2. Reading Skills Comprehension: A Sleepy Little Town

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A Sleepy Little Town

Read the following passage carefully and answers the following questions:  

It was at Gunupur, a sleepy little town in Koraput, that I had gained my first acquaintance with any river. It was the Vamsadhara. It remained shallow and as transparent as glass almost all through the season that I was there. Numerous tiny fish swam with or against its placid current and played hide and seek amidst the pebbles at its bottom.

Gazing at them for hours on end, sitting on the sandy riverbank, was a great help to me. I could wash away my anguish and disgust over life. The anguish and disgust were caused by my guardians. They insisted on my taking to as irrational an occupation as learning how to read and write. I had already lived five long years without facing the slightest challenge to my existence on account of my innocence of reading and writing. What was their relevance then? Would the sweetmeats taste sweeter if I could read? Would the rainbow or the hills or the river look more charming if I could write?

I had gained a delightful acquaintance a few days earlier. He was Appu. We talked on several vital issues such as how a little imp residing in an old, abandoned well behind Appu’s hut popped up from time to time at night with the sole purpose of making faces at Appu, or how a shooting star which had fallen on the hilltop was still smouldering when Appu’s father went up and Lighted a bidi from the last flame coming from it, and so on and so forth, in the course of which I asked him, ‘Have you Learnt the alphabet?’

‘Which son of a father in this wide world would dare to make me do that sort of thing ?‘ he challenged his arms akimbo. The next moment he shouted, ‘Runaway boy, escape with your dear Life!’ and sprinted off like a shooting star.

Surprised, I looked in every direction. There was no sign of any wolf or tiger or demon or ghoul anywhere around. The only living soul, birds and a few animals apart, was a tall, fair and heavily moustached man. Holding something like a sword, he walked through the bushy meadow beyond the sand. He took no notice of me and entered a solitary one-room house with a tin roof, surrounded by shrubs.

Appu, back in a few minutes, enlightened me about the stranger. Inside that little house detached from the locality, the man engaged in the strange act of butchering goats; once in a while, for a change, he caught hold of a boy and dragged him in and finished him off in a trice. Appu stared and caressed his neck while passing on the last bit of information in a whisper.

One day at noon, Appu and I proceeded towards that dreadful cabin. We practically rolled all the way on the ground so that nobody saw us. The door was ajar. We peeped in, the floor was swampy with a thick plaster of blood. The sight and smell were depressing. Who knew how much blood had flowed from the goats, and how much from the missing boys?

1.Answer the following questions briefly:

(a) How old was the narrator?

(b) What was the reason for his anguish and disgust?

(c) Write the phrase in para 3 that tells that Appu was a friend of the narrator whose company made him happy.

(d) What do you think ‘a little imp’ is? (choose) A tiny creature with magical powers/A wizard with a dirty face.

2.Complete the following sentences: 

(a) The narrator was able to see numerous tiny fish playing hide and seek inside the river because

(b) He spent hours

3. Find words/phrases that mean the same as: 

(a) Calm, undisturbed (para 1)

(b) With the hands-on, the hips and elbows bent outwards (para 4)

Answers

1.(a) He was five years old.

(b) The reason for his anguish and disgust was that he had been forced to learn to read and write.

(c) The phrase is ‘a delightful acquaintance’.

(d) A tiny creature with magical powers.

2.(a) the water was shallow and transparent

(b) on gazing at numerous tiny fish in the river

3.(a) placid

(b) akimbo

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