Told from a limited omniscient point of view, “Condolence Visit” focuses mostly on the inward consciousness of Daulat Mirza, a Parsi widow, and reflects her attitude of quiet defiance in the observance of the social customs and beliefs of her traditional community. Rohinton Mistry uses the flashback technique to fuse the present action with the widow’s intermittent remembrance of the past.
The story begins in the morning in the flat of Daulat Mirza, who lives in a Bombay apartment building known as Ferozsha Baag. She is the widow of Minocher Mirza, a prominent member of the Parsi community, who passed away ten days earlier. Because all the funeral ceremonies have been performed, she is worried that, according to Parsi customs, her community members will start pouring into her flat to offer their condolences. She dreads the thought of being asked about her husband’s illness.
To avoid answering questions, she wishes she had a tape recorder in which to record all the painful details about Minocher’s illness so that the visitors could play, rewind, or fast forward the machine according to what part they were interested in. She even thinks of leaving her flat for a few weeks to escape the inevitable visits, but she is afraid of gossip. As she is lost in her thought process, she is startled by the doorbell. The remaining story covers the visits of four outsiders—a neighbor, a relative, a vendor, and a young man—punctuated with Daulat’s continual remembrance of the past.
The first visitor is Najamai, her nosy neighbor and a self-proclaimed authority on “Religious Rituals and the Widowed Woman.” The moment she walks in, she reminds Daulat of the start of the condolence...
(The entire section is 701 words.)