An obedient father by Akhil Sharma; 5 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Politics and There's no description for this book yet. Corrosive, funny, and frightening--one of the year's most absorbing first novels" My general incompetence and laziness at work had been apparent for so long. pdf - an obedient father. Download an obedient father or read online here in. PDF or EPUB. Please click button to get an obedient father book.
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An Obedient Father book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. My general incompetence and laziness at work had been apparent. obedient father akhil sharma is available in our book collection an online access to it is set His first published novel An Obedient Father won the Hemingway 13th edition, livre a telecharger otherside, father baliah pdf free download. Mon, 15 Oct GMT an obedient father pdf - Description of the book "An Obedient Father": â€œA powerful debut novel that establishes Sharma as.
His feeling was that when he innocently had gone in for riding, himself, he had never contemplated having to spend enough to mount the whole family. He said that if he had foreseen that we all would be wanting to ride through the Park, just because he, a hard-working man, got a little relief in that way, he would have gone without the relief, damn it.
He would now. He'd sell out. Of course he had no intention of doing this. Instead he bought one more horse, a younger and happier one, and then gave us boys poor old Brownie. He usually stayed well himself and he expected us to be like him, and not faint and slump on his hands and thus add to his burdens. He was fearless about disease. He despised it. All this talk about germs, he said, was merely new-fangled nonsense.
He said that when he was a boy there had been no germs that he knew of. Perhaps invisible insects existed, but what of it? He was as healthy as they were.
He admired her most of the time and thought there was nobody like her; he often said to us boys, "Your mother is a wonderful woman"; but he always seemed to disapprove of her when she was ill. Mother went to bed, for instance, at such times. Yet she didn't make noises. Father heard a little gasping moan sometimes, but she didn't want him to hear even that. Consequently he was sure she wasn't suffering.
There was nothing to indicate it, he said. The worse she felt, the less she ever said about it, and the harder it was for him to believe that there was anything really wrong with her. The doctor told him yesterday the meaning of colitis, but he said he 'had never heard of the damned thing, thank God. Whenever she had one, she kept going as long as she could, pottering about her room looking white and tired, with a shawl round her shoulders.
But sometimes she had to give up and crawl into her bed. Father pished and poohed to himself about this, and muttered that it was silly. He said Mother was perfectly healthy. When people thought they were ill, he declared, it didn't mean that there was anything the matter with them, it was merely a sign of weak character.
He often told Mother how weak it was to give in to an ailment, but every time he tried to strengthen her character in this respect, he said she seemed to resent it. He never remembered to try except when she could hardly hold her head up. From his point of view, though, that was the very time that she needed his help.
He needed hers, too, or not exactly her help but her company, and he never hesitated to say so. When she was ill, he felt lost. He usually came up from his office at about five or six. The first thing he did was to look around the house to find Mother. It made his home feel queer and empty to him when she wasn't there. One night about six o'clock he opened the door of her bedroom. There was no light except for a struggling little fire which flickered and sank in the grate.
A smell of witch-hazel was in the air, mixed with spirits of camphor. On the bed, huddled up under an afghan, Mother lay still, in the dark. Mother moaned, "Go away. Oh, go 'way. He told himself she had nothing the matter with her.
She'd be all right in the morning. He ate a good dinner. Being lonely, he added an extra glass of claret and some toasted crackers and cheese. He had such a long and dull evening that he smoked two extra cigars.
After breakfast the next morning, he went to her bedroom again. The fire was out. Two worn old slippers lay on a chair. The grey daylight was cheerless. Father stood at the foot of Mother's bed, looking disconsolately at her because she wasn't well yet. He had no one to laugh at or quarrel with; his features were lumpy with gloom.
Looking like what? I never will get well if you stand there and stare at me that way! And shut my door quietly this time. And let me alone. She isn't out of bed yet, but she sounds much better this morning. When he was in his early thirties, he had an attack of gout which lasted three weeks. From that time until he was seventy-four and had pneumonia, he had no other serious illnesses. He said illnesses were mostly imaginary and he didn't believe in them.
