The cook returns to Cho Oyu in a haze of alcohol. He asks the judge, who has also been drinking, to beat him. The judge smacks the cook with a slipper, beating him harder as the cook asks for more. The cook admits to various wrongs he has done: eating the judge’s food, not taking Mutt on walks, and cheating the judge out of money. Sai rushes out of her room and sees the judge beating the cook. She screams for him to stop, but the cook tells her to let him continue. She begins to weep and rushes outside, unable to watch. She wonders if this could really be for Mutt’s sake.
The final chapter of the novel is arguably its bleakest, as it seems to show how every character is negatively affected by the accumulation of various forms of oppression. The judge’s beating of the cook expresses an anger at the circumstances of his life, and perhaps represents his last attempt at maintaining power and control over his life while the political situation continues to humiliate him and take the only thing he loves away from him.
Meanwhile, Mutt has been sold to a family that won’t care for her. They liked the idea of having a fancy dog, but don’t actually care for her. “She disappointed them just as modern life did,” and so they tie her to a tree and kick her.
Even Mutt’s fate communicates the tyranny of globalization and poverty, as the family to which she is sold tries to be modern and put on the appearance of having a wealthy dog, but had been blind to the responsibility of taking care of her.
Sai thinks of escaping to Uncle Potty’s house. The narrator says that one day soon, when Uncle Potty wakes from a stupor, he will realize he’s signed away his property and Father Booty’s to new owners. Lola and Noni’s lives would continue unimpeded, and Lola’s daughter will marry an Englishman. Meanwhile Sai wonders where Gyan is.
Though Father Booty and his dairy farm were a casualty of the GNLF movement, the judge’s upper-class neighbors are generally unaffected—in contrast to those from lower classes who are starving and fighting for political equality.
Sai stands in the dark as it rains, drowning out the sound of the judge hitting the cook. She can’t formulate thoughts, her heart lies in pieces, and she begins to cry—for herself, and her self-importance.
As she cries, Sai for the first time recognizes the true extent of her privilege—not only in wealth, but also in inheriting a history she had no part in. While the judge appears broken from everything that he has had to endure and enact, Sai’s life is relatively unburdened.
Sai wonders what will happen at Cho Oyu, but she already knows. The cook will back to his quarters; the judge to his room. The next day, the judge will sit at his chessboard and out of habit will say, “Panna Lal, bring the tea.”
It is notable that the cook only gains a name on the second-to-last page of the novel. This occurs chronologically after his son returns, demonstrating how Biju’s appearance makes him more of an individual with dignity, not just a servant.
Sai thinks of her father, the National Geographics, the judge’s journey, the cook’s journey, and Biju’s. She resolves to leave. Sai turns to go inside, but as she does, someone catches her eye in the distance. At first, she thinks it is Gyan; then, someone who has found Mutt. The figure gets closer, until it looks like a bent-over woman dragging one leg. Sai goes inside the kitchen and makes the cook tea.
Sai contemplates leaving Cho Oyu just as Biju returns in his destitute state. The difference between these two characters is one of experience, but also one of wealth. Because of Sai’s privilege, it is unlikely she would face the same obstacles and outcomes that Biju would.
Sai and the cook hear the gate rattle. The cook offers to get it. Morning begins to break over Kanchenjunga, and the cook goes outside. He sees Biju standing at the gate, and, swinging it open, the two men leap toward each other.
In a contrast from the bleakness of the rest of the chapter, Desai provides a glimmer of hope for her characters. Even though the novel has been working with weighty and systemic issues, the final sentence argues that they can be at least somewhat alleviated by finding “home” and regaining a sense of belonging, even in an unjust world.