Railway Raju (nicknamed) is a disarmingly corrupt guide who falls in love with a beautiful dancer, Rosie, the neglected wife of archaeologist Marco . Marco doesn't approve of Rosie's passion for dancing. Rosie, encouraged by Raju, decides to follow her dreams and start a dancing career. They start living together and Raju's mother, as she does not approve of their relationship, leaves them. Raju becomes Rosie's stage manager and soon with the help of Raju's marketing tactics, Rosie becomes a successful dancer. Raju, however, develops an inflated sense of self-importance and tries to control her. Raju gets involved in a case of forgery and gets a two-year sentence. After completing the sentence, Raju passes through a village where he is mistaken for a sadhu (a spiritual guide). Reluctantly, as he does not want to return in disgrace to Malgudi, he stays in an abandoned temple. There is a famine in the village and Raju is expected to keep a fast in order to make it rain. With media publicizing his fast, a huge crowd gathers (much to Raju's resentment) to watch him fast. After fasting for several days, he goes to the riverside one morning as part of his daily ritual, where his legs sag down as he feels that the rain is falling in the hills. The ending of the novel leaves unanswered the question of whether he died, and whether the drought has really ended.
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