He even declared that his pneumonia was imaginary. The new doctor had pale-blue eyes, a slight build, and a way of inwardly smiling at the persons he talked to. He had a strong will in crises, and he was one of the ablest physicians in town.
Mother had chosen him, however, chiefly because she liked one of his female cousins. When Father got worse, the doctor kept warning him that it really was pneumonia, and that if he wouldn't be tractable, he might not get over it--especially at seventy-four. Father lay in bed glowering at him and said: "I didn't send for you, sir.
You needn't stand there and tell me what you want me to do. I know all about doctors. They think they know a damned lot. But they don't.
Give your pills and things to Mrs. Day--she believes in them. That's all I have to say. There's no need to continue this discussion. There's the door, sir. The doctor, leaving him alone in his bedroom to digest the bad news, came out in the hall, anxious and tired, to have a few words with Mother. As they stood outside Father's door whispering quietly, they heard his voice from within. Apparently, now that he knew he was in trouble, his thoughts had turned to his God. Naturally, he never thought for a moment that God could mean him to suffer.
He couldn't imagine God's wishing to punish him either, for his conscience was clear. His explanation seemed to be that God was clumsy, not to say muddle-headed. However, in spite of God and the doctor, Father got over pneumonia, just as, some forty years before, he had got over his gout. Only, in conquering his gout, he had had the help of a cane and a masseur called Old Lowndes. While the gout was besieging him, Father sat in a big chair by the fire with his bad foot on a stool, armed with a cane which he kept constantly ready.
Not that he used the cane to walk with. When he walked, he hopped around on his other foot, uttering strong howls of fury. But he valued his cane highly, and needed it, too, as a war club. He threatened the whole family with it. When visitors entered the room he brandished it fiercely at them, to keep them away from his toe. Old Lowndes was allowed to approach nearer than others, but he was warned that if he made any mistakes that cane would come down on his head.
Father felt there was no knowing what harm Lowndes might have done if he hadn't shaken his cane at him and made him take care. As it was, owing largely to this useful stick, Father got well. This experience convinced him that any disease could be conquered by firmness.
When he had a cold, his method of dealing with it was to try to clear it out by main force, either by violently blowing his nose or, still better, by sneezing. Mother didn't like him to sneeze, he did it with such a roar.
She said she could feel it half across the room, and she was sure it was catching. Father said this was nonsense. He said his sneezes were healthy. And presently we'd hear a hearty, triumphant blast as he sneezed again. Aside from colds, which he had very seldom, his only foes were sick headaches.
He said headaches only came from eating, however. Hence a man who knew enough to stop eating could always get rid of one that way. It took time to starve it out thoroughly. It might take several hours. But as soon as it was gone, he could eat again and enjoy his cigar.
When one of these headaches started, Father lay down and shut his eyes tight and yelled. The severity of a headache could be judged by the volume of sound he put forth.
His idea seemed to be to show the headache that he was just as strong as it was, and stronger. When a headache and he went to bed together, they were a noisy pair. Father's code required him to be game, I suppose. He never spoke or thought of having a code; he wasn't that sort of person; but he denounced men whose standards were low, as to gameness or anything else.
It didn't occur to him to conceal his sufferings, however; when he had any pains, he expressed them as fully as he knew how. His way of being brave was not to keep still but to keep on fighting the headache. Mother used to beg him to be quiet at night, even if he did have a headache, and not wake up the whole house. He never paid the slightest attention to such a request.
When she said, "Please don't groan so much, Clare," he'd look at her in disgust, as though he were a warrior being asked to stifle his battle-cries. One evening he found Mother worrying because Aunt Emma was ill with some disease that was then epidemic. You can trust people to get any ailment whatever that's fashionable.
They hear of a lot of other people having it, and the first thing you know they get scared and think they have it themselves. Then they go to bed, and send for the doctor. The doctor!
All poppycock. I'd tell 'em, 'Bah! He said he had originally supposed that such men were interested in business, and that that was why they had opened their shops and sunk capital in them, but no, they never used them for anything but gossip and sleep. They took no interest in civilized ways.
Hadn't heard of them, probably. He said that of course if he were camping out on the veldt or the tundra, he would expect few conveniences in the neighbourhood and would do his best to forgo them, but why should he be confronted with the wilds twenty miles from New York? Usually, when Father talked this way, he was thinking of ice.
