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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 702

The changing relationship of parents and children

When Rakesh gains local fame for his intelligence and medical abilities, his father is very proud. He brags to his neighbors that not only is his son very accomplished, but also the first thing he does when he sees is father is stoop...

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The changing relationship of parents and children

When Rakesh gains local fame for his intelligence and medical abilities, his father is very proud. He brags to his neighbors that not only is his son very accomplished, but also the first thing he does when he sees is father is stoop to touch his feet in respect. However, in the father's old age, now on the receiving end of Rakesh's medical care, their relationship changes dramatically because they have very different goals. Rakesh's medical knowledge drives him to want to take care of his father in the best medical way possible. He takes away unhealthy foods like fried foods and sweets and forbids everyone from sharing those with his father. He dictates how much time his father should spend outdoors and in which position he should rest.

His father simply wants to enjoy the remaining days of his life. In the end, Rakesh no longer fully respects his father's opinion, as he holds his medical expertise higher when making decisions on his behalf. His father grows increasingly upset with the treatment. As their roles shift at the end of the father's life, the dynamics of their relationship change greatly.

Gratitude

In the beginning, Rakesh is clearly thankful for the sacrifices his father has made on his behalf, at every opportunity showing visible respect to him. When it is his turn to care for his father during his illness, Rakesh likely expects from his father a sense of gratitude for his ability to medically care for him. After all, he instructs the servants in his father's diet, position of rest, location, and quantity of food. His father does not show gratitude for his medical knowledge, instead growing increasingly angry about this treatment. Their contrast in perception is captured in this exchange:

"Lying all day on his pillows, fed every few hours by his daughter-in-law’s own hand, visited by every member of his family daily—and then he says he does not want to live 'like this,'" Rakesh was heard to say, laughing, to someone outside the door.

"Deprived of food," screamed the old man on the bed, "his wishes ignored, taunted by his daughter-in-law, laughed at by his grandchildren—that is how I live."

Rakesh perceives his father as being treated with great care and laughs that he could possibly consider his situation differently. He thinks his father owes him more gratitude, while his father sees only deprivation and thinks that his son should be giving him more things to enjoy in his remaining days.

Loyalty

Despite his rise in the medical community, Rakesh remains loyal to his family. He returns home from his time in America without having found an American wife, as many of his mother's friends had predicted. He agrees to an arranged marriage (to an "uneducated" girl, no less) and remains loyal to her. In his father's final days, he is there with what he believes to be the best medical care possible, and he ensures that his wife also attends to his father's needs.

In the beginning of the story, it brings his father a great sense of pride that his son, who has such talent, chooses to work locally and continues to return home to his father. Although his father does not receive his son's medical expertise well at the end, Rakesh's efforts are sown in loyalty and respect for his father.

Freedom, especially in treatment of the elderly

In the end, who should get to make decisions about the care of the elderly? Should the elderly have a voice in their medical care? Should they be forced to take medicines and have their diets restricted for their own health? Or should people listen more to how the elderly wish to spend their final days—eating and doing what they want? Which becomes more important: quantity of days or quality of days? The ability to make even simple decisions is often taken away from the elderly, with medical experts like Rakesh making almost every decision on their behalf. In this way, his father represents the voice of the elderly everywhere, crying out to be heard in their efforts to enjoy life, not simply to exist longer.

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