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. Describe the childhood days spent in the village by the author with his grandmother. (6marks) (2018)
-> 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 chapati with butter and sugar. Then they would go together to the temple school. While the author learnt his lesson, the grandmother would read holy books. They returned home together. A turning point came in their friendship when his parents called them to the 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.
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.