“A Devoted Son” appears in Desai’s acclaimed collection of short stories, Games at Twilight, and Other Stories. Unlike her earlier novels in which female characters dominate the texts, this story is about male characters. 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...
(The entire section is 428 words.)