Saturday 29 September 2018

Class 11 - English - Hornbill The Portrait of Lady By Khushwant Singh - Chapter Summary and Q and A (#cbsenotes)(#eduvictors)

Class 11 - English - Hornbill

The Portrait of Lady

By Khushwant Singh
Class 11 - English - Hornbill  The Portrait of Lady  By Khushwant Singh   - Chapter Summary and Q and A (#cbsenotes)(#eduvictors)

Chapter Summary

The Portrait of a Lady' is written in the first person and is in the biographical mode. In this story, the writer gives a detailed account of his Grandmother with whom he had a long association. Khushwant Singh recalls his Grandmother as short, fat and slightly bent. Her silver hair was scattered untidily on her wrinkled face. She hobbled around the house in white clothes with one hand resting on her waist and the other telling the beads of her rosary. Khushwant Singh remembers her as not very pretty but always beautiful. He compares her serene face to that of a winter landscape.

During their long stay in the village, Grandmother woke him up in the morning, plastered his wooden slate, prepared his breakfast, and escorted him to school. While he studied alphabets, she read the scriptures in the temple attached to the school. On their way back home she fed stale chapattis to stray dogs.

The turning point in their relationship came when they went to live in the city. Now, the author went to a city school in a motor bus and studied English, the law of gravity, Archimedes' principle and many more things which she could not understand at all, Grandmother could no longer accompany him to school nor help him in his studies. She was upset that there was no teaching of God and scriptures at a city school. Instead, he was given the music lesson which, according to her, was not meant for gentlefolk. But she said nothing,

When Khushwant Singh went to a university, he was given a separate room. The common link of their friendship was snapped. Grandmother rarely talked to anyone now. She spent most of her time sitting beside her spinning wheel, reciting prayers, and feeding the sparrows in the afternoon. When the author left for abroad, Grandmother did not get disturbed. Rather, she saw him off at the railway station. Seeing her old age, the narrator thought that it was his last meeting with her. But, contrary to his thinking, when he returned after a span of five years, Grandmother was there to receive him. She celebrated the occasion by singing songs of the homecoming of warriors on an old dilapidated drum, along with the ladies of the neighbourhood.

Next morning she got ill. Although the doctor said it was a mild fever and would go away soon, she could foresee that her end was near. She did not want to waste time talking to anyone. She lay peacefully in bed praying and telling the beads till her lips stopped moving and the rosary fell from her lifeless fingers. To mourn her death thousands of sparrows flew in and sat scattered around her
body. There was no chirruping and when Khushwant Singh's mother threw breadcrumbs to the sparrows, they took no notice of the bread. They flew away quietly when the dead body of Grandmother was carried away for last rites.

Q1: Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context.
i)   The thought was almost revolting
ii)  An expanse of pure white serenity
iii) A turning point
iv)  Accepted her seclusion with resignation
v)   A veritable bedlam of chirruping’s
vi)  Frivolous rebukes
vii) The sagging skins of the dilapidated drum

i) The thought was almost revolting – The thought that the author's grandmother was once young and pretty raises a doubt in the mind of the author. He finds it too hard to believe as he had always seen her as an old lady.

ii) An expanse of pure white serenity – It refers to the calm, peaceful and serene character and the conduct of the author‟s grandmother. She is compared to a peaceful winter landscape in the mountains. She almost looked like a snow-covered mountain in her silvery hair and spotless white clothes.

iii) A turning-point – It refers to the point where the author‟s relationship with his grandmother changes drastically after they move to the city-house.

iv) Accepted her seclusion with resignation – This shows the author‟s grandmother‟s passive submission to her secluded life after she gradually loses touch with her grandson.

v) A veritable bedlam of chirruping – It refers to the noise, confusion and chaos caused by the chirruping of the sparrows that scattered and perched around the author's grandmother.

vi) Frivolous rebukes – It refers to the casual, non-serious and light-hearted scoldings of the grandmother to the sparrows.

vii) The sagging skins of the dilapidated drum – It points to the shabby and deteriorated condition of the drum.

Q2: Mention the three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad.

Answer: The three phases of the author‟s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad are given below.

The first phase was the period of the author‟s early childhood. During this phase, he used to live with his grandmother in the village.

The grandmother used to take care of him from waking him up and getting him ready to accompany him to the school. Both shared a good friendship with each other.

The second phase was the time when the author and the grandmother moved to the city to live with the author's parents. This was a turning point in their friendship because now they "saw less of each other".

The third phase was the time the author joined University. He was given a room of his own and the common link of their friendship was snapped. The grandmother turned to wheel-spinning and reciting prayers all day long. She accepted her seclusion with silence.

Short Stories Collection By Khuswant Singh. Buy at Amazon.

Khushwant Singh was an Indian novelist, journalist, and a lawyer. He was a man of many talents and served the Indian legal system, Indian journalism and literature all with equal passion and hard work. He was a well-learned man and studied from various institutes like Modern School, New Delhi, Government College of Lahore, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and King’s College London. He set his foot in his professional life by starting out as a lawyer but soon he turned to Indian Foreign Service. Served that for a few years and later he found his place in mass communication and journalism. He was the editor of many reputed newspapers and magazines like The Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. Singh was more known for his writing and Indian literature is lucky to have received works like ‘Train to Pakistan’ (1956), ‘Delhi: A Novel’ (1990), ‘The Company of Women’ (1999), ‘Truth, Love and a Little Malice’ (2002), ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous’ (2013), etc. from his side. 

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