Monday 29 January 2024

The Portrait of A Lady


The portrait of a Lady

                       by  Khushwant Singh

Analysis: 


·       The story ‘The Portrait of A Lady’ is written by Khushwant Singh, a noted Indo Anglian writer and journalist who is known for his writings with humour and sarcasm.

·       The narrator’s grandmother was an old and beautiful lady who was kind and religious lady. She used to tell the beads of rosary, say prayers and feed  animals and birds around her.

·       In this story a beautiful bond is portrayed between the narrator and his grandmother but the distance widened as the narrator grew up and moved to the city.

·       The story highlights his grandmother’s affinity with nature, animals and birds who all reciprocated their love and admiration to her at time of her departure to heavenly abode.

Summary  /  Synopsis :

§  The narrator Khushbant Singh’s grandmother was an old woman. It appeared to him as if she had been old and wrinkled for all the time. She had always been short, fat and slightly bent. He could not even think that his grandmother was once young and pretty. In the portrait of his grandfather he looked at least a hundred years old. The narrator’s grandmother told about the games she used to play which was difficult for him to believe. She was always beautiful and hobbled about the house in spotless white sari telling the beads of her rosary and used to say the prayers in a sing song manner.

§  The grandmother and narrator were good friends. His parents left her when they went to live in the city. She used to wake him up in the morning and make him ready for school as well as accompanied him to the school and later go the temple attached to the school. She used to give him a stale chapati with sugar to the narrator in breakfast and carry some chapatis for dogs.

§  There was a turning-point in this friendship when narrator’s parents called both of them to the city. They shared the same room but she couldn’t go to school with him as he used to go to an English school in the school bus. Owing to her kindness she started feeding sparrows in the courtyard of the house. She was unhappy with the fact that scriptures were not taught in school and also when she could not help him with the lessons on Science and English and thus the distance widened. She was not happy with his music classes as to her, music had lewd associations.

§  When he went to the college, he lived in a room of his own and the common link of friendship was snapped. She made herself busy with her wheel spinning thread, rosary reciting prayers and feeding the sparrows with bread crumbs.

§  When the narrator was going abroad for five years for further studies, he knew his grandmother would be upset. But she restricted herself to talk nor she showed any emotion and her mind was lost in prayer.

§  After five years he came back home and was received by her at the station. She still didn’t say any words. In the evening, however, she collected the women of the neighbourhood, started beating an old drum (dholak) and singing to celebrate his arrival. That was the first time that she did not pray.

§  The next morning she became ill. The doctor told that it was a mild fever. But his grandmother thought that her end was near. She started praying without wasting any moment. After some time her lips stopped moving and the rosary fell from her life less fingers and she was dead.

§  In the evening when she was being taken away on a stretcher to be cremated, the sun was setting and had lit her room and verandah with a blaze of golden light as if to give her the final tribute. Not only this, a thousands of sparrows came and sat in verandah but made no chirruping. When the bread was thrown to them, they didn’t eat and flew off when they carried away the grandmother’s corpse.

Important Question answers

Q1. The three phases of the author’s relationship with his grandmother are described before he left the country to study abroad. Discuss.

Ans. The grandmother and narrator were good friends in his childhood when they lived in a village and his parents were in the city. She used to wake him up in the morning and make him ready for school as well as accompanied him to the school. She used to give him a stale chapati with sugar to the narrator in breakfast and come back home together.

There was a turning-point in this friendship when narrator’s parents called both of them to the city. They shared the same room but she couldn’t go to school with him as he used to go to an English school in the school bus. She became unhappy when she could not help him with the lessons on Science and English and thus the distance widened.

When the narrator went to the college, he lived in a room of his own and the common link of friendship was broken. She became sad but accepted the reality quietly. She made herself busy with her spinning wheel, rosary beads and feeding the sparrows.






No comments:

Post a Comment