To tell a tale-9
Passage :1 At one time, he had considered it very wrong to strike children, a great sin. He was surprised how parents could ever beat children. “What do children know? They are innocent. What is the use of beating them? Nobody with a heart would ever do it.” so he thought. (The Bungler, Pg.84)
The above passage is not a typical Stream of consciousness narrative which is a direct quotation of the mind of an individual. It has present or past tense of the external authorial narration and follows no grammar, punctuation or order and, the thought jumps from one to the other.
Passage:2 If using violence against adults is not wrong, how could it be for children? According to this theory, the strong should punish the weak, the husband should punish the wife, the learned could punish the ignorant. (The Bungler, Pg. 85)
The above passage relates Sitarama Rao’s inner thoughts in proper grammar and in a sensible order. So, it can be categorized as interior monologue rather than Stream of Consciousness. In the Passage 1, there is a narrative of direct monologue in quotation marks narrating what the character thinks in present tense (Type 1). And, the rest of the passage is an indirect monologue where the character narrates it’s thoughts in past tense (Type 2). In the passage 2, the narrative is the direct monologue without any quotation marks and it is in present tense.
Passage 3 : As he compared the noisy world with the quite cremation ground his mind cooled. He felt as if he had come to the right place, to his motherland, to his home. Here there were no disputes, no quarrels, no high and no low, no society, no deceit, no conspiracy, no worry. (The Bungler, Pg.158)
Passage 3, appears similar to the Passage 1. It is an indirect monologue where the character narrates his thoughts are in past tense and in third person, but here “the words as concerns their contents are indeed those of characters, but they are reported by the narrator, in the past tense in the third person” and so it can be called narrated monologue (Paul Ricoeur. Time and Narrative. Volume 2. University of Chicago Press. Pg.90). The direct monologue quoted by the character is called quoted monologue where as a self-quoted monologue is quoted by the character itself. The Bungler employs both the narrated monologue and the quoted monologue throughout the book to express inner thoughts and conflicts of the character.
As Mohan Prasad rightly pointed out, Sitarama Rao’s conversation with gecko has the traces of dramatic monologue where the character got an audience. Hence, the bungler is a novel that narrates the inner conflict of the character, narrated through Psycho-narration, narrative monologue and the quoted monologue, is a psycho analytical novel by narrative structure.
Gopichand implements dreams as effective narrative devices to capture the diverse and deeper shades of Sitarama Rao’s psyche. His dreams are clearly different from his imaginative thoughts. He imagines sitting in a packed bus and “somehow he delighted visualizing the girls disfigured.” (The Bungler, Pg.21) Initially, when he realizes he is wrong by such imaginations, he used to suppress those imaginations, until such imaginations suppressed his rationality of differentiating good or bad.
Sigmond Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams influenced the intelligentsia of the period of Gopichand. It opened up the sub-conscious level of mind to the wider interpretations along with other Freudian concepts. “As such images in dreams are often not what they appear to be”, according to Freud, and “need deeper interpretation if they are to inform on the structures of the unconscious.” Freud used to mention the dreams as “The Royal Road to the Unconscious”. He proposed the ‘phenomenon of condensation’; the idea that one simple symbol or image presented in a person’s dream may have multiple meanings.” (https://www.createspace.com/4078074 Pg.23)
Sitarama Rao’s dreams are very interesting. The first one was at early morning and Telugu people believe that early morning dreams will come true but, the day dreams are futile.
Freud provided several tools to interpret dreams with multiple meanings to one simple symbol or image. Gopichand narrates Sitaram Rao’s spectacular dream, in the fashion of a Street Play (Veedhi Baagotam) that has many people (Siva, Parvathi, Ardhanaareeswarudu, Viswanarudu and himself), multiple actions, conversations, discussions, bickering, penance, boon, and so on.
On his way to the public podium, Sitaram Rao dreams about a jungle. And, the day dream extends. He dreams that he is a notorious robber, and abducts a young girl and she fears that her virtue is gone. She, who has imagined things about rape and gets disappointed when nothing happens. In the first dream, he is a saint where as he is a robber in the second dream. It reflects the duality in the character of Sitarama Rao. His fears, his needs, his passions and perversions, his nature and mindset are expressed in humorously which provide a comic relief to the reader.
Gopichand uses a dream within the dream, an interesting narrative experiment. Sitarama Rao who “had lofty ideals in the youth. He was eager to live an ideal life, and always strove to do so. In thought, word and deed this was evident. While others were immersed in day-to-day humdrum trivialities, he was above them, always lost in contemplation.” (The Bungler, Pg.7) And “he did not like to put on a par with ordinary men.”(The Bungler, Pg.9) But, his father fixation and family ideals develop superiority complex in him. He snobbishly ignores the advice of his well wishers. But when the reality hits him and he is lost in the factual world of deceit and conspiracy he develops an inferiority complex. He considers himself as a good-for-nothing fellow. His ego-ideal, his father, drives him into the challenge of proving himself to be the most competent son of a father who didn’t ask him anything but to keep up the family reputation. Sitarama Rao’s failure to do so, withdraws him from the regular social life. His loneliness is an offshoot of the conflict of two complexes in which the inferiority complex gains an upper hand over the other. He has nothing to do but, lay down on the cot, brood and dream.
