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Notes: Meaning of Life and Distinguished Indian Writer

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R. K. Narayan (1906-2001) is one of the most famous and distinguished Indian writer in English. He had a fine insight into various aspects on the lives of the poor and the middle class people, particularly in South India. He makes the dull and common place events more interesting and this essay is one such essay. In a writing career that pned over sixty years, Narayan received many awards and honours. His writings are full of humour. In this essay he explains the advantages of headache.

A blessing for Mankind: R. K. Narayan explains how headache conferred on mankind as a blessing by a benign providence and also talks about the usefulness of headache to avoid difficult situations. He later narrates an incident in his school life about the letter writing exercise, where his teacher used headache as a cause in the specimen letter. He always wondered what made his teacher to select for headache as a cause even in a specimen letter.

Later he talks about the drill class during his school days and how students usually mentioned ‘headache’ as an excuse for avoiding the drill class after the school hours. One day the instructor asked all the students suffering from headache to hold their arms. For many students it raised large hope. The instructor also added that he was going to give them some special exercise to cure their splitting headache. Not even a boy raised his arms. Thus the instructor put an end to that problem. Touch of Importance:

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Headache gives the sufferer a touch of importance because it can be mentioned in any social gathering and is well taken. No other pain can be so openly mentioned with freedom from punishment. Other aches sound crude and bad which cannot be mentioned in publish and thus headache helps us to avoid many embarrassing situation. What is indisposition? Indisposition is a superior expression; it can be used only by eminent people. R. K. Narayan was really concerned about finding the real meaning of the word indisposition since it is very vague and confusing.

He feels that he was not able to understand the meaning of the word indisposition except that it sounds very well in press notes or health bulletins or in messages from eminent men to gatherings to which they have been invited. It cannot be written directly and it will sound better in the third person. A gentlemen is an eminent one, has a secretary or a deputy who can speak for him. For example a gentleman regrets his inability to attend the meeting today owing to indisposition (sickness or unwillingness).

People will understand and accept the statement and will not question the concerned person. R. K. Narayan wants to know the perfect meaning of indisposition. Is the concerned person down with flu or malaria or cold or rheumatism (pain in joints and muscles)? He feels that the word indisposition could be used only at a particular level, not by all and if a school boy says “As I am indisposed, I want to be let off”, he will have his ears twisted for his intelligence beyond his age. Headache as an excuse:

If we openly say that we want to avoid the situation or an important meeting, people will get angry. No one has really got courage to tell that he/she is not willing to attend a meeting or a social gathering. The world is not yet ripe for such outspokenness and frankness. So we safely use headache as an excuse. At home, headache is used as an excuse to avoid many uncomfortable situations. The mother-in-law, who is angry with the daughter-in-law, uses it to avoid food. The son, who does not want to take his wife out, gives headache as an excuse.

The boy, who has skipped his homework, claims headache in order to avoid his tutor and to send him back away. The cultured existence is not to interfere too deeply, but to accept the face value as expressed by the speaker. Conclusion: Headache has become a confirmed habit. Lots of medicines have been produced to cure headache, which people always carry with them and feels uneasy without them. Opticians give glasses to cure and relieve headache. All these things prove that mankind easily begins to believe in myths.

Notes: Meaning of Life and Distinguished Indian Writer essay

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