Malgudi Days

Forty-Five A Month


“Forty-five a Month” follows the story of a hard-working man named Venkat Rao whose family lives well below the poverty line. This man makes only 40 rupees a month. His wife is unemployed, and his daughter is still only a young schoolchild. He works very long and taxing hours, with little to no time for his family and exceptionally low pay. Because of this, his daughter has no chance to enjoy luxuries in life like going to the cinema and playing with dolls. In the story, Rao reaches a point in his life where he cannot stand to spend so little time with his daughter and prepares a resignation. However, just as he is about to walk away from his accounting job forever, his employer mentions he has been nominated for a raise in salary from 40 to 45 rupees a month. This only equates to $9.96 in US dollars annually. Through this story, this man’s dilemma between work and family is illustrated in a tense and impoverished environment.


A meaning expressed through the story is that even when members of the Indian workforce want to quit, the thought of making just a few more rupees will make most workers put their job over their family-- not because of greed, but because they can barely get by with what little resources they have and only want to improve their way of life. Society provides no way for members of lower and middle classes to work their way out of poverty and are, making this type of work seem like their modern form of enslavement.

The main character is trapped in his work because he works crazy hours but he gets paid little. He can’t leave even though he wants to because of two reasons. One reason was that his boss said he nominated him for getting a raise of five more rupees per month. The second reason is that if he did quit nobody would be able to bring in any income and his family would die of starvation. Since he works such long hours, he loses much time he could have spent with his family, including his daughter.

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p.87 “He felt unhappy at the question. Here was the child growing up without having any of the amenities and the simple pleasures of life. He had hardly taken her twice to the cinema. He had no time for the child. While children of her age in other houses had all the dolls, dresses and outings that they wanted, this child was growing up all alone and like a barbarian more or less. He felt furious with his office. For forty rupees a month they seemed to have purchased him outright."

p.89 "His mind was made up. He wasn't a slave who had sold himself for forty rupees outright. He could make that money easily; and if he couldn't, it would be more honourable to die of starvation."

p.90 "'Our officer discussed the question of increments today, and I've recommended you for an increment raise of five rupees. Orders are not yet passed, so keep this to yourself for the present'... 'I have applied for a little casual leave sir, but I think. . .' 'You can't get any leave for at least a fortnight to come.'"

Connection to Indian Culture/History

This story shows similarities to history because in the past, untouchables held low and "unworthy jobs" and now members of the lowest social class still hold "unworthy jobs" but now they are jobs like being a servant working in someones house.