Swami and Friends: R. K. Narayan

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Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan were published in 1935. The book is the first one of the trilogy written by R. K. Narayan from 1906-2001. The story is set in British Colonial India in 1930. The book starts with the introduction of Swaminathan and his four best friends Somu, Sankar, Mani, and Pea. Swami adores his friends for their different personalities and how their group is entirely different because of them.
Swami’s life changes when Malgudi’s new police superintendent’s son Ranjm enters in his life. Swami and Mani did not like Ranjm at first but after confronting him they become good friends. Other group members did not like an outsider gaining so much attention in their group but Rajam convinces them to be friends. Swami and Rajam confound a cricket team together naming it M.C.C.(Malgudi Cricket Club). Swami misses several practices due to heavy homework load and Rajam threatens him to never speak to him again if he missed their match with the other team. But Swami misses the match too and ruins his friendship with Rajam. Mani told Swami that Rajam is leaving the city because his father got transferred. Swami decides to meet him and give a book as a parting gift. At the station, Rajam refuses to speak to Swami but Mani gives Swami’s book to Rajam and consoles Swami that Rajam accepted his gift and he intends to write.
This book deals with the issue of friendship, fear, love, and faith. The book also deals with the issue of school homework load due to which Swami missed his practice and ruined his friendship with Rajam. The question arises, what is more, important and how do we teach children what is important to them? Is doing a lot of homework is more important than friendship? Or only education is a must and sport is not? From the starting, we teach children that love, faith, and friendship are the most important things in life but when the time comes to apply them in reality, priorities change. It confuses children, their mind is not mature enough to understand the complexities of the world and life. The book not only represents the British colonial school system but it also represents today’s school system as well.

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