A Devoted Son: A Story by Anita Desai
A Devoted Son is a moving story about a beautiful father-son relationship run aground on a small and petty misunderstanding between them.
It so happens that the passage of time also brings with it change in circumstance too. It makes Rakesh young and Mr. Varma, an old man. Time also changes the nature of relationship between Mr. Varma and his son, Rakesh. In his time, as a father, Mr. Varma, a mere worker in the kerosene dealer's depot, showed considerable parental competence in keeping his family. He worked hard, did all he could to give nice education to Rakesh. He does wonderfully well in his study and becomes a famous and thriving doctor. Now he has his own family.
In fact, this is the right time for Varma family to reap the reward for all the efforts they made as a family. But, unfortunately, happiness continues to elude them – and that too for a reason which should rather cherish it. It is this: Rakesh takes up the reins of the family from his father, who has grown old now and is not keeping well. Being a doctor, he treats his father as he would his patients. He controls his father’s diet, subjects him to strict medication. As if adding insult to injury, his daughter-in-law who carried out the instructions of Rakesh regarding the old man's diet, seemed to relish the act of denying something that he liked most. Mr. Varma could have ignored his daughter-in-law and taken into consideration his son’s concern towards him. But Mr. Varma, tired of the strictures passed over him by his son, misunderstands Rakesh’s goodwill, and becomes antagonistic to him. Prolonged illness, treatment, diet-control etc. added to old age, makes Mr. Varma peevish and stubborn. What is sad about it is that Mr. Varma dies without recognizing the fact that his son is indeed a devoted son.