Chewing the sweet fancies

In conversation with R K Narayan’s family members

The creator of Malgudi Days and the celebrated novelist R K Narayan may be no more, but the house where he lived for many years wears a new look today. This is the house from where he wrote some of the best novels.

The house on Vivekananda Road in Yadavagiri, is where RKN lived for nearly four decades, before moving to Chennai. The house which was about to get demolished some years back was stopped by the Mysore City Corporation (MCC), considering its heritage value.  MCC planned to convert it into a museum and make it a memorial monument for the visitors. The restoration work of this heritage monument is almost over. On Thursday, two family members of R K Narayan, R S Jayaram (son of R K Narayan’s younger brother R K Srinivasan) and Kartik Krishnaswamy (grandson of R K Srinivasan) visited the place to help the MCC officers to arrange the furniture and RKN’s other belongings as they existed in the 60s and 70s.

Speaking to City Today, Jayaram and Kartik went down the memory lane and spoke about the rich memories they still cherish.

R S Jayaram

How do you feel seeing the restoration work taken up by the MCC?

Being a civil engineer, I know how difficult it is to restore a building and bring it back to its original shape. The corporation has really made an appreciable work; technically speaking, they have refurbished the house very well and the house looks the same that existed during the early 60s. This house represents my uncle and I am really happy with the work they have made.

What was the state of the house when you visited last?

When R K Narayan shifted to Chennai due to his health issues, a security guard used to look after the building. Since I lived in Bengaluru, I used to come to Mysuru several times and visit the house. Years later, the condition of the house turned bad. I used to feel sad to see the condition. But today I am really glad to see this two-storey building in a good state.

Can you recall the days you spent with R K Narayan in this house?

I stayed here along with R K Narayan and other family members during my engineering days. I was pursuing my Civil Engineering from NIE College. Before shifting to this house, we were living in Krishnamurthypuram and RKN purchased this house may be in 1950. Though we lived in Krishnamurthypuram, RKN used to come to this house where he used to write his novels and stories. In 1967, we all shifted here. We were a close joint family and everyone lived together in the same house. The oval-shaped room with bay windows on the first floor is where RKN used to spend his time. He had kept all his awards and had created a mini library to store his favorite collections. There were very few houses in the locality and a beautiful garden was maintained in front of the house. I stayed here for three years till I completed my engineering. But returned back to the same house in 1974 where I, my wife, RKN, Pattabhi, his wife and others lived together.

Where did R K Narayan use to write his stories?

RKN did most of his writing on the upper floor in a room which had a cot, a walnut table and an easy chair. He generally didn’t discuss about his work but this is the house where he penned The English Teacher, Swami and Friends, and other novels.

R S Jayaram

Staying here in this house was the biggest moment. There are many incidents to recall. Once then President of India R Venkataraman had come to our house to meet R K Narayan when he was here in Mysuru. The complete road was closed for a day when Venkataman visited the place. He had a discussion over a cup of coffee with RKN. A posse of cars escorted Venkataraman and security persons were seen in front of house. Many writers, famous personalities used to visit RKN often here.

Kartik Krishnaswamy

I was a young boy when I used to visit this house. One thing that always drew my attention in this house was that of a display in a corner of the RKN’s room where collections of miniature owls was seen. He used to get miniature of owl whenever he used to travel abroad. He used to say he loved those miniatures. He said owls were a fascinating bird and he loved it a lot. One more thing that I recall here was the Filmfare award that was kept in his room. RKN had won a Filmfare award in for best story category for the film The Guide. It had become a habit for us to lift the award which was really heavy. I can recall one more incident when Shankar Nag had visited our house to discuss about Malgudi Days.

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