Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bachelor of Arts - Simply Simple

A book which effectively deals with realistic issues and perfect embodiment of simplicity and values is found in Bachelor of Arts. R.K Narayan has this uncanny knack of portraying Indian values in the most authentic way. He handles it in a way that no author can do the same justice to the Indian conditions. Many foreign authors have tried and faltered to come to terms with the living conditions here. But, R.K. Narayan has repeatedly come up with books that essays deeply into the emotions of the common man, picking out little things from daily lives that makes a big difference to the reader when reading the book. Be it the masterpiece Swami and friends, where any reader can be attributed to have lead a life similar to that of Swami, The Financial Expert which brilliantly deals about the relationship between father and son or The English Teacher, which explores the intricate association between a husband and wife, and the subsequent agony of the husband after his wife's departed soul, R.K. Narayan comes up with touching themes that leaves the reader in deep introspection.

Bachelor of Arts is a walkthrough of a generation revolving around the main protagonist of the story, Chandran. Chandran is so ominously present in us that it doesn't become difficult to get into his groove. There are times when the reader has to stir himself up with the feeling Oh!! Is this happening to me?!! A story starting from college days of a B.A, History graduate, progressing into that difficult phase where every student faces a huge roadblock in his life - whether to continue studies or not or rather What do I do next?, and then, falling unsuccessfully in love with the girl next door only to think that solitude is the best company before realising that family means a lot more than that of a girl's love, and chalking out a career after the worn-out days of love is the walkthrough of this brilliant piece of literature by the greatest Indian writer of all times.

Chandran's college days are a gentle reminder of our days. Planning out a study schedule for the exams brings memories where we have planned more than we studied. The household of Chandran brimming with life, with his mother, father and brother is like any typical Indian family. The college activities of Chandran are superbly written. The debates of whether historians have to be slaughtered or not, is brilliantly depicted. His friendship with Ramu and their mutual admiration for each other is well handled. R.K. Narayan has also beautifully brought out the fact how college friends do not end up as friends for life. When Ramu loses all touch from him after a few years, R.K. Narayan through Chandran says People pretended that they are friends, but the fact is they are brought together by forces of circumstances. How true!!!

His life changes when he sees a girl, Malathi in the town. He constantly ponders about her at home. His parents become distressed seeing his situation at home. They, to fulfill their son's wish try their best to strike the alliance, but due to the conventional concepts of horoscope matching, ill luck has its claim on the alliance. Chandran is shattered with the developments, and all the more, when he sees his hearthrob getting married. He feels that running away from home is the best thing for him to do. He does run away to Madras, where he carefully eludes staying at his cousin's house, and slips away to obscurity. There, he comes to face with circumstances that makes him realise how foolish it was of him to slip away from loved ones at home. He comes back to Malgudi to a relieved reception from his parents. He realises that he has to take up some responsibilities and chalks out a career, until he really falls in love with a girl and gets married.

This forms the gist of Bachelor of Arts. The reader is constantly in a trance while reading this book not because he is elevated to fictitious situations, but because he is take to stunning reality that places him so close to this cherubic Chandan. I have read this book more than a couple of times and everytime it is a new message that gets embedded in my mind. A masterly book by a masterly writer. Not to miss this book for anything in the world.

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