and one day his mother said to him, ‘Someone is asking for you.’ There stood Rosie on the threshold, with a trunk at her feet and a bag under her arm. Raju welcomed her and told his mother that Rosie is their guest now. There is a discussion between Raju’s mother and Rosie about whereabouts.
Raju asks Rosie to tell him everything from beginning to end. Rosie asked Marco for his permission to dance but he regarded dancing as street-acrobatics. Rosie said, ‘Everyone except you likes it.’ And it was her blunder. Then Marco worked as an examining doctor and subjected to a close questioning. He asked details of their movements. Finally he said, ‘I didn’t know that that hotel catered to ‘such fervid art- lovers! I was a fool to have taken too much decency for granted.’ Rosie felt that she had made the capital blunder of her life. She realized that she had committed a sin. She was terrified and pitied her husband. Marco felt as if he was alone in the world. He would not eat his food. He did not look at her and speak to her. He told, ‘This is my last word to you. Don’t talk to me. You can go where you please or do what you please.’ Rosie asked for pardon and said, “I want to be with you. I want you to forget everything. I want to forgive me.” He said, ‘You are not my wife. You are a woman who will go to bed with anyone that flatters your antics. That’s all. I don’t want you here, but if you are going to be here, don’t talk. That is all.’ The Othello was kindlier to Desdemona.
One day Marco started packing his luggage in Room No. 28 as he alone was going back to Madras. She also picked up her trunk and followed him. Marco said, ‘I have no ticket for you.’ Then Rosie came to Raju’s home. Raju comforted her and said, ‘You are in the right place. Forget all your past. We will teach that cad a lesson by and by.’ He tells her that he will make her the greatest dancer. Raju’s mother objected to Rosie’s presence at her home but Raju says, ‘I am an adult. I know what I am doing’.
Now Raju has given his shop to a new contractor. Raju slaps the previous boy as he neglected the shop. Then the boy’s father who is a porter remarked, ‘It is not he who has ruined you but the saithan inside. He meant Rosie. There is a quarrel between the porter and Raju and Raju is saved due to his mother.
Raju’s creditor was the Sait, a wholesale merchant in Market Road. He was a prosperous businessman. He was Raju’s good friend. One day the Sait called on Raju and he personally came to see Raju. He opened his notebook and told Raju the figure of dues nearly eight thousand rupee. There is a hot argument between Raju and Sait and within a week or ten days there is a criminal suit against Raju. He looks out for a lawyer to fight out the case. With the help of Gaffur he finds an adjournment expert.
Raju thinks of starting a new life with Rosie as a public dancer. He needed five hundred rupees to start the new business. He thought of Rosie as a gold mine as the Bharat Natyam is really the greatest art business. He asks Gaffur to help him. Gaffur was essentially a man of heart but he had no money. He advised Raju to send Rosie away and start an ordinary real life. He prayed God to give him better sense and went away.
Sait is bringing a criminal motive to quicken the procedure. Raju had a small lawyer to plead his case. Raju gives him five rupees. He manages to get an adjournment for Raju. Rosie is not interested in this case. Now it is Raju’s mother’s turn. She had adjusted to Raju’s behaviour as a loafer. One day Raju’s maternal uncle dropped in like a bolt from the blue. He was a general advisor and director of all family matters in Raju’s household. Raju’s mother wanted him to marry her elder brother’s daughter. Raju’s maternal uncle took him to task and asked Rosie to go away by the next train. Raju’s mother called her a serpent and a viper. Now, out of anger, Raju’s mother prepares to leave the house. Raju and Rosie pleaded her not to go. But Raju’s mother went away with her brother after the quarrel.
Now Rosie starts a new phase of her career. As a public dancer she has been christened as Nalini, a name that could have significance, poetry, and universality. Raju becomes a man with a mission. He is on the road to become an impresario. He ceases to be the old Railway Raju. When the two men Management Committee of the Secretary and the Treasurer came to Raju’s house to watch Rosie’s Bharat Natyam dancing, Rosie welcomes them with a smile.
The Union function started and Rosie soared Rocket-like. Her name became a public property. She had the genius in her, and the public had to take its notice. Raju adapts himself into a businesslike impresario. He is now conferring favour on them by permitting the dancing programmes. The people try to catch a glimpse of Rosie. She is so grateful to Raju for her success.
Now Raju is unwilling to stay in his old house. He rents one at New Extension in keeping with their status. Now Rosie had a ‘dance master’, a man from Koppal. Raju has appointed a large staff of servants- a car driver, two gardeners, a Gurakha sentry and two cooks. Raju’s office was on the ground floor with a secretary in- waiting, a young graduate from a local college.
There were several visitors to them. There were musicians who wanted a chance to accompany Nalini. There were others with genuine offers of engagement. But Raju had a monopoly of her and told the visitors that she was busy. However, there was Raju’s inner circle of friend consisting of two judges, four eminent politicians, two big textile mill-owners, a banker, a municipal councilor, and the editor of The Truth, a weekly. Sometimes there were musicians or actors around Nalini. Raju wanted her to be happy but only in his company.
Now there engagements took them to all corners of South India, with Cape Comorin at one end and the border of Bombay at the other. Raju’s philosophy was centred upon all the money in the world. Raju obtained a medical certificate to say that he needed alcohol for his welfare and became a ‘permit-holder’. Raju played Three- Cards with some men. He now became a man of status.
