‘Naga’ by R.K. Narayan

Naga by R.K. Narayan, 1972

The magic trick:

A folk tale with modern flourishes

“Naga” feels rooted in folk tale, heavy on action and (at least the expectation of) direct cause-and-effect morality.

But there’s more here, too.

There is a self-consciously literary bent that guides the reader, for example, to compare father and son’s approach to love and responsibility.

So it’s almost the best of both worlds. A folk tale with modern flourishes.

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

The selection:

The boy found that he could play the pipe, handle the snake, and feed it also – all in the same manner as his father used to. Also, he could knock off the fangs whenever they started grow. He earned enough each day, and as the weeks and months passed he grew taller, and the snake became progressively tardy and flabby and hardly stirred its coils. The boy never ceased to sigh for the monkey. The worst blow his father had dealt him was the kidnapping of his monkey.

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