Sixty-Two Year Old: Richard Stone

This incident, which might be said to have led to his undoing, did not arise out of Mr Stone’s passion for gardens. Gardening as he practised it was no more than a means, well suited to his age, which was sixty-two, of exhausting the spare time and energy with which his undemanding duties in one of the Excal company, his status as a bachelor and his still excellent physique amply provided him. The habit had come late to him. He relished the activity rather than the results. It mattered little to him that his blooms were discoloured by pepper dust. His delight lay more in preparing the ground for planting than in the planting, which sometimes never occurred. Once his passion had been all for digging. When this came to an end – after he had punctured a water main – he decided to hoard his refuse, to spare none for the local council. Strict instructions were given to Miss Millington; and the refuse of his household, dutifully presented by her for his daily inspection, he spread afternoon after afternoon, with a miser’s delight in its accumulation, over the front garden.

V.S. Naipaul, Mr Stone and the Knights Companion

Published in: 62 Years Old | on January 9th, 2012 | No Comments »

Forty-Six Year Old: Mohun Biswas

Mr Biswas was forty-six, and had four children. He had no money. His wife Shama had no money. On the house in Sikkim Street Mr Biswas owed, and had been owing for four years, three thousand dollars. The interest on this, at eight per cent, came to twenty dollars a month; the ground rent was ten dollars. Two children were at school. The two other children, on whom Mr Biswas might have depended, were both abroad on scholarships.

It gave Mr Biswas some satisfaction that in the circumstances Shama did not run straight off to her mother to beg for help. Ten years before that would have been her first thought. Now she tried to comfort Mr Biswas, and devised plans of her own.

‘Potatoes,’ she said. ‘We can start selling potatoes. The price around here is eight cents a pounds. If we buy at five and sell at seven – ’

‘Trust the Tulsi bad blood,’ Mr Biswas said. ‘I know that the pack of you Tulsis are financial geniuses. But have a good look around and count the number of people selling potatoes. Better to sell the old car.’

‘No. Not the car. Don’t worry. We’ll manage.’

‘Yes,’ Mr Biswas said irritably. ‘We’ll manage.’

V.S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas

Published in: 46 Years Old | on September 16th, 2011 | No Comments »