Q. 1. Describe the friendship between Khushwant Singh and his grandmother.
Ans. 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 and 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 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.2.Draw a character sketch of Khushwant Singh’s grandmother as portrayed by him in the lesson ‘The Portrait of a Lady’. (NCT 2007)
Ans. The narrator’s grandmother was a true picture of love, affection and care. She had all those virtues which grandmother’s generally have for their grandsons. She was highly religious but a conservative lady. The grandmother presented a picture of peace and contentment. Her spotless white dress and her silver white hair gave her spiritual beauty. The grandmother was not physically very attractive. She had deep love and affection for her grandson. She got him ready for school. She accompanied him to his school and came back home with him. She was a very religious lady. She was always telling the beads of her rosary. She had compassion even for animals and birds. She fed the village dogs. She took to feeding the sparrows in the city. But the grandmother was a conservative lady. She didn’t like the English language and Science. She hated music. She associated music with prostitutes and beggars.
Q. 3. Describe how the common bond of friendship was broken when the narrator’s parents called them in the city.
Ans. The narrator and his grandmother had developed a unique relationship in the village. He was completely dependent on her. But soon, a turning point came in their relationship. His parents called them to the city. He went to an English school by bus. The grandmother’s role was nowmarginalized. She couldn’t accompany him to school as she did in the village. Nor could she help him in his studies. She had no knowledge of English and Science. She hated music. She was very sad that they gave lessons in music at the school. She rarely talked to him after that. The narrator went to university. It separated them. They now saw less of each other. In the end, she accepted her loneliness quietly. She didn’t show any emotion when he left for abroad. So she accepted this separation without any complaints or regrets.
Q. 4. What image of the grandmother emerges from “The Portrait of a Lady”?
Ans. Khushwant Singh’s grandmother has been portrayed as a very old lady. She was short statured, fat and slightly bent. Her face was wrinkled and she was always dressed in spotless white clothes. She was a deeply religious lady. Her lips were always moving in a silent prayer. She was always telling the beads of her rosary. She went to the temple and read the scriptures. The grandmother was a kind lady. She used to feed dogs in the village. In the city she fed the sparrows. She had a great affection for her grandson. She looked after him in the village. She could not adjust herself to the western way of life, Science and English education. She hated music and was distressed to know that there was no teaching about God and holy books at Khushwant’s new English school. On the whole, she was a nice, kind hearted and religious lady.
Q. 5. The grandmother herself was not formally educated but was serious about the author’s education. How does the text support this?
Ans. The grandmother was quite serious about the author’s education. She woke him up in the morning and got him ready for school. She washed his wooden slate. She plastered it with yellow chalk. She tied his earthen ink-pot and red pen into a bundle. She took him to school. He studied in school and she waited for him. She read the scriptures. In the city, the author went to an English school in a motor bus. When he came back, she would ask him what the teacher had taught him. She could not help him with his lessons. She did not believe in the things taught at the English school. She was distressed to learn that her grandson was being taught music. She considered it unfit for gentle folk.