25. Reading Skills Comprehension: BOARDERS

By | June 17, 2019

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Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow:

1. There were three kinds of borders in the convent. The first class borders, who were given a breakfast of cereal, eggs and toast, meat at lunch-time, snacks at tea and pudding after supper; the second class girls, who had only cereal at the breakfast, rice and fish curry at lunch and no pudding at supper; the third class borders, who got only a gruel made of maize in the morning, rice at lunch and gruel again at night. Worse off than even the third class borders were the children without parents. They were the ones who cleaned the lavatories, swept the droppings of the turkeys and the dead leaves from the kitchen yard, chopped firewood, helped in the kitchen and ate only two meals of gruel a day.

2. They wore white and exuded the smell of rancid coconut oil which they had applied to their dusty hair. These children were nearly always busy filling up the wooden tubs in the many bathrooms that they hated drawing water from the well for their own baths. They therefore bathed only once a week.

3. The oldest of these children was a 70-year-old lady called Rocky Mariam who went to the bazaar with baskets to buy the provisions for the cruising-house. Whenever she came on the scene the turkeys chased her, making loud friendly sounds, and she spoke to them in Malayalam in a quavering voice full of affection. They are calling me Ammachi (Mother) said the old lady one day pointing at the gawky birds.

4. The cook laughed and her laughter resembled the cackle of birds. She was called Felicitas and was respected by all the children. It was within her power to give them an extra ladle of gruel if they pleased her. She was weedy and emaciated. Her teeth looked like rusty nails, being pointed and discoloured by the betel and tobacco she chewed the whole day long.

5. After each vacation, each of us brought from our homes sweets and fruits and banana chips. Once, my grandmother had sent with me a bunch of ripe bananas which disappeared from our dressing room at night. It was obvious that someone very hungry had eaten them, creeping into our rooms while we were asleep, for we found the peels lying outside the window.

6.Mid does not want anyone to know about this petty theft but the assistant boarding-mistress somehow got wind of it and decided to make a huge fuss. After the prayer, she told the children that St. Anthony was going to turn the culprit insane within three days. For two days we went around looking for lunacy in others’ faces

7. Finally, at dusk, a terrified girl went up to the plaster statue of St. Anthony in the chapel and began to sob hysterically. The nuns prayed to the saint and begged him to spare the young girl in view of her tender age. She was a plump girl, fond of eating and apparently the convents niggardly rations did not satisfy her hunger. She was let off with a gloomy warning from the Mother Superior. She developed convulsions soon after and went home for good.

On the basis of your understanding of the above passage answer each of the questions given below with the help of options that follow:

(a) The fact that the orphans were treated in such a harsh manner shows that the members running the convent were ————–

(i) discriminatory        (ii) miserly

(iii) brutal                    (iv) unkind

(b) The orphans bathed only once a week because———-

  (i) they had no time to bathe

 (ii) they were busy filling water for others

(iii) they did not have the energy left to fill water for themselves

 (iv) they were not permitted to fill water for their baths

(c) Felicitas was ———

  (i) the cook at the convent    (ii) the oldest orphan living in the convent

 (iii) the banana thief              (iv) the girl whose bananas were stolen

(d) The fact that the girls believed that the thief would become mad shows that———

(i)they were very innocent

 (ii) they were not very intelligent

(iii) they were scared of the authorities

(iv) they were very religious

Answer the following questions briefly in your own words:

(e) Why do you think were the orphans treated differently from the others?

 (f) How did Rocky Mariam treat the turkeys in the convent?

(g) Why was Felicitas so popular with the orphans?

(h) Why are the cook’s teeth compared to rusty nails?

(i) Do you think the narrator felt upset at the loss of her bananas? Give reasons for your answer.

 (j) Why did the banana thief develop convulsions?

(k) Find words from the passage which mean the same as each of the following:

 (i) rotten/stale (para-2)

(ii) miserly (para-7)


 (a) (i);             (b) (iii);

(c) (i);              (d) (i)

(e) Because they did not have parents to pay for their food and board.

(f) She was fond of them and spoke to them in Malayalam. She felt they considered her as a mother figure.

(g) Because she sometimes gave them extra food, if she was happy with them.

(h) Because the betel and tobacco she chewed had stained her teeth to a rusty colour, and because her teeth were pointed, like nails.

(i) No, she doesn’t seem to have been very upset, since she did not want to complain about the theft, and thought that some hungry child might have eaten it.

(j) She was so upset by Mother Superior’s warning that she developed convulsions.

(k) (i) Rancid;              (ii) Niggardly

Download the above Passage in PDF Worksheet (Printable)

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