The Painter of Signs

Tue 31 December 2013 by Thejaswi Puthraya

I like to alternate heavy reads with easier books and after Dawkin's "Selfish Gene", I picked up R.K Narayan's "The Painter of Signs".

Raman is a painter of signs at Malgudi who lives with his aunt and is well read. One day, he receives a visit from Daisy, a spirited woman working for the family planning scheme of the government. She contracts Raman to paint signs for the scheme.

Daisy only cares for improving the lives of women and controlling the rampant population growth. During his contract, he travels with Daisy to several villages and is impressed with her professionalism and her independent way of life. He falls for her and wishes to marry her. His aunt, who has been looking after him since childhood is aghast at his decision and to avoid neighbourhood gossip leaves for a pilgrimage. Whether Raman manages to convince his aunt and get married to Daisy forms the rest of the story.

Unlike other R.K Narayan books, the humour is very subtle. As Raman's aunt prepares for her pilgrimage, Raman reminisces how she made innumrable sacrifices to bring him up and this recollection is touching and probably the high point of this novel.