Daisy: Character Analysis in The Painter of Signs

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      Daisy is the most dominant character in the novel, The Painter of Signs. She is more prominent as compared to Narayan's galaxy of women consisting of Savitri, Susila, Bharati, Rosie and Grace. With the exception of Savitri, the other female characters of this galaxy are not delineated in sharp or vivid detail. Daisy is, however, different in conception and presentation. She is neither a traditional woman like Savitri, nor an idealised character like Susila or Bharati or Rosie, nor a coquette like Shanta Bai, nor a short-detailed cameo like Grace or Rangi. Her personality is alive in action and placed in a firm, lucid and effective frame.

Daisy belongs to a certain village beyond the mountain ranges and the river. Her father owns a large property of land, gardens and orchards. Theirs is a joint-family with numerous brothers, sisters, uncles, sisters-in-law, grand-aunts and cousins. Their household is like a hostel where some fifteen children get prepared for going to different schools in the morning. She has to go to the town by a bus to reach a Convent school where she is studying.

      Daisy belongs to a certain village beyond the mountain ranges and the river. Her father owns a large property of land, gardens and orchards. Theirs is a joint-family with numerous brothers, sisters, uncles, sisters-in-law, grand-aunts and cousins. Their household is like a hostel where some fifteen children get prepared for going to different schools in the morning. She has to go to the town by a bus to reach a Convent school where she is studying. The experience of her early family life is that of a mass-existence wherein all individuality is lost. Children have to stand in a queue to get their share of food. Everything in the house is regimented and there is no scope for anyone for a private life. At the age of thirteen, her parents decide to get her married to a respectable and rich land-lord family of the area in a traditional way. She has all revulsion against a married life. That is why, she refuses to get married and this upsets all the members of her family. Ultimately, she is persuaded by one of her uncles to agree to be seen by the would-be bridegroom and his father. She agrees, to this despite the candid expression of her own internal thoughts to her parents, "I had other aims. I said that I would like to work, rather than be a wife." Daisy describes herself how she is decorated and prepared to be viewed and assessed by the expected guests. She says, "They decked me in all the jewellery pieces borrowed from my sister-in-law in the house, diamonds and gold all over my ears, neck, nose and wrist, and clad me in a heavy saree crackling with gold lace. I felt suffocated with all that stuff over me." The seeds of rebellion against the ordinary, traditional way of a housewife are ample in proof in her during the period of her girlhood. She, therefore, decides in her heart to give a deliberate shock to the viewers. When she is asked to pace before the visitors coyly and reverently, she does just the opposite. She says, "I strode up like a soldier, the jewellery jingling and the horrible lace sari rustling." She eross-examines the guests on questions put to her regarding her education and whether she can sing. She behaves in this manner in order to deteriorate the situation further. Consequently, the guests depart offended and she becomes a target of taunt and humiliation by all the members of her family.

      Thereafter, she leaves her house for ever, somehow reaches Madras and studies there with the help of a missionary organisation which trains her in social work. She has lived in different sorts of slum areas and with fishermen in their huts. She refuses baptism but changes her name to some non-denominational label by adopting the name, Daisy. Her early life is one of struggle, challenge, fortitude and a relentless fight for the acquisition of an independent status because of her own strength and steady, determined efforts.

      Daisy's appearance in Malgudi is sudden. She is wholly devoted to the propagation of Family Planning norms amongst common, ignorant people in order to check disproportionate growth of population which far exceeds the rate of economic growth of the country. She is a zealot. She is engrossed in her occupation single-handedly. She is rational, scientific and unsentimental in carrying out her mission. She has put up a Family Planning Centre in the New Block on the busy Market road of the town. She comes in contact with Raman, the painter of sign-boards, as she has to get a sign-board painted to be hung in front of her office for general information. In her first meeting with Raman in her office, she looks very reserved, curt, official and has a calculated coldness in her behaviour which discourages a man from taking liberties with her. When Raman visits her residence in the evening which is Number Seven to which entry can be made by the side gate on the Fourth Cross, she tells him that he should paint a red-triangle at a corner of the board as it is the symbol of family planning programme.

