Anita Desai’s story is all about duty and devotion. It draws a picture of the life of a son. The son is brought up by his father, starts earning his livelihood and then, dutifully looks after his father. However, crisis develops as his father, whimsical due to age, starts misinterpreting his son’s treatment. The question that the story posse is that how long should a son take care of his father? What should be the extent of his dutifulness and obedience? This is a problem of the modern world caused by the busy life. It becomes difficult to attend to the whims of the elderly people after a days’ hard work. But should the duty and the toleration end? Or should a person remain ever dutiful? Should sacrifices be made on our part or should we continue to be self-centered and move and move our own way. The world has both instances of both but which is more acceptable?
Rakesh was a son born to illiterate parents. He was the first to receive education in his generation and how well he utilized it. Villagers felt proud as Rakesh stood first though the jealousy factor didn’t cease to exist. His education took him to the United States of America but to everyone’s surprise, he returned to his country to marry an Indian removing all doubts to marry a foreigner. His devotion towards his parents was proud when he married an uneducated girl of their choice. The girl too was good natured and they were soon blessed with a son. Rakesh’s rise continued and he soon went to the top of the administrative organization, bought a car and thus it was the beginning of his fortune. However, he did not forget his parents and he did take them out in his brand new car. Rakesh was not only devoted but was also good natured. He obeyed his parents, humored his wife, hosted his friends, and in addition, was an excellent doctor. However, Rakesh’s joyride was short-lived. His mother passed away which also ensured his father’s breakdown. Old age caught up with his father and it was difficult to distinguish between his peevish whims and matters of significance. A birthday party for the youngest son had to be broken up at once, when they discovered that the old man was on the verge of death. The old man, however continued to live much longer thereafter.
Rakesh however, accepted his fate and its’ twist. He brought his father’s morning tea, read the newspapers and visited his father after returning from the clinic. All these couldn’t make the father happy and the situation worsened when Rakesh as a father began to supervise his diet. The supervision which included the cutting down on oily, fried stuff, sweets and beetle nut was seen as a sort of disrespect and mal-treatment by his father. The matter was so serious that the old man even went to the extent of complaining to his neighbors. Rakesh couldn’t help but be sterner. He as a doctor believed that strictness was better where his father’s health was concerned. The old man even tried to bribe his grand children which were met with strong reproach from Rakesh.
The father-son relationship began to go haywire. The old man began to hate his son and his daughter-in-law. The wife of Rakesh stayed out of trouble tactfully and Rakesh, able to feel every pulse, neglected nothing about his father. He made constant and repeated attempts to make improvement in his father’s mental and physical health. His efforts went in vain. This is the poignant question that we face to continue or discontinue service of a son to his father.
This is a matter of both culture and tradition. Old age is also called the second childhood. We are always tender to a child in spite of his naughtiness and undue demands. Similarly, we should treat elderly people the same way. We don’t discard children because they disturb us. In case of old people, we become biased, as we have seen them wise and matured before our own eyes. The grey cells become disfuntioning in old age and so elderly people behave in a childish way. Life is hard and difficult and all of us have our own share of problems. However, the rise above limitation will only make us better human beings. Patience and sacrifice shaped our hallmark. We should understand our own maturity and wisdom are not lost and this would help us to be kinder to them. Old age is cyclic and all of us would step into its shoes one day. The remembrance of this fact can wake us up to the reality of this life. Rakesh, in spite of everything else understood this, which made him stand apart and above from the rest.