‘My Father’s House’ By Mathew Daniel

My Father’s House, a fictionalized memoir set in India, is about an Orthodox Christian
family from Kerala. They live in a third-floor tenement in a mill town in Bombay. Daniel’s
clerical salary is not enough to take care of his wife Rachel and three children, let alone the
helper Narayan and the two or three constant guests who live with them till they find jobs. He
has to borrow left and right to keep up this kind of philanthropy. The older children, John and
Elisabeth, resent the self-inflicted penury and know the cause. To Mathew, ten years younger
than John, every new face is a playmate.

When Daniel is 44, an auto accident severs his arm at the scene. An improbable survival
story follows, and their lives change forever. John joins medical college a month later, and
Elisabeth follows three years later. Daniel’s caretaking and comfort become the mission.
Tenement living is the first issue. After John leaves, the family moves to a ground-floor railway
quarters bungalow in the suburbs. Next comes the luck of the draw. Mathew, 11, escapes being
killed crossing the railway lines.

Daniel’s health declines after he faints at work when he is 50. Under the neurologist's
care, it only worsens, and after one fateful encounter with him that becomes a death sentence,
Daniel’s condition nose dives, and he soon dies at 52.
Problems brought on by John’s interfaith marriage to a classmate enflames the joint
family after Daniel’s demise. Sad beyond sad and missing his father’s guiding presence, Mathew
sees a glimmer of hope when he steps into his father’s mansions. He makes a consequential
decision and leaves home to veer back on track.
The inspiring story unfolds with insight, humor, and humility as seen through the eyes of
a child. Told in the first person, it covers the boy’s first 17 years.
I retired early to write it. Got it down to 72000 words after it bolted to 87700 words.
Beyond My Father’s House, a second book nearing completion, tells a story about a friendship
forged in India and renewed in the USA. Steeplechase and Other Stories, a book of short stories,
is also in the works.

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