The Malgudian Boulevard | S Story by Menonimus

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The Malgudian Boulevard

(A Short Story by M. Menonimus)

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The Malgudian Boulevard

The Malgudian Boulevard

The Malgudian Boulevard

Malgudi is a south Indian sub-urban city with all the characteristics both of a city and a village. It is a region where people of all castes and creeds live making a visible existence of their respective ethos. There are Vedic Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Persians, Buddhists, etc. But the majority of its inhabitants are comprised of Vedic Hindus. Among all the communities there is an instinctive spirit of national harmony as well as traditional high and law discrimination. R. K. Narayan, a celebrated twentieth-century Indian English short story-teller and novelist had written many stories and novels keeping Malgudi in their background.

It is a vast region with its own whims and gravity, with its own geographical variety and political solidarity. The Administrative Head Quarter lies at the centre of the region. The city is as chaotically built as any other Indian city which began to take concrete form at the nick-end of the nineteenth century during the reign of the English. Nowadays it owns two rail stations, one airport, a university, and several colleges. The rail station lies on the southern outskirt of the city and its airport lies on the northernmost boundaries. There is a maze of lanes and sub-lanes in the city. It is neither as clean as Mumbai nor as dirty as Kolkata. The National High Way runs through the belly of the city. The office of its Municipality is attached to its Tax Office. Its climate is neither hot nor cold but mediocre. Though in summer it gets good rains and grows a variety of crops. In the city, there is a museum also which has been established late in the twentieth century. Agriculture is the principal means of its economic resources but the city people have taken up business as their main occupation. Till the first half of the twentieth century the region was poor in industrialization but recently some light, as well as heavy industries, have been introduced with success.

The vast west side of the region was almost full of jungle until the advent of the twentieth century. But during the first decade of the century, the English constructed a road up to the seacoast for commercial purposes and a British governor planted many saplings of plane trees on both sides of the road. And with the passing of time, the road became a source of natural beauty. It is now called Malgudian Boulevard. On both sides of the road, there are some small hills which were then full of prairies. But now this portion of the region has turned almost into a forest as the local government has declared it a reserved region. On the right side of the boulevard, there is a lake the water of which is as blue as the cloudless autumn sky. The road is not as spacious as a modern High Road as it was not constructed as a public road. The portion of the region was almost void of human habitation though there was a government forest office. People rarely frequented the boulevard. But now many peasant families have been installed there by the government. Yet this area seems to be less busy than the rest of the region. 

One of my far-off relatives happened to migrate there in search of a job and for an unavoidable reason, I had to be his guest for a span of three years. He became a permanent citizen of Malgudi and he made his establishment on the westernmost outskirt of the city of Malgudi.

Every evening, during my staying there, I used to have a leisurely walk on the boulevard. On the very first day that I took to walking on the road in the evening, I met an old man near seventy wearing powerful spectacles on his eyes and with a supporting stick in his right hand. He walked with a slow pace up to the west end of the blue lake and return when the sun sank into the sea.

He was seen once a week, especially on Sundays. Then I began to think within myself, “Why is the old man seen only on Sundays? If he takes to perambulate as a means of physical exercise, then why is he not seen on other days of the week?”

One day, being curious, I accosted him with a humble salute and asked, “Uncle, may I know your whereabouts?”

He lifted his head pressing on his stick and looking at me, asked me, “Who are you?”

I answered, “I belong to Assam. Here I am for a temporary stay at the house of Mr. Akalesh, the Civil engineer.”

Oh! I know him. He is working in the Public Department.”

“Yes, uncle. But may I know sir, why are you seen on Sundays only?”

He gave a deep sigh and answered, “You see, I am too weak to walk yet I take to walking every Sunday neither for physical exercise nor for enjoying the natural beauty of this boulevard but for hope only.”

I asked, “What is hope?”

He said, “It is a story now.”

I became more curious and asked again, “May I know, sir?”

He took a move to the edge of the road. I also followed him and stood under a plain tree. Then he began to tell:

“You may think of me as one of the aboriginals of this land. When our forefathers came to this land I know not. They used to live working hard in the field. There was peace. But as soon as the English grasped the charge of administration, hardship in our socio-political life began to arise. The inhabitants of the land began to be overburdened by excessive taxes and the tenants began to be exploited by the landlords. Some peasants gave up working in the field and were compelled to be wage-earning labourers. I also turned into a labourer and took to earning my livelihood by working in an English office as a wardsman. Poverty never left us. I got married at the age of twenty and became a father of five children whom I could hardly provide with food. Hence my children were forced to earn some extra money by means of gleaning firewood from the jungle.

One day my third child, who was a girl of twelve, was sent to the jungle for gleaning fuel wood and she went up to the west end of the lake beyond which was a Forest office. That was Sunday. She went but she did not return. We searched for her all night incessantly but she was found nowhere. With the passing of time, everybody has forgotten her but I have never forgotten her. I think, if she is alive, one day I must find her in the street and with this hope I take to walking in search of her on Sundays. I have been doing this for the last forty years.”

Saying so, he turned to leave me as it was getting dark.  0 0 0

 

The Malgudian Boulevard

N.B.  The short story ‘The Malgudian Boulevard’ originally belongs to the book ‘The Prostitute and Other Stories‘ by Menonim Menonimus. The Malgudian Boulevard

The Malgudian Boulevard

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:

  1. The Fugitive Father and Other Stories
  2. The Prostitute and Other Stories
  3. Neha’s Confession

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.

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