I wanna introduce to you all “The Housekeeper and the Professor”.
Started “The Housekeeper and the Professor” last December and finished it today. If I had concentrated fully on it, I could have finished it much earlier but you know, life happens. It’s a testimony to the power of Yoko Ogawa’s storytelling that I knew that I would definitely finish her book. As the title suggests, this book centres around the relationship between a retired Maths professor and his housekeeper. Yoko Ogawa undoubtedly fleshed up her characters with complexities. The Maths professor met with an accident, which left him with a working memory of 80 minutes. The housekeeper is a single mother who struggles to raise her 10-year-old son who is nicknamed Root. I think this book pays homage to the resilience of the human spirit. Even though the Professor forgets his housekeeper every morning, somehow they have come up with coping mechanisms - so well that Root regularly comes to hang out after school. The Professor is aghast that the boy is a latchkey kid and insists that the housekeeper brings him along. In short, they are a surrogate family of three. I guess one reason why it took me so long to finish this book is that nothing major ever happens. No drama, just everyday events. (I cannot even use ‘vicissitudes of life’, much as I want to flaunt my vocabulary because this is not that kind of book.) Going to the barber, watching a live baseball match, celebrating Root’s birthday - not the climatic plot we have come to expect from page-turners. Still, this is a book about relationships, which is something the Japanese do so well. The housekeeper grows to care about Maths through interactions with the Professor and ponders hard to solve various Maths problems. At one point, she even goes to the library to do research. The Professor is fiercely protective of Root and encourages Root to think critically and arrive at an original method of solving Maths questions. The mother-son pair do everything they can to not inform the Professor that his baseball idol has actually retired donkey years ago. The process in which they learn to support one another is heartwarming to read. I really hope there would be a movie adaptation one day.