Short Answer Questions
QUESTION.1: What does Khushwant Singh describe in ‘The Portrait Of A Lady’ ?
Answer: In ‘The Portrait Of A Lady’, Khushwant Singh draws a pen picture of his beloved grandmother. He describes the relationship he enjoyed with her and the changes that occurred in their bond with time, as the years passed.
QUESTION.2: How could the grandmother be ‘beautiful’ without being pretty ?
Answer: Grandmother was never a physically attractive women but she reflected a divine beauty from within. She was a symbol of peace, serenity and contentment. Her novel virtues gave her a spiritual beauty.
QUESTION.3: What was the turning point of their friendship ?
Answer: The narrator’s parents sent for them and they shifted to the city. It was the turning point in their friendship. Grandmother could not accompany him to the English or help him in his studies. She saw less of him and the distance grew.
QUESTION.4: What opinion did the grandmother form of the English school in the city ?
Answer: The grandmother did not like the English school in the city. She was sad that they did not teach anything about God and the scriptures. Nor was she interested in science. She hated music lessons given in the school.
QUESTION.5: How were the grandmother and the narrator good and intimate friends in the village ?
Answer: Grandmother woke her grandson up every morning and got him ready for school. She gave him breakfast, got him his slate, ink-pot and accompanied him to school. He was entirely dependent on her.
QUESTION.6: Why did the grandmother hate music ?
Answer: Grandmother considered that music was indecent and was meant for harlots and beggars. It was not meant for gentle folk or school children from respectable families.
QUESTION.7: How did the sparrows mourn the death of grandmother ?
Answer: The sparrows gathered in thousands around grandmother’s dead body. They did not chirrup or touch the crumbs of bread thrown to them. They seemed to mourn her death in silence and flew away when her body was taken away for cremation.
QUESTION.8: How did the grandmother celebrate the homecoming of her grandson ?
Answer: Grandmother was overjoyed at the homecoming of her grandson. She collected the women of neighbourhood and was in the mood of celebration. She beat the drum and sang for hours about the homecoming of warriors. She even forgot to pray.
QUESTION.9: Why did the grandmother stop talking before her death ?
Answer: The old lady was taken ill. She had a mild fever. The doctor told her that she would be alright soon. But the grandmother declared that her end was near. She forgot to pray the last evening. She was not going to waste anymore time talking to them.
QUESTION.1: Describe in brief the pen picture of the narrator’s grandmother highlighting her noble qualities.
Answer: Khushwant Singh presents his grandmother as a symbol of love, care and affection. She was a highly religious and conservative lady but, a woman of generosity and nobility. she was like everybody’s grandmother, loving her grandson immensely and caring for him with deep love and concern. She was not physically attractive. She was old, fat and short with a stoop and hobbled about the house with her hand supporting waist, reciting her prayers and telling her beads. In the village, she was actively involved in her grandson’s life but when they shifted to the city, the bond of friendship was broken. Yet, she presented she presented a picture of peace and contentment always.
Her love for animals was reflected in the way she fed the dogs and sparrows. She did not like the English school but, never interfered. She accepted every decision of her grandson regarding his life with a calm and composed manner. Even in death, she achieved peace and contentment.
QUESTION.2: Describe the intimate relationship of grandmother with the sparrows. How did the sparrows mourn her death ?
Answer: Grandmother had love and compassion for animals. In the village, she fed the street dogs with bits of chapattis. In the city, she took to feeding the sparrows. She would sit in the verandah in the afternoons and break the bread into small crumbs. She would throw these crumbs to the hundreds of sparrows that gathered around her. They would perch themselves on her legs, shoulders and even on her head and feel the air with their noisy chirruping. It was the happiest half-hour of the day for her.
On the death of grandmother, the sparrows paid a silent tribute to her. Thousands gathered around her dead body. They did not chirrup or accept the bread crumbs given by mother. They mourned her death in silence and flew away after her body was taken away for cremation.
QUESTION.3: Describe the friendship between Khushwant Singh and his grandmother.
Answer: Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was closely involved in bringing him up when the author lived with her in the village during his early life. She used to wake him up early in the morning. While bathing and dressing him, she sang her prayers, she hoped that the young boy would learn it by heart. She then gave him breakfast – a stale chapatti with butter and sugar. Then they would go together to the temple and school. While the author learnt his lesson, the grandmother would holy books. They returned home together.
A turning point came in their friendship when his parents called them to city. Although they shared a room, she could not help him much. She hated music, science and western education. The common link of their friendship was gradually snapped.
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