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English CBSE Class 10 NCERT First Flight Chapter 8 Mijbil the Otter Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words

MIJBIL THE OTTER

(Explanation)

I

Author – Gavin Maxwell

Word Meaning
Crossed my mind A thought came to me
At a stone’s throw Very near
Eminently Highly
Spot Location, Place

During beginning of year 1956 I went to southern part of Iraq. That time a thought had come to my mind that I should keep an otter as pet instead of a dog. Camusfearna is surrounded by a water body. It is very close to my house. That would be a highly suitable location for conducting the experiment of having otter as a pet.

 

 

Word Meaning
Casually Informally, Without being serious
Mentioned Narrated, Told
Marsh Wet land, Bog
Tamed Trained, Domesticated

I casually narrated my thought to a friend. He advised me to get an otter from marshes of Tigris river. Because these are very commonly found there. In that region, Arabs train otters.

Word Meaning
Consulate General Officer in embassy

We went to the Basra town in Iraq. We went to the office of Consulate General to collect and answer our mails (mail here means letters and telegrams. During those days there were no e-mails) received from Europe. At the office we found that mail of my friend had arrived but my mail had not reached.

 

 

Word Meaning
Cabled Sent telegram
In advance Before, Prior

I sent a telegram to England. I did not receive any reply even after three days. So I decided to make a telephone call. It was required to book the call before twenty four hours.

Word Meaning
Out of order Not working
Breakdown Failure, Malfunction

On the first day the telephone line was not working. On the second day the telephone exchange was closed because of a religious holiday. On the third day there was some other failure. My friend went away. I agreed to meet him within a week. After five days my mail reached the office.

Word Meaning
Squatting Sitting
Beside Along the side
Sack Bag
Squirm Twist, Wriggle
Handed me Gave me

I took the mail to my bedroom to read it. There two Arabs were sitting on the floor. There was a bag on the floor. The bag twisted and jumped from time to time. They gave me a letter from my friend – “Here is your otter ….”

 

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II

Word Meaning
Thraldom Under the control of someone, Slavery
Fixation Strong attachment

After opening of that bag, a new phase of my life started. That phase has not yet ended. And it may not end before my end comes. (Meaning that this phase of life will continue throughout my life). Actually this phase of life means being under the control of otter, a strong attachment to otters. Many other people have told me about such feelings who had an otter as their pet.

 

 

Word Meaning
Emerged Appeared, Came out
Spacious Large, Having big space
Resembled Looked like, Similar
Medievally conceived Of Middle Age, Of olden times

When the bag was opened, an animal came out from the bag. It came on the big tiled floor of the bedroom of the Consulate. The animal looked like a small dragon of olden times.

 

Word Meaning
Tip End point
Symmetrical Similar, identical
Scales Layers
Armour Protective cover

This animal was fully covered by the mud – from its head to the end of its tail. The mud particles were similar. It looked as if the mud had formed an armour around the body of the animal. Between these mud particles a soft velvet fur of the animal was visible. It was of chocolate colour.

He (the otter) shook his body. I had some expectation that lot of dust would emerge and animal will be clean. But it took me about one month to remove all the dust from its body. After removal of dust, I could see the true colour of its fur.

 

 

Word Meaning
Race Breed, Type
Christened Named

I named the otter as Mijbil. Actually, it was a rare type of otter. These types of otter were earlier not known to science. Zoologists had a given a long name for this type of otter as Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. In short it was called Maxwell’s otter.

Word Meaning
Hostile Aggressive
Aloof Detached, Keeping away
Indifferent Not bothered, Not concerned

During first twenty four hours Mijbil was neither aggressive nor friendly. He remained away and was not concerned about anything. He decided to sleep on the floor and far from my bed.

Word Meaning
Small hours Very early in morning
Crooks of knee Back portion of knee
Apathy Lack of interest, Unwillingness
Keen interest Great interest
Surroundings Things around someone or something

In the very early morning hours of second night Mijbil climbed on my bed. He slept in the back side my knees till the servant brought tea for me in the morning. During the day he started taking interest. He started taking very good interest in things around him.

 

 

Word Meaning
Wild with joy Very happy
Plunging Jumping

I made a belt that fitted alround his body that had a string (lead) attached to it. Holding that string, I took him to bathroom. He jumped into the bathtub. He was extremely happy to play in water. He jumped into it and rolled into it. He quickly swam underwater along the length of bathtub. He made lot of splash of water as if it was a hippo.

Word Meaning
Characteristic Quality, Habit
Static Not moving, Stationery
Provoking Irritating, Annoying

Later I understood that this is the quality or habit of otters. They want to spread every drop of water on the floor. A bowl full of water must be immediately overturned. If the bowl cannot be overturned then otter will sit inside it, splash water till all the water comes out. Otters feel that water should always be moving and doing something. If water is not moving it is a waste and irritates an otter.

