Deciphering Disability in Old Age in Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters

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Reshmi Paul, Dr. K. Balakrishnan


Disability can be described as any kind of inability, dysfunction or deficit of the body or mind which causes impediments to an individual in performing specific activities and creates obstacles in communication with their surroundings contrary to what constitutes “normal” by the able population. It exhibits itself in several forms. Disability can be congenital or acquired. The differently abled are in fact a diverse part of the society with different and special needs. Disability Studies is an interdisciplinary area of study that examines broad questions concerning the nature, implications and consequences of disability from social, historical, cultural and political perspectives. It aims to broaden the layman‟s perception of disability and challenges the normal-abnormal binary. Disability Studies also evaluates the delineation of disability, prejudice towards differently abled people(ableism) as well as how disability is interpreted in literature. Despite the primary objective of Disability Studies in literature is to destigmatize disorder, sickness, disability and impairment, the majority of disabled characters are represented as objects of scorn, contempt and as victims of stereotyping. Disability in old age is a matter of serious concern and cannot be overlooked. Disability among older people can be regarded as the gap between an individual‟s abilities and environmental requirements. The physiological and psychological changes that occur in old age are linked to an increased susceptibility to disability. Disability poses a high risk of morbidity in old age. The elderly characters who constitute the periphery inRohintonMistry‟s fiction can be regarded as the „other‟ or marginal. Disability pervades Mistry‟sFamily Matters(2002)and is related to themes such as old age associated difficulties, family relationships and hardships and consequent helplessness. The equivocal novel Family Matters by Mistry masterfully intertwines old age and disability (Parkinson‟s disease). The novel centers around familial relationships andmaltreatment of the protagonist Nariman Vakeel, a seventy-nine-year-old former English professor and Parsi widower afflicted with Parkinson‟s disease and osteoporosis. This paper attempts to explicate the consequences of the physical decline of Nariman Vakeel, as represented in Rohinton Mistry‟s Family Matters. This paper also proposes to study how the novel focuses on several aspects of the lived reality of the aged patriarch with disability (Parkinson‟s disease) and how he experiences neglect, pity and derision in the hands of his own family.

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Dr. K. Balakrishnan, R. P. . (2021). Deciphering Disability in Old Age in Rohinton Mistry’s Family Matters. Annals of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, 25(6), 8929–8931. Retrieved from