Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lost Spring - Stories of Stolen Childhood by Anees Jung - Flamingo Class XII


  1. What is Saheb looking for in garbage dumps? Where is he and where has he come from?


    Saheb is a ragpicker and he is looking for some useful things in the garbage dumps that can be sold in the market. Sometimes he also finds coins and ten rupee notes. This way he earns his livelihood. He and his parents live in Seemapuri, a slum area on the outskirts of New Delhi. They have come from Bangladesh as refugees during the 1971 war.
  2. What explanations does the author offer for the children not wearing footwear?

    The author comes across many shoeless rag-picker children in her neighbourhood. According to her, one explanation of this habit of remaining barefoot is that it is a tradition among the poor children of this country. However, the author quickly mentions that calling it a tradition could be just a means of justification of the utter destitution.
  3. Is Saheb happy working at the tea-stall? Explain.

    No, Saheb is not happy working at the tea-stall. He is paid 800 rupees and all his meals but he has lost his freedom. His face has lost the carefree look. The steel canister seems heavier than his plastic bag. He is no longer his own master. He is as a servant at the tea-stall.
  4. What makes the city of Firozabad famous?

    Firozabad is famous for its glass blowing industry. Bangles of Firozabad are world famous.
  5. Mention the hazards of working in the glass bangles industry.

    The bangle makers face many problems in the glass industry. They have to work in the dingy cells without air and light , in the high temperature of the furnace .The dust from polishing the bangles is injurious to eyes. They often lose their eyesight before they become adults. Their eyes are more adjusted to the dark than to the light outside.
  6. How is Mukesh’s attitude to his situation different from that of his family?

    Mukesh belongs to a poor family of bangle-makers. But his attitude is very different from his family. He wants to break the family tradition of bangle making. He is daring and determined. He has hopes and dreams. Instead of believing in his "KARAM", he wants to be a motor mechanic.


  1. What could be some of the reasons for the migration of people from villages to cities?

    There are many factors that cause migration of people from villages to cities. Some villagers voluntarily move to the cities in search for jobs and better civic and health facilities, etc. Others are forced to migrate when natural disasters like flood, storm, drought, famine, etc. destroy their houses and properties. History has records of large scale migrations caused by wars. Also, many villagers who are better off than others manage to send their children to study in the cities. 
    In the lesson ‘Lost Spring’, Saheb and his family migrates to Seemapuri from Dhaka after their houses were destroyed in the storms.
  2. Would you agree that promises made to poor children are rarely kept? Why do you think this happens in the incidents narrated in the text?

    Yes, the promises made to poor children are rarely kept. Often, they are not taken seriously or have been made on the pretext of retaining a child’s fancy for something. This keeps the child hoping for a better possibility till he/she realises the truth. It is difficult for people to shatter the children’s dreams; while it is also painful to see these children thrive of false hopes given to them.

    Once, while interacting with Saheb, the narrator ends up encouraging him to study and jokingly talks about opening a school herself. At that time she fails to realise that unknowingly she has sown a seed of hope in Saheb’s heart. She becomes conscious of her mistake when, after a few days, Saheb approaches her, enquiring about her school. Her hollow promise leaves her embarrassed.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka - Chapter 04 - Woven Words - Elective English - Class XI NCERT

Poem Text

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. ‘Madam,’ I warned,
‘I hate a wasted journey—I am African.’
Silence. Silenced transmission of
Pressurised good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was, foully.
‘HOW DARK ?’... I had not misheard... ‘ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK ?’ Button B. Button A. Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfounded to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis—
‘ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?’ Revelation came.
‘You mean—like plain or milk chocolate?’
Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,
I chose. ‘West African sepia’—and as afterthought,
“down in my passport.” Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness changed her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. ‘WHAT’S THAT?’ conceding
‘DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.’ ‘Like brunette.’
‘THAT’S DARK, ISN’T IT?’ ‘Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blonde. Friction, caused—
Foolishly madam—by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black—One moment madam!’—sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears—‘Madam,’ I pleaded, ‘wouldn’t you rather
See for yourself ?’


Word Meaning

Notice these expressions in the poem and guess their meaning from the context:

rancid breathsquelching tar
spectroscopic flight of fancy
rearing on the thunderclapbrunette
peroxide blondeclinical assent
raven black

