Class 10, CBSE English (Communicative) Interact in English Literature Reader
NCERT solutions of English Literature Reader textbook Exercise Questions
(Important Questions only)
Q.V: Answer the following questions briefly:
1. Who was Ali? Where did he go daily?
2. “Ali displays qualities of love and patience.” Give evidence from the story to support the statement.
3. How do you know Ali was a familiar figure at the post office?
4. Why did Ali give up hunting?
5. What impression do you form of the postmaster after reading the story, ‘The Letter’?
6. The postmaster says to Ali,”What a pest you are, brother!” Do you agree with the statement? Give reasons for your answer.
7. Ali came out very slowly, turning after every few steps to gaze at the post office. His eyes were filled with tears of helplessness, for his patience was exhausted, even though he still had faith. Why were Ali’s eyes filled with tears of helplessness? What had exhausted his patience? How / why was his faith still intact?
8. Tortured by doubt and remorse, he sat down in the glow of the charcoal sigri to wait. Who is tortured by doubt and remorse? Why? What is he waiting for?
1. Ali was an old man and a good hunter in his youth. He was also known as coachman Ali. Everyday he would go to the post office at 5 a.m. He was the first to reach there. He sat on a bench and waited there for a letter from his daughter Miriam who had left him many years ago after her marriage. He had followed this practice for the last five years.
2. Ali’s only child Miriam had left him after her marriage. Ali did not get any news of his daughter for the last five years. Ali’s loneliness changed his life completely as he gave up once upon his favourite sport hunting without which he could not pass even one day earlier. Now it was his love for daughter that kept him alive. During this time, he would go the post office daily in anticipation of a letter from his daughter. He used to sit patiently at a particular corner in the post office daily from five in the morning till late evening. His faith and love for his daughter kept him warmed to bear the bitter cold. Despite going back empty handed, he followed his routine visit to the post office without any failure and patiently waiting for the moment when the letter from his daughter would be delivered to him. His actions display the qualities of love and patience.
3. Ali would walk to the post office each morning in anticipation of a letter from his daughter Miriam. He would reach the post office at 5 a.m. daily and always occupied a seat in a particular corner of the building. People laughed at him as he waited for a letter which never came in the last five years. The postmen began to make a fun of him. They would call out his name for the fun of seeing him, up and come to the door. Thus he was a familiar figure at the post office.
4. A change came in Ali’s life when his only child Miriam left him alone after her marriage. She went off with her husband to his regiment in the Punjab. After this incident Ali understood the meaning of love and separation. He could no longer feel pleased or laugh at the bewildered terror of young partridges bereft of their parents. Being unable to deal with the emptiness and helplessness in life, Ali gave up hunting as it no longer gave him enjoyment as before.
5. In the beginning of the story, the postmaster seems haughty, cold and indifferent. He would reproach Ali for his anxiety and even called him a pest. Later his personal experience of anxiety, worry and tension for his own daughter makes him a sympathetic person and a loving father. He considers each letter as a warm beating heart and realizes essential human worth. At the end of the story he is filled with remorse and reproaches himself for failure to understand Ali’s anxiety.
6. Here the word ‘pest’ has been used in a derogatory sense. Ali’s regular and persistent presence at the post office and asking for his letter would have been irritating to anybody. In the view of the above so far the post master’s irritation is concerned, his calling Ali a ‘pest’ is understandable. But his statement was definitely harsh which we can not agree with. Actually, the post master failed to realize the anxiety, love and hope of a father in Ali which he understood later on.
7. Ali had grown very weak. He did not come to the post office for several days. When he came at last, it was a struggle for him to breathe. There were clear sign of his approaching end on his face. He enquired about his letter impatiently. The post master lacked sympathy or understanding. He lost temper on Ali and talked rudely. This sort of treatment made old Ali shed tears at his helplessness. Although he had not lost faith, his patience was exhausted by the harsh treatment of the post master and the indifference shown by the clerk. He still hoped to hear from Miriam.
8. The post master is tortured by doubt and remorse. His daughter lay ill in another town. He was anxiously waiting for some news from his daughter. The letter did not come. A single night spent in suspense; anxiously waiting for the news of his daughter had made him sympathetic for the poor old Ali who had spent his nights in the same suspense for the last five years. He was filled with remorse as he realized that he had treated Ali harshly.
The postmaster was waiting for a letter from his daughter who was suffering from an illness in another town.
Q.VII: Tortured by doubt and remorse, the postmaster sits in the glow of a charcoal sigri that night, waiting for news of his daughter. As he sits, he writes his diary. As the postmaster, write a diary entry in about 150 words outlining your feelings about the day’s events.
11th August, 2010
In my long career as a post master, I have never felt as bewildered and miserable as I am feeling today. Pray God, I shall never be the same person again. Something paradoxical that happened today has changed my views about the letters completely. They are not a mere piece of paper delivered by our peons but each of them contains a warm, beating heart. I had been waiting anxiously for news of my daughter who lay ill at Lucknow. Today I came to the office at 3’o clock in the morning and saw an envelope of the colour and handwriting on it that I expected to receive. I snatched it eagerly, but the next moment I dropped it as the letter was addressed to coachmen Ali.
At the stroke of five, I heard a soft knock at the door. It was Ali. He was leaning on a stick, bent double with age. Tears were wet on his face. He looked strange and unearthly, with a kind of glow around him. He disappeared before I could give him the letter. Later I was surprised to learn from Lakshmi Das that Ali had died three months ago. I was bewildered, perplexed. Had I really seen Ali or was it his spirit or had my imagination deceived me?
I suffered the pangs of anxiety and separation of my daughter yet again as I did not receive any letter from her today. In the evening I, visited Ali’s grave and laid the letter on it. For the first time in my life I realized what the anxiety and pain of separation from the child mean to a father. After spending but a single night in suspense and anxiety for the news, I can understand now the plight of old Ali who had to spend the last five years in the same suspense. Oh how long and tiresome must have been Ali’s waiting!