English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Vistas Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words
MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD
I. The Cutting of My Long Hair
Author – Zitkala Sa
|Land of Apples||Area where apples are grown in abundance|
|Land of Apples||Place that has restriction|
Author (Zitkala-Sa) says that the place (boarding school) had so many restriction. She felt very cold because there was snow on the ground. Snow on tress had melted. She had some bitter experiences on the very first day.
|Belfry||Place where bell is installed|
A large bell started ringing. The bell was installed on the upper floor. Its loud voice of metal came from the place where bell was installed. The sound was very loud for our soft ears.
|Clatter||Sound of objects striking against each other|
|Bare floor||Floor without carpet|
There was sound of footsteps on the floor. [Many people were walking] The floor did not have carpet so the sound was a bit loud. It was a disturbing sound. [Zitkala has been sent to new place to stay]
|Undercurrent||In the background|
|Unknown tongue||Unknown language|
|Murmuring||Low voices, Whispering|
|My spirit tore itself||I tried my best|
Many harsh voices were being spoken together. In the background many people were speaking a language not known to me. [Here ‘me’ refers to Zitkala ]. I could not move away from confusion and disturbance created by these voices. I tried my best to regain my freedom but the struggle was useless.
|Paleface woman||White woman|
|Come up||To walk, To move towards|
|Stiff shoes||Hard shoes|
|Closely clinging dresses||Tight fitting clothes|
A white woman who had white hair was walking behind us. We all were asked to walk in a line to the dining room. All other girls were Indian girls. Their shoes were hard. They were wearing tight fitting clothes.
|Shingled hair||Boy cut hair, Short hair|
|Moccasins||Shoes with soft sole|
|Sinking to the floor||Feel ashamed|
The small girls were wearing an apron which had long sleeves. Their hairs were cut in the style of boy’s hair. Zitkala was wearing her moccasins, so her steps were not making any noise. She was feeling ashamed because her scarf was removed from her shoulders.
I stared at the Indian girls. They were not bothered that their dress of tight fitting clothes looked more indecent that my dress.. While we marched into the dining room, the boys came from the opposite side door.
|Young braves||Young boys|
|Rear ranks||Back rows|
I looked at the three young boys who had come to the dining room. They were standing in the back rows. I secretly looked at them and noticed that they were also equally uncomfortable. A bell was tapped. Each pupil pulled a chair from under the table.
I imagined that after pulling the chair everybody would sit in the chair. So I pulled my chair and immediately sat on it. But when I looked around, I noticed that I was the only person sitting. Everybody else at my table were still standing.
I started getting up from my chair. I nervously looked at others to understand how chairs were to be used. Then a second bell rang. Now everybody sat on chairs. Slowly I also got back to my chair and sat.
I heard voice of a man. He was standing at one end of the hall. I turned to look at him. But all other pupils bent their heads to look at their plates.
|Caught the eyes||Made eye contact|
|Dropped my eyes||Looked away, Looked down|
When I looked around, I observed that there were many rows of tables. I made an eye contact with a white woman. Immediately I moved my eyes away from her eyes. I did not understand why an unknown woman was so carefully watching me.
|Mutterings||Whispers, Words not understood|
|Venture||To understand, To do|
The man stopped whatever he was whispering. A third bell was sounded. Everyone picked knife and fork and started eating. But Zitkala started crying. Because now she did not want to understand or do anything more.
|Overhear||To hear without knowledge of speaker|
But these rules of eating were not the toughest thing to happen on the first day at the school. Before noon time, her friend Judewin gave Zitkala a horrible information. Judewin knew some words of English. She had heard the white woman talking about cutting our long and thick hair.
