Written by R. K. Narayan in 1967, The Vendor of Sweets is a novel that tells the story of Jagan, a fifty-five-year-old sweet vendor in the fictional town of Malgudi, India. The story centers on Jagan’s difficult and fractured relationship with his son Mali, whom he raised alone following the death of his wife, Ambika, from a brain tumor.
Cousin is friends to both Jagan and Mali, listening and offering advice where he can. It is through their relationship with him that Jagan and Mali are still in contact with one another. He is sympathetic to both Jagan’s traditional thinking and Mali’s more modern outlook, and he provides a bridge between them. He is portrayed as being wise and funny, providing much of the humor in the story, and liked by everybody in the community of Malgudi.
However, Cousin is unemployed and is also depicted as being a bit of a scrounger who is willing to take from others so that he can avoid working himself. He often visits Jagan at his sweet shop in the town and eats there for free. But ultimately, Cousin is a sympathetic character, cared for by Jagan, Mali, and the rest of the community.