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Early in R. K. Narayan’s novel The Painter of Signs (page 14 of the Penguin paperback edition), the author describes Raman’s daily routine in the small home he shares with his elderly “aunt”:
“His room was without table or chair. He had a mat and a roll of bedding; when he wished to sleep, he unrolled the bed, but when he wanted to read, he sat reclined on the rolled up bed, lost in the pages of some ancient volume.”
Later, when Raman is traveling and campaigning with Daisy, they sleep on sheets of carpet that Daisy rolls up and carries for bedding. When Raman brings Daisy to his home, “aunt” having departed on her spiritual journey to the Ganges, Narayan again refers repeatedly to the rolled up bedding, as in the following description of his protagonist’s rooming arrangements: “He would keep his own room with his roll of bedding untouched.” (page 140)
Raman’s is a meager existence amid the squalor of India. He maintains a neat domicile, but his home is sparsely furnished with minimal space for furniture, even if he could afford it. With so little space to move about, rolling up and storing for the day thin mattresses or carpets was a routine practice.
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