We had understood from our mothers that sometimes an enemy would capture an unskilled or coward soldier. Then they would trim hair of the captured soldier. In the community of Zitkala, hair were cut very short when somebody died in their family. And only cowards had their hair trimmed.
|Rebel||To revolted, To oppose|
|Struggle||To make effort|
The two friends Zitkala and Judewin talked about their destiny for some time. Then Judewin said they will have to accept their orders because those people are powerful. I decided to oppose. I said that I would not accept. I will first make an effort to not to accept.
|Squeak||To make a shrill voice|
I waited for an opportunity. When no one was looking at me, I hid myself. My moccasins were already taken away and I was given shoes to wear. These shoes made sound while I walked. I silently walked up the stair case. As silently as my squeaking shoes allowed.
|Turn aside to||To move towards|
Then I crossed the hall. I did not know where I was going. I moved towards a door in the hall. Through this door I entered into a large room. This room had three white beds in it.
|Dim||Having less light|
|Farthest||At the greatest distance|
Dark green curtains were put on windows of this room. Therefore this room had less light. I felt happy that no one was in the room. I moved to corner which had greatest distance from the door.
|Huddle||Lie with hands and legs close to body|
|Peer||Stare, To look intently|
I crawled on my hands and knees. I went under the bed. I put my hands and legs close to my body and lay under the bed. From there I was staring outside. I would start trembling because of fear when sounds of footsteps were close to me.
In the hall many people were calling my name loudly. Judewin was also searching for me. But I did not open my mouth to answer anyone’s call.
After sometime it appeared that people were moving quickly. The voices were more anxious. The sounds of steps and of people started coming nearer to Zitkala. Many women and girls entered the room where Zitkala was hiding.
Zitkala started breathing slowly. She saw that they opened doors of almira. They looked behind trunks. Somebody raised the curtains up. The room was suddenly full of light.
|Stoop||To bend down|
They bent down and looked under the bed. I do not why they did so. Zitkala was pulled out. She resisted being pulled out. She started kicking her legs and started scratching vigourously.
|Inspite of myself||Against my wish|
|Tied fast||Tied tightly|
Against my wish, I was carried to the lower floor. I was tightly tied in a chair.
|Gnaw off||Cut slowly|
I cried loudly. I was shaking my head while crying. Then I felt blades of scissors on back of neck. I stopped crying. I heard the sound of scissors. It had slowly cut one of my braids. Then I lost my courage.
I had suffered extreme insults since I moved away from my mother. People started staring at me. [Meaning they scolded her]. They gave her orders without considering her own desire. [Meaning others were ordering her what to do and how to behave]
|Anguish||Grief, Torture, Sadness|
|Moaned||Called in a low painful voice|
|Comfort||To console, To support|
Now my hair were also trimmed just like that of a coward. In my sadness I slowly called my mother. But nobody came to support me.
|Not a soul||Nobody|
|Reasoned quietly||Talked peacefully|
|Herder||One who keeps animals|
My mother used to talk to me peacefully. Only my mother used to talk to me in this fashion. But here not even one person talked to me without shouting at me. Because I was considered one of many small animals and the herder used to order.
II. We Too are Human Beings
Author – Bama
During the days I was studying in third standard, people did not openly talk about untouchability. But I had already seen it, felt it, experienced it. I was humiliated by untouchability at that age itself.
|At the very least||Minimum|
I was walking back from the school. I had an old bag hanging from my shoulder. It was possible to walk from school to home in ten minutes. Normally I used to take minimum thirty minutes to reach home.
|Dawdle||To walk slowly|
But I used to take between half an hour to one hour to slowly walk to home. I used to watch all the funny things and games on the streets. I used to look at every interesting thing new or peculiar in the shops and bazars.
The monkey jumping and walking according to orders of its master. The snakecharmer kept snake in a box. He displayed it from time to time
|Break of the day||Start of the day|
|Spur on||To motivate, To encourage|
the cyclist who had not got down from his cycle for three days and he was riding the cycle since start of the day, rupee notes pinned on his shirt by some onlookers motivated him
the moving wheel; the huge bell in the Maariyaata temple, the ‘prasaad’ being cooked in front of the temple ; the shop of dry fish near statue of Gandhi;
the shop selling sweets, the shop selling fried snacks and all other shops adjacent to each other; the street light showing its colour change from blue to violet
|Narikkuravan||A community in Tamil Nadu|
|Lemur||Type of monkey|
The huntergypsy from narikkuravan community used to have wild lemur in cages. They used to sell needles, clay beads and instruments to clean ears.
