One thing about R. K. Narayan’s stories is that there is always a feeling of déjà vu when reading them. Not that he repeats his stories or that his characters are similar, just that over a period of 12 years of schooling + pre-university college + 39 episodes of Malgudi days, you are likely to have bumped into his stories somewhere or the other, some time or the other. But there is no denying the fact that his characters drawn from everyday life hold a mysticism and charm that no matter how many times you read you never cease to be amazed.
With nothing else on the library queue materializing for me, I searched for anything by RKN and came across “Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories”. This one had 20 odd stories in all, each of them dealing with one mundane character after another. The strict and irritable dads in dhoti reading newspapers on Sunday afternoons, the jack-of-all-trades who does odd jobs around the village, little kids who hate Maths and need more money, the talkative man, the miserly grocer; it had stories of every one of these characters. Pretty refreshing to get back to the familiar world of Market Road, Kabir Lane, Lawley Extension, New Extension, Mempi and the Sarayu river.
I finished this in a breeze as with most RKN works with a mixed feeling of déjà vu and nostalgia. A recommended read if you love the world of Malgudi.