Monday 22 April 2024

Discovering the Tut

Discovering the Tut : The Saga Continues

                                  By A. R. Williams


·       The story ‘Discovering the Tut : The Saga Continues’ is written by A. R. Williams, an American author whose works got published in Heroic Fantasy Quaterly.

·       In the chapter "Discovering Tut," the author provides a vivid account of the investigation of king Tutankhamun’s grave.

·       The chapter delves into the peculiarities of the investigation process in that time's culture, traditions, atmosphere, by the diverse team of investigators who included archaeologists, scientists and historians to know the cause of sudden death of young king, Tutankhamun.

·       The chapter offers a rich and multifaceted exploration of the burial process, culture, architecture and beliefs focussing particularly on the tradition of mummifying a dead body.

·       The lesson blends observation, tribute and reflection to offer readers a diversified exploration of burial practices in ancient Egypt.

·       The theme of the story is the significance of burial culture of ancient Egypt and its legacy to keep the history and culture alive and, has lured the people from generation to generation.

Summary  /  Synopsis

§  In the chapter "Discovering Tut," the author provides a vivid account of the investigation of king Tutankhamun’s grave by the team of investigators that were archaeologists, scientists and historians who tried to know the cause of sudden death of young king, Tutankhamun.

§  King Tut was just a teenager when he died. He was the last heir of a powerful family that had ruled Egypt and its empire for centuries. After his death he was forgotten for the years. But after the discovery of his tomb in 1922, the modern world wondered about the cause of his untimely death. He was brought out of his tomb and recently a CT scan was done to ascertain the reason of his death.

§  At 6 pm on 5th January, 2005, the world's most famous mummy was taken out from its tomb. As the mummy of King Tut was being put into the scanner for performing a CT scan, heavy winds started blowing, the weather had been bad all day and the night and sky was covered by dark clouds. The CT scan was done to unearth the mysteries of untimely death of this young King who died more than 3300 years ago. King Tut's tomb lies 26 feet underground in the ancient Egyptian cemetery known as the ‘Valley of the Kings’. Tourists from around the world came to visit the tomb to pay their respects. They gazed at the murals on the walls of the burial chamber and looked at King Tut's gilded face on the lid of his outer coffin. The visitors were curious and thoughtful. Some feared the pharaoh's curse would befall those who disturbed him.

§  Howard Carter, a British archaeologist discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922 after years of futile searching. Its contents remain the richest royal collection ever found. There were dazzling works of art in gold and people's everyday things such as board games, a bronze razor, cases of food, clothes, wine, etc. that he would need in the life after death. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the mummy was in a very bad condition because of what Howard Carter did to it. 

    Howard Carter found King Tut's body in three nested coffins. In the first coffin, he found a shroud decorated with garlands of willow and olive leaves, wild celery, lotus petals and cornflowers as the burial took place in March or April. The ritual resins had hardened, cementing King Tut to the bottom of the solid gold coffin. Howard Carter tried to loosen the resins by putting the mummy outside in the sun that heated it to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. For several hours the mummy was set outside in blazing sunshine but nothing happened. He reported that the tough material had to be cut from under the limbs and trunk to free the King's remains. The royals, in that time, believed that they could take their fortune with them after death. Hence, King Tut was buried with all his expensive belongings. To separate King Tut from his ornaments, Howard Carter's men removed the mummy's head and cut off nearly every major joint; then they reassembled the remains of the body on a layer of sand in a wooden box with padding.

§  Archaeology has changed since then, focusing less on treasures and more on the fascinating details of life and mysteries of death. It also uses more sophisticated tools. In 1968, more than 40 years after Howard Carter's discovery, an anatomy professor did the X-ray of the mummy and revealed an astonishing fact that beneath the resin that caked King Tut's chest, his breast bone and front ribs were missing. King Tut's demise was a big event, as he was the last ruler of his family. His funeral meant the end of a royal dynasty. But the facts of his death are unclear.

§  King Tut's father or grandfather, Amenhotep III, was a powerful King, who ruled for almost four decades. His son, Amenhotep IV succeeded him. He was a very strange King. He promoted the worship of Aten, the sun disk, and changed his name to Akhenaten. He moved the religious capital from Thebes to Akhetaten, now known as Amarna. He shocked the country by attacking a major god 'Amun' by breaking his images and closing down his temples.

§  Ray Johnson, Director of the University of Chicago's research centre in Luxor, called this King very odd. He said it must have been a terrible time for the people because the family that had ruled for centuries was coming to an end. After Akhenaten's death, Smenkhkare, a mysterious ruler, ruled for a brief period and departed with hardly any sign. It was then that a very young King Tutankhaten took over the throne. The boy soon changed his name to Tutankhamun, known as King Tut today. He oversaw revival of the old ways. King Tut ruled for nine years and then died unexpectedly.

