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Three days after the tea party, Aziz falls slightly ill. Exaggerating his illness, he remains in bed and contemplates a brief trip to a brothel in Calcutta to lift his spirits. Aziz takes a rather clinical view of his occasional need for women. Aziz knows that Major Callendar and others would be scandalized by his plans to visit the brothel. Nonetheless, Aziz does not mind breaking social codes—he simply tries not to get caught. Aziz suddenly notices that flies cover the inside of his room, so he summons his servant, Hassan, to dispose of them. Hassan is inattentive.
Hamidullah, Syed Mohammed, Haq, and Syed Mohammed’s young nephew, Rafi, all crowd into Aziz’s room to inquire about his health. Rafi gossips that Professor Godbole has also fallen ill. The visitors briefly toss around a suspicion that Mr. Fielding poisoned the men at his tea. Syed Mohammed and Haq discuss how all disease comes from Hindus. Aziz recites an irrelevant poem by an Urdu poet. Though not all of the men comprehend poetry, they are happily silent and for a moment feel that India is one. Hamidullah silently contemplates the nationalist meeting he must attend later in the day, which will gather Indians from many different sects. Hamidullah sadly considers that the group never achieves anything constructive and that the meetings are only peaceful when someone is denouncing the English.
The visitors announce their intent to leave, but they remain seated. Dr. Panna Lal arrives, under Major Callendar’s orders, to check on Aziz. Dr. Lal immediately realizes that Aziz is not very ill, but he decides to cover for Aziz anyway, in hopes that Aziz will return the favor one day. After some prodding, Dr. Lal reluctantly reports that Professor Godbole’s condition is not serious, which prompts the men to scold Rafi for spreading rumors. Dr. Lal’s troublesome driver, Ram Chand, insults Rafi’s uncle, Syed Mohammed, and a loud argument breaks out.
At this moment, Fielding walks into the room. Aziz would normally be humiliated at Fielding’s seeing his poor, dirty home, but Aziz is distracted. Concerned about showing hospitality to Rafi, Aziz murmurs to the boy and tries to make him comfortable again after his scolding. Meanwhile, the men begin to question Fielding about his belief in God, the declining morality of the West, and what he thinks about England’s position in India. Fielding enjoys being candid with the men. He explains that he is not certain that England is justified in holding India and that he is in India personally to hold a job. The men are shocked by the plainness of Fielding’s honesty. Fielding, feeling disappointed by his first visit to Aziz, leads the other men out of Aziz’s sickroom.
Fielding and the others emerge from Aziz’s home and feel oppressed by the weather and the general atmosphere outside. Several animals nearby make noises—the inarticulate animal world seems always more present in India than in England. The other men mount their carriages and go home, rather than back to work. All over India, people retreat inside as the hot season approaches.
Fielding stands on the porch of Aziz’s house, but no servant brings his horse, for Aziz has secretly ordered the servants not to. Aziz calls Fielding back inside. Though Aziz self-pityingly draws Fielding’s attention to the shabbiness of his home, Fielding is matter-of-fact in response. Aziz directs Fielding to a photograph that he keeps in a drawer, which is of his late wife. Flattered, Fielding thanks Aziz for the honor of seeing the picture. Aziz tells Fielding he likes him because he values men acting as brothers. They agree that the English government has tried to improve India through institutions, when it should have begun with friendship.
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