Studies in the Park

by Anita Desai

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 544

This story is told from the point of view of Suno, a young man whose family is constantly pressuring him to study for a major exam which will determine his future educational track: ‘‘Oh study, study, study, they all breathed at me.’’ But Suno is constantly interrupted and distracted by each and every member of his family. Most of all, ‘‘they don't know the meaning of the word Quiet.’’ His father listens to the radio news in six different languages. From the kitchen he hears his mother frying foods and sloshing water around. When his brothers and sisters come home from school, they taunt him and then run away. In addition, his mother frequently interrupts him to insist that he drink milk with sugar in it, ‘‘like a baby.’’ In exasperation, Suno leaves his house to try studying at a cafe. But the cafe proprietor, and then the waiter, insist on talking to him. Leaving the cafe, he comes upon a gram vendor, who suggests he go to study in the local park. In the park, Suno finds that there are many young men studying, or attempting to study, for the same or similar exams. At first feeling out of place there, Suno begins to go to the park every day to study. Although "it took me time to get accustomed to the ways of the park,’’ he finds that, ‘‘soon I got to know it as well as my own room at home and found I could study there, or sleep, or daydream, as I chose.’’ Yet Suno hates everyone else who comes to the park, except the other students. When there is only one month to go before his exam, the pressure from his family increases. His father implores him to "get a first'' on the exam: "Get a first, get a first, get a first—like a railway engine, it went charging over me, grinding me down, and left me dead and mangled on the tracks.’’ Then one day in the park, Suno sees something which he later calls a ‘‘vision": he sees a beautiful but sickly young woman lying on a park bench with her head in the lap of an older man. Struck by this sight, which he describes as "Divine," or ‘‘a work of art,’’ or ‘‘a vision,’’ Suno runs home. He is so strongly affected by this sight that "everything else had suddenly withered and died, gone lifeless and purposeless when compared with this vision. My studies, my family, my life—they all belonged to the dead and only what I had seen in the park had any meaning.’’ When Suno returns to the park, he sees the world around him in a different way; whereas before he had resented all the other people, he begins to interact with them in a pleasant way. As a result of his "vision," he decides not to take the exam after all, because "life has taken a different path for me, in the form of a search, not a race’’ as it is for his father and the others. Suno continues to go to the park, wondering ‘‘if I shall ever get another glimpse of that strange vision that set me free. I never have, but I keep wishing, hoping.’’

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