A House for Mr. Biswas by Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

By Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

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Tara had that attended to. The photographer said, ‘All right then. Mother and biggest son on either side. Next to mother, young boy and young girl. ’ There was more advice from the men. ’ Tara translated, and the photographer went under his cloth. Almost immediately he came out again. ’ This was done and the photographer went back under his cloth. ’ Tara cried, running out from the hut with a fresh garland of marigolds. She hung it around Raghu’s neck and said to the photographer in English, ‘All right.

Every Saturday he lined up with the other labourers outside the estate office to collect his pay. The overseer sat at a little table, on which his khaki cork hat rested, wasteful of space, but a symbol of wealth. On his left sat the Indian clerk, important, stern, precise, with small neat hands that wrote small neat figures in black ink and red ink in the tall ledger. As the clerk entered figures and called out names and amounts in his high, precise voice, the overseer selected coins from the columns of silver and the heaps of copper in front of him, and with greater deliberation extracted notes from the blue one-dollar stacks, the smaller red two-dollar stack and the very shallow green five-dollar stack.

I don’t think anything. ’ The news that Mr Biswas was negotiating for a house of his own had gone around Shama’s family. ’ She didn’t hide her amusement. ’ ‘Yes, child,’ Shama said, in her martyr’s way. The exchange took place on the back steps and reached the ears of Mr Biswas, lying in pants and vest on the Slumberking bed in the room which contained most of the possessions he had gathered after forty-one years. He had carried on a war with Suniti ever since she was a child, but his contempt had never been able to quell her sarcasm.

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