Thinking about the Text
I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each.
1. Where was Abdul Kalam’s house?
2. What do you think Dinamani is the name of? Give a reason for your answer.
3. Who were Abdul Kalam’s school friends? What did they later become?
4. How did Abdul Kalam earn his first wages?
5. Had he earned any money before that? In what way?
1. On the Mosque Street in Rameshwaram.
2. 'Dinamani' is the name of a newspaper. Kalam used to look at its headlines to know about the war.
3. Abdul Kalam's school friends were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Ramanadha took over the priesthood of the Rameswaram temple from his father. Aravindan went into the business of arranging transport for visiting pilgrims. Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railways.
4. Kalam's cousin was a newsagent. Those were the days of war. The train halt at Rameswaram was suspended. Bundles of newspapers were thrown on the road from the running train. Kalam helped his cousin to collect these bundles. He was given some money for it. Thus Kalam earned his first wages.
5. The second World War started in 1939. The demand for tamarind seeds increased suddenly. Abdul Kalam would collect the seeds and sell them to a provision shop. Thus he would earn one anna daily.
II. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).
1. How does the author describe: (i) his father, (ii) his mother, (iii) himself?
2. What characteristics does he say he inherited from his parents?
i) Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen was not a wealthy or educated person. However, he was an honest and generous man, who possessed great innate wisdom. He was self-disciplined and avoided all inessential luxuries.
(ii) Kalam’s mother, Ashiamma was an ideal wife. She believed in goodness and profound kindness, and fed many people everyday.
(iii) The author describes himself as a short boy with undistinguished looks, who had a secure childhood. He is an honest and self-disciplined person, who believes in goodness and deep kindness.
2. Kalam says that he inherited honesty and self-discipline from his father. From his mother, he inherited a faith in goodness and deep kindness.
III. Discuss these questions in class with your teacher and then write down your answers in two or three paragraphs each.
1. “On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups,” says the author.
(i) Which social groups does he mention? Were these groups easily identifiable (for example, by the way they dressed)?
(ii) Were they aware only of their differences or did they also naturally share friendships and experiences? (Think of the bedtime stories in Kalam’s house; of who his friends were; and of what used to take place in the pond near his house.)
(iii) The author speaks both of people who were very aware of the differences among them and those who tried to bridge these differences. Can you identify such people in the text?
(iv) Narrate two incidents that show how differences can be created, and also how they can be resolved. How can people change their attitudes?
(i) He mentions two social groups of Rameshwaram – orthodox Brahmins and Muslims. Yes, these groups were easily identifiable. For example, by the way they dressed; Kalam wore a cap which marked him as a Muslim. Ramanadha Sastry wore a seared thread which marked him a Hindu.
(ii) No, they were not only aware of their differences but also they naturally shared friendships and experiences. For example, Kalam had three good friends who were all Brahmins. His mother used to tell him bedtime stories from the Ramayana. During the annual wedding ceremony of Rama and Sita, their family used to arrange boats for carrying the idols of Rama. All this shows that the two communities lived together in love and peace.
(iii) The people who were very aware of the differences among them, were the young teacher who joined the Rameshwaram elementary school and came to teach Kalam’s class, the fifth standard; and his science teacher’s conservative wife who refused to serve Kalam in her ritually pull kitchen. Those who tried to bridge these differences were Kalam’s science teacher Sivasubramania Iyer who invited, served and dined with him to break social barriers so that people could mingle easily; and Lakshmana Sastry who conveyed the strong sense of conviction to the new young teacher to reform him.
(iv) The author narrates two incidents from his school days. The first incident to show that how differences can be created is that when the new young teacher had joined Kalam's school. He knew from Kalam's cap that he was a Muslim. He saw him sitting in the front row with a Brahmin boy. He at once asked Kalam to go and sit on the back bench. His friend Ramanadha Sastry was heartbreaken. They informed their respective parents Lakshmana Sastry summoned the teacher and conveyed the strong sense of conviction which ultimately reformed him.
