How RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days Helped Me Understand My Grandfather

Culture

How RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days Helped Me Understand My Grandfather

Illustration: Arati Gujar

I

never understood why crows are supposed to be the souls of the departed, until my thatha passed away last year. Thanks to my grandfather’s bushy brows, hooked nose, and his brush of still-thick hair, I rarely see a crow now without being reminded of him.

His intimidating appearance belied a tender heart and a joyful sense of humour – a truth I didn’t realise for many years. Growing up abroad, our visits to his flat in Chennai were sporadic. As he was a man of few words, we rarely had proper conversations – partly because I did not know Tamil, and although his English was good, it was heavily accented, as mine was to his ears. We spoke mostly about my studies, and the extravagant amount of shopping that would invariably define any visit, since this was my thatha’s chief method of expressing his fondness for his granddaughters. In short, I always thought we had little in common apart from our shared DNA.

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