Family Matters Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

As the title suggests, Family Matters is a story about relationships. The central character in the book is Nariman Vakeel, an elderly Parsi widower. Nariman lives in a spacious flat in an apartment building in Bombay, along with his unmarried stepddaughter, Coomy Contractor, and his stepson Jal Contractor, who is also single. Nariman is a retired English professor, a kindly man whose students remember him with affection. However, because they blame him for their mother’s tragic death, Nariman’s stepchildren loathe him so much that even though he adopted them legally, they refuse to use his name, though they are perfectly willing to share his home.

As Nariman’s health fails and his memory becomes unreliable, Coomy avenges herself on him by systematically humiliating him. She forbids Nariman to take his usual walks around the neighborhood; she even puts him on a schedule for visiting the bathroom. Then he breaks his ankle, and Coomy and Jal dump him unceremoniously at the small, two-bedroom apartment where Nariman’s daughter, Roxana Chenoy, lives with her husband, Yezad, and their two sons, Murad and Jehangir. Supposedly, Nariman is to remain there only until his cast comes off. However, when Coomy deliberately damages the ceiling of his bedroom, it becomes obvious that she does not intend ever to let him return to his home.

By contrast, Roxana is always kind to her father. Though she may weep in private, she never lets him see how exhausted...

(The entire section is 522 words.)