The most vital character in Family Matters is the 79-year-old Parsi father,
Nariman Vakeel, who engages his family with his wry wit. His revealing nightmares
highlight the secrets behind his lurid love affair; his physical decay transforms
Unfortunately, as Narimanís health deteriorates and he becomes unable
to speak, the novelís spirit diminishes also. Nariman lives with his two
adult stepchildren, Coomy and Jal, in a seven-room flat in Chateau Felicity.
Narimanís daughter, Roxana, husband Yezad, and two sons, Jehangir and
Murad, live in a two-room flat in Pleasant Villa, where they end up becoming
the caretaker of their father after Coomy and Jal deviously dump him there,
assuring them Narimanís depression will be lifte
d around the two boys.
Yezad feels strapped for money after Nariman arrives, and like Coomy and Jal,
he devises his own plan to convince his boss to run as a political candidate
so heíll have more responsibilities and earn a better salary. At this point,
the story shifts more to the schemes Coomy and Jal utilize to keep their father
from returning home, and Yezadís elaborate fabrications to persuade his
boss to serve Bombay. For awhile their antics are amusing, clever even, but
then they become the focus of the story, and when we next see Nariman, heís
barely functioning, much less a functional character.
As the bookís narrative shifts, the readers are also shifted away. We
are shifted from feeling that personal connection to the characters where we
vicariously become a part of the novel to a feeling of being left on the bleachers
watching the novel unfold into a script that has been made for a big screen
Thereís so much to do with the boss and the carpenter, so many schemes
and deaths, that we miss out on Narimanís death. With all that hustle and
bustle, we even lose our author. After 397 pages of third person narrative,
Mistry hands the pen to the youngest son, a much less gifted writer, and Jengahir
finishes the book. Itís like Mistry has said, ďJehangoo, Iíve
told the story once, now itís your turn. I give you the epilogue.Ē
Perhaps that was Mistryís way of showing one more family scenario, one
more way of pointing out family matters; but heís tagged on epilogues before,
so it could just be how he ends his novels.