Q. How did the sparrows react to the death of the author’s grandmother? (3marks) (2015/2016/2019)
-> The grandmother’s corpse was being laid on the ground and covered with a red shroud. It turned to evening when she was taken for cremation. At that time, the usual time for the birds, the sparrows came there but were extremely quiet and patient; they did not make any sound of chirping. When they were given pieces of bread, they did not even look at them. After their old friend was taken away, they too silently flew away. They were grieved immensely.
Q. What the difference between village school education and urban school education is as brought out in the lesson ‘The Portrait of a Lady’? (3marks) (2015)
-> In the village school the priest taught the alphabet and Morning Prayer. There were lessons on scriptures and prayers were recited in chorus near the temple. But in the urban school there were lessons in science and maths. There were no lessons about God and scriptures. Moreover, music lessons were imparted in urban school.
Q. Would you agree that the author’s grandmother was a person strong in character? If yes, give instances that show this. (2marks) (2018)
-> Yes the grandmother was a strong character. First, she was physically strong in spite of her old age, second she never sat idle, she spun the wheel, recited prayers, fed the birds and maybe did other things of her own. In the village she did everything for the author and took perfect care of him. Third, she was mentally strong, she never showed too much emotion or weakness; one reason for this was her faith in God. Again she was able to hold back her sadness when the author was going abroad, and even received him at the railway station after five years. She was duty bound and never missed her regular activities of life. She passed on this enthuse and zeal to others also. Finally, we got to know from the evening prior to her death, that she could enjoy it so well.
Q. Cite reasons to validate whether the distancing relationship between the author and his grandmother was deliberate or beyond their control. (6marks) (2015/2017)
-> In the village the grandmother was the author’s constant friend. She used to wake him up and get ready for school. She accompanied him to his school and brought him back along with her. Besides taking every care of her, she helped him with his studies. But in the city he went to an English School and gradually his topics of conversation grew difficult, he began talking about law of gravity, Archimedes, the round shape of the earth etc. So, she could no longer help him in the studies and felt sad. She felt unhappy for the absence of religious teaching in that school. Most unpleasant for her was the music lessons which she hated. She almost stopped talking to him. But their feelings for each other never changed, the grandmother loved him equally and he too had the same regards for her.
Q. Give a description of the author’s grandmother after your reading of “The Portrait of a Lady”. (6marks) (2019)
-> Khuswant Singh’s grandmother is depicted by him as a very sweet old woman who seems to be in the same stage forever. Since he had seen her she was old right from his childhood. He says it becomes hard to believe when people say she had been once pretty and young.
The grandmother was very religious, she used to keep praying throughout the day, and most of the time silently within herself, and her rosary also shows her to be a devotee of God. She was very kind, in the village she used to feed the street dogs every day, even in the city she continued her kindness, and every afternoon she fed the sparrows. She was an active and confident woman. She kept spinning the wheel when free. She was mentally very strong because she was capable of controlling her emotions.
The grandmother was great in the sense that she well-adapted to all the changes and demands of a modern world. Though old, she never stuck to her old traditions and ways. When the author started to change his course of studies in the city school, she adjusted herself after initial disapproval. Later when he was to go abroad, she didn’t show her sadness and herself saw him off in the railway station.
Thus, the grandmother was a symbol of a perfect ideal because she was a very good human being-simple yet smart, kind, cheerful, religious, active and understanding. She is a lesson of life in herself.