      Daisy's physical stature is proportionate; not too tali. Her complexion is translucent brown-the best complexion that the human skin can attain, She looks slender in her saree, Despite the Christian connotations emanating from her name, she looks very much Indian, traditional and gentle. She is thoroughly inspired with a missionary zeal for the achievement of her aim on the family planning front. She is extremely modern in her thoughts. She is non-hesitant and straightforward in telling Raman that she is expecting a women's delegation for the. purpose of discussion of how to avoid pregnancy. The very first meeting with her leaves Raman - a self-proclaimed rationalist who aims at establishing the 'Age of Reason' - as a person disturbed and turned topsy- turvy in his mind and soul. Her impression on him renders his self-professed notions of bachelorhood and manhood (independent of woman) badly shaken. An obsession about Daisy persists in his mind inspite of his conscious effort to get himself extricated from all this which, he thinks, is a trick played upon him by her siren-like ways. The anecdotes of Shoorpankha from the Ramayana and of mythical Mohini assail him as he looks upon Daisy being one like them.

      She looks upon marriage as a symbol of woman's slavery to man. Hence, she has made up her mind to live her own life in her own independent way. She handles all the work related with her mission of birth-control single-handedly at which Raman feels surprised. "She carries a furnace of conviction within which burns up all ambiguities, doubts and qualifications", comments William Walsh in regard to her objective. Seeing her passion for her work Raman is struck with the idea that all the workers of the world, who show some startling results, are fanatics.

      The strain of modernity, a focal point of Women's Lib. movement, has so thoroughly been assimilated in her being that she shows complete self-dependence, uncompromising individuality and indefatigable capacity for arranging everything by herself. She decides to undertake a tour of three weeks through the villages surrounding Malgudi. She needs nobody's help for making arrangements for this trip. She invites Raman to accompany her during her tour for which he will be paid due allowance. His job will be to select some thirty places in various villages where later on he will have to write the message of family planning. This is going to be a sort of survey tour which wil be followed by her, alongwith a medical team, to conduct vasectomies and implant various contraceptive devices. Daisy's absolute conviction, untrammelled modern-mindedness, steel determination aid practicality make her a superb crusader for this cause. She will feel satisfied if she succeeds in reducing the birth-rate by five per cent annually and she pursues this objective with religious zeal.

      During her tour through the villages, Daisy demonstrates a remarkable adaptability. She travels tirelessly by bus, taxi, train, bullockcart and even a lorry. She has very sparse needs. All her belongings go into a small tin trunk and a BOAC air-travel bag. She sleeps on a little roll of carpet that she carries in a bag. She has abstemious habits of eating. She eats what food is available - eggs, bread, chicken, meat, fish, fruit or rice - without taboos of any kind. Raman, brought up in a middle-class vegetarian family, tries to copy her but eating meat seems to him like "burrowing into the side of some quadruped." Daisy is thoroughly unconventional and informal about her daily routine. She bathes on a public well, washes and dries her clothes anywhere, stays in the lowliest hut, and is extremely undemanding. She explains to Raman:

"Let us live atleast for a while as millions of our population live, otherwise we will never understand our own people. Living in a city is not the real life. Urban life is standardised, and meant to keep people apart."

      She is very clear-headed and brusque in her replies. On listening to his above views, when Raman poses to her a query whether she is a Communist, she retorts, "What if I am or I am not? Is there a label one should always carry like a dog-collar?..."

      Daisy shows scrupulousness and an unalterable procedure during her itinerary through the villages. She is equally meticulous to every small or big thing that matters to her dear cause. She observes no formality. Her routine at every place is the same. She calls a meeting in a school or on the verandah of a hospitable home or in the shade of a tree, collects data and statistics from the village headman and notes in her diary the register of births and deaths. She explains to the villagers the process of birth and its control, the physiology and anatomy of sexual intercourse with sketches in chalk and charts. She is never shy or hesitant. If the men snigger or the women giggle, she quietens them with a word or gesture. She welcomes children at her classes whereas the orthodox villagers wish to shoo them away. She does not mind long waits for a bus under a wayside tree or even in the sun. If she finds an upturned packing case or a stone slab, she sits on it cross-legged, and never stirs until the bus comes, without saying a word or noticing the people who stare at her. Her modesty is reflected in her wearing the dra best saree during these field-tours. Her conscientiousness and whole-hearted commitment to the cause of population-control takes her up to a village on the Mempi Hills with Raman trailing behind her. She goes there on foot for some three or four miles with her baggage on her back. She is so intent on her job that she hardly looks backward to ascertain whether Raman is following her or not. Such sort of grimness and reticence on her part irritate Raman a lot. He despises himself to work like a hanger-on with her. Raman's exasperation is expressed in these words:

"She walked ahead wrapped in her own thoughts, not seeming to give a thought for him. She had offered him the privilege of accompanying her and he had accepted it, that was all. She treated him as a sort of a trailer."

