1. Narrate ‘The Tale of Melon City’ in your own words.
Ans. Once in a city there ruled a just and peace-loving king. He generously got an arch gate built over the highway. He thought foolishly that the gate would improve the general quality of life. One day, the king’s crown was lost when it touched the low-built arch. He took it as a disgrace. He ordered the chief of builders to be hanged. The builder blamed the workers who held the masons guilty. The architect, in his turn, blamed the king for making a change in the building plan. A wise man suggested that the arch itself be hanged. Since the crowd demanded the execution of the culprit, a noose was set up. The king alone was found tall enough to fit the noose, so he was hanged.
The new ruler was crowned on the advice of an idiot. A melon was set on the throne. The ministers and the common people were equally happy because the melon king did not rule at all. He was just a melon after all.
2. What impression would you form of a state where the king was ‘just and placid’?
Ans. A state ruled by a foolish king is doomed to lawlessness. The king said to be cool-headed and calm was actually short-tempered and mindless. He changed his orders several times. He had to pay a heavy price for his wavering mind an absurd decision. He carried his notion of justice a little too far. He lost his head when he lost his crown. He wanted the culprit to be hanged. But he took a strange decision to please the people. He got the noose set up. But the noose was a little too high. He himself was found fit for that noose. This was a kingdom of fools. The ministers accepted the new ruler named by an idiot. They crowned a melon and the people accepted him tamely.
3. How according to you can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?
Ans. Peace and liberty can be maintained in a state where the law is supreme and the common people are not harassed without reason. Laws are made by the parliament but they are interpreted and enforced by the courts. So an ideal state must have an independent judiciary.
4. Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony.
Ans. The Tale of Melon City narrates a humorous story about the nonsensical ruler of the state. It was, in fact, a kingdom of fools. The king got a gate built presumably to enlighten the common people. He agreed to execute the arch on an old man’s suggestion. He agreed to hang somebody because the people demanded it. These are the instances of humour and comical relief. The irony was that the king was executed on the basis of a royal decree signed by himself.
5. ‘The Tale of Melon City’ has been narrated in a verse form. This is a unique style which lends extra charm to an ancient tale. Find similar examples in your language and share them in the class.
Ans. Attempt it yourself, and find out a tale of this nature in your own mother tongue.