The short story A Devoted Son was written by Indian writer Anita Desai. Her mother was German, her father was Indian. She used to speak in different languages- German at home, Hindi on the streets and English at school. Her literary works became well-known, first abroad, and only later in her country, India.
Belief in the family's values was so strong for her that when she became a writer, she hid her works from children. Children used to see her only as their mother, not as a society figure.
There are two main characters in the story: the father - Varma and his son - Rakesh. The first scene describes the reaction of success which Rakesh achieved by passing the exams.
"When the results appeared in the morning papers, Rakesh scanned them, barefoot and in his pajamas, at the garden gate, then went up the steps to the veranda where his father sat sipping his morning tea and bowed down to touch his feet. “A first division, son?” his father asked, beaming, reaching for the papers. “At the top of the list, Papa,” Rakesh murmured, as if awed. “First in the country.”
The locals came to congratulate Varma, praising his son. "To everyone who came to him to say, “Mubarak, Varma-ji, your son has brought you glory,” the father said, “Yes, and do you know what is the first thing he did when he saw the results this morning? He came and touched my feet. He bowed down and touched my feet.”
Rakesh won a scholarship, he studied in the USA and he returned home. It was unusual because most of the students who studied abroad, married there and found a better place for living. But he came back. Moreover, he agreed to marry a girl whom his mother choose for him.
He started working at the local hospital. Soon he was appointed as the Director. Later he set up his own clinic. He became the richest man in the town. Because of old age, his mother died and his father became ill. As he did all time, Rakish daily came to his father's room to talk with him, "on returning from the clinic in the evening, persuaded the old man to come out of his room ... and take the evening air out in the garden".
Father thought about his son as a "pearl amongst pearls", he was proud of Rakesh. That changed when the state of health of the old man became worse.
"One day when the father was really sick, having ordered his daughter-in-law to make him a dish of soojie halwa and eaten it with a saucerful of cream, Rakesh marched into the room, not with his usual respectful steps but with the confidence and rather contemptuous stride of the famous doctor, and declared, “No more halwa for you, Papa. We must be sensible, at your age ... nothing fried, nothing rich.”
Varma didn't agree with these measures, he even gave some money to his grandson, sending him to the nearest shop for buying halwa for him. This plan was disclosed and Rakesh was ashamed of his father saying that he was trying to turn a little son into a liar.
Varma suffered. He complained to his old neighbor- Bhatia, that his son doesn't give him a food which he asked. Bhatia couldn't believe: "No butter? No oil? How does he expect his father to live?” Old Varma nodded with melancholy triumph. “That is how he treats me—after I have brought him up, given him an education, made him a great doctor... Let me tell you,” Varma whispered eagerly. “Today the family was having fried fish—I could smell it. I called to my daughter-in-law to bring me a piece. She came to the door and said No . . .”
The climax of the story occurred in the end. When Rakesh brought father next portion of medicine, Varma cried angrily: “Keep your tonic—I want none—I want none—I won't take any more of—of your medicines. None. Never,” After that: "He closed his eyes and pointed his chin at the ceiling, like some dire prophet, groaning, “God is calling me—now let me go.”
The story was the subject of many courses in the schools and colleges. Through Google searching machine we can find a lot of essays and analysis. One of the common interpretation presents the disagreement between two main characters as a conflict between new and old or between West and East. The author left readers the choice to define what is good and what is bad in the story and the title "A Devoted Son" would be seen differently.
This a link to the text of the story: