Class 12 RBSE

Panorama Chapter 2 The Portrait of a Lady

Rajasthan Board RBSE Class 12 English Panorama Chapter 2 The Portrait of a Lady

RBSE Class 12 English Panorama Chapter 2 Textual Questions

The Portrait of a Lady Summary In English

In ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, Khushwant Singh has given an account of his grandmother. He draws a life-like portrait. She was very old. Her face was wrinkled. Her hair was white. It was hard to believe that once she had been young and pretty. His grandfather’s picture hung above the mantelpiece in the drawing room. He wore a big turban. His clothes were loose. He looked at least a hundred years old. It was hard to believe that he had once a wife or children.

Khushwant Singh’s grandmother was a short lady. She was fat and slightly bent. She couldn’t walk straight. She hobbled about the house. She had to keep one hand on her waist. It was to balance her stoop. In the other she held a rosary. She was always telling the beads. Her lips constantly moved in prayer. She put on white clothes. Her silver locks scattered over her pale face. She looked like snowy mountains in winter. She was a picture of peace and contentment. She was very old. Perhaps she could not have looked older. She looked the same for the last twenty years.

Khushwant Singh and his grandmother were good friends. His parents went to city. They left him with her in the village. She took good care of him. She used to wake him up in the morning. She got him ready for the school. She said her morning prayer in sing-song manner. She hoped that he would learn it by heart. He liked her voice but never bothered to learn it. Then she would fetch his wooden slate. She had already washed it and plastered it with yellow chalk. She would take an earthen inkpot and a reed-pen. She would tie them in a bundle and hand it to him. She would given him a thick stale chapatti with little butter and sugar spread on it. It was his breakfast. She carried several stale chapattis with her for the village dogs.

His grandmother always went to school with him. The school was attached to the temple. The priest taught children the alphabet and the morning prayer. The children sat in two rows in the verandah. They would sing the alphabet or the prayer in a chorus. The grandmother sat inside the temple. She would read holy books. Then they would walk home together. The village dogs would gather at the temple door. They threw chapattis to them. The dogs would growl and fight with each other.

The narrator’s parents sent for them in the city. It was a turning-point in their friendship. They shared the same room. But grandmother no longer went to school with him. The narrator used to go to an English school in a motor bus. There were no dogs in the streets. So grandmother took to feeding the sparrows.

Years rolled by. They saw less of each other. Sometimes she would ask him what the teacher had taught him. She did not believe in the things they taught at the English school. She was unhappy. She did not like English or Science. She felt sad that there was no teaching about God and the scriptures at school. The narrator one day told her that they were being given music lessons. She was disturbed. She thought music quite indecent. For her it was good only for prostitutes and beggars. It was not meant for gentle folk.

The narrator went to university. He was given a room of his own. The common link of friendship was broken. The grandmother accepted her loneliness quietly. She was always busy with her spinning wheel and reciting prayers. She rarely talked to anyone. In the afternoon, she relaxed for a while. Then she would feed the sparrows. She sat in the verandah. She broke the bread into little bits. Then she would throw them to sparrows. Hundreds of sparrows came there. They created a hell of noise. Some came and sat on her legs. Others would sit on her shoulders. Some would sit even on her head. She smiled but never frightened them away. Feeding the sparrows was the happiest half-hour of the day for her.

The narrator decided to go abroad for higher studies. He was to remain away for five years. The grandmother was very old. She could die any moment. The narrator was worried. But the grandmother was not upset. She showed no emotion. She came to the railway station to see him off. Her lips moved in prayer. Her mind was lost in prayer. Her fingers were busy telling the beads of her rosary. She kissed his forehead silently. The narrator thought that it was the last sign of physical contact between them.

The narrator returned home after five years. His grandmother met him at the station. She did not look a day older. She did not speak anything. She held him in her arms. She went on reciting her prayers. In the afternoon she fed the sparrows as usual. In the evening a change came over her. She didn’t pray. She collected the women of the neighbourhood. She got an old drum. She continued thumping the old drum for several hours. She started singing. She sang of the home-coming of warriors. They had to persuade her to stop. She might overstrain herself. It was for the first time that she had forgotten to pray.