      Raman feels his habitual longing for a cup of coffee at the Board less hotel at 4 o'clock. He comments about Daisy that she seems impervious to such needs. Her only source of satisfaction and consolation lies in eliminating pregnancies. Reaching up the hill, she meets the village teacher. She discusses and argues with him, sitting on a pyol, about the thirty percent increase in the population of the village since last year. In the previous year the figure stood at six hundred but now it is above seven hundred. During this long-continued discussion, she enquires from the teacher what the villagers do during the monsoon season as they are cooped inside their houses because of continual rains. She means to hint out that perhaps they busy themselves in procreation. The teacher argues that most of their time passes in listening to the discourse by a pundit in the temple on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. But, she does not feel satisfied with this explanation.

      Daisy's rationality about birth-control comes in contrast with the superstitious and religious beliefs of the villagers. Someone of the elders in the assembly questions her that a child is' a gitt of God. Then a reference is made to the priest in the Temple of Plenty where barren women go and stay there for three days and they conceive within thirty days. The villagers view the priest to be a yogi who lives on air only and can tell past, present or future of anybody. They say that he can foresee every thing as he is endowed with a clairvoyance. Daisy's chance encounter with this old, wavybearded man in the presence of Raman causes some temporary embarrassment to her. She does not speak much to him and beats a hasty retreat to the teacher's house where she eats and takes a little rest. However, the antithesis of Daisy's work explicit in the priest's job touches Raman's sense of irony as the priest argues unhesitatingly that the Shastras say that the more children in a home, the more blessed it becomes. To tamper with this design of the goddess seems to the priest and to his superstitious followers an evil. However, she remains unruffled in the pursuance of her cherished goal irrespective of the heavy odds and tangles of the field-work such as eccentricities and angularities of the village temple priest and his credulous believers. Her absolute and all absorbing attention to her task of birth-control is underscored by the protagonist thus:

If she were a despotic queen of ancient days, she would have ordered the sawing off of the organs of generation.

      The traits of marvellous strength, sturdiness and capability of practical field-work revealed by her during her village tours correct the earlier erroneous impression about her in Raman's mind formed after his first meeting with her in her office. He thinks of her earlier as "a suave bureaucrat who got signboards written and files completed and properly knotted with red tape."

      Indubitably, she is all against an increase in the birth-rate of new babies, yet she has a tender woman's heart for the babies who are already born. She is a born teacher, a mentor who minces no words in advising the teacher and his wife too teach their children right manners when both of them, alongwith their children, have come to give her a sentimental farewell at her departure from their village. Looking at the teacher's children critically, she says to one of them, "Don't suck your thumb, take it out, otherwise you will stammer." To another one she says, "Stand erect, don't slouch." Turning to their mother, she exhorts her that correct posture is important and children must be taught all this early in life.

      Daisy is bold, dauntless, far-sighted and imbued with a physical masculine capacity to withstand the stress and strain of an unexpected, sudden menacing situation. She possesses an astonishing degree of self-control. These sterling pearls in her character are illustrated by the incident when Raman wriggles out from his make-shift arranged-bed on the ground under the cart and, in a blinding frenzy of sensuality, makes an attempt to rape her. But foreseeing the coming danger, she smartly steals away noiselessly from the cart and continues sitting on the branch of a tamarind tree till dawn. She is seen coming back towards the cart after taking a bath on the well near the tamarind tree. The cartman has also arrived by this time alongwith a bullock taken from his relative living in a village nearby. Their journey in the bullock-cart to Koppal is resumed and from this point they have to board a bus for Malgudi.

      Daisy is stiff and peremptory in manners. After the last night's incident, she maintains total indifference towards Raman during the rest part of the journey. When the latter tries to goad her into speaking something by making provocative remarks about last night's occurrence, she bluntly brushes aside the whole matter with the cryptic comments that she had to climb up the tamarind tree in order to protect herself from a 'prowling tiger' and 'devil' when she heard the latter scratching the mat under the cart. Being further nagged by Raman, she puts him to silence by threatening that she will lodge a complaint to the police against him on their arrival to Malgudi. The situation is worsened by the mistaken impression of the cartman that they are newly weds. She warns the cartman and declares to him that they are not married. He is rather a person employed by her for a specific job. A simple threat of getting him arrested is strong enough for spineless Raman to cut him to his size.

