‘A Horse And Two Goats’ by R.K. Narayan

A Horse And Two Goats by R.K. Narayan, 1965

The magic trick:

Funny from start to finish, yet powerfully meaningful

This is a rarity: the short story that is very funny but also resonates with meaning.

Most stories that manage that two-fer do so by radically shifting from comedy to pathos at some point in the text – usually very suddenly and near the end.

But “A Horse And Two Goats,” with its New York tourist/Tamil local goatherder miscommunication premise, does no such thing. It must be a rarity among rarities: the short story that is funny from start to finish without ever shifting out of comedy mode, and yet still lingers with meaning.

And that’s quite a trick on Narayan’s part.

The selection:

“I am willing to pay any price that is reasonable – ”

This statement was cut short by the old man, who was now lost in the visions of various avatars. “God Vishnu is the highest god, so our pandit at the temple has always told us, and He has come nine times before, whenever evil-minded men troubled this world.”

“But please bear in mind that I am not a millionaire.”

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