Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Portrait of a Lady;NCERT Solutions and Summary for Class 11

                       The Portrait of a Lady 
                                                      -Khushwant Singh
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"The Portrait of a Lady" by Khushwant Singh is a brief overview of his relationship with his paternal grandmother with whom he had spent a lot of time in his childhood.

The author describes the physical features of his grandmother stating how he had been always told that her grandmother was pretty and young.But seeing her old-self ,this thought had always been revoltingfor him.His granny had always been short, stout as well as slightly bent.She had wrinkles on her face everywhere.Her silvery-white hair spread all over her pale face.But even after all this,the author finds her beautiful and charming.

'My grandmother and I were good friends.'The narrator was left in care of his grandmother when his parents want away to the city and he was constantly together.Their bonding became stronger with every passing day.She used to help the narrator in his daily chores as well as making him ready for school.She also accompanied the narrator to his school as the temple was just near the school.

When their parents had comfortably settled in the city,they sent for both of them.This was a turning-point in their friendship.Now, the narrator went to an English-medium school and their attachment began to fade gradually.The new curriculum meant his granny would no longer help him with his lessons and this made her unhappy.She didn't believe in the things that was taught in those schools and be vehemently opposed them.

As the author grew older and went to a university for further studies,the common link between him and his grandmother was completely snapped.From then,most of the old woman's time was spent in uttering prayers,counting beads and spinning her wheel.
She kept to herself from then on.After that,the narrator left for abroad to pursue higher education for 5 years.While leaving,the old lady kissed the narrator's forehead.The narrator was busy thinking that this might be the last sign of physical contact between them.

The old lady, fortunately lived for another 5 long years,and the narrator returned.The old lady seemed as if she never aged.She seemed as if nothing had changed.She was still devoted to her prayers and continued to recite them.In the evening,she called all the women of the neighbourhood and sang for hours reciting the homecoming of warriors.She was doing all this to show her happiness for the narrator had came home after a long time finishing his studies.It was after a long time that his grandmother was not praying during her past time.

The next morning she was taken ill.It was only a mild fever but the old lady insisted that it was her end.She was adamant and asserted that she wouldn't waste any more talking to her family.She wanted to spend her last time in some meaningful work.She left her mortal body while counting her rosary beads.She was cremated with all the rituals.She had died a peaceful death and was cremated with all the religious rituals followed.She had also been feeding birds in their courtyard.Birds in large flocks came to see her.From that day onwards,no birds came there.

Difficult Words:
1) Mantelpiece:A structure of wood,marble or stone above or around a fireplace.
2)Hobbled:Walk in an awkward manner because of pain.
3)Rosary:A string of prayer beads.
4)Puckered:Tightly gather or contract into wrinkles or small folds.
5)Stoop:To bend or lean down.
6)Lewd:Shabby and Vulgar.
7)Harlots:A prostitute.
8)Beggars:A person who begs to sustain his life.
9)Seclusion:The state of being private and away from other people.
10)Resignation:The acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable.
11)Veritable:Used for emphasis.
12)Bedlam:A scene of uproar and confusion.
13)Frivolous:Not having any serious purpose or value.
14)Rebukes:An expression of sharp disapproval or criticism.
15)Thump:A light smack.
16)Sagging: Sinking or bulging downwards under weight and pressure.
17)Dilapidated:In a state of ruin or regret.
18)Overstraining: Subjected to excessive strain.
19)Pallor:An unhealthy pale appearance.
20)Shroud:A piece of cloth to envelope a dead person for burial.

About Author:
Khushwant Singh is a prominent Indian English writer and journalist.His columns are widely read and carried by several Indian newspapers.He is well-known in Indian literary circles as one of the finest historians and novelists,a forthright political commentator as well as a notable critic of social life.

NCERT Questions:
A) Understanding the Text

1)The 3 phases of the author's relationship with his grandmother before leaving for abroad are:

Childhood;When he lived at the village along with his granny.
Boyhood;When they moved to the city and he was no longer helped by his granny in his studies.
Early Youth;When he went to the University and was given a room of his own.Here,their common link of friendship was snapped.

2)The narrator's grandmother was very disturbed when he went to the school in the city.The main reasons were--- She hated Western philosophies and learning as she was a conservatist,she was worried that there will be no teaching about God and the holy scriptures.She was completely dismayed when she heard that her grandchild was learning music in the school as she thought it to be associated with the lower classes in our society.

3)The old woman's life completely changed when the narrator grew up.She spent her days doing various casual activities.She lived in her room alone and recited prayers all day.She sat at her spinning wheel.In the afternoon,she also used to feed sparrows.

4)The old lady behaved in a strange way before her death.She didn't waste any time talking to her family members.Rather,she recited her prayers and counted the beads of her rosary.She ignored everyone's protests and lay peacefully in her bed.

5)The narrator's grandmother used to feed sparrows in the courtyard of her city's house.After her unfortunate demise,the birds were really disturbed and upset.A large no. of sparrows circled around her dead body.Even when the narrator's mother gave her some bread crumbs,they took no notice of it and flew away.

B) Talking about the text

1)The old woman had always been a religious person and was devoted towards God.Her day started and ended with prayers and other activities related to religion.In the morning,she recited her prayers and went to the temple.She would never forget to count her rosary beads and spent most of her time doing all these.She was an ardent devotee of God.Even when she was on her deathbed,she insisted on reciting her prayers rather than talking to her family.

2)The narrator's relationship with his grandmother was a dynamic one as it changed over time.When they both lived in their village,they were good friends.She would prepare him for school and accompany him to school.But when they moved to the city,their relationship was somewhat faded and the old lady mostly kept to herself.As the author grew up and went to a university,the common link of friendship was snapped.However,their feelings for each other never changed.The old woman always loved him.

3)Yes,I agree that the author's grandmother was a person strong in character.She was a strong woman with strong beliefs.She was not formally educated but she was serious about Khushwant's studies.She would never forget to check what was taught in the school everyday.
However,one day when the narrator came home and proclaimed he was given music lessons,the old woman was very disturbed.According to her,she thought it was not meant for gentle folk.She rarely talked to him after that and mostly kept to herself.She was also a religious person.She was an ardent devotee of God and was even thinking about prayer and God on her deathbed.These small glimpses of her character shows how she was a person strong in character.

4)Yes,I have known my grandfather who loved his family deeply and had decided to bring change in the society by the means of politics.He was deeply involved in bringing about development in our village.He remained the Sarpanch of our village for around 50 long years.He had deep compassion for those lower rungs of our society who were deprived of their rights and privileges.Yes,I have always repented for his death and this a great personal loss for me.

C) Thinking about language

1)I think the author and his grandmother used Punjabi language as the means to communicate among themselves.

2)I mostly use a colloquial form of a language to converse in my family.It is 'Odia' in my case.

3)In my native language,I would say 'a dilapidated drum' as 'Gotiye Puruna Dhola'

4)'Ramji ki Nikli Sawari' is a song by Mohammad Rafi which revolves around the idea of 'Homecoming'.

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