(a) Varmaji was quite helpless and his old age was going to be more miserable. Rakesh had by this time developed a doctor-patient relation with his father. Rakesh was only concerned with his father’s health but the old man thought his son was being miserly. This made the speaker that is Varmaji unhappy.
(b) Rakesh was deeply aware of the sacrifices made by his parents to give him an education. His father, Varma, works as a vegetable vendor, and spent many years dreaming of having an educated son. Rakesh is the first in the family to get any education. Rakesh took great care of his father, brought him morning tea, read him newspaper and reminded him to take medicines. After a while Rakesh began to impose certain restriction upon his father. No sweets, not too much food, no fried food, etc. Rakesh chooses to help his father. Although Rakesh can’t make his father better, and he’s struggling to keep his own life under control, he doesn’t abandon him. He shows Varma the same faith once shown to him when he wanted to become a doctor. When Rakesh must finally let Varma go, right at the end, he knows he did all he could for him.
(c) Focusing on a father-son relationship in a traditional Hindu family, the story looks at the problem of old age from two different angles. The setting of the story is realistic. Developed with a sense of humor, the story presents a fine study in human psychology and love. 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, the old man frequently falls ill with mysterious diseases that even his physician son cannot diagnose. Worried about his father’s health, the son begins to supervise his father’s diet. All the mouth-watering sweets, fried savory snacks, and rich meals are forbidden. Instead he is forced to eat boiled foods and take numerous kinds of pills, powders, medicines, and tonics. The old man is shocked with disbelief at his son’s tyrannical attitude, for who could ever imagine “a son who actually refused his father the food he craved?” He feels starved and complains to his neighboring friend of his son’s attitude, but nobody believes him. In the last scene, when his son brings him a new tonic to make him feel better, the father reproachfully smashes the tonic bottle on the floor and expresses his wish to be left alone to die. The father’s final act of rebellion makes the reader wonder whether the son’s almost tyrannical control of his father’s life is justified in the name of filial devotion. Viewed in this light, the title of the story becomes ironic.
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