The Satisfied Man

Oct 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Short Stories

He was awake, but lying in bed,  waiting for the others in the house to get up. He had no doubts about anyone forgetting his birthday. He had taken care to make sure that everyone in his family remembered such details about other family members. Soon his son knocked on the door. That roused his wife too. He was showered with good wishes from the mother and the son.

He was alone again as his son had left and his wife had gone into the kitchen for preparing tea. He had never kept any servants because he believed that every person should do his/ her work himself. He got up and went into his parents’ room and touched their feet. He did that every morning. It had become more of a ritual with him. But today it was special and his parents blessed him and the ritual lasted longer than it usually did.

Then he was back in his room, reading his morning paper and sipping a cup of hot tea. But his mind was wandering off the paper. Something nagged him at the back of his mind. He was not able to put his finger on what it was, but he couldn’t read the paper either. He switched on the T.V. but soon realized that even that couldn’t hold his attention, so he turned it off.

He always enjoyed talking to his son, so he called out to him. Vishal, the obedient son as he was, came to him and sat down on the chair next to his bed. Vishal picked up the paper and began reading it. This annoyed Rajesh. He wanted to talk to his son but his son was busy reading the paper. He kept on looking at his son who was not even aware of his father’s gaze. Then it occurred to him – he realised what was bothering him. His family, which he had cultivated and nurtured carefully, had become mechanical, almost robot-like.

He was becoming angry but he controlled his feelings and asked, “What are you planning for today, Vishal?”

“Nothing, Dad,” was the short reply. Vishal had not even looked up from the paper.

“It’s my birthday. I want you to plan a party tonight.”

Vishal looked up this time. But said nothing. He was taken aback by the question as his father, he knew, hated parties. So he just stared. He did not know what to say.

The silence was more annoying to Rajesh than any answer Vishal could have given. Rajesh also felt awkward with the silence. So he decided to switch topics.

“How are your studies?”


“What do you mean by good?” Rajesh was angry again though his tone was still normal.

Vishal looked up and saw the anger in his father’s eyes. But even to his own surprise he felt an equal and opposite anger rising in him. He tried to suppress it but felt that it would be impossible to do so. So he quickly got up and left the room on some pretext.

Rajesh was thoughtful now. All he wanted from his son was a little obedience and some hard work so that he could attain a certain position in life. What was wrong with that? It was what he had done for his father and what he expected from his son.

Breakfast was served at the table. Vishal had skipped breakfast and gone out. It was only Rajesh and his father at the table. Rajesh and his father had not talked much in the past few days. Rajesh blamed his lack of time for it. Today he saw an opportunity to talk.

The breakfast was soon finished. And the whole time the father-son duo had not said a word.

“Dad, anything wrong? You are so silent?” Rajesh tried to break the ice.

“No, nothing,” was the short reply his father gave before he got up.

Rajesh was getting angry again. Rajesh had been an obedient son for a long time but one day he had argued with his father and that argument had become hotter and hotter and it was the wives who had calmed the waters. That was the first time that he had done something against his father’s wishes and then slowly and steadily he had become like his father — the decision-maker of the family.

The clock was striking twelve now but Rajesh was still sitting at the breakfast table. All this time he had been thinking. He had been able to identify the fact that was bothering him. He remembered the look on his son’s face in the morning and he realized that the transformation that had occurred years ago in his family was taking place again. He had become his father, and in his son he could see his own reflection.

“I have been such a fool!” He thought to himself as he realized that he had repeated all the mistakes of his father. He was now determined to change all that and make sure that things took a turn for the better. It was with a light heart now that he left the table.

So, a few hours of dissatisfaction notwithstanding, Rajesh was still a satisfied man on his forty-fifth birthday.


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Neo is an engineering professional by day who takes on the mantle of a writer during the night. He started writing his first book at the age of fifteen. That book never saw the light of day, but, he says, writing that book made him realise that writing is something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He hopes that one day he is able to quit his day job, and become a full time writer. If you like this post, you can follow Neo on Twitter

Neo has written 37 articles on The MAG. View all articles by

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  1. While “life lesson” type stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, “The Statisfied Man” is quietly profound and devoid of pretension. Nicely done!

  2. nice….brings out a social problem faced by many indian families 🙂

  3. Good one…….

  4. Keep it up Neo…… Waiting for more such matters from you…

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