According to Adler’s psycho analytical theory, those who suffer from inferiority complex, they try to compensate with domination. But, the compensation activity or masculine protest is not found in Sitarama Rao. His inferiority complex leads him to dream. Adler called such dreams as conquering hero dreams. Sitarama Rao dreams himself as a hero, a saint who can confuse God Siva and as a notorious robber who leaves the abducted young women untouched. Thus, he dreams himself as a hero. His ego, alter ego and inferiority complex are depicted to the utmost detail through the narrative device of dream. He focuses the futility of idealism without action, with the most realistic human demands to be addressed, food and scarce. His dreams are not simply tragic or comic but, the clear comments that trigger important social issues. (http://dreamhawk.com/dream-encyclopedia/alfred-adler-1870-1937 Pg.24)
Gopichand employs songs and poems in his narrative which reflect the views of the character in a lighter vein. Sitarama Rao who wants to give a new meaning to the life, who respects human dignity, tries to get rid of the inherent negative thoughts. Just before his total social withdrawal, Sitarama Rao sings aloud a song reflecting his anger, hatred and destruction. His anger on beauty and desire on women is a clear indication of the decadence of his morale. He sings:
Demolish/ the Taj Mahal/ Dig up the Tughlak Tomb/Squash woman’s beauty/ Crush Flowering buds/ Rob the Rich/ Kill the hungry/ Blood should spurt/Skulls and bones should laugh. (The Bungler, Pg.15-16)
When Ramayya calls him a mad man and threatens that he will file a case on behalf of Siatarama Rao’s wife and children, he walks out of Ramayya’s house and reaches the traffic police post. He climbs on to it and starts singing this song further defining woman as ass:
Lust, anger, greed, desire / Conquers, the woman.
Lustily plays with / Lovers, the ass. (The Bungler, Pg. 131)
The crowd enjoys his derogatory song and encourages him to talk more until the police comes and sends him off. There is a song in the dream of Sitarama rao, who dreams himself as a notorious robber, abducts a cart of widows and a young girl:
What does Rama say?/ What does Bhadrachala Rama say?
He says, “silly sluts”/ Handover your bags! (The Bungler, Pg. 117)
Gopichand provides varied factual narratives simultaneously in the novel, where Sitarama Rao gets a chance to look into himself objectively through his photographs, his own dairy, mirror on the wall, and finally, a letter from his maternal uncle.
Photography is an important contemporary technical devise successfully implemented in the narrative. Sitarama Rao describes two photographs which take him back to the past. The wedding photograph, in which his wife, Indira, sat on a chair and he stood by his wife, and another photo where his wife was sitting with a harmonium before her, were hanging on the wall.
Sitarama Rao recalls how she was shy to sit beside him and how all these photographs once attracted him. He finds his uneasy wife sitting in the chair as a “villager traveling with a third class ticket in the first class, like an orderly forced to sit by the side of a high official, like a goat standing on the back of a tiger in the circus.” The second photograph reminds him of a “low caste woman sitting with a bundle of hay.” (The Bungler, Pg. 103)
Thus the opinion of Sitarama Rao about his wife is clearly revealed. She is a humble, simple and music loving cultured woman, who shows her reverence and positive feelings to her husband with great humility and obedience. His malevolent approach, his unhidden upper-caste arrogance and his disgust when he looks down his wife with harmonium reflect his nature thoroughly.
His two photographs and his image in the mirror raise interesting questions about himself, his choices, his interests and about his wife. He tries to find more about his thoughts to take such a decision and fetches his dairies. Dairy reveals the diagonally opposite side of Sitarama Rao, the song writer. Sitarama Rao, as appears in his dairy, is a learned, romantic, poetic and candid gentleman. He begins to read his own dairy as if “he was reading a novel set somewhere else, far off.” (The Bungler, Pg.103) He considers himself a “hero like no common man.” (The Bungler, Pg.104) His wrote his dairy in third person narrative unlike the usual first person narration in dairies. Moving away from his own present real self, for the moment, Sitarama Rao fetched himself in his own elite–self. Dairy gives him a chance to analyze and criticize his early life objectively. Diary is a testimony of the ideal self of Sitarama Rao. The ideal Sitarama Rao is decent, cultured, sensitive, well mannered and lovable.
In his dairy, he admires himself, his own ideals and thoughts. There are traces of narcism in his character. His wife’s name is not mentioned anywhere else in the novel, except in his dairy. His early romance with her and their conjugal happiness is expressed more poetically. But the irony is that his diary makes him to puzzle:
“Who was that man? Was it he?” (The Bungler, Pg.107)
He rushed to the mirror. He ran to the mirror and looked at himself. His heart sank. A slight frightful cry escaped his throat. He had really changed .The eyes had become hollow. A white layer covered the black pupil. Furrows formed the brow. Lines were visible near the lips. The lower lip became heavy, lost it’s grip and was loose. The lower jaw protruded. Suddenly, he was reminded of the buffalo’s ruminative jaws.”(The Bungler, Pg.108)
Sitarama Rao compares his image in the mirror with his wedding photograph and bemuses, “Which one of these two am I? That gentleman? Or this devil? Which?” (The Bungler, Pg.108) The factual details of the photograph images in fixed frames, the dairy in the written account, and the real life mirror image, are three different narrative devices which present the complete personality of the character.
Chandra Latha, writer from Nellore won Telugu Association of North America award in 1997 for the novel “Regadi vittulu”. Her other novels are Vardhani(1995) and Vallu veellu paarijaataalu (2011). Her short fiction includes nearly 80 stories compiled in nenu nanna navutha (1996),Idam shareeram (2003) and vivarnam(2007). Her non-fiction are (Fish can fly!) ”vacche daretu(2010), itanala kadaku eeboothi boTlu(2010). And also published her blogposts in a book madata pejee(2010).