The housemaid is not given a proper name. She is the woman whom Pramod meets in the park and with whom he has an affair. The housemaid tells Pramod that he thinks too much and offers him a temporary escape from his troubles. She also helps him to look at life differently. She expresses a simple acceptance of life as it comes to her, enjoying every moment instead of wasting time worrying about the details and possible consequences. Eventually Pramod realizes that this woman is only a temporary fix to his problems, and he stops seeing her. But she has comforted him during his depression over losing his job.
Kamalkanth is one of two men who often appear at Shambhuda’s house at the same time when Pramod visits his brother-in-law. Kamalkanth is described as a poorly dressed man, and it is suggested that Shambhuda pays him under the table for special business services. After Pramod bumps into the men several times, Pramod notices that Kamalkanth sneers and snickers under his breath, suggesting that he and his friend are laughing at Pramod and his predicament.
Ram Mohan, a former employer of Pramod, sympathizes with Pramod about the loss of his job. Pramod times his morning walk so that he can avoid passing Ram Mohan; Pramod is embarrassed by Ram Mohan’s goodness and consideration. Although Ram Mohan is sympathetic to his crisis, Pramod grows tired of hearing Ram Mohan tell him that something will come his way soon. Ram Mohan also makes Pramod self-conscious when Ram Mohan sees Pramod with the housemaid.
Pramod, the protagonist, is an accountant who has just lost his job. Pramod knows a fellow accountant who is computer literate is still employed with the same company. Pramod has been so comfortable in his job, and he does not know how to find another one. Humiliated, he decides to seek help from his wife’s relative. It embarrasses him when people ask him how he is doing, because he has no prospects and has no positive news. In this interim, he takes up with a woman whom he considers beneath him socially, and she encourages him to re-evaluate his life. He has been worrying too much about appearances, and through the housemaid, he learns to see life more simply. Pramod’s evolution from an arrogant man who has lost his job and temporarily lost his identity, to a more modest figure is the basic focus of this short story. As Pramod confronts his professional changes, the story takes on the drama of a psychological study of someone in crisis. Pramod’s changes are subtle, but the results of those changes are personally dramatic for this character. He must strip himself of his ego in order to accept a possible path toward recreating his professional identity.
Radhika, Pramod’s wife, prods Pramod a bit when he begins to sulk about having lost his job, and she also tries to inspire him. When that does not work, she appears to fall into the background as Pramod is absent from their apartment. However, her anger comes to the forefront while she and Pramod are visiting Radhika’s family. When the men tease that maybe Pramod has a better definition of life (one without a job and one with a mistress), Radhika must admit to herself that all is not well in her relationship with Pramod. She yells at Pramod at this point and blames him for setting off a fight between her brother and other male relatives. In the end, it is Radhika’s idea that gives Pramod hope for the future. She is dependent on her husband and his choices, but their property may serve him as he finds a new way to make a living.
Shambhuda, an influential brother-in-law of Pramod and brother to Pramod’s wife, is involved in the construction business and obviously makes a lot of money. He has a bulging stomach, which he displays immodestly, when he is first introduced in the story. He promises to help Pramod to find a job, but he never comes through with anything substantial. Except for one moment when he defends Pramod at a family party, there is little evidence to suggest that he has any particular commitment to his brother-in-law.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 22, Samrat Upadhyay, Published by Gale Group, 2010