PROSE:A Devoted Son By Anita Desai
About the author:
Anita Mazumdar Desai (born 24 June 1937) is an Indian novelist. Anita Mazumdar was born in Jaipur, India, to a German mother, Toni Nime, and a Bengali businessman, D. N. Mazumdar.She grew up speaking German at home and Bengali, Urdu, Hindi and English outside the house. However, she did not visit Germany until later in life as an adult. She first learned to read and write in English at school and as a result English became her "literary language". She began to write in English at the age of seven and published her first story at the age of nine.
As a writer she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times; she received a Sahitya Academy Award in 1978 for her novel Fire on the Mountain, from the Sahitya Academy, India's National Academy of Letters; she won the British Guardian Prize for The Village by the Sea.
The title of the story refers to Rakesh, who is always reverential to his parents, touching their feet in devotion. A brilliant student, after getting his M.D. in India he goes to the United States on a scholarship and pursues his career in a most prestigious hospital, winning the admiration of his American colleagues. His love and devotion to his aging parents compel him to return to India, get married to an uneducated village girl in deference to his parents’ wishes, start working in a city hospital, rise to the position of a director, and finally set up his own clinic and come to be recognized as the best and the richest doctor in town. People can hardly believe that a man born to illiterate parents could rise to such heights of glory and yet remain devoted to them. The conflict between the father and the son begins when, after his retirement and the death of his wife.
'A Devoted Son’ is a short story about how people's attitudes vary in differed circumstances A proud father of a doctor son with sterling personals undergoes a sea change in his attitude towards the end of his life. The story elicits ideas like who is a devoted son? How devoted can a doctor son be?
I. Answer with reference to context:
1. “One does not often see such behaviour in sons anymore,” they all agreed, a little enviously perhaps. Leaving the house, some of the women said, sniffing, “At least on such an occasion they might have served pure ghee sweets.
(a) Identify the lesson and the writer.
(b) What kind of behaviour are they referring to?
(c) Why should they be served pure ghee sweets? What was the occasion?
2. As for his mother, she gloated chiefly over the strange fact that he had not married in America, had not brought home a foreign wife as all her neighbours had warned her he would, for wasn’t that what all Indian boys went abroad for?
(a) Why did the narrator go to America?
(b) Explain the term ‘gloated’
(c) What strange fact is the narrator’s mother talking about?
3. “Look after me?” cried Varma, his voice cracking like an ancient clay jar. “He—he does not even give me enough to eat.”
(a) Who is Mr. Varma?
(b) What is he complaining about? Who is ‘he’ in the above extract?
(c) Explain the phrase ‘like an ancient clay jar’
II. Answer the following questions briefly:
- What do Varma and Bhatia seem to have in common in ‘A Devoted Son’?
- What two incidents in "A Devoted Son" reflect the sense of bonhomie seen among the villagers?
- As "A Devoted Son" begins, what makes Varma proud of his son?
- Was Rakesh a hypocrite in real life?
- Do you think Rakesh would have remained on good terms with his father if he had never left India?
III. Choose the correct answer from the options given below:
1. What sort of a woman was Rakesh’s wife?
(a) She was devoted
(b) She was self possessed
(c) She was disciplined and respectful
2. Why did Varmaji bribe his grandchildren?
(a) He wanted them to buy him chocolates
(b) He wanted them to buy him sweets
(c) He wanted them to buy him jalebis and keep the remainder
3. Why was Mr. Varma jealous of his neighbour, old Bhatia?
(a) He had more hair than him
(b) He reminded him of his lost freedom
(c) He was more successful in business