R. K. Narayan

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Can you summarize "Like the Sun" by R. K. Narayan?

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"Like the Sun" is a short story about a teacher named Sekhar who decides to tell the truth, regardless of consequences, for one full day each year. He insults his wife, a dead man, and his headmaster during the course of the day. In the end, he feels glad to have been able to deliver the complete truth, even though it has impacted his own life and the lives of others.

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Sekhar is a teacher who decides to spend at least one day a year telling the complete truth, regardless of consequences. He feels that if he cannot muster up the courage to live one day per year without lying, even if those lies spare others' feelings, then "life is not worth living." Thus, he excitedly embarks on his great experiment.

His first test comes at breakfast. When his wife serves him what she believes is her "culinary masterpiece," Sekhar tells her that the food is so terrible that he cannot eat it. His wife winces, but Sekhar reminds her that "truth is like the sun," painful to look at directly but necessary for life.

At work, a colleague tells him that a man they know has died. When he asks for Sekhar's reaction, Sekhar replies that the man was "a mean and selfish brute," which is a shocking comment toward the recently deceased.

After school ends, Sekhar is asked to report to the office of his headmaster. The man has been taking music lessons and wants Sekhar to provide him with some honest feedback, which is particularly valuable because Sekhar is known as a great music critic. In exchange for his time, the headmaster offers Sekhar additional time to grade the recent papers he has collected from his students.

As the headmaster begins singing, Sekhar is appalled by the man's lack of talent. He compares the headmaster's voice to "frogs" and "a buffalo." When the music ends, Sekhar tries to delay his feedback for a day; after all, he only has to tell the complete truth for this one day and the next day, he could lie to his boss about the performance.

The headmaster insists on immediate feedback, so Sekhar tells him that his talents are so bad that there is "absolutely" no point in continuing with the lessons he has been taking. The headmaster thanks him for the feedback but then insists that he score all one hundred student papers in a single day. Sekhar feels that such punishment is a "small price to pay" for the "luxury" of speaking the truth.

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In Narayan's story, Sekhar is a schoolteacher who considers how difficult it is to face truth in daily life. He hypothesizes that truth can negatively affect the health of personal relationships.

However, he decides to set aside a day to tell the truth, no matter what the consequences are. His theory is that truth is the essence of a good life. His first test comes when his wife asks him his opinion about one of her masterpiece dishes. He answers that the dish tastes terrible and that he is unable to eat more of it. The second test comes when his colleague opines about a "fine man" who has just passed away. Sekhar blurts out that the man was a rather mean and selfish character when he lived.

The final test comes when the headmaster of Sekhar's school demands to know Sekhar's unbiased opinion about his singing. In return, he promises Sekhar that he will have ten days to correct his students' papers, totaling a hundred in all. Since Sekhar is a well-known music critic, the headmaster feels that he will be more likely to receive an informed judgment. However, the headmaster's singing is dreadful, and Sekhar is forced to tell him so.

The next day, the headmaster thanks Sekhar for his courage; he believes that the truth has saved him from wasting his money on further music lessons. However, he demands that Sekhar turn in the corrected test papers the next day. For his part, Sekhar regards the new ultimatum a small price to pay for the luxury of telling the truth.

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This story by R. K. Narayan features Sekhar, who is a teacher with a belief that just as people avoid staring at the sun, likewise people avoid confronting the truth. He recognises that people deliberately alter what they say to avoid hurting or shocking others. To prove his point and as an experiment, he decides to speak and receive only the truth for one day, no matter what the consequences might be. He starts the day as he means to continue by telling his wife precisely what he thinks of her cooking (foolish man!), and then gives his opinion of someone who has just died. Then his headmaster, his boss, who has spent lots of money on music lessons, asks his opinion of his singing. Sekhar is an authority on musical matters and the headmaster's performance is terrible, and Sekhar tells him so. The next day, nervous about how he will respond, Sekhar is surprised to be thanked by his headmaster for telling the truth, but he gives Sekhar one hundred papers to mark in a single night. Sekhar feels that "sitting up all night with a hundred test papers was a small price to pay for the luxury of practicing Truth."

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