The next morning she fell ill. She had a mild fever. She told them that her end was near. She realised that she had forgotten to pray. She didn’t want to talk. It would be waste of time. She ignored their requests. She lay peacefully in bed. She was praying and telling beads. Then her lips stopped moving. The rosary fell down from her lifeless fingers. Her face looked pale but peaceful. She was dead. She was laid on the ground. She was covered with a red shawl. Arrangements for her funeral were being made.

It was evening. The sun was setting. They brought a wooden stretcher. They stopped half-way in the courtyard. Thousands of sparrows sat near her dead body. They did not chirrup. Everyone felt sorry for the birds. The narrator’s mother brought some bread. She broke it into little crumbs. She threw these crumbs to the sparrows. The birds took no notice of them. Then they carried her dead body outside. The sparrows flew away quietly. The crumbs of bread still remained lying there in the courtyard. Evidently, the sparrows had come to mourn the death of the grandmother.

The Portrait of a Lady Summary In Hindi

‘एक महिला का चित्र’ में खुशवन्त सिंह ने अपनी दादी का वर्णन किया है। वह उसका सजीव चित्र प्रस्तुत करता है। वह अत्यन्त वृद्धा थी। उसके चेहरे पर झुर्रियाँ थीं। उसके बाल श्वेत थे। यह विश्वास करना काफी कठिन था कि कभी वह युवा एवं आकर्षक थीं। उसके दादा का चित्र बैठक में चिमनी की कोर्निस के ऊपर टंगा हुआ था। उसने एक बड़ी पगड़ी पहनी हुई थी। उसके वस्त्र ढीले थे। वह कम से कम एक सौ वर्ष का लगता था। यह विश्वास करना कठिन था कि कभी उसकी एक पत्नी अथवा बच्चे भी थे।

खुशवन्त सिंह की दादी छोटे कद की महिला थी। वह मोटी तथा थोड़ी सी झुकी हुई थी। वह सीधी नहीं चल सकती थी। वह घर में इधर-उधर लंगड़ाती सी घूमती-फिरती थी। उसे अपना एक हाथ कमर पर रखना पड़ता था। वह उसे अपने झुके हुए शरीर को सन्तलित करने के लिए था। दसरे (हाथ) में वह एक माला पकडे रहती थी। वह सदा माला के मनके फेरती रहती थी। उसके होंठ लगातार प्रार्थना में हिलते रहते थे। वह सफेद वस्त्र पहनती थी। उसके चांदी जैसे बाल उसके चेरहे पर बिखरे पड़े रहते थे। वह सर्दी के (सफेद) पर्वतों जैसी लगती थी। वह शान्ति एवं संतुष्टि का चित्र प्रतीत होती थी। वह अत्यन्त वृद्धा थी। शायद वह इससे अधिक वृद्धा नहीं दिखाई पड़ सकती थी। पिछले बीस वर्षों से वह वैसी ही दिखाई देती थी।

खुशवन्त सिंह तथा उसकी दादी अच्छे मित्र थे। उसके माता-पिता नगर में चले गये थे। वे उसे गाँव में दादी के पास छोड़ गये। वह उसकी अच्छी देखभाल करती थी। वह उसे सवेरे जगाया करती थी। वह उसे स्कूल के लिए तैयार करती थी। वह अपनी प्रार्थना एक रटे-रटाये गाने के रूप में करती थी। वह आशा करती थी कि वह उसे मौखिक रूप से याद कर लेगा। वह दादी की आवाज पसंद करता था किंतु उसने इसे सीखने की कभी भी परवाह नही की। फिर वह उसकी लकड़ी की तख्ती लाती। इसे उसने पहले ही धोकर पीली चाक-मिट्टी से पोता हुआ था। वह एक मिट्टी की दवात तथा सरकंडे का कलम लेती। वह उन्हें एक बंडल में बांध ती तथा उसे दे देती। वह उसे एक मोटी बासी रोटी के ऊपर थोड़ा-सा मक्खन तथा चीनी बिखेरकर देती। यह उसका नाश्ता था। वह गाँव के कुत्तों के लिए काफी बासी चपातियाँ अपने साथ ले जाती थी। उसकी दादी सदा उसके साथ पाठशाला भी जाती थी। पाठशाला मंदिर से जुड़ी हुई थी। पुजारी बच्चों को वर्णमाला तथा प्रात:कालीन प्रार्थना सिखाता था। बच्चे बरामदे में दो कतारों में बैठते थे। वे एक सामूहिक गान के रूप में ही वर्णमाला अथवा प्रार्थना गाते थे। दादी मंदिर में भीतर बैठती थी। वह धार्मिक पुस्तकें पढ़ा करती थी। फिर वे दोनों एक साथ घर आते थे। गाँव के कुत्ते मंदिर के द्वार पर एकत्रित हो जाते। वे उनको चपातियाँ फेंकते। कुत्ते एक दूसरे पर गुर्राते तथा झगड़ते थे।

