The Bachelor of Arts

Sun 04 September 2011 by Thejaswi Puthraya

"The Bachelor of Arts" is probably RK Narayan's best book I have read so far. It has all the elements that contemporary writers abuse - friendship, infatuation, heart break, self awakening and love. But the book differs from the current crop in it's treatment. It is subtle and the doesn't go overboard at any point.

The book is divided into 4 parts with the first describing Chandran's final year of "Bachelor of Arts". The second part of the book deals with his "love" at first sight for Malathi. Sadly, a series of events (hilariously narrated) derail the wedding. This leaves Chandran heart broken and he punishes himself by donning saffron robes and imposing a self exile. Later on, he realizes that he is needlessly punishing his caring parents over his "silly" infatuation.

In the final part, Chandran dedicates himself to find a purpose in life and starts a business. While he is working hard to improve his business, he finally finds love in the "most" conventional way.

What impressed me in the book is the author's treatment of Chandran's friendship with Ramu and later Chandran's bitterness towards Ramu when they lose contact after college. This is summed up perfectly below:

"People pretended that they were friends, when the fact that they were brought together by force of circumstances. The classroom or the club or office created friendships. When circumstances changed the relations, too, snapped."

There is another instance that is brought out very beautifully in the book about how our respect for teachers and their attitude towards us changes after graduation.

I had a smile while reading this book as it made me reminisce my school and college days.