The Vendor of Sweets written in 1967 by R. K. Narayan is authored in simple language like his other books. The book is written in easy English that can be read and understood without turning and returning the pages after a single read, which makes the book even more interesting. The compositional language is also plain. However, the message that is being sent to the readers is delivered is equally deep.
It is said that time is the best teacher. It makes you act opposite to all your judgements, beliefs and desires. The book displays this fact very convincingly.
Vendor of Sweets revolves around an old orthodox Brahmin, Jagan, who runs a sweet-meat shop in Malgudi and has never ever been out of his town. Gita is an essential part of his life. He always tries to follow the principles described in the epic. He had always wanted to publish his book in naturopathy, but it is a useless dream as the draft has been lying in the publisher’s office for the last five years.
The book revolves around the theme of generation gap. The more the vendor tries to fill the gap, the more noticeable it becomes. The father has a tough time in adjusting to the changing attitude and life style of his son, while the son considers his father’s Gandhian lifestyle redundant and boring and does not care to understand him.
R. K. Narayan has a very mature way of writing and handling sensitive issues. Writing in easy language is one of his greatest strengths. He is one of the most reliable writers, who can be expected to give a meaningful treatment to this seldom touched upon subject.
It was very touching to read about the old Vendor of Sweets, who is punished for no fault of his. His love and innocence become his enemy. The vendor is highly religious and believes in caste system. He considers crossing sea as a grave sin for Hindus, is made to undergo all those events which shake his beliefs in age-old wisdom and jerks him to accept the changing reality with a brave heart.
Jagan’s character has been beautifully portrayed and seems to come straight out of real life. The narrative is simple, humourous and depicts the South Indian life with great detail. The protagonist’s confident tone with his shop workers and shows contrast with his helplessness while dealing with his own son. A single parent’s tribulations and challenges while bringing up a son has been handled delicately, yet satirically such that there is no scope of boredom throughout the book. Overall, Vendor of Sweets is a very captivating book, which depicts life as a challenging ocean, which can be only be crossed with patience and consistence.