वर्णनकर्ता के पिता ने उन्हें नगर में बुला लिया। वह उनकी मित्रता में मोड़ (घुमाव) का एक बिंदु था। वे एक ही कमरे में रहते थे। किंतु दादी अब उसके साथ विद्यालय नहीं जाती थी। वर्णनकर्ता एक मोटर बस में सवार होकर एक अंग्रेजी विद्यालय में पढ़ने जाया करता था। वहाँ (नगर में) गलियों में कुत्ते नहीं थे। अत: दादी ने चिड़ियों को भोजन खिलाना आरंभ कर दिया।

वर्ष बीतते गये। वे एक दूसरे से कम मिलते थे। कभी-कभी वह उससे पूछ लेती थी कि उसके अध्यापक ने उसे क्या पढ़ाया है। वह उन चीजों में विश्वास नहीं करती थी जो वे अंग्रेजी विद्यालय में पढ़ाते थे। वह दु:खी थी। वह अंग्रेजी अथवा विज्ञान को पसंद नहीं करती थी। वह यह सोचकर उदास हो जाती थी कि विद्यालय में ईश्वर तथा धार्मिक ग्रन्थों के विषय में शिक्षा नहीं दी जाती थी। वर्णनकर्ता ने एक दिन उसे बताया था कि संगीत में पाठ दिए जा रहे हैं। वह परेशान हो गयी। वह संगीत को अशोभनीय समझती थी। उसके अनुसार यह केवल वेश्याओं तथा भिखारियों के लिए ही था। वह भद्र पुरुषों के उपयुक्त नहीं था।

वर्णनकर्ता विश्वविद्यालय में गया। उसे अपना निजी कमरा दिया गया। मित्रता का आपसी संबंध टूट गया। दादी ने अपने एकाकीपन को चुपचाप स्वीकार कर लिया। वह सदा चरखा चलाने तथा प्रार्थना गाने में व्यस्त रहती। वह बहुत कम बातें करती थीं। अपराह्न (दोपहर-बाद) में वह थोड़ा सा सुस्ताती थी। तब वह चिड़ियों को भोजन कराती थी। वह बरामदे में बैठती थी। एक रोटी के छोटे-छोटे टुकड़े तोड़ती। फिर वह इन्हें चिड़ियों को फेंक देती। सैंकड़ों चिड़ियाँ वहाँ आ जाती थीं। वे बहुत सा शोर करती थी। कुछ आजी तथा उसकी टांगों पर बैठ जाती। अन्य उसके कन्धों पर बैठ जाती। कुछ तो उसके सिर पर भी बैठ जाती। वह मुस्कुराती किंतु कभी भी उन्हें डराकर नहीं भगाती थी। चिड़ियों को भोजन खिलाना उसके लिए दिन का सबसे प्रसन्नता भरा आधा घण्टा था।

वर्णनकर्ता ने उच्चतर शिक्षा के लिए विदेश जाने का निर्णय किया। उसे पाँच वर्ष तक बाहर रहना था। दादी अत्यन्त वृद्धा थी। वह किसी भी क्षण मर सकती थी। वर्णनकर्ता चितिंत था। किंतु दादी विचलित नहीं हुई। उसने कोई भावुकता नहीं दिखायी। उसे विदा करने वह रेलवे स्टेशन आई। उसके होंठ प्रार्थना में हिलते थे। उनका मन प्रार्थना में लगा हुआ था। उसकी उंगलियाँ माला के मनके फेरने में व्यस्त थी। उसने चुपके से उसके माथे को चूमा। वर्णनकर्ता ने सोचा कि उन दोनों के बीच शारीरिक संबंध के रूप में यह अंतिम चिन्ह था।