      Daisy leaves an impression of awe and fear on' nervy, feeble-minded Raman. He feels depressed, remains reticent and confined to his room always suspecting that policemen may come up any time to arrest him and take him along parading him through Ellaiamman street and by Chettiar shop. The on-lookers will pass sarcastic remarks on him for the over-estimation of his position by getting involved with a superior lady of the Family Planning Centre. But, the apprehensions evoked by his over-active imagination do not come true for a week. This is a great relief to him which enables him to return to his normal work of painting signboard for the bangle-seller in his work-shed.

      Daisy-Raman association is a land-mark in the development of the action of the novel. It is ridden with occasional ups and downs. After their return from three weeks journey together through the sprawling villages around Malgudi, it appears to have ceased for good. But to the surprise of Raman, one evening at about 7 o'clock, Daisy comes to meet him ostensibly in regard to the payment of his bill. Finding the front door of his house closed, she comes to the back wall and looks over it into Raman's work-shed where he is busy painting the bangle-seller's signboard. She invites him to jump over the wall to her side. Thereafter, the relationship between them goes on thickening. They enjoy a stroll together on the sandy shore of Sarayu, come down a few steps in the river and nestle closer to each other dipping their feet in the water. It is already dark and hardly anybody is around. In a tete-a-tete, they exchange to each other the memories of their respective past life. In this way, they mutually share the confidential reminiscences of their past life. Raman reaches out to catch her hand which she allows with a warning to him that he should be wary and desist from repeating his past misdemeanour. Raman feels thrilled at the touch. Hearing the Taluk-gong striking 9 o'clock in the night, she suddenly stands up and disappears into the darkness leaving him sitting there alone.

      This elusive siren like behaviour of Daisy makes Raman feel shocked and a sentiment of self-accusation for his sensual temptation over-powers his anguished, angry state of mind. Her unpredictable change of moods renders Raman diffident and unsure of himself. He ponders over what has transpired and speaks to himself, "I don't know what to make of her, she is a puzzle." and hops back thereafter to his work-shed jumping over the back wall of his house. He rationalised her behaviour in his internal on-going reflection by remarking that she should name herself Hecuba instead of Daisy as she has behaved so undaisy-like, more like an emery paper. Dismayed at her unforeseeable behaviour, he comments to himself, "What's he to Hecuba or Hecuba to him?." This spontaneous utterance of Raman expresses the brittleness and flimsiness of the association that exists between him and Daisy so far.

      Daisy's meeting with Raman, lending him close company at the river-steps followed by her unceremonious, elliptical, sudden disappearance into the deep womb of darkness disturbs the protagonist so highly that he decides to harden himself against 'Daisy-ism.'. He seems to have overcome his continual obsession about her which is inspired by sensuality. Hence regaining his normal routine and self-poise in a mood of self-introspection, he remarks:

"Daisy-ism was all right-interesting, titillating, and diverting upto a point but not to be taken too seriously or tragically. For months now he had been wasting himself in Daisy-ism. I must myself of it by constantly questioning, what is Daisy to me or me to Daisy."

      Daisy is instrumental in taming the passionate and sensual aspect of Raman's involvement with her by enforcing the situation for him to go through the tortuous process of self-analysis and self-knowledge. He comes to the realisation of his inherent weakness. He, therefore, in a spirit of self assertiveness resolves to disengage himself from self-delusion and launches again upon his daily routine of working in his work-shed and enjoying the company of his worldly friends like Mr. Gupta at the Boardless Hotel in the evening over a cup of delicious coffee. But, in fact, he is still far away from attaining a durable, lasting condition of detachment and objectivity.