  • rancid breath: Rancid means a matter which is offensive or disagreeable. Thus, the voice in which the lady speaks to the poet is under an immensely nasty or insulting breath.
  • squelching tar: The verb squelch means to strike or press with crushing force. Thus, the expression used here is that of a huge amount of compressed tar, the dark coloured product obtained after distillation of coal or wood, expressing the complexion of the poet. 
  • spectroscopic flight of fancy: The word spectroscopy originated from the concept of dispersion of visible light into seven different colours. Thus, the word explains the dispersed flow of thoughts of the lady after talking to the erudite poet. Her fancies of a “dark” man gained wings and attained new levels of interpretations when she had to submit to the fact that she knew lesser than the person on the other side of the line.
  • rearing on the thunderclap: A thunderclap refers to something resembling the sudden occurrence of a thunder, as in loudness or unexpectedness. 
  • brunette: Brunette here refers to dark hair and, often, dark eyes and dark or olive skin.
  • peroxide blonde: This expression refers to a harsh or unnaturally bleached palm and sole of feet rather than a natural fair complexion. Peroxide is a chemical which is used as a bleaching agent. 
  • clinical assent: The voice of the lady in the poem seemed clinical while assenting to the poet's revelation. It refers to the concerned voice based on a vivid and actual observation of the poet, giving in to the situation after a lot of thought and inspection.
  • raven black: Here, raven black is a metaphorical expression to describe the intensity of the colour black. Raven is supposedly a very large, dark complexioned bird of the crow family. This metaphor is usually used to describe dark-skinned people. 


  1. State the central issue in the poem.

    The central issue dwells around the ironical fact that when a person is in search of shelter, the questions being asked are based on his skin colour and not the usual queries exchanged like that of the rent, the amenities provided and other basic requirements in an apartment. The landlady is shown to have possessed a very shallow racist behaviour in the poem and ironically, the poet is shown to be sorry for something which he was born with. Discrepancies between what appears to be and what really is create a sense of verbal irony that helps the poem display the ridiculousness of racism.
  2. There are intervals of silence in the interaction between the landlady and the prospective tenant. What are the reasons for this?

    There are intervals of silence in the interaction between the landlady and the prospective tenant. The main reason behind this was the fact that the landlady felt inferior in the face of the poet and realised her lack of knowledge as compared to the erudite intellect of the poet. The sudden silences are prominent in the poem emphasizing the impact of the African’s race being revealed to the landlady. The ignorance of the landlady is also portrayed with humour on a very subtle level.
  3. How is colour highlighted in the poem and why? List all the words in the poem that suggest colour.

    The various colours highlighted in the poem exemplify the difference between the landlady and the poet, based on the skin-colour of both. The use of the colour red is magnified to explain the various things which are red in colour like the telephone booth, the double-tiered bus and the pillar-box. It explains the colour of the dark-skinned poet who was not fair-complexioned like the landlady on the other side of the line. The expression 'gold-rolled' shows the elite class to which the 'fair-skinned' people are said to belong.

    Various colours which are used in the poem are: Red, Black, Gold, milk chocolate, brunette and blonde.
  4. Which are the lines in the poem that impressed you the most and why?

    'West African Sepia' is the phrase which impressed me the most. This phrase seems to be a befitting reply to the ignorant white woman. This phrase in the poem projects humour on a very subtle level where the poet, when asked again and again, about his color, turns to reply like a person with a high level of intellect. Through these words Soyinka tries to emphasise on the fact that it is wrong to judge a person's level of wisdom and knowledge based on his color.
  5. You know what ‘hide-and-seek’ is. What would ‘hide-and-speak’ mean?

    The expression 'hide-and-speak' here expresses the taboo of the dark-skinned people being inferior to those who claim themselves to be 'fair-skinned' and thus, more learned, sophisticated, civilised and superior.
  6. Certain words in the poem are in capital letters — why?

    Certain words in the poem which are in capital letters are: “HOW DARK?', 'ARE YOU LIGHT?', 'OR VERY DARK?', ' OR VERY LIGHT?'
    These words exemplify the purpose of the poem which is to showcase the racist mentality of the fair-skinned. When a landlady talks to a tenant, the only matter of concern should be whether the person is suitable for staying with respect to his behaviour, financial position, etc. and not on his skin colour. These capital letters magnify the fact that it is more important for the landlady to know how dark-skinned the person on the other side of the phone is, rather than how erudite or intellectual or well-behaved he might be.
  7. Why do you think that the poet has chosen the title ‘Telephone Conversation’? If you were to suggest another title for the poem, what would it be?

    'Different- are We?' could be another suggestion for the title of the poem.
    However, the poet has chosen a very appropriate title for the poem - 'Telephonic Conversation'. It refers very aptly to the shallow racism being projected by the conversation between the landlady who is 'white' and the poet who is 'dark'. The telephone symbolises the gap between the two ends of the line, the impossibility for both the ends to meet.
  8. The power of poetry lies in suggestion and understatement. Discuss this with reference to the poem.

    Understatement means to state or represent less strongly or strikingly than the facts would bear out. Thus, it is a very well known fact that it is very understating to decide one's status or level of knowledge based on his/her color. The play of words between the landlady and the poet clearly proves that a man's color and region has nothing to do with the levels of education he has attained and the power of wisdom he possesses. The questions posed by the landlady became a mockery at her own level of intellect. Thus, the poem very strongly suggests that the question of civilisation does not rest on own's color. Soyinka humorously uses sarcasm as he says 'Shamed/By ill mannered silence" when it is obvious that is the woman who is the ill mannered of the two.

Coming by Philip Larkin Class XI Elective English - Woven Words Ch-03

by Philip Larkin

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon—
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy. 