वर्णनकर्ता पाँच वर्ष के उपरांत घर लौट आया। उसकी दादी स्टेशन पर उससे मिली। वह एक दिन भी अधिक बूढ़ी नहीं दिखाई देती थी। वह कुछ नहीं बोली। उसने उसे बाहों में भर लिया। वह अपनी प्रार्थनाएँ गाती रही। दोपहर बाद सदा की तरह उसने चिड़ियों को भोजन खिलाया। संध्या समय उसमें एक परिवर्तन आ गया। उसने प्रार्थना नहीं की। उसने पड़ोस की सारी स्त्रियों को एकत्रित किया। वह एक पुराना ढोल ले आई। वह कई घंटों तक इस पुराने ढोल को पीटती रही। उसने गाना आरंभ किया। वह योद्धाओं की वापसी के गीत गाती रही। उन्हें उसे रोकने के लिए मनाना पड़ा। हो सकता है कि वह स्वयं पर अधिक तनाव डाल ले। यह पहला समय था जब वह प्रार्थना करना भूल गयी थी।

अगली प्रात: वह बीमार पड़ गयी। उसे हल्का सा ज्वर आ गया। उसने उन्हें बताया कि उसका अन्त समीप है। उसने अनुभव किया कि वह प्रार्थना करना भूल गयी थी। वह बातें नहीं करना चाहती थी। यह तो समय को व्यर्थ करना होगा। उसने उनकी प्रार्थना अनसुनी कर दी। वह चुपचाप बिस्तर में लेटी रहीं। वह प्रार्थना करती रही तथा मनके फेरती रही। फिर उसके होंठ हिलने बन्द हो गये उसकी निर्जीव उंगलियों से माला गिर गयी थी। उसका चेहरा पीला किन्तु शान्त दिखाई पड़ा। वह मर गयी थी। उसे भूमि पर लिटा दिया गया। उसे लाले कफ़न से ढक दिया गया। उसके दाह संस्कार के प्रबंध किये जाने लगे।

संध्या का समय था। सूर्य अस्त हो रहा था। वे एक लकड़ी की अर्थी ले आये। वे आँगन के बीच में रुक गये। हजारों चिड़ियाँ उसके मृत शरीर के समीप बैठी थीं। उन्होंने चहचहाहट नहीं की। प्रत्येक को चिड़ियों के लिए खेद था। वर्णनकर्ता की माँ कुछ रोटी ले आई। उसने इसे छोटे-छोटे टुकड़ों में तोड़ा। उसने ये टुकड़े चिड़ियों को फेंके। पक्षियों ने इनकी ओर कोई ध्यान नहीं दिया। फिर वे उसके शव को बाहर ले गये। चिड़ियाँ चुपचाप उड़ गईं। रोटी के टुकड़े अब भी आँगन में वहीं पड़े रहे। स्पष्टतया चिड़ियाँ दादी की मृत्यु पर शोक मनाने आई थीं।


Comprehension Questions 

  1. Choose the correct alternative:

Question 1. The grandmother fed the dogs with…
(a) rice
(b) stale chapattis
(c) sugar
(d) bread

Question 2. The grandmother worked on a …………….
(a) sewing machine
(b) spinning wheel
(c) gas stove
(d) sitar

Question 3. Where did the author go for higher studies?
(a) Lucknow
(b) Delhi
(c) Abroad
(d) Calcutta

Question 4. The author found the thought of his grandmother once having been young and pretty almost
(a) absurd
(b) evolving
(c) undignified
(d) fantastic

1. (b)
2. (b)
3. (c)
4. (b)

  1. Answer the following questions in 30-40 words each:

Question 1. “That was the turning point in our friendship”. What was the turning point?

Answer: Being settled in the city with the author’s parents was the turning point in their friendship. Now his grandmother could not go to school with him and help him in his studies.

Question 2. How did the grandmother help her grandson in the morning before going to school?

Answer: She woke him up in the morning and got him ready for school. She would fetch his wooden slate which she had washed and plastered with yellow chalk, tiny earthen ink-pot and a red pen, tie them in a bundle and hand it to him. She gave him breakfast before going to school.

Question 3. What were the grandmother’s views about learning music?

Answer: The grandmother thought that music had a lewd association. It was the monopoly of harlots and beggars. It was not meant for gentlefolk. She did not like it at all.

Question 4. Describe the grandmother’s association with the sparrows.

Answer: In the afternoon the grandmother would feed the sparrows. Sparrows used to come and perch on her legs, shoulders, and even on her head. She smiled but never shooed them away. On her death, they also mourned. They took no notice of the bread thrown to them.