      The influence of Daisy's indomitable personality upon Raman is too powerful for him to cope with. The fortress of self-defence mechanism, he professes to have built, comes pitiably crumbling down in the events that follow one another. Picking up a pretty minor excuse on bangle-seller's persuasion to make Daisy agree to his proposal of supplying good presentable bangles to village, women who undergo vasectomies as a sop to be offered by the family planning programmers, Raman reaches Daisy's residence in the evening. He broaches the bangle-seller's proposal to her which she brusquely dismisses. However, the association between them takes a new turn. Starting with pure sensuality on the part of Raman from the very first meeting with her, the relationship assumes a keener depth of love feeling. The basic instincts of a woman assert in Daisy's heart. Day after day, she allows him to come to her residence in the evening and both of them spend their time together, till late in the night or later on till early hours in the morning. They sleep together. During the days of their drowsy love-affair, Daisy's tierce passion for her committed task is subdued by sensuality and even by love. Raman understands it as their preparation for the eventual marriage in Gandharva style, a fashion of marriage which finds recurrences in the Hindu scriptures also. Raman has apprehensions about the disapproving and humiliating glances of the tradition-ridden people of Malgudi, especially, those who live in Ellaiamman street. But he prepares himself for the worst and resolves within himself to adopt a dare-devil attitude towards all such undesirable people.

      With an assurance in his mind, Raman exposes his intention of marrying Daisy to his old aunt. She is upset by this revelation. She disapproves of the proposal on the conventional grounds of incompatibility of caste, creed and religion of Daisy. Her name, to his aunt, sounds like that of a Christian girl. Confronted with Raman's strong determination for marriage with Daisy, she resolves to leave the house forever and to go on a pilgrimage to Badrinath, Amarnath down to Benaras where she will like to pass the rest of days of her life in peace and die there on the bank of the sacred river Ganges. The old aunt's reaction to Daisy-Raman proposed marriage epitomises the essentially orthodox, perennially unchanged and traditional cultural ethos of the Malgudians. That is why, Raman bursts out in protest against this dominant, unalterable and self-enclosed milieu of Malgudi, untouched by modernity. The idea "to leave Malgudi itself - this conservative town unused to modern life" flashes across his mind.

      Daisy's agreement for marriage with Raman is subject to two conditions. First, they will have no children. Secondly, in case there is a child by mischance, she will give it away so that she may pursue her mission of population-control unhindered by any encumbrances. She also stipulates the condition that she will leave him the moment he questions her why or what in regard to her commitment to the cause which is near and dear to her heart and soul. Raman, being totally under the spell of charmed circle of Daisy's personality, submissively expresses his agreement to all these conditions in toto. He is love-sick and considers no sacrifice higher than the bliss of attaining his love fulfilled in marriage. He makes a mention of Shantanu's anecdote in the Mahabharata which narrates the incident of King Shantanu's marriage with a beautiful damsel who lays down the condition that she will forsake him the moment he questions her actions. She kills seven sons born one after another. When the eighth son named Devavarta, who later on comes to be known as Bhishma for undertaking fierce vows, is born, Shantanu desists her from killing him as it has been done in the case of his earlier seven sons. She parts company with him and appears before him in her true identity i.e. Ganga, the deity who has come to seek deliverance for eight Vasus - the eight powerful gods - from the curse given to them by sage Vashistha for their having stolen his cow, Kamdhenu.

      The parallels between Ganga-Shantanu's episode with that of Daisy-Raman do not completely tally with each other. Still, such scriptural allusions heighten the moral and spiritual dimensions of Daisy's character. Moreover, the stipulated conditions also corroborate her uncompromising, fierce commitment to the value of maintaining her individuality at any cost. Through this scriptural precedent, an element of solemnity and religious-fervour like fanatical commitment to her cherished cause is added to the predominant Daisy's personality.

      Daisy's relenting on the issue of marriage with Raman enthuses the latter so much that he starts planning the alterations to be brought about in his house in Ellaiamman street. After his aunt's proceeding on pilgrimage, mud-oven is to be replaced by a modern-fashioned hot-plate in the kitchen. The walls of the house are to be white-washed and the old ancestral house is to be spruced up to give it an altogether fresher and newer look. The old aunt's puja room is to be converted into a visitor's room to suit the convenience of Daisy to shift her office and to meet the visitors here. Hence, the images of gods and goddesses which are worshipped by his old aunt during her stay in the house are removed and stocked in a cup-board. Daisy, on her visit to Raman's house one evening, is taken round the house by him in order to acquaint her with the alterations he has planned to suit their conveniences while living together. She reacts with cold indifference towards the proposed improvements. She least bothers about comforts and conveniences of a married routine household way of life. Both of them talk with jocularity about the images of gods and goddesses that have been shut up in the cup-board. The manner of levity, indulged in by both in regard to the idols, reflects their unconventional outlook about religious beliefs and rituals. In response to the protagonist's proposed scheme of changes to be brought in the house, she wryly says, "Everything seems to me right as it is. Leave them alone." She tells him that any sort of food brought from restaurant will do for her. On the other hand, Raman is all enthusiastic about the arrangements he has planned to be made in the house. He revels in lecherous thoughts when he thinks of arranging "a roll of bedding stuffed with pure silk cotton for her" to be accommodated in his own room on the floor and they will feel cosy like a couple of birds in their nest.

