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Read the passage given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Visitors from the city and the local village invariably ask, “Aren’t you scared of living alone?”
2. Taxi, drivers dropping us home late at night get the jitters when we turn into our forested dirt road. Over the few minutes it takes to arrive at our gate, they repeatedly ask if there is indeed a house at the end of the lonely path. Some have been specific about what they fear: Ghosts. “Haven’t seen one so far,” I reply and enquire, “What do they look like?” Normally garrulous men turn silent as they focus on the road with great intensity. Once they drop us off at home, they just want to get out of here fast. They don’t want tea or even water.
3. At night, our farm probably looks desolate to our visitors; not a single neighbouring house can be seen. The nearest village is a kilometre away, although new houses are popping up closer towards us. For now, we live in magnificent solitude. Over the years I’ve become addicted to it; any more than three days with people, I get crotchety.
4. When I emerge from my bolt-hole once every few weeks, I need to consciously think my way through normal social interactions. The effort tires me out but it likely tires others even more. I do feel the need to fill silences; in fact, I don’t even notice them. When Rom is travelling, the dogs and I have in comfortable silence. Sometimes I’d comment out loud to the dogs about something I read. They are telepathic, they don’t need a preamble. In response, they cock their ears to say, “Is that so?” With Rom, however, I have to narrate the story from the beginning. What a long way he has to go.
5. Besides the occasional sound of traffic, cicadas and birds dominate the airwaves. One young chap from the city said in wonderment over lunch, “I can hear myself chew.” This relative silence is what makes the festival season so unbearable when temple loudspeakers from the nearby village start up at unearthly hours. We read the Noise Pollution Act to the village headman at the start of every season and it has a marginal effect. Sometimes we play music to drawn the scratchy music that’s on a repetitious loop, but mostly we just plug our ears for those few weeks and listen to our heartbeats instead.
6. The one disadvantage of this situation is that it’s hard to get a village lady to come to work. They are scared to walk up the forest path alone even in broad daylight. The way people will suspect their morality. More that, however, is the traditional negative view of the forest as an uncivilised place. People come to the forest to do what they dare not do at home: drink, meet their paramours, gamble and even murder.
7. Convinced by friends, Rom went to the extent of buying a burglar alarm but it was too much effort to fix. Besides, more than intruders, there’s a greater possibility that passing wild animals would trigger the alarm. So instead he pulled out the motion-sensors and rigged it with a video camera so we could watch nocturnal wildlife.
8. A friend visiting from South Carolina asked me quietly at the end of his first day here, “Do you have a gun?” Startled, I countered, “Why would I need one” “To protect yourself.” Having thought long and hard about the security issue, all I can say is that our reputation as weirdoes who keep ghosts, snakes and other creepy-crawlies company is more of deterrence than a firearm.
9. In any case, reading the papers makes me wonder if the city is a safer place. Neighbours within whispering distance of each other are oblivious of burglaries and murders. Perhaps I ought to be asking the question, “Are you not scared of living alone in the city?”
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 taxi drivers dropping the writer off at her home were scared because………….
(i) they felt the house looked spooky
(ii) the house was located in a lonely part of the village
(iii) the area around the house was the favourite haunt of disreputable people of the village
(iv) the area was densely forested
(b) the irony in the situation was that
(i) though people were scared of the solitude, the writer enjoyed being alone.
(ii) the writer was not afraid of the ghosts in her house
(iii) a lot of animals visited the writer at night
(iv) the temple made a lot of noise during the festival time
(c) we learn that the writer loved living in solitude because
(i) even when her husband was not there she enjoyed the quietness
(ii) she says social interactions tired her out
(iii) she could not bear the sound of the temple sounds during the festival times
(iv) all the above
(d) The only disadvantage that the writer feels of her situation is that
(i)she has to keep a gun for her protection
(ii) there is no one to fix the burglar alarm
(iii) she cannot find maids to work for her
(iv) the animals keep setting off the alarm
Answer the following questions briefly in your own words:
(e) Why is the writer addicted to her house even though it is located in a lonely part of the village?
(f) How does her reputation for being weird help her?
(g) What use did the writer and her husband put the alarm to?
(h) Why was the forest not considered a safe place?
(i) When is the writer forced to wear earplugs?
(j) What makes the writer remark that her house is safer than those in the cities?
(k) Find words from the passage which mean the same as each of the following:
(i) excessively talkative (para 2)
(ii) irritable/bad-tempered (para 3)
(a) (iv); (b) (i);
(c) (iv); (d) (iii)
(e) The writer likes her house even though it is in a lonely part of the village because it is very quiet and peaceful. She is addicted to the solitude.
(f) Her reputation for being weird works as a deterrent for thieves, as they think she keeps ghosts, snakes and other creepy-crawlies, and therefore they are too scared to go to her house in the forest.
(g) The author and her husband rigged the alarm with a video camera. Instead of ringing the alarm, the motion sensors now allowed them to watch the wildlife that crossed by their house at night.
(h) The forest was not considered a safe place as it is seen as an uncivilized place where people come to gamble, drink, meet their paramours or commit crimes.
(i) During the festival season, the temple loudspeakers of the nearby village start up early in the morning. The author is used to the peace and quiet, and to ignore the constant noise, she has to wear earplugs.
(j) The writer remarks that her house is safer than those in the cities because even though she lives in a forested area far from other houses, she feels safe there. On the other hand, in the cities, even though the neighbours are so close by, they don’t even know or care if the other person is being burgled or harmed.
(k) (i) garrulous (ii) crochety
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