Companions by Raja Rao
In Companions by Raja Rao we have the theme of sacrifice, torment, acceptance, control, struggle, respect and happiness. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Rao may be exploring the theme of sacrifice. Moti endures a life of pain while he is accompanied by Pandit (snake). His first interest is in finding himself a wife. Yet Pandit believes it is more important for Moti to find God and to live a good lifestyle. Something that Moti finds hard to understand though he does sacrifice everything in order to obey Pandit’s wishes. Forgoing for the most any engagement with women despite the yearning of his heart. This may be important as Rao may be suggesting that at times the flesh can be weak when the mind needs to be strong and continue with the pursuit of God. It might also be important that Moti never accepts money when he is entertaining crowds with Pandit. He knows the consequences and through time learns to accept them. No matter how difficult that may be. It is also noticeable that Moti feels tormented at times when it comes to his search for God. In reality Moti is looking for happiness or at least for something to ease his mind.
Pandit also seems to be the one who is in control of Moti and the reader is aware that Pandit has his own agenda in which he wishes to follow. It is through hard-work and dedication that Pandit manages to keep Moti on the right course. Though again Moti does tend to stray when it comes to his search for a woman or wife. Something that many readers might find understandable due to the fact that Moti lives a lonely life. There is no mention of Moti having any friends. The only companion that Moti has is Pandit. It may also be a case that Rao is highlighting to the reader the importance of religion in Moti’s life. When he does understand the course of action that he must take. He goes searching for God. Forgetting about his previous actions. It is also noticeable that after twenty nine days sitting outside Sheikh Chisti’s tomb Sheikh Chisti answers Moti and if anything any worry that Moti has fades away when he listens to Sheikh Christi.
From struggling through life a calmness overcomes Moti. He is also to be rewarded with a wife. Something that has long been Moti’s desire. It is as though by finding God and accepting God Moti’s life turns around completely. He marries his wife, still brings Pandit to fairs and still refuses to accept money for his efforts. If anything Moti is living the life that God wants him to live. It is also possible that Rao is attempting to suggest that should an individual (like Moti) make sacrifices and change their life. They will be rewarded. Something which is very much the case for Moti (and Pandit). It is also interesting that Moti and Pandit have at first a hostile relationship with Moti not particularly liking Pandit due to his continuous intervention in Moti’s life. It is as though Moti may feel pestered by Pandit’s involvement in his life. Yet at the same time it is Pandit who is making sure that Moti lives the life that is expected of him. One in whereby he gives up his old life and embraces God.
The end of the story is also interesting as though Moti does not have much time with his wife. He lives happily with her. He also has no ill words to say after his wife has died as some might expect him to have. It is as though Moti knows that in eternal life he will be reunited with his wife and that everything will be okay. Similarly with Pandit. He dies too and ends up being respected by the locals. Something that he could not have imagined would happen to him when he was alive. If anything all three, Moti, his wife and Pandit are all respected after they have died. In many ways Rao has taken the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden and placed a new twist on it. In whereby Man and serpent are friends. Throughout the story Pandit has had Moti’s best wishes at heart even if Moti at times did not think so. A generation of people have passed through the village where Moti, his wife and Pandit are buried and paid their respects. Where previously there may have been conflict no longer is this so. Though dead all three have found their own individual happiness. Thanks to Pandit’s resilience when it came to Moti and Moti’s final understanding that God was the most important person in his life.