The other incident shows that how differences can be resolved. Kalam's science teacher was quite the opposite. He was against all social barriers. He wanted to break them. His wife was a conservative lady. One day the teacher invited Kalam for a meal at his house. His wife refused to serve Kalam in her kitchen. The teacher did not get angry. He served Kalam with his own hands. The next time Kalam noticed a great change in the teacher's wife. She took Kalam inside her kitchen. She served him there with her own hands.
These two incidents show how differences can be created and how they can be resolved. By following the way of Kalam's science teacher, people can change their attitude. We are all the children of the same God. We all eat and drink in the same manner.
2. (i) Why did Abdul Kalam want to leave Rameswaram?
(ii) What did his father say to this?
(iii) What do you think his words mean? Why do you think he spoke those words?
(i) Kalam wanted to leave Rameswaram for further studies. He wanted to study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram.
(ii) Kalam's father was very happy at this. He at once gave his consent. He knew that it would help Kalam to grow. Kalam's mother was a little hesitant. But the father said to her, "Your children are not your children. They come through you but not from you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts." The father believed that a child must have his own independent thoughts. He should not copy others blindly.
(iii) The father's words are full of deep wisdom. The young one of a bird can never learn to fly until and unless it leaves its nest. The father wanted his son not to be confined to his own home. He wanted him to belong to the entire humanity.
Thinking about Language
I. Find the sentences in the text where these words occur:
Erupt, surge, trace, undistinguished, casualty
Look these words up in a dictionary which gives examples of how they are used.
Now answer the following questions.
1. What are the things that can erupt? Use examples to explain the various meanings of erupt. Now do the same for the word surge. What things can surge?
2. What are the meanings of the word trace and which of the meanings is closest to the word in the text?
3. Can you find undistinguished in your dictionary? (If not, look for the word distinguished and say what undistinguished mean.)
1. A few things that can erupt are anger, volcano, tooth, rash, riots, unrest, etc. Erupt has several meanings. Their explanation, with examples, is given as follows:
(i) Start unexpectedly
Example: Riots erupted in the city.
(ii) Start to burn or burst into flames
Example: The spark soon erupted into flames.
(iii) Become active and spew forth lava and rocks
Example: The molten lava erupted out of the active volcano.
(iv) Forceful and violent release of something pent up
Example: The difference in their views soon erupted in a fight.
(v) Sudden appearance on the skin
Example: On the day of the party, a pimple erupted on her face.
(vi) Break out
Example: Eruption of the wisdom tooth gives a lot of pain.
Things that can surge are pride, anxiety, waves, boats, army, etc. The several meanings it has can be explained with the following examples:
(i) Sudden forceful flow
Example: The boy drowned in the surging waves.
(ii) Rise and move forward
The army surged towards their enemy.
(iii) Heave upward under the influence of a natural force
Example: The boat surged in the high tide.
(iv) See one's performance improve
Example: Hard work helped to surge Sandra's scores.
(v) A sudden or abrupt strong increase
Example: The surge in the stock market left people in a shock.
(vi) Rise rapidly
Example: As time passed, her tension surged.
2. The following are the meanings of the word trace:
(i) Follow, discover, or ascertain the course of development of something
(ii) Make a mark or lines on a surface
(iii) To go back over again
(iv) Pursue or chase relentlessly
(v) Find or discover through investigation
(vi) Make one's course or travel along a path; travel or pass over, around, or along
(vii) Read with difficulty
The closest meaning of the word ‘trace’ in the text is ‘to find or discover through investigation’.
3. No, the word undistinguished does not exist in the dictionary. However, its meaning can be derived from the meaning of the word ‘distinguished’, which denotes the ‘special or eminent appearance or behaviour of a person’. Thus, undistinguished symbolises ‘ordinary appearance or behaviour of a person’.