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Review: The Householder

How a series of crises affects the life of an ordinary man

books Updated: Jun 01, 2012 17:40 IST

The Householder

Amitabha Bagchi

Fourth Estate

Rs 499 pp 248

The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi deals with crises at various levels —  political and personal, and in the process creates as true a picture of life of babudom as one can get.

The narrative revolves around Naresh Kumar, personal assistant to RK Asthana, an IAS officer. A typical middle-class babu, he has acquired a neat pile from a cut in contracts that come by way of his boss. However, his domestic crises show no sign of abating. His daughter is unable to conceive and his son, who works in a call-centre, is mixed up in a murder. He is also distracted at work by Pinki Kaur, a dead friend’s wife.

Then, one day, everything erupts and his little nest is shaken. There is a political crisis at work, and he is suspended from his job, as is his boss. There is collapse at the domestic front too — his daughter comes home to stay with him as she and her husband  cannot explain to his parents why they can’t conceive. His son has disappeared to Manali after newspaper reports that a call-centre girl has been found dead. To top it, Pinki Kaur has a visitor from Vancouver, a cousin of her husband’s who wants to marry her. In desperation, Naresh accepts a posting to the Northeast.

When he comes home after a couple of months, he finds that many of the problems plaguing him has been solved — his daughter has conceived; his son tells him that the real mastermind behind the murder has managed to ‘fix’ the police. Though Pinki Kaur refuses to accompany him to the Northeast, his suspension orders are revoked. The Householder is about the world of power. The reader confronts a  world with few moral values or none. Finally, Nareshji’s world is complete, but for how long?