The Man-Eater of Malgudi – R. K. Narayan

Another gem from RK Narayan set in his fictional village, Malgudi. Nataraj owns a printing press and has an idyllic and laid-back life – complete with a few ‘friends’ visiting his press everyday to have a tete-a-tete on every conceivable topic ranging from Politics to Mythology. Life is all good without a care or worry for him. He is not particularly keen on his printing business as well – choosing to work at his own pace and gently sending business to his neighbour, a printer who has a original Heidelberg (advanced Printing machine). He even takes pains to make them understand its significance.

All this has to come to an end one day when a tall and well-built man called Vasu comes to his press. Before anyone realises, Vasu becomes a tenant to Nataraj occupying his attic. In one word, Vasu is a bully and shows his prowess to Nataraj and also extends to his eternal companions – the Poet & Sen, the journalist. This is just the beginning of Nataraj’s woes. Vasu is a ‘taxidermist’ and kills animals from the nearby Mempi forest and brings them ‘home’ – Nataraj’s attic, just above the printing press – skins them and stuffs them to sell it. Wide assortment of still-life is at display in his room – Pythons, Eagles, Tigers, Dogs, etc. Nataraj is genuinely scared if Vasu is hell-bent on making all animal life extinct. Nataraj tries in vain to make him vacate but becomes successful only in attracting a court-case against himself by Vasu alleging threatening and mis-handling. Nataraj is neck-deep into the case and is taking help of the ‘adjournment’ lawyer to bail him out.

There’s another problem now – that of Vasu planning to kill the elephant Kumar, which was brought to Malgudi on the behest of Nataraj for treatment and it has recovered now, just in time for the procession that Nataraj and his companions has so painstakingly arranged for their friend – the Poet. How and what happens later forms the ending of the Novel.

As always, RK Narayan captures the life of a common man and presents his thoughts and insecurities in a humorous way. Enjoyed it all through!!