Friday, March 20, 2009

Review - Waiting For The Mahatma

I have recently read the book 'Waiting For The Mahatma' written by R.K Narayan. It transports you to India in 1940s when the freedom movement was gathering steam. The book is written through the words of a young boy Sriram, who lost his parents and is brought up by his grand mother. It is about how he falls in love with an orphan girl, Bharathi, whose father is killed in the non-cooperation movement. She is brought up by Gandhi and grows with his values instilled in her. When Sriram asks her to marry him, she says that it can happen only with the permission of the Mahatma. The book is about what all Sriram has to go through before he secures the permission of Mahatma to marry. 

The story starts with Sriram being given a pass book with all his pension money being given to him on his twentieth birthday and he revels in the newly gained freedom. It describes the fictional town Malgudi, which R.K Narayanan has used in many of his stories. 
Sriram sees Bharathi when she collects funds for the Mahatma's tour of Malgudi and then he attends the meeting to see her again. Here he is introduced to the philosophies of Mahatma.. He is inducted into the camp and while cursing the lack of the luxuries in his home, slowly becomes used to them. The dialogues with Mahathma will make the reader understand his philosophy and the human touch of Mahatma. 

The author captures the details of how people joined the national movement and how they tried to participate through Sriram and his work for Quit India Movement. When Bharathi goes to jail, who guided him till then, is faced with an identity crisis and  joins the Indian National Army of Jagdish Chandra Bose and due to the activities he does then, he is jailed.

He comes out of the jail to a free India. Here the author portrays the horrors after the partion and how Gandhi has helped to stabilize the society with his fasts and marches in Calcutta and Bihar.  The story ends with Mahatma being shot dead by Nathuram Godse, but not before he okays the marriage of Sriram and Bharathi.. 

As we read through we understand the the identity crisis of Sriram to how he matures under the guidance of Bharathi and Mahatma to a freedom fighter.  It also honestly portrays the Indian national movement and how Mahatma influence people with his love an compassion and how he touched the lives of people whom he knew. The tender feelings of Sriram and Bharathi and their desperation to get married is also well portrayed. 

If you like to read the book, get it right here from amazon. 

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