"Look here, do you think we shall have to pay tax or something to the government when we start the team?" Explain in reference to the context of R.K Narayan's Swami and Friends.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This quote is said by Swami when he and Rajam are planning to start up a cricket team together. What begins as something that should, in theory, be very simple, becomes ever more complicated as Swami and Rajam think through the various things that have to be decided, starting off with a unique name. The reference that Swami makes to having to pay taxes and registering the cricket club with the government is just another example of how things in this world of the novel, even if they appear at first to be very simple, have the habit of turning into something much more complicated. Note, for example, what Rajam thinks as he considers Swami's question:

Rajam realised at this point that the starting of a cricket team was the most complicated problem on earth. He had simply expected to gather a dozen fellows on the maidan next to his compund and play, and challenge the world. But here were endless troubles, starting with the name that must be unique, Government taxes, and so on. The Government did not seem to know where it ought to interfere, and where not.

The supposedly simple ambition of starting a cricket team thus becomes an important symbol in the novel, as both Rajam and Swami realise as they grow up that their friendship, which should be simple, is in fact something that becomes incredibly complicated as they try to negotiate a colonial India where so much of a character's identity is dependent upon their relationship with the British colonial forces that dominate India. Just as Swami and Rajam realise, in quite a comic and humorous way, that they are not simply able to start a new cricket team, so too are they forced to recognise that their friendship is something that is very tricky to manage; in particular because of the way in which Rajam is a rich boy who walks and dresses as if he were a "European." Narayan thus explores the tensions of growing up in such a colonial environment where there is a dominant force that seeks to shape identity.  

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