He strongly objected to spending even one day of his life without a glass of cold water beside his plate at every meal. There was never any difficulty about this in our home in the city. A great silver ice-water pitcher stood on the sideboard all day, and when Father was home its outer surface was frosted with cold.
When he had gone to the office, the ice was allowed to melt sometimes, and the water got warmish, but never in the evening, or on Sundays, when Father might want some. He said he liked water, he told us it was one of Nature's best gifts, but he said that like all her gifts it was unfit for human consumption unless served in a suitable manner. And the only right way to serve water was icy cold. It was still more important that each kind of wine should be served at whatever the right temperature was for it.
And kept at it, too. No civilized man would take dinner without wine, Father said, and no man who knew the first thing about it would keep his wine in hot cellars. Mother thought this was a mere whim of Father's.
She said he was fussy. How about people who lived in apartments, she asked him, who didn't have cellars? Father replied that civilized persons didn't live in apartments. One of the first summers that Father ever spent in the country, he rented a furnished house in Irvington on the Hudson, not far from New York. It had a garden, a stable, and one or two acres of woods, and Father arranged to camp out there with many misgivings.
He took a train for New York every morning at eight-ten, after breakfast, and he got back between five and six, bringing anything special we might need along with him, such as a basket of peaches from the city, or a fresh package of his own private coffee.
Things went well until one day in August the ice-man didn't come. It was hot, he and his horses were tired, and he hated to come to us anyhow because the house we had rented was perched up on top of a hill.
He said afterward that on this particular day he had not liked the idea of making his horses drag the big ice-wagon up that sharp and steep road to sell us fifty cents' worth of ice. Besides, all his ice was gone anyhow--the heat had melted it on him. He had four or five other good reasons. So he didn't come. Father was in town. The rest of us waited in astonishment, wondering what could be the matter. We were so used to the regularity and punctilio of life in the city that it seemed unbelievable to us that the ice-man would fail to appear.
We discussed it at lunch. Mother said that the minute he arrived she would have to give him a talking to. After lunch had been over an hour and he still hadn't come, she got so worried about what Father would say that she decided to send to the village.
There was no telephone, of course. There were no motors. She would have liked to spare the horse if she could, for he had been worked hard that week.
But as this was a crisis, she sent for Morgan, the coachman, and told him to bring up the dog-cart. The big English dog-cart arrived.
Two of us boys and the coachman drove off. The sun beat down on our heads. Where the heavy harness was rubbing on Brownie's coat, he broke out into a thick, whitish lather.
Morgan was sullen.
When we boys were along he couldn't take off his stiff black high hat or unbutton his thick, padded coat. Worse still, from his point of view, he couldn't stop at a bar for a drink. That was why Mother had sent us along with him, of course, and he knew it. A wiry-looking old clerk was dozing in a corner, his chair tilted back and his chin resting on his dingy shirt-front.
I woke this clerk up. I told him about the crisis at our house. He listened unwillingly, and when I had finished he said it was a very hot day. I waited. He spat. He said he didn't see what he could do, because the ice-house was locked. I explained earnestly that this was the Day family and that something must be done right away.
He hunted around his desk a few minutes, found his chewing tobacco, and said, "Well, sonny, I'll see what I can do about it. I went back to the dog-cart. Brownie's check-rein had been unhooked, and he stood with his head hanging down.
He looked sloppy. It wouldn't have been so bad with a buggy, but a slumpy horse in a dog-cart can look pretty awful. Also, Morgan was gone. He reappeared soon, coming out of a side door down the street, buttoning up his coat, but with his hat tilted back.
He looked worse than the horse. We checked up the weary animal's head again and drove slowly home. A hot little breeze in our rear moved our dust along with us. At the foot of the hill, we boys got out, to spare Brownie our extra weight. We unhooked his check-rein again. He dragged the heavy cart up.
Mother was sitting out on the piazza. I said the ice would come soon now. We waited. It was a long afternoon. At five o'clock, Brownie was hitched up again. The coachman and I drove back to the village.
