Simon is a young boy born to a woman who had succumbed to a momentary temptation. The poor woman is abandoned by the man who seduced her.
The boy is constantly ragged by schoolmates for his not having a father.
He becomes dejected and is on the verge of drowning himself in the river (if you think how a young boy can get such suicidal tendencies, the author prepares us for it quite adequately) when good fortune comes.
This story, written in the 19th century, has relevance even today with so many men, after fathering a child, does not take up the responsibility of parenting. And the ragging of Simon by his schoolmates seems to be less vehement than certain incidents that happened recently in our country.
A companion story is “Hauto and Son” (which I first read years ago in a magazine put out by the French embassy in New Delhi and have since reread it twice) but I don’t think I will write about it here. It is available online and you may track it down.
Here is the link to today’s selection:
(Will do, though the translation that I read in the book in my library, The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life’s Journey ed. by William J. Bennett (Simon & Schuster, 1995) is better.
“I am about to drown myself because I have no father.”