Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Jhabvala. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jhabvala. Show all posts

18 April, 2015

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, "The Judge's Will"

The story starts off with tension, "...the judge, her husband, Judge Sahib, knew that he could no longer put off informing his wife about the contents of his will." Then we find out that he has "been keeping" another woman for twenty-five years. And, the judge has had some sort of attack. He doesn't seem to have any confidence in his wife and son. HIs wife is characterized by her behavior, which is unusual, upon learning of her husband's infidelity by the way she treats the news as though it is gossip about someone other than her own family. She rushes off to share the news with their son and "he pretended  to be in no way affected by it..."

Yasi was born in Delhi and Binny, the wife, was born in Bombay and is out of kilter in Delhi. She's also stopped speaking with any friends that she used to have because they mention that her relationship with her son is not healthy or normal. At the time of the story, Yasi is over thirty years old and has begun to have terrible mood swings or episodes of some sort.

Binny is child-like and uses her son, Yasi, as confidante and he relayed conversations with his father to his mother "to entertain" her. She feigns that she is angry with the judge "But, beneath it all, there was a sort of thrill--that at last something dramatic was happening in their lives."

It is soon planned that Puhl, the kept woman, will be brought to their home. Yasi has an explosive temper. Between mother and son their intensity with each other is more of what should be between a husband and wife. And, conversely, the judge treats Phul as if she's a child and even calls her such. Binny eventually becomes caring towards Phul.

The story employs a shifting point-of-view, past tense, takes place in Delhi, and is about 15 pages long. It was first published in The New Yorker in 2013 and then in the 2014 issue of the Best American Short Stories. The themes are of loyalty, marriage, responsibility and impending death. The judge comes to realize that Binny does have strength.