We had to meet Father's train. We also had to break the bad news to him that he would have no ice-water for dinner, and that there didn't seem to be any way to chill his Rhine wine. The village was as sleepy as ever, but when Father arrived and learned what the situation was, he said it would have to wake up.
He told me that he had had a long, trying day at the office, the city was hotter than the Desert of Sahara, and he was completely worn out, but that if any ice-man imagined for a moment he could behave in that manner, he, Father, would take his damned head off. When he came out, he had the clerk with him, and the clerk had put on his hat and was vainly trying to calm Father down. He was promising that he himself would come with the ice-wagon if the driver had left, and deliver all the ice we could use, and he'd be there inside an hour.
Father said, "Inside of an hour be hanged, you'll have to come quicker than that. He pointed out that he'd have to go to the stables and hitch up the horses himself, and then get someone to help him hoist a block of ice out of the icehouse. He said it was 'most time for his supper and he wasn't used to such work. He was only doing it as a favour to Father. He was just being neighbourly. Father said he'd have to be neighbourly in a hurry, because he wouldn't stand it, and he didn't know what the devil the ice company meant by such actions.
The clerk said it wasn't his fault, was it? It was the driver's. This was poor tactics, of course, because it wound Father up again. He wasn't interested in whose fault it was, he said. It was everybody's.
What he wanted was ice and plenty of it, and he wanted it in time for his dinner. A small crowd which had collected by this time listened admiringly as Father shook his finger at the clerk and said he dined at six-thirty.
The clerk went loping off toward the stables to hitch up the big horses. Father waited till he'd turned the corner. Followed by the crowd, Father marched to the butcher's. After nearly a quarter of an hour, the butcher and his assistant came out, unwillingly carrying what seemed to be a coffin, wrapped in a black mackintosh.
It was a huge cake of ice. Father got in, in front, sat on the box seat beside me, and took up the reins. We drove off. The coachman was on the rear seat, sitting back-to-back to us, keeping the ice from sliding out with the calves of his legs.
Father went a few doors up the street to a little house-furnishings shop and got out again. I went in the shop with him this time. I didn't want to miss any further scenes of this performance. Father began proceedings by demanding to see all the man's ice-boxes. There were only a few. Father selected the largest he had.
Then, when the sale seemed arranged, and when the proprietor was smiling broadly with pleasure at this sudden windfall, Father said he was downloading that refrigerator only on two conditions. The first was that it had to be delivered at his home before dinner.
Yes, now. Right away. The shopkeeper explained over and over that this was impossible, but that he'd have it up the next morning, sure. Father said no, he didn't want it the next morning, he had to have it at once. He added that he dined at six-thirty, and that there was no time to waste. The shopkeeper gave in. The second condition, which was then put to him firmly, was staggering. Father announced that that ice-box must be delivered to him full of ice.
The man said he was not in the ice business. Father said, "Very well then.
I don't want it. Father made a short speech. It was the one that we had heard so often at home about the slackness of village tradesmen, and he put such strong emotion and scorn in it that his voice rang through the shop.
He closed it by saying, "An ice-box is of no use to a man without ice, and if you haven't the enterprise, the gumption, to sell your damned goods to a customer who wants them delivered in condition to use, you had better shut up your shop and be done with it.
Not in the ice business, hey? You aren't in business at all! The dealer came to the door just as Father was getting into the dog-cart, and called out anxiously, "All right, Mr. I'll get that refrigerator filled for you and send it up right away. A thunderstorm seemed to be brewing and this had waked Brownie up, or else Father was putting some of his own supply of energy into him.
The poor old boy probably needed it as again he climbed the steep hill. I got out at the foot, and as I walked along behind I saw that Morgan was looking kind of desperate, trying to sit in the correct position with his arms folded while he held in the ice with his legs. The big cake was continually slipping and sliding around under the seat and doing its best to plunge out. It had bumped against his calves all the way home. They must have got good and cold.
When the dog-cart drew up at our door, Father remained seated a moment while Morgan, the waitress, and I pulled and pushed at the ice. The mackintosh had come off it by this time. We dumped it out on the grass.