      Daisy's fierce innate feeling for separate individualistic existence, even when living with another person, subsists in her heart to the extent that while discussing about the arrangements to be made in the house meant for their living together, she always speaks in terms of You' (for Raman) and 'I' (for herself) and does not mention 'We - denoting the idea of togetherness - even once. This attitude on her part hurts Raman internally but he keeps his embittered feeling encased in his heart. These details reveal how dissimilar they are in their respective outlook and attitude towards the style of living.

      The woman in Daisy gets free from the shackles of her self-defence mechanism she has built on her single-minded devotion to her crusade. The incident that follows proves this point. After a round about the house, she sits leaning against the bed-roll of Raman lying on the floor in his room. She complains of her getting tired after the day's straining work. She asks Raman to come closer to her if he so likes. He moves closer to her and says, encircling her shoulder in his arms, "Now I feel better. After all we are a married couple." Raman feels it as a great moment of profound harmony between them. She feels drowsy and in that mood of her drowsiness, he asks her when she will move to live in his house. After some pause and repeated reminders from him, she says in a half-awakened and half-drowsy-cum-intoxicated condition that she will like to shift on the tenth day of the month at eight o'clock in the morning. She falls asleep. Raman is overcome with tenderness towards her for her being so industrious and for keeping herself almost half-starved. He strokes her gently letting his hand rest on her breasts. He notices that her face wears a serenity he has never noticed before. Her angularities and self-assertiveness are gone. This moment of blessedness and self-fulfilment tantamount to a sudden upliftment to the eternal, ethereal and spiritual plane of experience. It is given vent to in a very precise, economical and straightaway telling language handled by the author with a master-stroke of craftsmanship. The moment of total harmony between the two souls is experienced and realised in the temporal world of mundane hard reality. It is depicted by Narayan in these highly suggestive and evocative words:

"He was struck by the elegance pf her form and features deny saw her as an abstraction-perhaps a goddess to be worshipped, not to be disturbed or defiled with coarse fingers. Very gently he withdrew his hand and edged away. But she suddenly turned over on her side and with her eyes still closed, threw her arms around his neck and drew him nearer and lay unmindful as his fingers fumbled with her clothes. He was over-whelmed by her surrender and essayed to whisper, "This is our true moment of consummation. No need to feel stealthy or guilty any more, under my own roof. The bride has come home."

      The depiction of this Lawrential moment of an explosive sex-situation rarely appears in Narayan's novels. But, here this situation takes place "not with a Lawrentian immediacy and urgency of elemental pressure of Lady Chatterley's Lover. It has an unhurried quality of poise consequent upon a surender understanding.", comments Dr. U.P. Sinha. Such a situation is the result of the relationship that has taken deep, intimate roots in the hearts of both Daisy and Raman. This superbly presented consummation of the association between Daisy and Raman finds its echoes in Robert Browning's "Lover who wishes and prays to Heaven for the moment made eternity the moment when he is fortunate enough to be granted a last ride together by his beloved. Moreover, the moment sought to be externalized is one when her bosom heaved against the lover's heart. Narayan's deftness as an artist lies in the fact how marvellously and astonishingly he avoids to put in anything that may provoke the banal, baser and coarser sentiments or instinct. Perhaps, this is the only moment in Daisy's life when she is so natural, spontaneous and free from her self-imposed identity of a missionary automaton who is single-mindedly dedicated to the topical national problem of population-control. This experience is very much natural and edifying in a relationship of understanding that eventually comes to exist between a man and a woman and in this case between Daisy and Raman. There is no effort on the part of the author to exploit this sex-situation for the achievement of cheaper objectives. Narayan is very much against commercial exploitation of sex in art. He considers sex as something very sacrosanct and hence an exclusive domain of an individual.

