A Devoted Son Summary by Anita Desai

This is a tale of complicated familial bonds. The story highlights the change of dynamics when it comes to the relationship between a father and son. Rakesh is the son of a kerosene vendor, Varma.

An Ideal Son

Varma and his wife are illiterate but they work hard to provide for their son. Rakesh is also a well behaved and duteous son and determined to make good of his parents efforts. He is brought up with strong family values and compassion.

Rakesh is a brilliant student and is lauded for the same. He eventually goes on to become a doctor and completes in post graduation with flying colours. Then he is given an opportunity to continue his practice and education in the USA which he grabs gleefully.

Rakesh’s Marriage

He garners respect and praise of his colleagues in the new setting and prospers at his work. But, all the success in the world does not go to his head and he still prioritizes his family and parents. Therefore, when they ask him to return for marriage, he does not disappoint.

He returns to India and marries a local, illiterate girl because his mother recommends her. Soon, the family is complete. Now, Rakesh joins the town hospital and surges with professional success. He starts to head the hospital and eventually opens his own practice. He is enamoured with praise from his parents, colleagues and neighbours.

Troubles Enter

But trouble soon enters his paradise. First, his mother gets ill and passes away. The family is devastated and his father is despondent. They start to get things to normal when his father falls ill too. This makes Rakesh really worried about his father and he decides to personally handle his diet and daily routine. 

Soon, he eliminates all the sweets, oily and all the savoury but unhealthy food. This infuriates his father who just wants to spend his remaining days enjoying the things he loves. Rakesh’s control starts to appear ruthless, tyrannical and obsessively controlling to his father.

Things Get Worse

To makes things worse, he has to consume a range of medicines. Varma starts to quibble about his misery to his friends. He also tries to sneak some sweetmeats by the help of his grandkids. However, Rakesh accuses of him spoiling his children and stops the supply.

Finally, the situation reaches the final straw. One day when Rakesh offers Varma a new bottle of medicine, he snaps. He snatches the medicine and smashes it to the ground. He yells at his son and asks him to leave him to suffer alone and in peace.