A little later, after Morgan had unharnessed and hurriedly rubbed down the horse, he ran back to help us boys break the cake up, push the chunks around to the back door, and cram them into the ice-box while Father was dressing for dinner. Mother had calmed down by this time. The Rhine wine was cooling. Then the ice-man arrived. The old clerk was with him, like a warden in charge of a prisoner. Mother stepped out to meet them, and at once gave the ice-man the scolding that had been waiting for him all day.
The clerk asked how much ice we wanted. Mother said we didn't want any now. Day had brought home some, and we had no room for more in the ice-box. The ice-man looked at the clerk. The clerk tried to speak, but no words came.
Father put his head out of the window. The waitress put the mackintosh over it. The ice-wagon left. Just as we all sat down to dinner, the new ice-box arrived, full. Mother was provoked. She said, "Really, Clare!
She told him he didn't know the first thing about keeping house, and went out to the laundry with the waitress to tackle the problem. The thunderstorm broke and crashed.
We boys ran around shutting the windows upstairs. Father's soul was at peace. He dined well, and he had his coffee and cognac served to him on the piazza. The storm was over by then. Father snuffed a deep breath of the sweet-smelling air and smoked his evening cigar. There were lots of other places where we boys could have enjoyed ourselves better, but we weren't consulted of course, and we'd have been surprised if we had been. The family assumed that we could have a good time anywhere. We had supposed so ourselves.
But everything was wrong about Irvington. I used to sit up on our hill and stare down at the Hudson. It had a dirty yellow-brown colour, it didn't make any noises, and I felt I never had seen such a tiresome river.
Compared to the blue salt-water we were used to, it seemed too dull and lifeless to swim in. There was no bathing beach anyhow. Down the road was the old Washington Irving house in Sleepy Hollow, which Mother insisted was lovely, but it was still as death, and two thin little old ladies who mustn't be disturbed sat and rocked on the porch.
About an hour's walk in the other direction there was a fat boy who had rabbits, but we didn't think much of either those rabbits or the fellow who owned them. On our hill we were surrounded by great, silent, park-like estates, belonging to great, silent, rich men who didn't want boys around. We occasionally explored these parks uninvited, but they weren't any good. And the hill that we lived on was as limited a hill as we'd ever seen.
Our garden seemed to be owned by the gardener. He wouldn't let us go in it. He doled out flowers from it to Mother and he scowled when he brought in the vegetables. When Mother asked him when he'd have more tomatoes or peas, he used to think deeply and say, "She be up in two day. At the end of the season we found he'd been selling the best of the produce all summer. On one side of the garden was a small grove of trees, called "the woods. I was the Pharaoh of this sweaty enterprise and my brothers served as my subject Egyptians, at first.
But as time went on and as it began to dawn upon them that this house would be mine when they finished it, they lost interest in it, and I had to do more and more of the work myself. It was a good little house, though. Its chief defect was that it was damp. It had no drainage and the trees kept dripping on it. It almost never felt dry. Also, as there was very little room in it, only one person--not counting the mosquitoes--could get inside at a time.
That one person was nearly always me, until I came down with malaria. When I got out of bed again, wandering around in the old greystone house during my long convalescence, I found thirty or forty yellow paper-bound books in the garret.
The only books that Father and Mother didn't like me to read were cheap sensational novels with yellow-paper covers, such as were sold at railroad news-stands. I had always obeyed them till now, but here were a lot of those very books right in the house, and here was I feeling for the first time in my life bored and idle.
I took two of the novels downstairs with me and hid them in my bedroom closet. After that I went to bed early every night and eagerly read those two books, hungry for adventures of any kind, even of love. I was thirteen, and love affairs were beginning to seem faintly interesting. The tedious thing about such affairs to my mind was their sickening flavour of sweetness, but in yellow-backed paper novels I hopefully assumed that they'd be less true-hearted than in other books, and more illicit, more lurid.
To my astonishment I found that this wasn't so. There was nothing sensational in those novels. I read them all the way through to make sure, but I seemed to have drawn two blanks. I took them back up to the garret and brought down some more. I kept doggedly on through the whole collection, and when I had finished I made up my mind never to read a yellow-backed novel again. Instead of being sinful and gay they were full of moral reflections.