§  King Tut is one mummy among many in Egypt. The Egyptian Mummy Project has recorded almost six hundred mummies and is still counting. King Tut's mummy was the first mummy to be CT scanned to ascertain the secret of his death by a portable scanner donated by National Geographic Society and Siemens. King Tut's entire body was scanned. On the night of the scan, workmen carried him from the tomb and rose it on a hydraulic lift into a trailer that held the scanner.

§  However, initially the costly scanner could not function properly because of sand in the cooler fan. But soon all the hurdles were crossed and after the scan, the King was returned to his coffin to rest in peace.

§  The CT scan showed an astonishing image of King Tut and his entire body very clearly. It showed a grey head, neck vertebrae, a hand, several images of the rib cage and a section of the skull. Zahi Hawass was relieved that nothing had seriously gone wrong. As the technicians left the trailer, they saw the star constellation which the ancient Egyptians knew as the soul of Osiris, the God of the afterlife. They felt as if the God was watching over the boy King.


The theme of the story is the significance of burial culture of ancient Egypt known as 'Mummy Culture' and its legacy to keep the history and culture alive and, has lured the people from generation to generation.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Lost Spring

Lost Spring: Stories of Stolen Childhood

                                           By Anees Jung

Analysis :

·       The chapter ‘Lost Spring’ is written Anees Jung, a writer, editor and columnist for major newspapers in India and abroad.

·       This chapter is an excerpt from her book titled ‘Lost Spring: Stories of Stolen Childhood’. Here, she analyses the grinding poverty and social stigma and injustice which condemn these children to a life of exploitation.

·       The chapter is divided into two parts which are actually two stories - one is of Saheb and the other is of Mukesh. In these two stories, author discusses how the dreams of few children remain unfulfilled due to poverty and social and political injustice. 

The chapter explores the themes of migration of poor people for their survival and their economic struggle, family work lineage, and the stark contrast between dreams and reality.

·       It paints a vivid picture of Saheb's and Mukesh’s dreams and, in contrast, realistic struggles to fulfil them.

·       The chapter conveys that this world is divided into two groups - the exploitor and the exploited and the oppressor and the oppressed. Each day poor children dream something and each day they fail to understand the reasons behind the complexities of their life and hurdles in fulfilling their dreams.


Summary / Synopsis :

Part I : Sometimes I find a Rupee in the garbage

·       This is the story of Saheb who had a dream of scrounging for gold in the garbage dumps of the narrator’s neighbourhood. Saheb doesn’t remember his home in Dhaka, which he left long ago. The storms swept away his fields and home that’s why he and other people left the place, looking for gold in the big city where he now lives.

·       The narrator advises him to go to school, though the advice seemed hollow to her. He agreed to go to school if she started a school in light spirit. After few days he came running asked if her school is ready and she answered, it takes longer to build a school. She felt embarrassed at a promise that was not meant. But such promises are made every day in every corner of his bleak world.

·       His name ‘Saheb-e-Alam’ meaning the ‘lord of the universe’ seems ironical to the author and he would hardly believe if he knew the meaning. Unaware of it, he roams the streets with his friends who appear like the morning birds and disappear at noon.

·       When she asked one of them why they didn’t wear chappals, he answered his mother did not give them. Another boy didn’t want to wear chappals and the third one wanted shoes as he could never own them. The author experienced that walking barefoot for these children, in cities or villages is not lack of money but a tradition, moreover a perpetual state of poverty.

·       The author recalled a story where a man from Udipi in his childhood used to go to school near an old temple and pray for a pair of shoes. After thirty years she visited his town and the temple, where lived the new priest, and a young boy wearing a grey uniform, socks and shoes, arrived. She remembered the prayer of another boy to keep his shoes safe when he had finally got a pair of shoes. Young boys like the son of the priest have shoes but many others like the ragpickers remain shoeless.

·       Many barefoot ragpickers are found in Seemapuri, Delhi. They came from Bangladesh in 1971 and Saheb’s family is among them. In Seemapuri, with roofs of tin and tarpaulin, devoid of sewage, drainage or running water, live 10,000 ragpickers without an identity, without permits but with ration cards that get their names on voters’ lists and enable them to buy grain after all food is more important for survival than an identity and they had to leave their fields that gave no grain.

·       Survival in Seemapuri means rag-picking. Garbage to them is gold. It is their daily bread, a roof over their heads for the parents. But, for children it is even more. If they find a silver coin in a heap of garbage, they can’t stop scrounging, there is hope of finding more.

·       Saheb told the author that he liked the Tennis and he wanted to play. Sometimes, the gatekeeper of the club allowed him to go inside and play when no one was around. He wore the tennis shoes that didn’t match his clothing and appearance, the shoes were thrown by a rich boy as they had a hole.

