By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:
Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, better known as R.K. Narayan, is among the most celebrated Indian authors ever. The author still lives rent-free in the hearts of so many readers worldwide. The author achieved immense popularity with his work in the field of literature and engraved his status as one of the most memorable writers this country has ever seen.
R.K. Narayan still serves as a focal point and inspiration for many authors around the country. Although every work of the iconic author is loved and still has a mark on everyone’s hearts, some titles need a separate mention for sure. The books that made R.K. Narayan one of the most recognised authors in India are the likes of Swami and Friends, The Guide, Malgudi Days, The Man-Eater Of Malgudi, and The Vendor of Sweets.
R.K. Narayan was born in a Tamil Brahmin family on October 10, 1906. While his father, R. V. Krishnaswami Iyer was a headmaster, his mother, Gnana Iyer was reportedly a homemaker. R.K. Narayan was one of his parents' eight children, including six sons and two daughters. Not everyone knows that R.K. Narayan is the elder brother of Ramachandran Laxman, who was an editor at the famous Gemini Studios. Talking about R.K. Narayan’s youngest brother, R.K. Laxman is one of the greatest cartoonists in India’s history.
R.K. Laxman’s ‘The Common Man’ creation remains alive in everyone’s hearts. Well, there’s no denying the fact that R.K. Narayan and R.K. Laxman are the two among their siblings, who gained the most success and recognition in terms of professional success. While Narayan went on to become one of the best authors ever with Malgudi Tales, Laxman’s ‘The Common Man’ is still missed whenever we pick up a newspaper. The two indeed made a mark in India with their respective legacies.
The iconic writer, R.K. Narayan's childhood was dominated by frequent relocations, courtesy of his his father's job. As a result, R.K. Narayan spent a significant part of his childhood with his maternal grandmother, Parvati, who deserves all the credit for teaching him ethics and manners. Later in life, when his family moved to Mysore, R.K. Narayan began polishing his passion for reading and writing. Right from an early age, he started developing an interest in politics and his hunger for more information made him an avid reader.
It was in 1926 when R.K. Narayan enrolled in the famous Maharaja College of Mysore, from where he earned his Bachelor's degree. After completing graduation, the author thought of moving to further studies for a long time but ventured into teaching in the end. However, when he worked as a Physical Training master for some time, R.K. Narayan realised that his heart and soul lie in writing. As a result, he quit his job and embarked on a journey to become one of the greatest Indian novelists ever.
The year 1933 is considered as one of the most important years in R.K. Narayan’s life. Well, the reason behind it is the fact that it was in 1933 when R.K. Narayan fell in love with a 15-year-old girl named Rajam. The author went to his sister’s house in Coimbatore in order to spend some days with her. It was when he met Rajam for the first time, and he instantly fell in love with her. Everything went smoothly in their love story as Rajam also liked R.K. Narayan and wanted to marry him. Soon, the couple decided to involve their families, and they also agreed to their union.
Thus, the couple got married in 1934, when R.K. Narayan was around 28 and Rajam was around 16. Despite their huge age difference, they shared a friendly bond with each other and were living the best days of their lives. It is often stated that R.K. Narayan’s life changed as soon as Rajam entered into his life as his wife. For instance, soon after their wedding, Narayan started working as the first Brahmin Iyer at a Madras-based paper named The Justice. The job not only introduced him to many influential people but also gave him a fresh perspective on societal issues.
Not only this, R.K. Narayan’s manuscript, which he had sent to a friend at Oxford University, luckily captured the interest of Graham Greene, which led to the publication of Swami and Friends in 1935, which changed everything for R.K. Narayan. Narayan's childhood experiences mostly surrounded the semi-autobiographical novel, which made him a renowned name in the Indian literature community. Thus, it’s fair to say that Rajam was indeed his good luck charm.
As per multiple reports, in 1937, R.K. Narayan lost his father, and it was a major setback for the doting son, as he was quite close to him. Despite the pain of losing his father, R.K. Narayan penned his third novel, The Dark Room, in 1938, which showcased a man as an oppressor and a woman as a victim. While he was still recovering from the shock of his father’s death, in 1939, his wife, Rajam Narayan passed away. The novelist lost his wife to typhoid, and it changed R.K. Narayan inside out.
R.K. Narayan and Rajam Narayan had a daughter named Hema, but she was too young when her mommy passed. It was a tricky situation for the doting father, as his daughter was young and needed a mother like every child in the world. However, R.K. Narayan decided not to get married again. The author was so much in love with his life that he was unable to marry again.
However, R.K. Narayan did his best in order to fill for the absence of Rajam in his daughter, Hema’s life. The author penned all the emotions he had gone through after Rajam’s death in the book, The English Teacher. It was on May 13, 2001, when R.K. Narayan passed away in Chennai at the age of 94. The legacy that he left behind was stories which will remain here for generations to come.
R.K. Narayan will forever be in our memories as one of the greatest novelists ever, a devotee husband and a doting father. What do you think? Let us know.