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Under the Banyan Tree by RK Narayan Summary

Introduction to Somal Village:

Somal is a small village nestled in the forest tracts of Mempi, with less than three hundred inhabitants. The village is characterized by poor sanitation, with stagnant water breeding diseases like malaria and typhoid. The villagers seem oblivious to their surroundings, living in a perpetual enchantment.

The Enchanter, Nambi:

Nambi, an elderly illiterate storyteller, captivates the village with his imaginative tales. He resides in a temple, which doubles as his home, sweeping its premises with his only possession, a broom. Villagers seek Nambi's company under the shade of a banyan tree, where he entertains them with stories and observations.

The Power of Nambi's Stories:

Nambi's storytelling sessions attract the entire village, with villagers eagerly awaiting his narratives. His stories transport listeners to epic worlds filled with kings, heroes, and gods, captivating their emotions and imaginations. Despite his age catching up with him, Nambi's storytelling remains a cherished tradition in the village.

Nambi's Silent Decline:

Over time, Nambi begins to falter in his storytelling, forgetting his narratives and losing his once-magical touch. Despite efforts to regain his storytelling prowess, Nambi's decline becomes apparent, leading to dwindling audiences and a sense of failure. Eventually, Nambi accepts his fate, embracing a life of silence and solitude until his eventual passing.


Nambi's storytelling under the banyan tree symbolizes the power of tradition and community in village life. Through Nambi's decline, R.K. Narayan reflects on the passage of time and the inevitability of change, while highlighting the enduring impact of storytelling on collective memory and identity.



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