They even had clergymen in them. They were all by one man, a writer named Anthony Trollope, whom I never had heard of, and who didn't seem much of a success at sensational fiction. I put them back up in the garret. I didn't tell my parents about Trollope. He became one of my guilty secrets. There had been a great deal of talk before we went to the country about what kind of carriage we'd need, for Father to drive to the station in and for Mother to use making calls.
We had never owned a carriage before. There didn't seem to be any such thing as a general-utility vehicle. A two-seated surrey would have been the nearest thing to it, but Father said that a liveried coachman wouldn't look right in a surrey, unless he were driving it, and Father wished to do the driving himself.
That ruled out victorias, too. Mother said that next to a victoria she'd choose a nice buggy, but Father said that a buggy would be no use to us when we went back to town. Nobody but a countryman would drive in New York in a buggy.
He said he had always loathed buggies, and that he would as lief go around in a wheelbarrow. In the end he had gone to Brewster's to get their advice, and they had fitted him out with that big English dogcart I spoke of. When Mother remonstrated, he said that Brewster's were the best carriage-builders he knew, and the upshot of it was that Mother was driven around in that dog-cart for years.
It seemed very pleasant to us boys to drive in that dog-cart. It was high, and it had no bothersome doors, sides, or windows, like cabs. On rainy days, the coachman put rubber covers on the cushions and we wore rubber coats. It was a strong heavy vehicle that would stand a lot of knocking about.
But it had only two wheels, of course, and it didn't suit Mother. She said it jiggled too much. No matter how tightly she pinned on her hat, Sunday mornings, she arrived at the church door shaken loose on top and bunched up below. And the combination of rain and a dog-cart didn't suit her at all. The very first drive that we took in it, there was a shower.
The dog-cart was stopped. Father and Mother and I and Morgan, the coachman, stood up and put on our rubber coats, and Morgan got out the large rubber apron. Mother then raised her umbrella to protect her big ribbony hat. Father, sitting on the box seat beside her, stared at this in horror. Do please hurry, Clare. This is awful! Stop, Vinnie! You're poking it right in my eye!
You can't carry an umbrella in a dog-cart. I don't remember that it ever was settled, though it was debated for years. One windy night, a week later, there was another and heavier storm, which began just as Father and Cousin Julie were going out to a dinner-party. Neither of them wanted to go, and Julie hadn't even been invited, but Mother declared that they had to. She had written and accepted the invitation for Father and herself ten days ago, she explained, and it was only because she really felt too ill to stir that she was sending Julie instead.
Father said he felt sick himself, a lot sicker than Mother, but Mother said he couldn't back out at the last moment and there was no time to send word. So she hurried them off in their evening finery in that cold wind and rain, up high in the air on that shelterless dog-cart, along the unlighted roads. In general, the roads around Irvington were dusty but good. The great trouble was they were hilly.
So far as we boys were concerned, we liked them, but Brownie did not. Brownie was not made for hills, and neither, of course, was the dog-cart. Father said it would have been better to have had a short, stocky cob for such work.
See a Problem?
Brownie was of an opposite type, he was lanky and limp--so limp that Mother said he was becoming unnaturally elongated, pulling that cart up those hills. On the other hand, it was because of those hills that our horseback rides were such fun. Father rode every morning before he took the train to the city, and we boys took turns going with him.
Little by little we explored every inch of that beautiful countryside. I was riding with Father one day in September when he found a new road. I galloped ahead, up a hill. Just over the crest of it, hidden from sight till it was too late to stop, was a wash-out--a deep, ditchlike chasm across the road--which my horse luckily jumped, almost before I had seen it. A little farther on I reined him in and looked back, to see if Father had cleared it.
Father was lying face downward in the road. His horse, which had fallen beside him, was thrashing around with its feet. It scrambled up just as I turned, and I saw it step over Father. I galloped back, dismounted, and managed to roll and push Father over. He was senseless.
I sat down in the road with his head on my lap and wiped the blood off his face. I had never seen him helpless before. It gave me a strange feeling. I had slung the reins of the two horses over my arm. They kept pulling and tugging to get at the grass on the bank.