 

 

Word Meaning
Escaped Ran out
Fumbling Playing

An incident occurred after two days. Mijbil ran out from the bed room while I was entering into it. I turned and saw that his tail was moving around the bend of the corridor. There was a bathroom at the end of the corridor. When I reached in the bathroom I saw that Mijbil had climbed on the bathtub. He was playing with the chromium plated tap with his paws.

Word Meaning
Amazed Surprised
Trickle Small amount

I watched in surprise that in less than one minute he had turned the tap a bit. Now small amount of water had started coming from the tap. Very soon he turned the tap to get full flow of water from the tap.

Word Meaning
Chittering Sound of an otter
Irritation Annoyance
Cooperate To help

Luckily this time he had turned the tap in the correct direction. Many other times he would turn it in the wrong direction to close it tighter. Then he would get irritated and make various sounds. He would get disappointed because the tap was not helping him.

Very soon Mijbil started following me without the strap. He would come to me when I called his name. He spent most of his time playing.

 

 

Word Meaning
Shuffling Moving
Flick Jerk

He spent many hours playing and moving a rubber ball around in the room. He looked like a football player with four feet. He would dribble the ball. He could throw the ball with a powerful jerk of his neck to great height and distance.

Word Meaning
Juggle Play, Move an object in air and catch
Belly Stomach

But the real game of an otter is to lie on its back and play with small objects between his paws. Playing with marbles was the favourite sport for Mijbil. He would lie on his back. He will put marble on his belly. Then move his body so that marble moved from one end to other. He never dropped any marble on floor while playing this game. His belly was wide and flat.

****

III

Word Meaning
Dreaded Feared
Prospect An event, A possibility

The days at Basra passed peacefully. But I feared the event of taking Mij to England and then to Camusfearna. The Biritish airline to London does not allow animal on its flights. So I booked a flight to Paris in another airline and the next  flight from Paris to London.

Word Meaning
Insisted Forced, Demanded forcefully
Accustomed to Used to
Hurried Quick, Quickly

The airline forced that Mij should be packed in a box. Size of the box should not be more a square sized box of eighteen inch. The box was to be placed at my feet in the plane. I got the box made. Before one hour from our start, I put Mij in the box so that he gets used to it. Then I went to quickly have my food.

Word Meaning
Appalling Shocking
Spectacle Scene
Chinks Gaps

When I came back there was a shocking scene. No sound was coming from the box. But from the air holes of the box and gaps around the lid, blood had come. The blood had dried.

Word Meaning
Whipped off Quickly removed
Bloodspattered Covered with blood
Whimper Whine, Speak as if in pain
Caught at Tried to hold

I quickly opened the lock and tore the lid to open the box. Mij was tired and fully covered with blood. It produced sounds as if it was in pain and tried to hold my legs.

Word Meaning
Shreds Small pieces
Miserable Uncomfortable, Sad

He had torn lining of the box into small pieces. I removed all these small pieces from the box so that there was no sharp edges in the box. Only ten minutes were left for the flight time when I completed this work. The airport was five miles away. I put the uncomfortable Mij back into the box and closed the lid. I had put my hand on the lid. It was not locked.

Word Meaning
Ricochetting Rebounding, Changing direction
Take off To start, To fly
Infuriated Very angry

I sat on the back seat of the car. I had placed the box near me. The driver was driving the car very fast in a zig zag manner (quickly changing directions) through the traffic of streets of Basra. The aeroplane was ready to take off. I was quickly taken to the plane by angry officials.

Luckily my seat in the plane was at front of the plane. I covered the area around my feet with newspapers. Then I rang the bell to call an airhostess. I gave her a small parcel of fish to keep in a cool place. These fish were for Mij.

Word Meaning
Profound Sincere, Intense, Great
Admiration Appreciation
Retained Continued to hold

I told her everything about the events that had happened during last half an hour. I continue to hold sincere and huge  appreciation for that air hostess. She was really very generous and kind.

Word Meaning
Suggested Advised, Recommended
Gratitude Thankful
Unprepared Not ready

She advised me to keep my pet on my knees. So I put the box in my lap. I wanted to kiss her hand to express my sincere thanks to her. But I did not fully know behaviour of otter. Hence I was not ready for what happened after this.

Word Meaning
In a flash Quickly
Squawks Shouts
Shrieks Cries, Shouts

Very quickly Mij came out of the box. He ran quickly towards other end of the aircraft. There were lot of shouting. A woman stood up from her seat shouting “A rat! A rat!”

