The Guide by R K Narayan is one of the finest books Indian writers have ever produced. You will seldom get to read a book like this by some contemporary authors. The perception that R K Narayan had about life in the terms of mistakes that we make and the way we regret the same was just next to perfection and we get a reflection of the same in this great novel, The Guide. Moreover, the vision with which the novel had been written was very clear – giving something to the readers which remains relevant even after the decades and I can relate to this novel even today! Anyone can be a Raju and another one can surely be a Nalini or Rosie and Marcos are rather easier to be found today (on a lighter note).
The Guide opens to us with a usual Malgudi set-up and we are introduced to our friendly tour guide, Railway Raju. He is a jolly jolly kind of person who makes his money by fooling the tourists rather than guiding them to the city and around. Everything is going like it goes in ordinary novels until the arrival of Rosie with her seemingly detached husband Marco. And with time, Raju falls in love with Rosie and things get complicated. Yes, Rosie cheats on Marco because Marco is in no hurry to save his marriage either and finally, Rosie and Raju are left alone and Marco leaves the scene.
The phase captures the emotions of a wife whose husband has nothing to worry about her! And we all know there are certain marital responsibilities that one has to carry – either a husband or a wife. Marco fails on that front and Rosie is impressed by the shenanigans of Raju and they fall in love; or in other words, it had to be this way!
Troubled by his mother and bullied by the orthodox society for having kept a married woman in his home, Raju has to leave Malgudi and he reaches in town and we have a changed name for Rosie – she becomes Nalini now. Raju does not only help her realiser and recogniser her dreams but also achieving the success that she deserved. In the beginning of their life, things are good and gay. However, with continued success and increasing lust for money in Raju, their lives and relationship are virtually rendered to hell! Raju is busy just like Marco was and Nalini also becomes disinterested in Raju with time. He goes to jail for committing a fraud Nalini is not at all interested in getting her rescued or bailed out. Here is the shift which we witness – when Raju comes out of the jail, he is changed; he is detached; he is a different Raju now! Instead of going to Nalini, he goes to a nearby village but the same story repeats. He feeds on the faith of people and starts enjoying a self-styled godman life. However, when he is put on trial, he rescues his tattered soul and dies for the good of the masses and as a reader, we become happy and satisfied! Rest is for you to found out when you read the novel which you MUST read!
We can say and many have said already that R K Narayan’s The Guide is not at all about the Guide Railway Raju is; it was always about the guide one’s inner being is. Rosie is guided to Raju because she thinks Raju can lead her to her dreams and truly loves her; he takes interest in her art of dancing. Marco is guided by his whim and he thinks Rosie is rather happy with Raju than her. Raju is guided by her own notions and ultimately he is the victor! He dies only to survive a HERO!
A great piece by R K Narayan which every reader should read and enjoy!