As Father didn't come to, or stir, I began shouting for help. It was a still Sunday morning. The road ran through cornfields and pastures, and there were no passers-by. Presently, as I sat there, making all the noise I could, I saw Father frown. His eyes were shut; gravel and mud were ground into his face and he looked done for; but I now felt more hope. I threw back my head, and yelled louder than ever.
Hi there, help! At last I saw a man coming out of it. He shut the door and walked down a grassy path and up the hill toward us. He got Father to his feet, after a while. We went slowly along to the house with Father stumbling between us. We put him in a chair, on the grass, and washed his face. He held his head up better after this, but he didn't seem to understand questions. The farmer and I anxiously discussed different plans.
We decided I'd better unsaddle my horse and hitch him up to the farmer's buggy, put Father in, and drive him home just as quick as I could. Father paid no attention to what we were doing.
When the buggy was ready, however, and we tried to pick him up and dump him in, he objected. He was so groggy and his muscles were so slumpy he could hardly sit up, but he clung to the idea that he was out for a nice morning ride. He absolutely refused to have anything to do with a buggy. The farmer and I were taken aback by this. We had naturally supposed that we were in charge of things, and that Father's ideas didn't count.
I still thought so. I told the farmer that all Father needed was a little persuasion. We tried a great deal of it. We got nowhere at all. Shaken up though he was, Father's firm belief in his impregnability remained unimpaired, and he was still somehow the master of the whole situation. He kept on demanding his horse so imperiously that I gave in. I unharnessed my own horse and resaddled him, put the buggy back in the barn, and with the greatest misgivings the farmer and I hoisted Father up on his mount.
He looked as though he'd fall off every minute, but to our amazement he didn't. I said good-bye to the farmer, and Father and I rode up the hill. It was a long, silent ride.
Father came out of his stupor at moments better than I had hoped. At other times he sank back and wobbled about in the saddle. But his knees held on, even when he shut his eyes and seemed not to know what was happening. We got back to the main road at last. Farther on we came to Dr. Coudert's place. I got off and rang the front doorbell. Coudert was upstairs, dressing for church. He looked out of his bedroom window.
Want you come my house. Fix it.
I hurried off after him. At our doorway, when he saw Mother come running out, exclaiming at our being late, he tried to dismount by himself. We got him to bed. Coudert found a great, dull, dark-red place at the nape of his neck, and said that it was pretty serious, but that there was nothing to do but apply ice-bags and wait. Mother immediately telegraphed to Uncle Hal. He was Father's elder brother; he had retired from business and he was taking his ease at some summer resort, which he did not wish to leave, but he took a train and got up to Irvington that same afternoon.
Mother explained to him that Father had to have somebody run the office for him, and that Uncle Hal was the only one whom he would trust. Uncle Hal knew Father too well to take this as a compliment. Father trusted him more than others, yes; but, as Uncle Hal knew from long experience, Father didn't like to trust anyone.
However, Uncle Hal began spending his days down in Wall Street, and faithfully coming up to Irvington to make his reports. He was a large, stout, phlegmatic man, with a face that seemed to be carved from old wood, he could make it so completely expressionless.
In behind this, if you watched his eye closely, you could sometimes see a twinkle. One afternoon when I was in Father's room, changing his icebags, Uncle Hal tiptoed heavily in, and sat down at the side of the bed.
He told Father about a few routine matters, in his deliberate way, and then put his fingers together and waited to be cross-examined. Father feverishly began firing questions at him. Uncle Hal was a thoroughly sound, careful man; he had made no mistakes, and there was nothing that Father could reasonably object to, exactly, but it exasperated him to discover that his office was not being conducted in quite his own regular manner.
Uncle Hal looked at him stolidly. Mother rushed in. Don't sit there, Hal, making things worse like this. Later on, looking out of the window, I saw Uncle Hal slowly heave himself up into the dog-cart, which always shook him up like a jelly, and which he hated like poison.
