25 June, 2021

Malgudi : Sleepless In Swamitown

The only time a train stopped here for over two minutes was for Gandhi, in 1937.

Illustrations: Jayachandran
Malgudi : Sleepless In Swamitown

ALL trains slow down when they cross the Sarayu bridge, possibly to assist distressed people who want to jump off. Among the countless methods of terminating life, jumping off this bridge is the most far-sighted. Because right on the timeless sandbanks of the Sarayu river that flows beneath the bridge is Malgudi's crematorium. The funeral ground, it is said, is one of the few ways of leaving Malgudi. The more popular exit, of course, is the railway station, which is just minutes away from the bridge. Despite such morbid settings around the Sarayu, where someone or the other is being roasted without being told, the riverbanks are where the people of Malgudi amble during lazy twilights, just the way their fathers and grandfathers used to.

There is talk among certain quarters that after the Town Hall's midnight gong goes off, even the dead walk around on the banks, chiefly near Nallapa's Grove. But it's easy to love...

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