·       Saheb got a job at a tea stall for 800 rupees and meals. He was carrying a heavy milk canister that belonged to the tea stall owner, Saheb was no longer free.


Part II : I want to drive a car

·       This is the story of Mukesh who wanted to become a motor mechanic. Mukesh had a dream to drive a car, which looked like a mirage to the author. His family lived in Firrozabad and works in a bangle factory. They didn’t know that it is illegal for children like him to work in the glass furnaces with high temperatures, in dingy cells without air and light, where around 20,000 children work and often lose the brightness of their eyes.

·       Mukesh volunteers to take the author home, which is being rebuilt, and he proudly told that. They walked down stinking lanes choked with garbage and entered a half-built shack. Food was being prepared over firewood stove. The wife of Mukesh’s elder brother, not much older in years was already in charge of three men — her husband, Mukesh and their father who could only teach his sons the art of bangle making as God given lineage can’t be broken. Mukesh’s grandfather went blind with the dust from polishing the glass of bangles.

·       A young girl in pink dress was soldering pieces of glass, without  knowing the sanctity and significance of the bangles and auspiciousness for a married Indian woman, which she also would become one day.

·       Grandfather recalled the days of poverty, but now, proud of giving a house to his family. Little has changed with time in Firozabad for the poor. Years of mind-numbing toil have killed even their ability to dream.  Young men who have fallen into the vicious trap of middlemen can’t get organised into cooperatives, due to the fear of police. They talk endlessly about poverty, apathy, greed and injustice.

·       The author could see two distinct worlds — one of the family, caught in a web of poverty, and the other is a vicious circle of the sahukars, the middlemen, the policemen, the keepers of law, the bureaucrats and the politicians, who all had imposed the baggage on the child who accepted it as naturally as his father had.

·       To do something else would mean to dare and daring is not part of Saheb’s growing up. He is content with his dream of driving a car and becoming a motor mechanic, and not flying a plane as he sees many cars on the streets of Firozabad.

   Important Question Answers:

   Q1. "Little has moved with time, it seems, in Firozabad." Why does the writer say this?

   Ans. The writer, Anees Jung, tells that the traditional bangle makers in Firozabad are poor, illiterate, and exploited. They cannot fulfil their dreams. They are caught in the web of middlemen and moneylenders who are supported by the authorities. They keep living in filth and squalor for ages. The children help their parents in bangle making and people lose their eye sight due to poor management and conditions. Though such child labour is illegal, it is going on unabated in Firozabad. The author wants to convey that due to irresponsibility of authorities nothing has changed in the city and the poor have been suffering for ages.

   Q2. What does Saheb look for in the garbage dumps? What are the hopes of other 10,000 ragpickers like him?

   Ans. Saheb is a poor ragpicker of Seemapuri. He roams in the streets with his friends and looks for gold and money in the garbage dumps. Sometimes, he also finds a ten rupee note. Other 10,000 ragpickers also dream to find treasure in the garbage like Saheb, especially the children. For grown ups rag picking is a way of survival.

Monday 1 April 2024

The Laburnum Top

The Laburnum Top

                                                          By Ted Hughes

Analysis : 

The story ‘The Laburnum Top’ is composed by Ted Hughes who was an English poet, translator, and children's writer.

The poem is a beautiful interpretation of this world which is represented by the tree and life and living people are represented by the bird.

This poem is a beautiful landscape of an autumn scene with the remarkable use of imagery by the poet who portrays the laburnum tree and the bird with the lively description of vibrant sounds, movements, vitality, and fleeting moments.

The poem portrays the laburnum tree as a timeless force that imparts life to millions of creatures such as the goldfinch bird.

The poem also beautifully emphasises the power of nature that gives life to the existence of every living soul.

The poem explores themes of nature, life, and transience of our life in this world which becomes quiet and lifeless without living souls bringing out the theme of coexistence.

This poem is rich with poetic devices and uses vivid imagery to describe the autumn scene along with personification, metaphor and symbolism.

The poem conveys the message that our life is short lived but life in general never cease to exist. The world is lifeless and meaningless without the existence of humans and other living creatures. Our relation with this world is beautiful and amazing, it needs to be understood and maintained.



Line by Line Explanation

The Laburnum top is silent, quite still

In the afternoon yellow September sunlight,

A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen.

Explanation :

The poet describes the Laburnum tree, indicating that it is motionless, quiet and seems to be lifeless until a bird comes and sits in the tree. The setting is established as a sunny afternoon in September, with a specific emphasis on the yellow light which symbolises the autumn season. The tree is in the process of shedding its leaves that have turned yellow due to autumn and the seeds have already fallen on the ground as the tree is undergoing its natural cycle during autumn.