Word Meaning
Portly Fat
Charming Attractive

I saw that tail of Mij was disappearing below the feet of a fat Indian who was wearing a white turban. I dived to catch it. I could not catch Mij but my face got covered by curry the person was eating. The air hostess said with an attractive smile that I should go back to my seat. She will find the animal and bring it to me.

Word Meaning
Craning Stretching neck to see something
Distressed Painful
Chitter A type of sound
Bounded on Jumped to
Nuzzle Rub one’s nose to something

I came back to my seat. I was stretching my neck to look for the Mij. Suddenly I heard a painful sound familiar to me. Mij jumped to my knees and lap. It began to rub its nose on my face and my neck.

****

IV

 

After the journey that was full of events, Maxwell and his otter reached London. Maxwell had a flat there.

Word Meaning
Terrapin A type of turtle
Shell Outer cover

Mij and I stayed in London for about a month. He used to play for many hours at a stretch. He used to play with many toys like ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit and shell of a terrapin. I had brought a shell of a turtle for him from his native marshes. (Means it was brought from Basra)

Word Meaning
Engrossed Absorbed, Occupied

He invented a new game with the ping pong ball. This game used to keep him occupied for up to half an hour in one stretch. A suitcase that I had taken to Iraq got damaged during return journey to home. The lid of this suitcase remained at a slope after closing it.

Word Meaning
Dash Run quickly, Sprint
Ambush Surprise attack
Crouch Bend knees and lay on the ground
Spring up Jump, Rise suddenly
Trot off Walk proudly

Mij found out if he placed the ping pong ball at the high end on the lid, the ball would roll across the length of the suitcase. He would quickly run around the suitcase and reach the other end. He would be ready there to catch the ball. He would catch the ping pong ball before it fell down. With the ball he would walk to the higher end to play the game once more.

Word Meaning
Lead Strap
Precisely Exactly

I took him out of my house for exercising. I took him with a strap on his body and a string exactly like people would take their dog for a walk.

Word Meaning
Compulsive habits Fixed behaviour
Rituals Series of actions

Very soon Mij developed his own pattern of walking on the streets of London. These were similar to series of actions that a child would have while walking home from school. Examples of such actions could be placing feet exactly at the centre of each tile of the floor, touching every seventh post of railing or to pass the outside of every second lamp post.

Word Meaning
Frontage Front portion
Tug To pull
Gallop Run quickly
Distraction Diversion, Disturbance

Opposite to my flat there was a building of primary school. It was a single storied building. It had a boundary wall of about two feet high. While returning from the walk but not while going to walk, Mij would pull me towards the wall. He would jump on the wall. He would run at the top of the wall along the full length of thirty yards. This caused a disturbance both to students and teachers.

It is not strange that an average person residing in London cannot recognize an otter. But their guesses about Mij really surprised me. Otter belongs to group of animals called Mustellines. Other animals in the group are badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink and some others.

Word Meaning
Barrage A series of something
Conjectural Based on guess or opinion
Sprayed Included, Distributed across

I was asked a series of questions about Mij based on their opinion. These included every variety of Mustelline group of animals but did not include an otter. People randomly guesses if it was a baby seal, a squirrel, a beaver, a walrus etc. At one of the dog show I asked if Mij was a hippo. There were many other guess as well. I used to laugh at such guesses.

Word Meaning
Laid down Put down
Stare Look carefully or continuously

But the question I liked most was asked by a labourer who was digging a pit in the street. I was quite far from him and he put down his tool. He put his hands on his hips and started looking carefully at the Mij.

Word Meaning
Drew nearer Came near
Affront Insult, Humiliation
Abreast Side by side, at the same level
Glared Looked continuously

When I came near to him I could see his expression of surprise and humiliation. His expression told me that I should not play any jokes on him. (Meaning that I should be careful of him). When I reached right at his side, he spat on the ground, looked carefully at Mij then asked in a heavy voice – “Hello Mister, what is this animal called?”

 

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FOG

(Explanation)

Poet – Carl Sandburg

The fog comes to a harbor and city silently. No person can predict when it will come. Fog comes as silently as a cat comes to a house. No one can predict when a cat will come to a house. The cat would silently sit somewhere in the house. The fog sits over the city and the whole city comes under a fog. After sometime the fog moves away from the city silently without making any announcement or giving indication. It is again just like a cat. A cat would move out of the house silently.

****

 

Important Links
Mijbil the Otter – Textbook Q&A Mijbil the Otter – Extra Q&A
The Glimpses of India – Explanation Madam Rides the Bus – Explanation
The Glimpses of India – Textbook Q&A Madam Rides the Bus – Textbook Q&A
The Glimpses of India – Extra Q&A Madam Rides the Bus – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing

 


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