Summary

It is a letter from a son to his father. Rahul, the boy, loves life as natural as possible while his father enjoys a complicated life. Father was not very happy with the boy’s approach to life. Here are the essential differences between the father and son.

  • Father believes in high score.
  • Father cannot compromise.
  • Father believes that money is very important.
  • Father doesn’t trust his son. He trusts his teachers.
  • Rahul believes in simple life.
  • Rahul believes in a flexible (not lazy) going.
  • Rahul believes that peace of mind and happiness is important.
  • Rahul says that his teacher was an adamant person.
Analysis

Dear Papa.
This is in answer to your letter about my transgression. Yes, my first rank slipped to the second. You advise that I should think before answering the papers. Yes, the operating word ‘think’ did make me reflect and these are the results of those reflections.

Father, we’ve never really been close and I can’t rightly say you’ve been my friend, philosopher, guide, etc. Yet I would like you to be aware of my thoughts. They are very important to me. You are highly educated and you provide very well for the family. But in your departmental store, do you apply Pythogoras’ Theorem or Newton’s Law of Gravity? For that matter, does your doctor friend? Or your lawyer brother?

Meaning
  • Transgression – To violate a law; disobey
  • Philosopher – A thinker; one who ponders over life, death, etc.
  • Provide for – Earn and spend for a family
Answers
  1. What do you think of the relation between the father and the son in the letter?
    The father and son in the letter do not agree with their world view, more precisely speaking, any of their views. The two are poles apart. The father is a rigid-mind with a set of rules written for his son. He is an uncompromising philosopher who has always taught his son to be moulded in the his mould of beliefs.
  2. Why does Rahul find his grandfather’s outlook appealing and agreeable?
    The son’s grandfather used to speak of a carefree and beautiful childhood, of his days when he spent plucking mangoes and guavas from their orchards, of picnics on the banks of the river where men cooked mouth-watering food, of playing marbles and other games. From his talk it was evident that studies were only secondary for our survival. In his opinion life was to be lived, enjoyed and experienced.
  3. “Father, is he fibbing? Or is it possible that the world has turned topsy turvy in just about 70 years?”
    1. Name the speaker.
      Rahul is the speaker.
    2. Why does the speaker ask this?
      Rahul had always found his grandfather in the right place. He was a man who believed in simplicity in sharp contrast to Rahul’s father. Rahul asks this logical question to remind his father that his grandfather’s life had not been a joke but one worth living.
    3. What is the significance of 70 years?
      Seventy years refers to the grandfather’s age. It is significance because during these 70 years, grandfather had acquired a load a experience that shaped a philosophy that Rahul considers ideal.
  4. Papa, my grandmother is semi-literate. Yet she is at peace with her pots, pans, her flowers and garden, her Bhagvad Gita and scriptures. My mother, highly qualified, is highly strung, tense and nervous. Do you think literacy makes us, restless, afraid and frustrated?
    1. How does Rahul compare the life of his grandmother with his mother?
      Rahul’s grandmother was not very much educated as his mother was yet the older woman was a happy one. She lived a life of contentment.
    2. Why does Rahul feel like agreeing with his grandfather’s code of living?
      For the remaining answers, mail to bejewjohn@gmail.com
    3. Rahul thinks that education doesn’t necessarily make one happy in life. Do you agree? Why?
Meaning
  • Carefree – Easy-going; free
  • Plucking – Pulling (a flower) out
  • Orchards – An enclosed area where fruit-trees are cultivated
  • Gilli-danda – A game of tipcat
  • Ancillary – Secondary; additional
  • Fibbing – Lying
  • Topsy turvy – Upside down
  • Strung – Bundled together

Oh Papa, last week, my rose plant almost died. Some pests. I asked my Biology teacher what I should do to save it. And she was cross. She said go ask the guy who keeps gardening things. He’ll tell you. We learn about pesticides but we do not know how to use them. Oh father, it matters not to me why the apple does not fall upwards, nor do I care what Archimedes did. What matters to me is that my rose plants remain healthy; when there is a fuse in my house, I should know how to do something about it: I should know how to make a desk for myself from my carpenters tools. Instead I learn about hypotenuse, relational square roots…

Meaning
  • Pests –
  • She was cross – She was angry
  • The guy who keeps gardening things – Gardener
  • Pesticides – Chemicals that kill pests
  • Archimedes
  • Fuse –
  • Carpenters tools –
  • Hypotenuse
  • Relational square roots –
Questions
  1. What was the biology teacher’s reaction to Rahul when he sought from her a solution for his rose plant?
    The biology teacher did not think Rahul’s question relevant in her class so she asked him to approach the gardener for advice.
  2. Why do you think that the biology teacher’s reaction was immature and bad?
    The biology teacher had a low character. She was of the opinion that out of syllabus questions do no good in a class. From the way she responded to Rahul, “Go, ask the guy who keeps gardening things,” reveals her crossness and crabbiness.
  3. “Oh father, it matters not to me why the apple does not fall upwards, nor do I care what Archimedes did.” What is really important to Rahul?
    For Rahul, practical education matters more than theoretical. In his opinion, there is no good in scoring high marks on one side and on the other, being unable to apply theoretical knowledge into practice. Classroom knowledge should come handy in our day-today life.

Papa, once I asked my grandmother how she got to be so wise. Do you know what she said? By living and experiencing. And she laughed as though I had asked something which was so obvious. Are we living Papa? Or is life by-passing us? What I fear is that if I were to meet Newton face to face, I would fail to recognise him, so busy am I learning about him! You know, just like that boy, Vinu, in that award winning film, he prattles on- “the Hibiscus is red”- a hundred times, but in his book, he colours it yellow. Are we missing out on the essence of life?

Meaning
  • Wise –
  • Obvious – Certain; Doubtless
  • By-passing
  • Prattles on
  • Hibiscus –
  • Essence of life – Important things in life

Anyway Papa, do you know where I lost that quarter mark that brought about my fall? It was a fill-in-the blanks. I held that I was invited to tea and my teacher was adamant that he was invited for tea. A matter of grammar. And Papa, if he says George Bush is the president of India, it will have to be so. If he says the sun rises in the west, so be it: and if he says the earth is flat, it will be, it will be, my Papa. At least on my answer papers. My first rank is at stake, you see. Still, my dearest Papa, I shall keep your advice in mind and try not to lose any quarter marks.

Meaning
  • Quarter – One-fourth
  • Brought about
  • My fall – My poor performance; my failure
  • I held that
  • Adamant
  • So be it –
  • At stake

As always, your ever obedient son,
Rahul

P.S. Your eyes will not see this anguished plea, my father. This was only to lighten my over-burdened heart. It is not all arteries and muscle: it feels too.

Meaning
  • P.S – Post Script
  • Anguished
  • Plea –
  • Lighten
  • Over-burdened
  • Arteries

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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