Vendor of Sweets Summary – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

There is minimal communication in the house and Jagan thinks that Mali is doing his service to the country in his own way: Writing. We learn that Jagan has joined the movement for freeing India from foreign rule, gave up on his studies, home and normal life and violated the British Laws at the time.

Meanwhile, mali seemed to be detached as ever and the only link between the father and son is the five rupee currency note that he left on the hall table every morning and checked later to find out if it had been accepted. He is torured by the lack of information but ‘He dared not knock on it.’ He was afraid to knock on Mali’s door and ask him for details about his writing. Instead he asks the cousin, who asks him why Jagan does not ask his son himself. Jagan responds saying that ‘He may resent the question and think I’m interfering.’ Again he says, ‘I hate to upset him, that’s all. I have never upset him in all my life.’

When the cousin asks, Jagan remembers that the last conversation they had  was about 3 and a half months ago and that lasted less than a minute. His excuse to the cousin is that their times are so different that they don’t get to chat. He sets up the cousin to the task of finding out about Mali – this way, he widens the gap between himself and Mali, making the cousin the mediator.

The cousin informs Jagan that Mali wants to go to America to study to become a writer. Jagan feels crushed because Mali hasn’t completed his book yet, and wants to leave for America: he contemplates how Americans eat beef, pork and drink alcohol. Jagan tells the Cousin ‘But its unthinkable. Mali shall stay here.’ The cousin smiles cynically and says he may have made plans and that he has been using the type writer at the Library, where he spends most of his time. At this news Jagan is partly filled with admiration.

When Jagan inquires how he will find money for the fare (apparently he has already gotten his passport), the cousin says that Mali has got it and had always known where to find the money in the house. Shocked for a moment, Jagan then says that ‘the boy is very practical. See how self-reliant he has grown!’ He conveniently forgets the fact that Mali has stolen money from him because he would not want to confront and upset him.

When discussing how costly the air ticket must be, Cousin says that ‘He has doubtless found the cash for it.’ Jagan replies, ‘Naturally. What is the cash worth to me? It’s all for him. He can have everything he wants.’ He waits for Mali to come home, and sneaks in like a burglar in his own house, rather than one whose money has been extracted. Irony.


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