Describe Raju's Death in R. K. Narayan The Guide

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      Raju has been treated by the villagers as a saint. One day Velan comes running to Raju with the news that his sister had herself come before their family gathering and admitted her folly and had agreed to marry him. Incidents like these and his story of the past to Velan. Yet Velan still regards him as a Swami. The villagers consider Raju one who has renounced the world. He just meditates and does nothing.

      There was drought and famine in the area. Raju sat on the fast to bring rains. A detailed account of his fast was published in the newspapers. Suddenly the small town of Mangala shot into fame. People came to it in large numbers to have darshan of the Swami who was sacrificing himself for the sake of fair. Children shouted and played about, women came carrying baskets filled with pots, firewood and food stuffs, and cooked the food for their men and children. There were small curls of smoke going up all along the river bank, on the opposite slope and on this bank also. It was studded with picnic groups, with the women’s bright-coloured saris shining in the sun, men too had festive dress. Bullocks unyoked from their carts jingled their bells as they lay on the straw under the trees. People swarmed around little water-moles.

      Raju saw them across his pillared hall whenever he opened his eyes. He knew what that smoke meant, he knew that they were eating and enjoying themselves. He wondered what they might be eating — rice boiled with a pinch of saffron, melted ghee and what were the vegetables? Probably none in this drought. The sight tormented him.

      Raju had managed to save little food, and on the first two days of the fast, he could eat a little in the nights. After that his fast was total. Each day, he would stand in the knee-deep water muttering prayers, while the crowd round him was enjoying itself. He wanted to end the ordeal but there was no way out. He still hankered for food and food thoughts still haunted him. As there was no possibility of his getting any food, and as there was no way out of the dilemma he decided to face the situation boldly. He tried sincerely to drive away food thoughts. For the first time in his life Raju was making an earnest effort; for the first time he was learning the thrill of full application, outside money and love; for the first time he was doing a thing in which he was not personally interested. He felt suddenly so enthusiastic that it gave him strength. In his total fasting, he went on praying to God to send down rain and save humanity. In his supplication he nearly lost all sensation, except the numbness at his knees, through constant contact with cold water. Lack of food gave him a peculiar floating feeling, which he rather enjoyed, with the thought in the background.

      The crowds continued to increase, and special trains had to be run for the people who wanted to go to Malgudi. People also came by special buses. Never had that part of the Heath country seen such large crowds. Officers of Department came to see that there was no insanitation and consequent outbreak of cholera and other infectious diseases. They displayed their documentaries to the great delight of children. Telegrams came in large numbers wishing success to the Swami. The place was soon swarming with press reporters, and so the stories regarding the Swami and his fast were carried all the world over. The roads were choked with traffic, country carts, buses and cycles, jeeps and automobiles of all kinds and ages. Pedestrians in files with hampers and baskets crossed the fields like swarms of ants converging on a lump of sugar. The air rang with the music of a few who had chosen to help the Swami by sitting near him, singing devotional songs to the accompaniment of a harmonium and tabla.

      On the tenth day of the fast, a couple of doctors, deputed by the government to watch and report, went to the Swami, felt his pulse and heart. They helped him to stretch himself on the mat. A big hush fell upon the crowd. Velan plied his fan more vigorously than ever. He looked distraught and unhappy. In fact, keeping a sympathetic fast, he was now eating on alternate days, confining his diet to saltless boiled greens. He looked worn out. He said to the master, “One more day. I don’t know how he is going to bear it. I dread to think how he can pull through another day.”

      The doctors found his condition not very satisfactory; blood pressure was two hundred systolic. They suspected, one of the kidneys was affected. Now Raju’s life had become important for the nation. The Government directed the doctors to save his life at all costs.

      On the eleventh day of the fast, however, Raju’s condition deteriorated; it became grave. Which leads him toward death. With difficulty, he was carried to the place in the river where he was to stand in the river in knee-deep water. He entered the water, shut his eyes, and muttered his prayers. He opened his eyes and looked towards the distant mountains, and said, “Velan, it’s raining in the hills. I can feel it coming up under my feet, up my legs.” He sagged down. The end is shrouded in malignity, was it really raining or was it merely the hallucination of a starving man? Did Raju die, or did he merely fall down unconscious? Who can say? But on the surface it appears, Raju became the hero of martyrdom.

University Questions

Describe in your own words Raju’s martyrdom.
Give an account of Raju’s death.

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