Chapter 1 The Portrait of a Lady

The author Khushwant singh talks about his grandmother. He portraits his grandmother and says that his grandmother has lots of wrinkles on her face as she is very old and after seeing this he don’t believes that in earlier times his grandmother was very pretty and beautiful because his grandmother is old and obese now and her back is slightly tilt down due to old age.

In the First phase, when the narrator was a small boy, he used to live in village with his grandmother as his parents were living in the city. Author and his grandmother had a great bonding of friendship. She used to make him wake up in the morning and get him ready for school and prepares breakfast and she used to pack his lunch, wooden slate and yellow chalk in a bundle. She used to accompany him to school and while he do his studies in school, she used to spend her time in temple by praying and telling her beads. And after returning from school they used to feed chapattis to street dogs.

In the second phase, author’s parents got settled in the city and author and his grandmother also shifted in the city. They used to share the same room but some distances had come between their relationships because author started going to school in a motor bus and his grandmother could no longer accompany him to his school, and could not feed dogs like she used to do in village but now she spend her time by spinning wheel, reciting prayers and telling her beads.

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Exercise 1 ( Page No. : 6 )

  • Q1 The three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother before he left the country to study abroad.

    The first phase begins in their village. The grandmother used to wake him up in the morning and takes care of all the needs of the author. She used to get him ready for the school and prepares breakfast for him and she takes him to the school daily where she sit in a temple near to the school and while returning home they used to feed chapattis to the village dogs.

    The second phase begins when they shifted to city where a distance in their relationship comes between them as the author used to go to his school by motor bus and started learning music which was not at all okay in the perspective of his grandmother as she likes only spirituals songs.

    The third phase is quiet painful for both author and his grandmother as the author went to abroad for further studies and the common link of their relationship was snapped and his grandmother used to stay in his room, feeding sparrows, chanting spirituals and praying with beads. She was totally alone at that time and in the end she died.

    Q2 Three reasons why the author’s grandmother was disturbed when he started going to the city school.

    (i) The grandmother could no longer accompany his grandson to school.
    (ii) She didn’t like western cultures and learning which was being taught in the city school.
    (iii) Music was being taught to author in the city school which she didn’t like.

    Q3 Three ways in which the author’s grandmother spent her days after he grew up.

    When the author grew up she used to do following things to spend her day:
    (i) by sitting on her spinning wheel and reciting prayers.
    (ii) by being alone in her room accepting her loneliness.
    (iii) In afternoon she used to feed bread crumbles to sparrows.

    Q4 The odd way in which the author’s grandmother behaved just before she died.

    The grandmother started living alone in her room without talking to her family members. She was suffering from fever but she asked to leave her alone as she thinks it is her end now and told that she has omitted to pray in her last phase so she was not going to waste her time talking to them. She lay on bed, started praying in inaudible voice and telling her beads.

    Q5 The way in which the sparrows expressed their sorrow when the author’s grandmother died.

    When the grandmother died, thousands of sparrows came and gathered around her body. And author’s mother put some bread crumbles to feed them as the grandmother used to do but none of the sparrows ate a piece of crumbs. All the sparrows were quiet.

Exercise 2 ( Page No. : 7 )

  • Q1 The author’s grandmother was a religious person. What are the different ways in which we come to know this?

    All the time the grandmother used to telling the beads of her rosary and praying. She used to pray in inaudible voice. She used to do her morning prayer in ‘ a monotonous sing-song ’.While the author was studying in school then she used to sit in the temple and read scriptures.When author started studying in the city school she got to know that no spirituals was being taught in his school and western music was being taught in his school so she was unhappy about that. And in the last phase of her life she stopped talking to her family and started praying in inaudible voice and telling the beads.

    Q2 Describe the changing relationship between the author and his grandmother. Did their feelings for each other change?

    Due to some phases and transformation, their relationship got affected but it didn’t change their feeling for each other. When they were in village they used to be friends and grandmother used to accompany him to the school. Then a turning point existed between them when they shifted to city. She was not able to accompany him to the school and not able to help him in studies. She didn’t like the music which he was being taught in his school. But besides this they were sharing the same room and author used tell her about what he did in school. And later when author was going to abroad for further studies, so she accompanied him to railway station and she expressed her feelings and love by kissing him on his forehead and then the common link of their relationship got snapped as he knew that maybe it can be the last meeting with her grandmother. And when he returned back she came to pick him. Therefore their feelings for each other didn’t change but some distance existed between them.

    Q3 Would you agree that the author’s grandmother was a person strong in character? If yes, give instances that show this.

    Yes, author’s grandmother was a strong character. She used to spend her old age and time by devoting herself completely towards god and by telling her beads. She was deeply religious. When they shifted to city she used to feed sparrows as there were no street dogs like were in her village. And when author was going abroad she didn’t show much emotions, she just kissed him on his forehead and she knew that maybe it could be the last meeting to his grandson but she didn’t show this emotions and continued to be devoted towards the god and telling her beads. Therefore we can say that the grandmother was a person strong in character.

    Q4 Have you known someone like the author’s grandmother? Do you feel the same sense of loss with regard to someone whom you have loved and lost?

    Yes, I experienced the same type love and emotions towards my grandmother but unfortunately she is no more between us.

Exercise 3 ( Page No. : 7 )