Till the goldfinch comes, with a twitching chirrup

A suddenness, a startlement, at a branch end.

Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt,

She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up

Of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings —

The whole tree trembles and thrills.

Explanation :

Then, all of a sudden, the scene undergoes a change with the arrival of a goldfinch, a small bird known for its bright yellow colour. The bird's arrival is accompanied by its distinct chirping which fills the tree with vibrant sounds and removes the dullness and silence. The bird's arrival is sudden and startling, as it lands on a branch of the tree which shakes with tremours and tumults. The poet uses simile to describe the bird's movements, comparing it to a sleek lizard which is known for its alertness and sudden actions for catching its prey. As the bird moves deeper into the leaves of the tree which is, now described metaphorically as a machine which produces sharp sounds and makes sudden movements at the start. The sounds and movements of the bird and its babies within the tree create a cacophony of chirping, fluttering of wings, and tremours of the leaves and the tree. The activity of the bird and its small baby birds within the tree causes the entire tree to vibrate and pulsate with life. 


It is the engine of her family.

She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch-end

Showing her barred face identity mask

Explanation :

Now, the poet compares the tree to an ‘engine’ which is described as a driving force for the life of the bird and its family. Tree is described as the engine for the bird's family as it gives shelter to them, leading their life ahead safely and happily. The way an engine pulls entire vehicle forward, the tree also provides for the life of the bird and its babies in terms of food, shelter, shade, and other necessities. The bird shakes the tree completely with its sudden movements and then, it suddenly moves to the edge of a branch. There, towards the end of the branch the bird is slightly visible as the leaves aren’t thick there. Its slightly visible, and its face is hidden with the streaks of flowers which are described by the poet as the bird’s mask. Here, the branches of flowers of the laburnum tree are described metaphorically as bars that serve as an ‘identity mask’ of the bird. This mask keeps the bird and its family hidden from the dangers and threats. 


Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings

She launches away, towards the infinite

And the laburnum subsides to empty.

Explanation :

The bird makes soft and strange sounds as it prepares to depart. These sounds are compared to the sound of a whistle. The bird flies away into the distance, symbolically moving towards the vast expanse of the infinite. With the departure of the bird, the Laburnum tree returns to its quiet, empty state, devoid of the earlier activity and life.

Overall, the poem explores themes of nature, life, and transience of our existence in this world.


Message :

The poem conveys the message that our life is short lived but life in general never ceases to exist. The world is lifeless and meaningless without the existence of humans and other living creatures. Our relation with this world is beautiful and amazing; it needs to be understood and maintained. The poem explores themes of nature, life, and transience of our existence in this world which becomes quiet and lifeless without living souls emphasising the message of coexistence.

Poetic Devices :

The Laburnum top is silent, quite still - Personification, Alliteration, Assonance 

In the afternoon yellow September sunlight, - Imagery,  Alliteration, Symbolism 

A few leaves yellowing all its seeds fallen. - Symbolism, Consonance 

Till the goldfinch comes, with a twitching chirrup - Assonance, Alliteration, Imagery, Onomatopoeia 

A suddenness, a startlement, at a branch end. - Alliteration, Repetition 

Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt - Simile, Imagery, polysyndeton, Repetition, Assonance 

She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up - Metaphor, Imagery, Consonance 

Of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings — Assonance, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Repetition, Polysyndeton 

The whole tree trembles and thrills - Personification, Alliteration, Consonance 

It is the engine of her family - Assonance, Metaphor

She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch-end - Metaphor, Alliteration, Imagery, Consonance 

Showing her barred face identity maskMetaphor, Imagery 

Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings - Metaphor, Imagery, Assonance, Alliteration, Onomatopoeia

She launches away, towards the infinite - Metaphor, Consonance, symbolism

And the laburnum subsides to empty. Personification 


 Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt,

She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up

Of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings —

Q1. What does the word 'machine' refer to? 

Q2. Who is compared to a lizard? Which poetic devices is used here? 

Q3. Why is the bird compared to a lizard? 

Q4. Whose chitterings and trillings are described? 

Q5. Which poetic device is used in third line? 

Answers : 

A1. The word 'machine' refers to the the baby birds in the nest. The goldfinch has kept its chicks in the nest where the branch is thickly covered with the leaves. As the goldfinch arrives, all the babies start making sounds and movements and it appears as if a machine has started.

A2. The bird, goldfinch is compared to a lizard with the use of the poetic device, Simile.

A3. The bird is compared to a lizard due to its alertness and quickness. The bird is alert and quick while entering the thickness of leaves over the nest so that she can avoid the eyes of the predators and keep its babies safe. 

A4. the small chicks are making sharp and happy sounds at the arrival of the mother bird. 

A5. Onomatopoeia (use of sound words)