Raju’s Boyhood and Schooling in The Novel The Guide

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      Raju lived in a small house opposite Malgudi station. The house had been built by his father long before trains were thought of. His father had a small shop built of dealwood planks and gunny sacks; and daily sat there selling peppermint, fruit, tobacco, betel leaf, parched gram (which he measured out in tiny bamboo cylinders) and whatever else the wayfarers on the Trunk Road demanded. As a boy Raju used to help his father in his shop-keeping.

      While sitting at the shop selling peppermints and eating them also was no trouble to Raju, he did not like his father’s habit of waking him up with the crowing of the cock, and then teaching him alphabet and arithmetic. Luckily for him, some customer or the other would soon come, the father would go to the shop, and his ordeal would come to an end. Then he would be off to play marbles, rolled an iron hoop, or played with a ball and he hardly knew what time of the day it was, or what was happening around him. Sometimes, his father would take him to the town when he went there to make his purchases. He would make him sit on a wooden platform within sight of a shopkeeper known to him and would go about to do his shopping. Raju would look fascinated at the changing scene, men, women, children and carts on the move around him, till he would feel drowsy and go to sleep.

      Raju noticed much activity in front of his house. A railway track and a railway train were to be built, and material needed for the construction was being piled up. There was great excitement and the question was frequently asked and discussed as to how long it would take for the railway to arrive at Malgudi. Red earth was brought by a number of trucks, and soon the track was ready. Raju went on playing on the platform of earth raised to build the track. His father was angry at this. He, therefore, decided to send him to school.

      So Raju began to go to school. He was sent not to the Albert Mission School, for his father believed that there the boys were converted to Christianity, but to another school called the pyol school. It was kept by an old man who lived in Kabir Lane, in a narrow old house with a cement pyol in front, with the street drain running right below it. All the classes were held there at the same time, and he bestowed attention on each group in turn. Raju belonged to the youngest and most elementary set, just learning the alphabet and numbers.

      The old teacher made the students read aloud from their books and copy down the letters on their slates, and looked through each and gave corrections and clicks from the cane for those who repeated their follies. He was a very abusive man.

      The boys made a lot of noise, and as soon as the master’s back was turned and he had gone into the house for a moment, they rolled over each other, fought, scratched, bleated and yelled. Once they even invaded his privacy, entered in, passed through several rooms and found him cooking in the kitchen. They all giggled and the old master was furious. Henceforth, they were forbidden to enter the house. Now they confined their attention to the drain that flowed beneath the pyol, and floated paper-boats on it. The old man warned them to be careful, for if they fell into the drain they would be carried to the river Sarayu, and their fathers will have to look for them there.

      The old teacher was paid one rupee per month for each boy. However, the boys brought to him presents of eatables frequently, and in this way he was able to make both ends meet. Whenever he was short of some article, he would ask some boy or the other to bring it to him from his home. Their parents were always glad to oblige him, for he kept them in his charge for nearly the whole day and thus relieved them of the trouble. Raju was intelligent. He did well at school and within a year he was found fit to be admitted to the first standard in the Board High School. The old master himself took them there and blessed them before leaving them. It was a pleasant surprise for them to find that he could be so kind.

University Questions

Describe in your words Raju’s boyhood and schooling.
How did Raju get his early education?
What kind of school was the pyol school? Why was Raju sent to that school?

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