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Summary OF Before The Match
‘Before the Match’ is an excerpt from R.K. Narayan’s work ‘Swami and Friends’. ‘Swami and Friends’ is the first of a trilogy of novels written by R.K. Narayan, a celebrated English novelist from India.
The novel, which is also Narayan’s first, is set in pre-independence days in India, in a fictional town – Malgudi, which has almost become a real place in India today, due to the wide recognition and popularity of Narayan’s many novels.
‘Swami and Friends’ is the story of a 10-year-old boy, growing up during this particular time. He is a student at Albert Mission School, a school by the British which gives importance to Christianity, English literature and education.
‘Swami and Friends’, set in British-colonial India in the year 1930, begins with an introduction to Swaminathan and his four principal friends: Somu, Sankar, Mani, and the Pea. Rajam also joins the group a little later.
However, in the selected piece there are references to only Rajam and Mani. Swaminathan along with Rajam founds a new cricket team called the M.C.C, an acronym for Malgudi Cricket Club. People compared Swami to Tate, the best bowler of the time – Maurice Tate, the English cricketer.
A match is scheduled between the M.C.C. and another local youth team called the Y.M.U., Young Men’s Union, but new tensions mount between Rajam and Swaminathan in the bui dup to the match. Swaminathan misses several practices due to the heavy load of drill, scouting and other things at his new school.
His truancy infuriates Rajam, who suggests that they speak to the Headmaster for permission for Swami to leave school early for practice sessions. Swami does not agree and Rajam threatens Swami saying he would never speak to him again if he keeps any batsman waiting for more than five minutes.
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Swami tries to escape the drill in the evening by telling the drill master that he is unwell. Swami thinks of ‘Delirium’ as an excuse for not attending drill. Though the Drill Master does not believe Swami, he lets him go. His cricket team members are happy to see Swami come early for practice.
But Swami knows that he has to find some other ways to escape the drill. And other tasks of school for a whole week. So next day, before school, early in the morning, he visits a doctor and tells him honestly that he wants a fake medical certificate. When the doctor tells him that he should have one or the other ailment if he has to certify, Swami mentions delirium as his problem.
The doctor asks Swami in surprise whether he knows the meaning of delirium. When Swami states that delirium must be something like stomach ache, the doctor has a hearty laugh. The doctor then tells Swami that he wouldn’t be able to give the certificate.
When Swami earnestly requests him to help him out, the doctor promises to speak to the headmaster and convince him to allow Swami to go for practice. This relieved Swami and he leaves the place thanking the doctor for being kind to him.