  1. What does the bird in the poem announce? How is this related to the title, ‘Coming’?

    The poem 'Coming' by Philip Larkin is a celebration of the advent of the spring. To express the happiness the poet sets the plot of house fronts bathed in chilly and yellow light. Amidst all this, a thrush sings a welcoming song. It seems the whole nature is dancing with joy at the arrival of the new season. The thrush, sitting in a garden shrub, laurel”, in the deep bare garden, is humming repeatedly in” its fresh-peeled voice “that” it will be spring soon”. This joyful singing of the thrush imparts an “astonishing” effect on the brickwork of the houses. The poet feels happy as well to see the beauty that nature encompasses. In fact it is through the voice of the thrush that the poet has tried to express that how overwhelmed he is on the “coming” of the spring.
  2. Why is the speaker’s childhood described as ‘a forgotten boredom’?

    The autobiographical element makes a reader curious to know about Larkin's childhood. His parents were very loving and affectionate. However, he recalls his childhood as a dejected one. He talks of himself in depreciating terms. It appears that the poet had a very poor concept of himself. It is also known that Philip suffered slight stammer in childhood that endured for the rest of his life, though reduced. If the reader pays attention, argues John Woley, it is not difficult to note the contradiction in the term “forgotten boredom”. If, like Larkin says, he has forgotten his childhood, the question is, how can he comment so confidently that it was a bored one? However, it may be concluded that Larkin's childhood did not have any memories that he was fond of.He even remarked once that his biography could begin when he was 21, which implies that nothing spectacular happened before that. Thus, Philip Larkin recalls his childhood as “a forgotten boredom”.
  3. What causes the element of surprise when the child comes on the scene of ‘adult reconciling’?

    As Larkin is absorbed in the resonant humming of the thrush, he transcends present to his boring childhood, which he feels is best forgotten. The poet is transformed into a child. He feels happy like a child who feels happy just by watching elders reconciling with each other. The child comprehends nothing yet smiles just because the adults are happy. This might appear surprising however, if one may look more closely, the scene reflects the innocence of a child. Probably the poet has tried to make a point that our happiness lies in other's happiness. The whole thought makes Larkin happy and he wonders about the mystiques of universe and human life.
  4. What two things are compared in the poem?

    It is difficult to judge whether the poet is trying to compare or is drawing a relation. Philip Larkin, in his poem Coming, celebrates the advent of the new season, spring, with the “fresh-peeled voice” of the thrush. He creates the imagery of the spring peeled out of the winter. The old season giving birth to the new season. The nature had been sleeping in the cold and gloomy winter and now the freshness of the new season sparked a new life in it. The birds, houses, gardens, the whole nature has joined the party to welcome the spring. Seeing this transformation the poet is so happy that he himself transcends into childhood.

    Here Larkin highlights the difference between innocence and experience. He presents an innocent watching the adults, laughing and reconciling, probably after a fight or reconciling with the life. How he begins to feel happy though he understands nothing. This is the innocence of the child that his happiness lies in others happiness, which is juxtaposed with the experienced adults, who engage themselves in trivial issues creating troubles for themselves and others.

    The poet has tried to bring out the difference between two seasons and stages of human life. This mystique is beyond Larkin's comprehension and he is only left wondering about it all.
  5. How do you respond to these lines?
    Light, chill and yellow,
    Bathes the serene
    Foreheads of houses

    The poem Coming by Philip Larkin is dedicated to the beauty the spring brings along with it. It is a celebration of humanity. In the beginning, the poet creates a picturesque in the mind of a reader. Larkin creates a beautiful evening scenery. The longer evenings of the spring are jeweled by the forehead of calm houses' roof tops, washed down by the chilly and yellow light of the setting sun. The reader is imparted with beautiful imagery of the whole environment sitting serenely and enjoying the sun going down as the spring beckons. They all dance to the humming of the thrush in the deep garden. It feels like the whole nature has come alive in the lovely evening and join the party to welcome the coming of the spring.
  6. Comment on the use of the phrase ‘fresh-peeled voice’.

    Larkin uses the “fresh-peeled voice” of the thrush as an adjective to beautify the evening setting of the new season, the spring. The phrase describes the freshness and sharpness of the thrush's humming. This freshness is symbolic of the freshness that has dissolved in the air with the advent of the new season that the poet celebrates. The thrush sings, sitting in a “laurel-surrounded in the deep bare garden”. It hums repeatedly that “it will be spring soon”. Its singing marks an “astonishing” effect on the brickwork of the houses. The song of the thrush also acts a catalyst in the transcending of Philip to his childhood flashing the “forgotten-boredom” right in front of his eyes. He is transformed into a child. The poet probably tries to draw a parallelism between the freshness of the bird's song and the innocence of the child. The “fresh-peeled voice” is symbolic of the spring succeeding the winter. The transformation of the season. It appears as the winter gave birth to the spring and now that it is coming, the whole universe and humanity dance to the tune of thrush to join in the celebration.