R. K. Narayan’s novel The Painter of Signs takes you on a parable-type journey while still retaining a sense of plausibility. The story follows Raman, a sign painter gets by by preparing labels for clients from diverse occupations, each with their own message. In stark contrast to other Indians, Raman is a rationalist and the modern-day design-devoted reader cannot help but laugh and sigh at his experiences working as an early graphic designer.
Raman convinces himself he is content continuing about his day providing a worthy service at the highest quality possible. That is, until he falls in love with a traveling powerhouse of a woman with a mission to control the population by ceasing all future procreation. Like watching paint dry, we see Raman’s hope for rationality shrivel up into nothing more than a distant dream.