On the 10th anniversary of his death, The Guardian, London, has a long piece on the legendary creator of the fictional town of Malgudi, R.K. Narayan, who did a short stint as the Mysoe correspondent of the Madras newspaper, The Justice:
“After graduating in 1930 from the Maharaja’s College – prototype of the Albert Mission College in Bachelor of Arts – Narayan decided to “throw [himself] full-time into this gamble of a writer’s life”.
“In his memoir, he recalls with affection his first typewriter – an “elephantine” Smith Premier 10, which had separate keys for upper and lower cases, and which he had to sell to a shopkeeper to pay an overdue bill for sweets and cigarettes.
“One of his first professional assignments was as the Mysore correspondent of a Madras newspaper, the Justice.
“All morning he “went out news-hunting” in the bazaar and the law courts and police stations, gathering everything from crime stories to gymkhana results. At 1pm he returned home, “bolted down a lunch”, typed up his report, “and rushed it to the Chamarajapuram post office before the postal clearance at 2:20pm”.
“He aimed to produce “ten inches of news” a day, at a rate of about 15 annas an inch, but “thanks to the news editor’s talent for abridgement” his earnings were minimal.
“Though he dismissed this work as “a little bit of pot-boiling”, one can see that the news-hunting Mysore stringer is an important forerunner of the chronicler of Malgudi – an ambulant, inquisitive figure, “going hither and thither”, his antennae tuned for stories.”
Read the full tribute: Rereading: R.K. Narayan
Illustration: courtesy R.K. Laxman/ The Tribune, Chandigarh
Also read: R.K. Narayan on Mysore