Question 5. What did the grandmother do on the eve of the author’s return from abroad? (S. S. Exam 2018)

Answer: She collected the women of the neighborhood, got an old drum, and started to sing. For several hours she thumped the sagging skins of the dilapidated drum and sang of the homecoming of warriors.

  1. Answer the following questions in 125 words each:

Question 1. Write a character sketch of the author’s grandmother.

Answer: The grandmother was a typical Indian village-dwelling old lady who felt the pangs of seclusion caused by her migration to the city. She was a silent onlooker of the social changes taking place in modern India. She was very old. Her wrinkled face seemed to have remained as it was for the last twenty years. She was short, fat, and slightly bent. She was a religious lady. She spent all her life in telling beads and praying. She read scriptures. She used to feed dogs in the village and sparrows in the city. Thus, she was a true lover of animals. She never shooed away the sparrows. She was a lady of strong character. She had her convictions which she rigorously followed. She had foreseen her end. She told in advance that her end had come, though it was a mild fever. The character of the grandmother makes us sentimental.

Question 2. ‘Everybody including the sparrows mourned over the grandmother’s death’. Discuss.

Answer: When the grandmother went to the city, she took to feed the sparrows in the afternoon. The sparrows became so attached to her that they used to sit on her legs, shoulders, and even on her head. She used to smile but never shooed them away. When the grandmother died, every family member mourned. This is natural for humans but when the family members went to make arrangements for her funeral, thousands of sparrows sat scattered on the floor all over the verandah and in her room right up to where she lay dead and stiff wrapped in the red shroud. They were not chirping. Instead, they were sitting quietly. When the author’s mother threw bread crumbs to the sparrows, they took no notice of it. All these things show that everybody including the sparrows mourned the grandmother’s death.

Question 3. Trace the various phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother.

Answer: The various phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother were as follow:

(a) In the village:
They were always together in the village. The grandmother used to bathe him and get him ready for the school. She used to go to school with him because school was attached to the temple.

(b) In the city:
The author started going to an English school. Now the grandmother could not come to school with the author because he went to school by motor bus. She could not help him in his studies. The grandmother began to spend her time praying and feeding the sparrows. She did not like the idea of music being taught and rarely talked to him.

(c) When the author went to university:
He was given a separate room. The last link of friendship was broken. The grandmother spent all her time in spinning, praying and feeding sparrows.

Question 4. What was the common link of friendship between the author and his grandmother? How did the grandmother behave when their friendship was snapped?

Answer: The author and his grandmother were living together. Both cared for each other. And it was the common link of friendship between them. When they were in the village, she used to help the author in every way. But when they went to the city, there came a turning point. Now she could not go to school with the author and help him with his lessons. She was disturbed to know about the teaching of music. After this, she did not complain but became silent. She rarely talked to him. When the author went to university, he was given a room of his own. The common link of friendship was snapped. The grandmother accepted her seclusion with resignation. She took spinning-wheel from sunrise to sunset and reciting prayers. In the afternoon she used to feed the sparrows.

Question 5. “She was like the winter landscape in the mountains, an expanse of pure white serenity breathing peace and contentment.” How far do you agree with the author’s description of his grandmother as stated above?

Answer: I agree with the description. The color white represents or signifies purity, innocence, divinity, serenity, and light. Here in the portrait, the grandmother is a symbol of all these qualities. She wore spotless white clothes. She used to tell the beads of her rosary all the time and was always busy praying. In the village, she used to go to the temple daily, read the scriptures, and feed village dogs. She was disturbed upon knowing that English schools taught nothing about God and the scriptures. She used to spin at the spinning wheel and recite prayers from sunrise to sunset. The feeding of the sparrows was the happiest half-hour of the day for her. The sparrows even sat on her legs, shoulders, and head. Such was her innocence.

  1. Creative Writing:

Recreate your relationship with your grandparents.

Answer: I have a grandmother. She is a religious lady. She is old but she spends most of her time telling beads and saying prayers. She goes to the temple every day. In the evening when I return from school, she tries to talk to me. But I don’t like her talking and asking questions about my activities. I think that she is trying to poke her nose into my matters. But now I have understood that she is a typical Indian village woman. She is an onlooker of the changes taking place in our society. I will respect her now. I will answer her questions. I suggest that everybody must respect their elders because they expect it from us and they deserve this.

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