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.
agreement to hide the truth about Enatsu. No matter how weary we were of hearing a story, we always made an effort to listen attentively. We felt we owed that to the Professor, who had put so much effort into treating the two of us as real mathematicians. But our main concern was to avoid confusing him. Any kind of uncertainty caused him pain, so we were determined to hide the time that had passed and the memories he'd lost. Biting our tongues was the least we could do. But the truth was, we
+ 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = 21 "In other words, a triangular number is the sum of all the natural numbers between 1 and a certain number. Then, if you put two of these triangles together, things get even more interesting. Why don't we look at the fourth one, 10, so we don't have to draw too many dots?" It wasn't particularly cold in the hall, but the trembling in his hand had grown worse and the dots had slightly smudged. His whole being seemed concentrated in the tip of his
university. He was sixty-four, but he looked older and somewhat haggard, as though he did not eat properly. He was barely more than five feet tall, and his back was so badly hunched that he seemed even shorter. The wrinkles on his bony neck looked a little grimy, and his wispy, snow-white hair fell in all directions, half-concealing his plump, Buddhalike ears. His voice was feeble and his movements were slow. If you looked closely, though, you could see traces of a face that had once been
could only hope that some part of him remembered the exquisite pattern. The third chapter explained that Fermat's Last Theorem was not simply a puzzle designed to excite the curiosity of math fanatics, it had also profoundly affected the very foundations of number theory. And it was here that I found a mention of the Professor's formula. Just as I was aimlessly flipping through pages, a single line flashed in front of me. I held the note up to the page and carefully compared the two. There was
the card, keeping Enatsu to himself for a moment. Neither of us spoke as he showed me the 1985 limited-edition card containing a fragment of Enatsu's own glove. 10 It was a wonderful party, the most memorable one I've ever attended. It was neither elegant nor extravagant—in that sense it had much in common with Root's first birthday party at the home for single mothers, or the Christmases we'd spent with my mother. I'm not sure whether you would even call those other events parties, but I