NCERT English Beehive Class 9 Chapter 6 - My Childhood

Chapter 6 - My Childhood

Writer of the Story - A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Question and Answers
Question 1: Where was Abdul Kalam’s house?
Answer:
Abdul Kalam’s house that was built in the middle of the nineteenth century with bricks and limestone was on the Mosque Street, Rameswaram.

Question 2: What do you think Dinamani is the name of?
Answer:
Dinamani is the name of a local newspaper. We know this because Kalam mentioned that his brother-in-law used to tell him stories about World War II and that he would later attempt to trace them in the headlines of Dinamani.

Question 3: Who were Abdul Kalam’s school friends? What did they later become?
Answer:
Abdul Kalam’s school friends were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Later in life, Ramanadha Sastry took up the priesthood of the Rameswaram temple from his father, Aravindan took to the business of arranging transport to the visitors/pilgrims while Sivaprakasan became catering contractor for the Southern Railways.

Question 4: How did Abdul Kalam earn his first wage?
Answer:
During the World War II, the train that usually halted at the Rameswaram station was not permitted to stop there. So, Samsuddin Kalam’s cousin, took Kalam along with him to get hold of the newspaper bundles as they were thrown out of the train on the Rameswaram and Dhanuskodi. He also paid Kalam for his work and thus Kalam proudly earned his first wage.

Question 5: Had Kalam earned any money before that? How?
Answer:
Kalam had earned money even before he earned his first wages from his cousin. It was also during the World War II when there was an unexpected demand for tamarind seeds. He collected the seeds and sold them to the provision shop on Mosque Street. He even earned a princely sum of one anna.

Question 6: How does the author describe his:
i) father
ii) mother
iii) himself
Answer:

i) The author describes his father Jainulabdeen as a tall, handsome man. Although he didn’t have much of a formal education, he was progressive and valued education. He was an austere man and didn’t have much wealth. However, he was generous and provided material and emotional security to his family. He was a practical man with a vast source of wisdom and never obstructed the progressive ways of his children.

ii) Kalam’s mother Ashiamma was tall, good-looking and very attached to her children. She was an ideal help to her husband. She was a gentle and kind lady with faith in goodness and deep kindness fed a number of outsiders everyday. Kalam inherited the qualities of kindness and generosity from her.

iii) Kalam was a rather short boy with average looks. Unlike his parents, who had quite striking features, his appearance was undistinguished.

Question 7: What characteristics does he say he inherited from his parents?
Answer:
Kalam says, ‘Every child is born with some inherited characteristics, into a specific socio-economic and emotional environment and trained in certain ways by figuring of authority.’ He says that he inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness from his mother. These are qualities, he says, he had inherited from his parents.

Question 8: “On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups,” says the author.
i) Which social groups does he mention? Were these groups easily identifiable (for example, by the way they dressed)?
ii) Were they aware only of their differences or did they also naturally share friendships and experiences? (Think of the bedtime stories in Kalam’s house; of who his friends were; and of what used to take place in the pond near his house.)
iii) The author speaks both of people who were very aware of the differences among them and those who tried to bridge these differences. Can you identify such people in the text?
iv) Narrate two incidents that show how differences can be created, and also how they can be resolved. How can people change their attitudes?
Answer:
The small society of Rameswaram was not very rigid in terms of segregation of different social groups and shared friendships and experiences. The children in the small town never felt any differences amongst themselves despite their religious differences because of their upbringing. The cap they wore on their head and the sacred thread on their chest were the only signs of the religion they belonged to. They lived in harmony, helping each other in every possible way. During the Sita Rama Kalyanam Ceremony, his family used to arrange boats with special platforms for carrying the idols of the Lord from the temple to the marriage site, situated in the middle of the pond called ‘Rama Tirtha’. Kalam’s bedtime stories from his mother and grandmother were from the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet. Kalam’s friends included Ramanadha Sastry, the son of the high priest in the Rameswaram temple, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan who belonged to orthodox Brahmin families. This in itself stands as a testimony of how the town of Rameswaram was beyond religious and societal barriers.

Question 9: “Your children aren’t your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. You may give them your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts.”
i) Who spoke these lines and in what context?
ii) What is the essence of the above words?
Answer:

i) Abdul Kalam’s father spoke those words. Kalam wanted to leave Rameswaram for further studies. He wanted to study at the district headquarters at Ramanathapuram. His father appreciated his requests and agreed to let him go. He also convinced Kalam’s mother by referring the words of Khalil Gibram.

ii) Kalam’s father was a great inspiration to him. His analogy of a seagull was a source of motivation. Explaining to his hesitant wife, Kalam’s father quoted Khalil Gibram and detailed the importance of not imposing their thoughts on anyone, especially children. Thus, explaining the importance of giving liberty of free thought to their children.

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