By Uday Kumar
“RK Narayan will never be forgotten. The author who passed from this world in 2001, brought Malgudi, a fictional town in Karnataka alive through the typical South Indian character of Swami and his penmanship, has millions of fans all over the world. The Mysuru City Corporation recognising this, aims to transform his house in Yadavagiri into a witness to his words”
Who can ever forget Swami and his friends loitering along the damp streets of Malgudi. Yes, the ‘Maker of Malgudi’ has lived on in hearts of millions of admirers through his exemplary literary works. However, in a magnificent move by the Mysuru City Corporation, the celebrated writer will stay closely connected to the land where he scripted many of his works. Yes, the Corporation has converted the house of R K Narayan into a museum, which would house the belongings of the celebrated writer.
Though the works are still on, the Corporation is hopeful of inaugurating the renovated house of R K Narayan in Yadavagiri as soon as possible and this, undoubtedly is going to be a befitting tribute to the writer par excellence, who opened window for the world to have a peep at ordinary Indian life through his literary work.
The plan of the MCC is to develop the house on the lines of Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire in England. All in all the house which once became a witness to Narayan’s tryst with words, will now hold in its womb all of his memories connected to the house.
Rasipuram KrishnaswamiIyer Narayanaswami, who came to be popularly known as R K Narayan was born in Madras on October 10, 1906. Mysuru was his second home by all means. After initial schooling in Madras, a young Narayan shifted to Mysuru along with his family and studied in Maharaja College.
In 1952, R K Narayan built this house in Yadavagiri and lived here for almost two decades, before relocating himself to Chennai in 1990. It was in this very same house that the writer known for his unpretentious style of writing wrote many of his works. He passed away in Chennai in 2001.
“It was in 2011 that the MCC saved the house from being demolished at the hands of a builder. The Corporation later acquired the house from the family members of the writer by paying them Rs 2.4 cr and declared it as a heritage structure.” While the builder had pulled down the sunshade and the ceiling of a room where the writer conjured several of his works, the MCC seriously contemplated developing the house as museum to house memorabilia of the writer. Soon, the project took off and is almost on its last leg. While the restoration costs Rs 24.4 lakh, landscaping will cost Rs 10.4 lakh.
Speaking to Karnataka Today, Mysuru Municipal Commissioner Dr C G Betsurmath, who had recently visited William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford said that the repair and painting work of the two-storey structure, which has about six rooms have been completed while landscaping is underway. The family members of Narayan residing in Chennai have come forth to gift his belongings so that it could be kept in the museum.
In sync with this, on July 21, Jayaram, R K Narayan’s nephew, (Son of R K Srinivasan, the younger brother of R K Narayan) along with Kartik (grandson of R K Srinivasan) and C G Betsurmath visited the heritage Bungalow of R K Narayan to inspect the work. Several of Narayan’s belongings which were recently brought from Chennai to Mysuru were at the house. The belongings of R K Narayan such as a table, a chair and the desk where he used to pen his literary works, a dining table, medals and certificates including Padmabhushan, Padmavibhushan, furniture and books from his personal library, which were donated by his granddaughter Bhuvaneshwari have been kept in the house already.
Betsurmath said “We approached the family members of R K Narayan and urged them to donate some of the articles and the presereved items of the writer. Granddaughter of Narayan, Bhuvaneshwari agreed to help us convert the house into a museum and today we have requested the family members of Narayan – Jayaram and Kartik who lived in the house during their younger days to help us in arranging the items in the same manner as they were when R K Narayan lived in the house. With their suggestions we are taking all the necessary measures.”
Jayaram, who was evidently happy with the work done said that he lived in the same house when he was pursuing his Civil Engineering studies and he had even seen the house reaching a pathetic state in 2011.
“ But today I am really happy to know that the Corporation has taken up this task and I must applaud the work done. Being a civil engineer I know how difficult it to bring back the house to its original shape, but they have restored and conserved the house to what it was earlier,” he said.
Meanwhile, the literary circle in Mysuru is elated. Aravind Malagatti , well- known name in literary circles appreciating the move of the MCC said that there was a need to pay a tribute to a man who was not from Karnataka, but yet opted to spread the fragrance of his words from Karnataka.
“He managed to show each and every place of Mysuru through Malgudi. Now, the museum should not be just a place where his memorabilia would be stored, but it should be a venue for activities that would inspire young and old alike to carry forward the great legacy of R K Narayan,” he said.
Narayan is considered one of the three greatest English language Indian fiction writers, along with Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand. Till date, his novels and stories are considered one of the best that India has ever produced.
Note: The article originally published on Karnataka Today | August 2016