One day the book entitled The Cultural History of South India arrived by post. Marco was its author who had acknowledged his debt to Sri Raju of Malgudi Railway Station. Raju did not show that book to Rosie and it was his horrible mistake. If he had shown the book to Rosie, everything would have been well. Raju had committed an act of treachery and betrayal.
Three days later Marco’s photograph appeared n The Illustrated Weekly of Bombay. Marco’s photograph was published along with a review of his book, and the book was called, ‘An epoch- making discovery in Indian cultural history’.
Rosie wanted to see Marco’s book. She called Raju’s secretary, Mani and asked him for the book. Meanwhile Rosie had cut out Marco’s photo and placed it on her dressing mirror. Rosie asked Raju, ‘Where have you kept the book?’ Raju said, ‘All right, I will show it to you tomorrow’. Raju explained her that Mani was responsible for that mistake. At night, Rosie said, ‘After all, after all, he is my husband.’ But Raju takes everything lightly and talks about his role in making Rosie the great classical dancer, the figure of name and fame.
Suddenly a letter arrives from Marco’s lawyer in Madras. A letter was addressed to ‘Rosie alias Nalini’. The content in the letter was ‘Madam, under instruction from our client, we are enclosing an application for your signature, for the release of a box of jewellery left in safe custody at the Bank of ——–, in the marked place’. Raju did not show this letter to Rosie. He put that letter to his drink casket and locked it up. He thought over the letter for some time. He was in a dilemma whether to show the letter to Rosie or not. She also never asked for it. He thought about the quantity of jewellery in the box. At midnight, he once again saw the letter, and made a careful trial of Rosie’s signature and forged this letter after some struggle in his mind and posted it at seven-thirty in the morning. He now waits for the insured packet to come in return of the letter.
Their programme was going on at Kalipet, a small town sixty miles away. Two hours passed and Rosie was doing her fifth item- a snake dance that lasted for forty- five minutes. When the dance was going on, there came the District Superintendent of Police asking for Raju. He is there with a warrant of Raju’s arrest on the act of forgery. Rosie blamed for ‘karma’ and said, ‘He was no longer my friend, but a frightful technician’.
Raju has to spend a couple of days in the lock up. Rosie spent much money to save Raju but in vain. Then Raju got the bail. But finally, the case is lost by him and he is in jail. In jail, he becomes a model prisoner. Mani came to visit him. Raju told him that the Central jail is not a bad place. Mani gave him the news that Nalini had cleared out all the financial transaction of the town, bag and baggage. She had settled down at Madras and was looking after herself quite well. She had given Mani a gift one thousand rupees on the day of her departure. Before her departure, she had paid all the debts. She had sold all the furniture and other possessions to an auctioneer. She carried with her only Marco’s book and went away into the car. Mani also told Raju that his mother is keeping well in the village.
Raju’s narration of his past to Velan was over at the dawn. Raju had mentioned every detail of his career from his birth to his release from the jail. Velan questioned Raju, ‘I don’t know why you tell me this, entire Swami’. However, he assured Swami that he will keep it all a secret and went away to the village.
A wandering newspaper correspondent who had come to the village to observe the draught situations sent off a wire to his paper at Madras to circulate the news in all towns of India. The heading was ‘Holy man’s penance to end the draught’. He sent a second telegram to say, ‘Fifth day of fast.’ He described how the swami came to the river’s edge, faced its source, and stood knee-deep in water from six to eight in the morning, uttering some prayer. Then the holy man would go back to the pillared hall of the temple. There was a big crowd around him. He fasted totally. After meditation, he would go to sleep and his devotees remain there, guarding him.
It was the fourth day of his fast. At the end of the first day, late at night, he went into his inner sanctum and ate the remaining food hastily. After that the vessel was empty. Raju felt that Velan was responsible for his present plight. The villagers have killed the crocodile and found in it the jewellery worth Rs.10000/-.
Raju made the resolution that he would give up all his thoughts of food for the next ten days. For the first time in his life he was making an earnest effort. For the first time he was learning the thrill of full application, outside money and love. It gave him a new strength to go through with the ordeal. He had been fasting to save humanity from draught. He almost lost all sensations.
The special trains for the crowds were going to Malgudi. The journalist had done their work. Gaffur’s taxi drove up and down a dozen times a day. The crowd gathered near the river Sarayu at Malgudi. The public swarmed their life flies. The Health Department came there to prevent some epidemics of Cholera, Malaria and so on. A large crowd always stood around and watched the Saint with profound awe. They touched the water at his feet and sprinkled it over their heads. Velan asked them to go away. The school master took charge of all telegrams and letters from all over the country wishing the swami success. The pressmen were busy with their daily business. The American visitor arrived in a jeep. He said, ‘Namaste’ to Swamiji. His name is James J Malone from California and his business is production and T.V. shows. Raju gave his consent. James J Malone asked him some questions regarding his fast and Raju answered them just like a wise man.
The Government appointed some doctors to look after Raju. American asked some questions to the doctors regarding Raju’s health but they had no permission to answer. Then the American asked the school teacher about Raju’s daily routine and the school master explained him in detail and asked him to see tomorrow morning.
It was the eleventh day of fast. At five thirty in the morning, the doctors declared the condition of Swami. The government gave a top priority to save the life of Swami. Velan sat very close to Swami. Raju asked him ‘help me to my feet’. Then he got up to his feet. He went down the steps of the river. He stepped into his basin of water, shut his eyes, and turned towards the mountains, muttering the prayer. He opened his eyes, looked around and said, ‘Velan, it is raining in the hills. I can feel it coming up under my feet, up my legs’, and with that he sagged down.