Engine Trouble – Summary

Engine Trouble is a short story written by R. K. Narayan. It is taken from ‘An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories’. The story depicts the troubles of a common man after winning a road engine as a lottery prize.


There came the Gaiety land in a town of the Talkative Man. It provided them with all sorts of fun and gambling and sideshows. There was the Dome of Death and the lottery stall. The man bought a ticket of lottery numbered 1005 and he was declared the winner that day and became the owner of the road engine.His friends congratulated him for becoming the owner of a road engine. The showman agreed to keep the engine on the Gymkhana grounds till the end of their season. The man met the municipal authorities and the secretary of the club to sell it out but no one showed any interest. The municipality ordered him to remove it from the ground otherwise they would charge him rent. To pay rent,he had to pledge a jeweler belonging to his wife.

At last, the Talkative Man decided to move it from its place with the help of the priest of the local temple. The priest offered him services of his temple elephant. He engaged fifty coolies to push if from behind and a dismissed bus driver to steer it. He decided to put it in the field of his friend. A huge crowd gathered to watch it. The engine came out of the Gymkhana ground and ran straight into the opposite compound wall. It reduced a good length of it to powder. The owner of the compound wall slapped him in the face and the police marched him off.

When he was released from the lock up, he found several consequences awaiting him. He had to build up the compound wall, to pay wages of fifty coolies,Joseph’s fee, medical treatment of the knee of the temple elephant and above all to move the engine out of its present station. The man was in great difficulties.His wife threatened him to leave his house.

At this point, an unexpected relief came in the shape of a Swamiji. He wishedt o perform an unimaginable act. He wished to roll over his chest the road engine. His assistant was trained to move any kind of engine. The Talkative Man was pleased and decided to lend him the engine. In return, he demanded that the assistant would drive it where he wanted. People gathered to watch the Yogic feats of Swamiji. But the magistrate issued an order prohibiting Swamiji to do it inside their jurisdiction. The Swamiji got angry and went away in great rage.

One day, suddenly Nature came to his rescue in an unexpected manner. An earthquake moved the engine from its place and fitted in a disused well like a cork. The owner of the well agreed to pay expenses that the engine had brought to him. He agreed to withdraw all complaints and charges against him. Thus, the Talkative Man finally got rid of it.

The story is very interesting and humorous. The narrative technique of R. K. Narayan makes it more palatable. Narayan is really a master of creating fun and laughter from ordinary daily life situations.

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