The coachman drove him off, jiggetty-jig, jiggetty-jog, to the station. It was weeks before Father got up again. I suppose he had had a concussion of the brain, but we boys weren't told any details. All we knew was that Father had to stay in bed and that he was strangely quiet at first, although later he became his old self again and made a great deal of noise about it. Meanwhile I had a fine time riding his horse, which had more spirit than ours.
After Father got well, he seemed to want to forget the whole incident. He never went back to see that farmer who had tried to lend him his buggy. He didn't seem appreciative of what Mother had done either, she felt, until one day, as a surprise, he gratefully bought her a beautiful ring with three rubies.
When Dr. Coudert heard about this, he strongly approved. He told Father that he owed his life to Mother, she had been such a good nurse; and when Mother heard him say it, she nodded her head violently and said that was true.
Our cook had walked out and left us. I was a child of four, George was two, and there was a new baby besides. Mother was ill. She hadn't been able to leave us to go to an agency. And as she was no hand at cooking herself, the outlook for dinner was poor. This state of affairs was unprecedented in all Father's experience. In his father's home, they never changed their servants suddenly; they seldom changed them at all; and as his mother was a past mistress of cooking, he had always been doubly protected.
Since his marriage, he had had to live a much bumpier life. But this was the worst yet. He asked Mother, who was lying in bed, what she was going to do about it. There were no telephones then, and she couldn't do anything at all, at the moment; but she said she would try to go to an agency in the morning and see what she could find.
Good God! As I heard the story years afterward, it was late when he got there, and he bounded up the front stoop two or three steps at a time, and went quickly into the little office, where the gaslights were burning. He had never been in such a place before, and to his surprise it was empty, except for a severe-looking woman who sat at a desk at one side.
She looked at him, got out her pen, and opened a large book deliberately. She was standing in the way of his dinner. I can imagine how his face must have reddened and how his eyes must have blazed at her. If you will tell me the kind of position you wish me to fill for you, I will have one come out. There sat a crowd of the girls, young and old, sickly and brawny, of all shapes and sizes; some ugly, some pretty and trim and stylish, some awkward; nurses, ladies' maids, waitresses, washerwomen, and cooks.
The manager was by now at Father's elbow, trying to make him get out, and insisting that he tell her the position he wished her to fill.
But Father was swiftly glancing around at the crowd, and he paid no attention. He noticed a little woman in the corner, with honest grey eyes, who sat there, shrewd-looking and quiet.
He pointed his cane over at her and said, "I'll take that one. She protested she didn't yet know the position. Margaret's plain little face was still pink with excitement and pleasure at being chosen above all that roomful by such a masterful gentleman. Father had probably smiled at her, too, for they liked each other at once. Well, she said, she had cooked for one family. He said afterward, when describing the incident, "I knew at once she could cook. These novels bear a close resemblance to each other: their Dickensian themes.
So, I always thrill to reading any Indian novel when I am lucky to get one. As a matter of fact, I miss reading another novel by Rohinton Mistry so much.
But for me, I appreciated the novel because of how the author weaved the story with more complicated elements.
As a result, in my personal experience, it emanated a mixture of different feelings. This novel seems to be similar to the other Asian novels I have read: their English sentences are easy to read, not as complicated as Western ones that I have to grasp their native sentences. I am not sure of my linguistic theory, but my point is that I enjoyed reading the sentences of this novel.
An Obedient Father
They are smooth, soothing , rhythmic, and full of beautiful phrases. However, I noticed quite a few inappropriate word choices and wrong spellings.
Besides, I did not count how many times the author used the sentence pattern so…that , which is not bad at all. The novel is full of revelations that you might not be able to predict in the next pages. It tends to make you get lost for in what the story wants you to be engaged. You might suppose that the obedient father as the main character narrates his corrupt life in a government agency , or you might feel for him because of his being the bread winner of the family, accountable for the fiasco his children bring about.
Also, you might be touched by his unconditional love for his granddaughter, or be disturbed by his past irresistible sexual experience which made him come into his present existence. But no. Not at all.So, when I fulfill my dream to build my own private library as big as a half of my house filled to overflowing, I will fill those shelves with Indian novels.
The coachman and I drove back to the village. Nothing sturdy about it. I waited. George sat on the sofa by the parlour door, watching me with great sympathy.
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