Night of the scorpion

(Q.) I remember the night my mother was stung by a scorpion. a) What was the poet¶s role when his mother was stung? b) Why did the scorpion sting the mother? c) What kind of µnight¶ was it? (Ans) a) The poet was a child and was a mute spectator. b) The scorpion was hiding beneath a sack of rice. When mother came, it felt threatened and stung her. c) It had been raining for ten hours. (Q.) Ten hours had driven him to crawl beneath a sack of rice. a) Who is referred to as µhim¶? b) Who disturbed µhim¶? c) What did he do when he was disturbed? Why? (Ans) a) The scorpion is referred to as µhim¶. b) Mother entered the store probably to take out rice. c) He felt threatened and stung the mother. (Q.) Parting with his poison ± flash of diabolic tail in the dark roomhe risked the rain again a) To whom did the scorpion part with his poison? b) Explain µflash of diabolic tail¶. c) Why did he risk the rain again? (Ans) a) The scorpion stung the mother. b) It means the sudden movement of the tail which is like that of the Devil. c) The scorpion felt threatened and after having stung the mother he went out into the rain. (Q.) The peasants came in like swarms of flies and buzzed the name of God a hundred times to paralyse the Evil One. a) Why did the peasants come to the narrator¶s house? b) Identify the literary devices used in the above extract. c) Why is the scorpion referred to as µThe Evil One¶? (Ans) a)The news spread and the concerned peasants came running to help the mother. b)Simile: The peasants came like swarm of flies

Metaphor: Buzzed the name of God Personification: The Evil One c)The scorpion stung the mother and caused her a lot of pain so he is referred to as µThe Evil One¶. (Q.) With candles and with lanterns throwing giant scorpion shadows on the sun baked walls a) Why are the peasants carrying candles and lanterns? b) Explain µthrowing giant scorpion shadows¶ c) Are they successful in what they set out to do? (Ans) a) They were carrying candles and lanterns to search for the scorpion. b) As the peasants moved about, they threw big shadows of their figures on the mud baked walls. The shadows themselves appeared to be like big scorpions. c) No, the peasants were not successful in what they set out to do. They searched for the scorpion but were unable to find it anywhere. (Q.) They clicked their tongues with every movement that they scorpion made his poison moved in mother¶s blood, they said. a) Why did they click their tongues? b) What do they want the scorpion to do? Why? c) What character trait is revealed of the peasants in the given extract? (Ans) a) The peasants made short, sharp sounds with their tongues in sympathy for the mother¶s pain. b) They want the scorpion to sit still. They believed that with every movement the scorpion made, the poison he had deposited in its victim also moved, which would inevitably result in more pain to her. c) The peasants are simple. They are concerned about their neighbours. They rush to the poet¶s house in group. They are ignorant and believe that the movement of the scorpion will induce the venom to spread. (Q.) May he sit still, they said May the sins of your previous birth Be burned away today. a) Who is he? Who are they? b) How will the sins be burned away that day? c) When are these words spoken? Why? (Ans) a) µHe¶ is the scorpion. They are the peasants. b) The neighbours feel that the sins committed by the poet¶s mother in the previous life would be burned away by mother¶s suffering in the present. c) These words are spoken when the peasants came to comfort the mother and sat in a circle on the floor with the mother in the centre.

(Q.) May the sum of evil balanced in this unreal world against the sum of good become diminished by your pain. a) Who is in pain? Why? b) Explain µunreal world¶. c) What is the philosophy referred to in the above extract? (Ans) a) The poet¶s mother in is pain. She has been stung by a scorpion. b) 'Unreal world' is this world of ours which has been described by Hindu philosophers as purely illusory or unreal. c) The peasants had a simple philosophy. Suffering was a blessing as it cleansed the soul. It decreased our sins and increased the balance of good acts for the next birth. (Q.) May the poison purify your flesh of desires and your spirit of ambition, they said a) Who are µthey¶? What are µthey¶ doing? b) What do they hope the poison will do? c) Identify a poetic device in the given extract. (Ans) a) They are peasants. They have come to comfort the poet¶s mother who was stung by a scorpion. b) They hoped that the poison would purge the mother¶s body of all material desires. They wished that it should free her soul of all taints of ambition. c) Alliteration: poison purify your flesh (Q.) They sat around on the floor with my mother in the centre, the peace of understanding on each face. a) Where is the poet¶s mother? b) Explain µpeace of understanding¶. c) Why is there a peace of understanding on each face? (Ans) a) The poet¶s mother was on a mat on the floor. b) The peasants were at peace because they felt that suffering was a blessing in disguise. c) The peasants appeared to be wise, peaceful and contented as they believed the pain would benefit the mother. (Q.) More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours more insects and the endless rain a) Why did more neighbors arrive? b) What was the result of their arrival? c) What was the mother¶s condition all this while? (Ans) a)More neighbours arrived with more lanterns and candles to trace the scorpion and

comfort the mother. b) They brought in more candles and lanterns which attracted more insects. c) Mother, all this while, writhed with pain. She cried and twisted and rolled on the mat on which she lay. (Q.) My mother twisted through and through groaning on a mat My father sceptic, rationalist. a) Describe the father. b) Why was the mother groaning on a mat? c) Is father¶s behaviour of a skeptic later on? (Ans) a) The father was a rationalist and did not believe in superstitions and rituals. b) The mother had been stung by a scorpion and was groaning in pain. c) No, the father could not bear mother¶s pain. He tried every curse and blessing to relieve her of the pain. (Q.) My father skeptic rationalist, trying every curse and blessing powder mixture, herbs and hybrid a) How was father different from the villagers? b) Why did father try µevery curse and blessing¶? c) What was the condition of the mother? (Ans) a) Father was a skeptic and did not believe in superstitions whereas the villagers were ignorant and superstitious. b) Father could not bear mother¶s pain and acted contrary to his nature in order to help her. c) The mother was writhing in agony and twisted on the mat where she lay. (Q.) He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a match on it I watched the flame feeding on my mother I watched the holy man perform his rites a) Why did father pour paraffin? b) How did the Holy man try and cure the mother? c) When the poet says µI watched the flame¶, is he merely describing the scene or has he commented upon it? (Ans) a) Father burns the mother¶s toe to burn off the poison. b) The holy man said some prayers and performed certain rites. c) The poet comments upon it by showing that superstitions did not help. The poet comments on the loving husband who made desperate efforts to help his wife. (Q.) After twenty hours it lost its sting My mother only said Thank God the scorpion picked on me

And spared my children a) When did the pain subside? b) What did mother say? c) What do you learn about her from these words? (Ans) a) The pain subsided after twenty hours. b) The mother thanked God that the scorpion had stung her and not the children. c) The mother does not show any bitterness over her ordeal. She has immense selfless love for her children.

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