The Housekeeper and the Professor
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He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem―ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.
She is an astute young Housekeeper―with a ten-year-old son―who is hired to care for the Professor.
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities―like the Housekeeper's shoe size―and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.
Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.
And a haircut might feel good." "I feel fine like this." "A walk would get your circulation going, and that might help you come up with some good ideas for your formulas." "There's no connection between the arteries in the legs and the ones in the head." "Well, you'd be much handsomer if you took care of your hair." "Waste of time," he said, but eventually my persistence got the better of him and he closed his book. The only shoes in the cupboard by the door were old leather ones covered in
still. Overcome by the beauty of his delicate patterns, perhaps I'd wanted to take part; and I was absolutely sure he would show great respect, even for the humblest discovery. "The sum of the divisors of 28 is 28." "Indeed ... ," he said. And there, next to his outline of the Artin conjecture, he wrote: 28 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14. "A perfect number." "Perfect number?" I murmured, savoring the sound of the words. "The smallest perfect number is 6: 6 = 1 + 2 + 3." "Oh! Then they're not so
died suddenly of acute hepatitis. The widow, who had no children, decided to close down the factory, put up an apartment building on the land, and live off the rents she collected. In the years that followed, the Professor and his sister-in-law had settled peacefully into their respective lives—until the accident. A truck driver had dozed off and struck the Professor's car head-on. He had suffered irreversible brain damage and had eventually lost his position at the university. He was
the devil of mathematics. As the night wore on, his fever seemed to worsen. His breath was hot, sweat poured off him, and the ice packs melted quickly. I began to worry—should I run out to the drugstore? Was it wrong to have forced him to go to the game? Would the fever do more damage to his brain? Eventually I consoled myself with the thought that he was sleeping peacefully, and I decided everything would be all right. I wrapped myself in the lap robe that we'd taken along to the stadium and
how heavy the proof was when you gave it to me to mail, and how proud I was when I got to the window at the post office." "Is that so?" No matter what I said, he barely responded. Perhaps all mathematicians underestimated the importance of their accomplishments. Or perhaps this was just the Professor's nature. Surely there must be ambitious mathematicians who wanted to be known for the advancements they made in their field. But none of that seemed to matter to the Professor. He was completely