The story is one from the Malgudi Days collection of Narayan. It is a story dealing with bereavement, loss, tragedy and learning to cope with such events. It also highlights how different individuals deal with grief differently, according to their age, experience and personality.
In this story, Shambu and his mother are grieving the loss of his father. They both miss the man and grieve in their own respective ways. But, they both are lonely in their struggles with the loss.
Shambu’s father was an actor so he loves to see him on the film screen. It reminds him of the man and also gives him an escape into a reality where he is still alive. On the flip side, his mother feels it is painful and hurtful to see her husband on a screen when in truth he is dead.
Shambu often asks his mother to accompany him to the theatres but she declines. She also believes that going to the theatre is also ruining Shambu’s studies.
Shambu tries to share his father’s stories with his friends but none of them seems interested. He then decides to see the last movie of his father. On the screen, he watches his father interact with a young girl which reminds of his own interaction with him.
He loves his father’s singing and dancing. After the movie, he is excited to return to his mother and persuade her to come with him the next time.
After relenting for so long, she finally agrees to go to the movies. Before the movie begins, she starts getting nervous and anxious while Shambu is excited. Soon, the trailers end and the movie begins. Shambu is enamoured with his father’s performance while his mother is overwhelmed to see her husband again.
After a few minutes, there is some commotion in the female section of the theatre and Shambu learns that it is due to her mother who has fainted. He rushes to her. She opens her eyes and asks him to carry him back home.
A Better Life
On their way home, the undeniability of his father’s death hits Shambu and his eyes tear up instantly. He shares his grief with his mother and finally finds a vent for his repressed sorrow. In the end, even though the mother-son duo accepts their loss, they also realize that they have each other to offer support.