      The pre-marital sexual contact is not acceptable in the ambience of rigid, inflexible conventional code of morality prevalent in the Indian middle-class society. But, any society including Malgudi (India) cannot remain wholly insulated against the influences of modernity and the consequential changes brought about in outlook and attitude of the people in all aspects of their life. The author may have also realised this pressure of changing forces of the modern world and civilisation. Daisy is a potent exponent of this process of transmutation induced by modernity.

      Daisy's unorthodox thinking about sex-relationship and her unflinching perseverance in her mission are illustrated in the incident that occurs on the day preceding the promised day of her shifting to Raman's house. The marriage between them does not materialise in the. way it generally does as an immutable institution which binds the man and the woman to live together setting up a stable, permanent home, procreating and rearing up their offspring. Daisy's untrammelled passion for individuality overpowers her temporary surrender to Raman. She changes her mind to marry him because the demands of her duty are too pressing and the accomplishment of them is the primary aim of her life. A women's delegation from the village Nagari reports to her the explosive situation on family planning front in villages on their side. She abruptly, with no second thought in mind, decides to accompany them to those areas in order to handle the population-growth problem there which may take for her three or four years to set the things moving in the right direction.

      In the evening of the ninth day, Raman comes to her office for the sake of reminding her of her shifting programme to his house the next morning at 8 o'clock. For this purpose, he has already engaged Gaffur's taxi. She declines to do so as she has to depart immediately on her mission alongwith the delegation of women volunteers who are coming again to accompany her in a few minutes time. This startling revelation agitates Raman's mind. He threatens to expose to these women their plan of living a married life. Somehow she, to some extent, calms him down and tries her hard to make him see the cruciality of the situation. In the meantime, the women carrying Daisy's luggage in Gaffur's taxi reach her office. They leave Malgudi, Raman standing there and watching them, depart wistfully. To Raman's plea that he will like to join her in her mission, accompany her and voluntarily go through all the travails and discomforts of her way of life, she declines humbly, not imposingly as she would have done on earlier occasions. Raman sobs and says to her, "May I come with you?" She replies in concise words, "No, this is the end." She refuses to commit anything to Raman's repeated importunate pleading with her for her return to his house at her convenience.

      Nothing can stop Daisy from pursuing her cherished mission of arresting rapid, unthoughtful growth in population. Her relationship with Raman has brought about a change in her manner of addressing him and in her faddist aggressiveness as well. She means no disrespect to Raman whom she now understands better at human level. But the very texture of her personality made of impenetrable stuff can admit of no hindrance or obstacle as far as her crusade for reduction of population-growth is concerned. While departing from Malgudi, she speaks to Raman in a manner of rationality and cool consideration. She says to him:

"Let us face the fact," she whispered, her breath wafting on his face, "Married life is not, for me. I have thought it over. It frightens me. I am not cut out for the life you imagine. I can't live except alone. It won't work."

      Daisy's considered choice for a way of life packed with action, physical straining and perspiring field work inclusive of the harsh difficulties and the rough and tumble of life builds her up in the image of a Karmayogi - a Hindu philosophical concept propounded in the Bhagwad Gita during the discourses delivered by Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battle-field of Kurukshetra. According to this concept, this world is 'Karma-bhoomi' where one is born to carry out the calls of one's duty through one's actions regardless of the desire for results or rewards which lie beyond one's control. Daisy is delineated as a living embodiment of this ideal who does not falter the least in making a bonfire of her personal conveniences willingly for the achievement of a general national cause.

      Daisy is essentially human. She feels the pinch rankling Raman's heart. She is apologetic to him for the mistake she has committed in promising to marry him. The simplicity, candour and honesty in her character are manifested in her unreserved advice to Raman that he should seek some other good partner for him. Her heart felt contrition and repentance for her latest ties with him and then abruptly leaving him alone (with his aunt also gone on pilgrimage) are vividly mirrored in her words spoken to Raman at the time of bidding good-bye to him forever:

"At some moments and moods, we say and do things like talking in sleep, but when you awake, you realise your folly...." She fumbled on; unable to state it all very clearly. "Oh, forgive me for misleading you...."

      These words gush out of a sincere heart. The innate, inalienable urge for independent individuality gets the upper hand in the end. William Walsh rightly comments on this conspicuous aspect of her personality. He says, "Daisy is a peculiarly modern young woman for whom the cult of independent individuality is the supreme value in life." Daisy's promise of marriage with Raman does not get fulfilled. Every relationship is in Sartrian parlance a contest for possession. One either possesses or gets possessed. What we have here is exclusively the feminine exclusivity. The female is the possessor, the aggressor, the male is possessed, bewitched and fooled.

