Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light... -Vera Nazarian-
From our childhood we have heard a very famous quote “reading makes a full man”. Reading can bring someone into a world that they have never experienced before. To people who are living in a town spending very busy lives, it is difficult to get even a breath of an air which is filled with natural beauty. But some writers can let them enjoy such beauty, through their minds. When we are living in a competitive world, it is important to identify different characteristics of people. Various scopes in different books emphasize the way people are thinking and how they are associating with others. Therefore, reading is quite important to see the world with a broad mind.
Upcoming month of October is the National Reading month. So, I thought that would be nice to share my thoughts about a novel that impressed me quite a lot. Throughout the time I have read so many books. But this novel intrigued me more and was more interesting because it showcased a real situation in society. What could be that novel?
It is “The Vendor of Sweets”, a book by the infamous Indian writer, R. K. Narayan. I read it when I was doing English literature for my O/L's. But rather than just writing a paper and getting an ‘A’ pass, there were lots of things to gain for our lives. There, R. K. Narayan reflects the difference between two cultures and two generations. For that purpose, he has used a relationship between a father and a son.
That novel mainly revolves around Jagan and his son, Mali. Jagan is a person who strictly follows Gandhi’s principles. But his son is completely different than him. Mali is a person who appreciates the western culture and he is not interested in his father’s philosophies. This portraits the conflict between two cultures. After the death of Mali’s mother, Mali is not much close to his father. And with the hopes of becoming a writer Mali goes to America. Then, everything begins to change due to the culture he is associated with.
Jagan, a sweets vendor, always followed Hindu scripture the “Bhagavad Gita”. He is used to appreciate naturopathy. His wife suffered from brain tumor, and even in that time Jagan tries to treat her with natural remedies. But Mali on the other hand, does not agree with his father’s principles and he lives according to the western culture. Jagan expected a traditional Indian daughter-in-law. But he was disappointed when Mali returns with a half Korean, half American lady, Grace. Though she is a pleasant lady, she changes the whole house according to the western cultures. Which ends up being very uncomfortable to Jagan. The most painful thing was that, Jagan came to know that Mali and Grace were not married in the first place. However, at the end of this story, Mali gets arrested for drinking and violating the state laws. Though he very much appreciated the western values, he got deteriorated because of that same culture.
I am not going to explain whole the story and spoil it for you all here. You can read it and see for yourselves. But I do want to tell you how I feel about that story...
In our day to day lives we also meet people are like Jagan and Mali. Though the world has changed, still there are some people who are highly sticking on to traditional principles. As I think, we can not reject all those things directly. But as we know, we don’t want too much of anything. Sometimes there will be arguments in family foundations too, because of this matter. If we are believing in those things too much, it will be a huge issue when they are collapsing in front of the eyes. And there are some people who are like Mali too. They highly appreciate western culture and directly reject all traditional values. But when we are living in a country like Sri Lanka, it is important to follow them and to stay true to our roots. It is not very appropriate to adapt fully according to a western culture in an eastern country. We have seen so many people in our society who have been deteriorated from gaining unsuitable things from western culture and adapting to them.
R. K. Narayan has done an astounding job in arranging the story in a wonderful way. In my point of view, this novel is a great attempt of societal portrayal and it promotes a great social discourse through different characteristics. He has used a tactical way to show this social reality. This is how I felt about that "The Vender of Sweets". You might probably see this story in another view from a different perspective. Anyway, I hope those who have not yet read this book will enjoy it.
When you read a book, try to dive into the hidden ends of it and understand the true meaning of it. It will take you to another world and you will relish the experience of reading to the fullest...