Page No 18:
In what way is Iswaran an asset to Mahendra?
Iswaran cooked for Mahendra, washed his clothes, and chatted with him at night. He would narrate various stories on varied subjects. He also had an amazing ability to produce vegetables and cooking ingredients out of nowhere. He would miraculously cook the most delicious dishes made with fresh vegetables within an hour of arriving at the new workplace. Iswaran was quite attached to Mahendra and followed him to wherever he was posted. Hence, Iswaran was an asset to Mahendra in more ways than one.
How does Iswaran describe the uprooted tree on the highway? What effect does he want to create in his listeners?
Iswaran’s descriptions were greatly influenced by the Tamil thrillers he read. When he came across an uprooted tree on the highway, he said very dramatically that the road was deserted and he was all alone. Suddenly, he spotted something that “looked like an enormous bushy beast lying sprawled across the road.” He was half-inclined to turn and go back. However, as he came closer, he saw that it was a fallen tree with its dry branches spread out.
Even if he was narrating the smallest of incidents, he tried to introduce suspense and a surprise ending to the story.
How does he narrate the story of the tusker? Does it appear to be plausible?
He started the story of the elephant by giving a prologue in which he called elephants ‘huge well-fed beasts.’ He said that after escaping from the timber yard, the elephant started roaming about, stamped on bushes and tore up wild creepers. It then came to the main road of the town and smashed all the stalls selling fruits, mud pots, and clothes. It then entered a school ground where the children were playing. It pulled out the football goal-post, tore down the volleyball net, flattened the drum kept for water and uprooted the shrubs. All the teachers and students were so afraid that they climbed up to the terrace of the school building. According to Iswaran, he was studying in the junior class at that time. He grabbed a cane from the hands of one of the teachers and ran into the open. The elephant continued grunting and stamping its feet. It looked frightening. However, he moved slowly towards it. When the elephant was ready to rush towards him, he moved forward and whacked its third toe nail. It looked stunned and then collapsed.
This story does not appear to be plausible.
Why does the author say that Iswaran seemed to more than make up for the absence of a TV in Mahendra’s living quarters?
Iswaran used to narrate different dramatic stories to Mahendra. Not a day passed when he did not recount some story packed with adventure, horror or suspense. Mahendra enjoyed listening to these stories, whether it was credible or not, because of the manner in which they were narrated. It is for this reason that the narrator says that Iswaran seemed to more than make up the absence of a TV in Mahendra’s living quarters.
Mahendra calls ghosts or spirits a figment of the imagination. What happens to him on a full-moon night?
One night, Mahendra was woken up from his sleep by a low moan close to the window near his bed. Initially, he thought it was a cat running after mice. However, the sound was too guttural for a cat. Mahendra resisted the curiosity of looking outside the window but when the noise became louder, he could not resist the temptation. When he looked outside, he saw a dark cloudy form clutching a bundle. He broke into a cold sweat and fell back on the pillow. When he recovered from this ghastly experience, he concluded that it must have been some trick that his subconscious mind had played on him. When he got up in the morning, the terrible memory of the previous night had faded from his memory. However, when Iswaran confirmed the presence of the female ghost, he immediately resigned from his post and decided to leave the ‘haunted place.’
Can you think of some other ending for the story?
Try and come up with an alternative ending for the story, if you can, and discuss it with your friends and teachers.