      There is some likeness between Bharati-Sriram relationship on the one hand and Daisy-Raman relationship on the other. Both Sriram and Raman are realisation of the ideal of unheroic heroes. Both of them come close to each other in their traits of being unassertive, spineless and obsessively infatuated with a girl. But there is a basic difference between the two. Sriram's passionate yearning for Bharati is from the heart whereas in the case of Raman it is more a matter of sexual, lecherous desire. Although, of course, towards the close of the novel, Raman's desire for Daisy gets transmuted into the passion of love. But, this happens when he has already tasted physical gratification with her.

      Daisy's refusal to fill the role of the traditional Hindu house-wife, her passion for social work and her changing moods-smiling mood and non-smiling one, talking mood and silent one, caressing and non-caressing-raise expectations, in M.K. Naik's view, of an absorbing study of the New Hindu Woman of the post-Independence period. However, he critically adds:

"But Narayan's New Hindu Woman remains as unconvincing as the traditional Hindu wife in The Dark Room, since Daisy's changing reactions which alternate between cold indifference and tender self-surrender are not always adequately motivated."

      M.K. Naik is right in his comments pertaining to lack of motivation on Daisy's part for her frequently changing moods and postures. But such an idiosyncratic behaviour, portrayed by Narayan, may suggest the resultant outcome of the impact of modernity on the traditional social, moral and spiritual values which constitute the well-entrenched system of the Indian society. Thus, a void is created due to the crumbling down of time-honoured habits and thoughts without an alternative set of new values to replace them. Hence, the result is incoherence and whimsicality in behaviour.

      There are striking similarities between Daisy and Bharati in Waiting for the Mahatma. Both of them are dedicated to a national cause by heart and soul - Daisy to check population explosion and Bharati to the achievement of national Independence under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. They undergo a series of sufferings, hardships and difficult situations threatening their personal honour also. But the intensity of their devotion to the cause keeps their morale high and emboldens them to confront and overcome whatever handicaps come in their way. Bharati's presence keeps Mahatmaji's message and principles resounding throughout the novel although he appears personally only twice i.e. once in the beginning in an assembly of people at the sandy shore of Sarayu and secondly in the concluding part of the novel after India has been declared free. But the dominance of Bharati's personality is always felt during the course of the narrative. Daisy's force of personality is likewise pervasive throughout the novel. Her tour through the villages sprawling around Malgudi on her mission of population-control and the tender feeling, she has, towards the downtrodden, underprivileged, illiterate villagers living in dingy, poverty stricken conditions are reminiscent of Gandhian thought. Bharati, too, in the company of her Master (Gandhi) travels on foot through famine-stricken villages and her heart is touched by the misery, poverty and unhygienic conditions of villagers. Both these women dominate over their respective male counterparts i.e. Raman in case of Daisy and Sriram in case of Bharati. They behave as a disciplinarian mentor to each of them respectively and enable them to, come out of their self-woven cocoon which is untouched and unsublimated by an intimate contact with harsh realities of life.

      The difference between the two lies in Daisy's being more aggressively individualistic as much as she considers marriage a symbol of woman's slavery to man. She is a votary of equality between man and woman, a concept underlying Women's Lib movement. Her temporary agreement to marry Raman is attached with two conditions which reinforce her die-hard conviction in maintaining a separate individualistic entity. This trait of Daisy's character is missing in Bharati who, all the times, agrees to marry Sriram if she marries at all. She also puts the condition to marry him only after obtaining the permission of Mahatmaji. But this condition is much lighter and less exacting than the conditions stipulated by Daisy. In the end of the novel, Mahatmaji grants permission to Bharati to marry Sriram and offers his services as a priest at their wedding ceremony. However, he says that in case he is not able to officiate as a priest at their marriage ceremony, Bharati and Sriram must marry each other the very next morning. Such a conclusion is sufficiently indicative of Bharati-Sriram's marriage getting solemnised and their return to the familiar world of Malgudi. But in the case of Daisy-Raman episode, the promised marriage does not take place at all as Daisy moves out of Malgudi to the village Nagari and its surrounding rural areas on her mission to check population-growth after declining categorically Raman's offer for her return to his house at her own convenience.

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