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At some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ashima is home alone addressing Christmas cards, which she has decided to make herself.
These days, life is pretty quiet. Ashoke comes to visit from Ohio every three weeks, where he helps her with household chores and pays the bills. And when she is alone, she works at her part-time job at the library.
At 3 pm, Ashoke calls her to let know that he is at the hospital because he's been having a bit of trouble with his stomach. He promises he'll call her back after his hospital visit. No sweat, right?
Wrong. She is totally sweating. By the next morning, Ashoke still hasn't called. She finds the phone number for his hospital and gives it a ring. The intern at the other end of the line informs her that Ashoke has died. Ooph, that's sad.
Immediately, Sonia flies back to Massachusetts from San Francisco, where she has been living with a few friends.
Gogol and Maxine have just returned from a party when Sonia calls to tell Gogol about his dad's death. Refusing Maxine's offer to come with him, Gogol heads to Ohio to arrange his father's cremation and take care of business.
At the hospital, Gogol identifies his father's body. Then he drives to his dad's apartment, where he spends the next few days clearing things out.
Once he's done with that painful task, it's time to head home. On the plane ride to Massachusetts, Gogol remembers that when his paternal grandfather died, his father had shaved his head, a ritual performed by Bengali sons when their parents die. So is he going to shave his head? We kind of doubt it.
At his parents' house, Ashima, Gogol, and Sonia go through ten days of mourning, and they receive a lot of visitors and condolences.
On the eleventh day, Maxine comes to visit, and the Gangulis hold a party to mark the end of the period of mourning. Maxine invites Gogol to New Hampshire, but he wants to stay to help his family through the tough time.
Gogol and Sonia help Ashima get her life in order, and drive her around town so she can visit her friends.
By now, it's early January, and Gogol finally heads back to New York City, where Maxine is all set to meet him at Penn Station. On the train, he has a memory of driving to Cape Cod with his family, and walking with his father to the furthest edge of the breakwater.