Drought and Famine Portrayed in R. K. Narayan's The Guide

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      Raju had been in Mangala for quite a long time. He lost count of time, months and may be even years must have passed crowded with activity, with his playing the role of a saint. His beard now caressed his chest, his hair covered his back, and around his neck he wore a necklace of prayer-beads. His eye shone with softness and compassion, the light of wisdom emanated from them. He had become every inch a saint, and had come to be called Swami, by the simple, credulous people of the village.

      One Summer there was a total failure of rains in Mangala. The people came to Raju with sad, long faces and poured out their troubles to him. Their crops were scorched, their seedlings were dead, their wells were drying up, and the water level in the river was falling. The earth became drier and drier, and cracks appeared. Then cattle began to die. There was no fodder and no water for them. All sorts of rumours began to spread. It was said that cholera had broken out in some village and had taken a heavy toll of life, and that in another, cattle had died in hundreds. Raju himself could see that the animals were growing thin and emaciated. Food and other offerings which the villagers brought for him became smaller and smaller in quantity. The people still came to him in large numbers but the usual cheer was lacking. Rather they poured their woes into his ears. It was an endless tale of woe, tiresome and sickening.

      Time passed, and still there were no rains. The crops failed. There was shortage, even scarcity, and the local shopman demanded higher and higher prices for his goods. There was a quarrel between the shopkeeper and a customer, and the irate customer slapped him on the face. That night there was a fierce fight between the supporters of the customers and those of the shopkeeper. Velan had been hurt, and was bent upon taking revenge.

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