What do Varma and Bhatia seem to have in common in A Devoted Son?
Both Varma and Bhatia are old and are dependent upon their families for their welfare.
In the story, Varma finds his diet restricted by his son, Rakesh; he is not allowed to eat his favorite foods or enjoy the customary fare he is used to. In fact, Varma is treated like a wayward child in his own home. In his attempt to display an exemplary filial solicitude, Rakesh neglects to demonstrate any sort of empathy towards his aged father.
The son's sterling personality and character now underwent a curious sea change. Outwardly, all might be the same but the interpretation had altered: his masterly efficiency was nothing but cold heartlessness, his authority was only tyranny in disguise.
Varma finds himself discouraged and unhappy with life. He resorts to bribing his grandchildren to bring him forbidden sweets and delicacies. Varma's only consolation is that he can share his frustrations with Bhatia, another elderly neighbor. For his part, Bhatia also has to fight his family's attempts to curtail his personal movements. In all seasons and at sometimes inconvenient hours, Bhatia insists on bathing outside under the garden tap. He refuses to wash up in the indoor bathroom. This is one way that Bhatia rebels against being treated disrespectfully.
Bhatia and Varma find themselves in similar situations. Both are elderly men, dependent upon their families for their welfare and daily care. Neither has the strength to engage in continued conflict for prolonged periods. For his part, Varma weakens and eventually asks to be let alone to die.