I can continue telling about things that interested me on my way. Each such thing attracted me to stand there and I was not able to move any further.
|At times||Some times|
|Put up||To make , To install|
|Harangue||To trouble by giving lengthy lecture|
Sometimes people from political parties would make a stage and trouble us by give lengthy speeches through mikes
|No magic no miracle||Real|
|Time to time||Occasionally, Not regularly|
Sometimes there would be street plays or a puppet show. There would also be some performances of real stunt. These would not happen together but would irregularly occur. However there would always be some entertainment show on the way to my home.
|Even otherwise||Even when that does not happen|
|Tumbler||Type of small container|
When these were not occurring, the coffee shops in the bazaar presented an interesting thing. Each waiter cooled coffee in a peculiar way. He lifted one tumbler high in one hand and poured into another tumbler held low in another hand.
|Chop||Cut into small pieces|
|Would not smart||Would cause pain|
Some people sat in front of some shops. They would be cutting onion into small pieces. They looked in another direction otherwise the activity would cause pain in their eyes.
|Blown down||Fell down due to wind|
There were some almond trees on the way. Sometimes, due to wind, its fruit would fall down on the earth. All these scenes tied stopped my legs and prevented me from going home.
According to season stalls would be selling different fruits, vegetables and grains. Every day many people would be selling sweets, delicious fried snacks and other items.
Looking all these items and stalls, one day I reached the street of my house. My school bag was hung on my shoulder.
|Threshing||Process of removing grains|
|Sacking||A type of rough cloth|
|Ledge||An extended piece|
At the other end of the street, a threshing floor had been made. A small piece of rough cloth was spread on a stone. The landlord was sitting on this stone.
People of our community were doing hard work. They were driving cattle in circles. These cattle were moving in pairs on the crop (straw). The process was to take out grain from the straw.
|Muzzle||To cover mouth and nose of animal|
|For a while||For some time|
Mouth of animals were covered so that they would not eat the straw. I stood there for some time and watched the process.
|Just then||Immediately after that|
|Double up||Laugh a lot|
Immediately after that, I saw that one elder person was coming from the direction of market. The way he walked was very funny. I wanted to laugh a lot.
|Shriek with laughter||Laugh loudly|
|Vadai||Type of cooked vegetable|
|Bhaji||Type of cooked vegetable|
When I saw a grown up person carrying such a small packet in that manner, I wanted to laugh loudly. I guessed that he was carrying ‘vadai’ or green banana ‘bhaji’ because the paper wrapping had stains of oil.
|String||Thread, Thin rope|
|Package come undone||Packet opened|
The paper wrapping had strings attached to it. The man was holding those strings while walking. He was not touching the package. I thought if the person holds strings in that fashion, the package may open and ‘vadai’ may fall down.
That elder man went to the landlord. He bent low and extended the packet toward landlord. While doing so, he held the strings with both hands. The landlord opened the packet and started eating ‘vadais’
After watching this funny incident on the way, finally I reached home. My elder brother was at home. I narrated the complete funny incident in details.
|Fall about with laughter||Laugh without stopping|
I was not able to stop my laughter about the scene. An elderly and also a big man was carrying the parcel in such a funny manner. But Annan (name of brother) was not happy to listen to my narration.
Annan told me that the man was not acting funny while carrying the package. Annan told me that every other person believed that they were from upper caste. Therefore they should not touch us.
They thought that if they touched us, they will become dirty. Because of this reason the man was carrying the package holding it by strings. He was not allowed to touch the package. After listening to this reason, I did not want to laugh. I felt very sad.
How could anyone think that it was objectionable if any of us touched the package? Vadia were wrapped first in banana leaf and then wrapped in a paper. How our hand can make it dirty.
|Wretched||Miserable, Dirty, Ugly|
I was very upset and angry. I wanted to touch those dirty vadais right now. I thought why do we need to bring and carry things for those so called upper caste people?
|Meekly||Submissively, Without protest|
|Reverently||With great respect|
|Stuffs into mouth||Puts into mouth|
Narrator continues to think.
Such an elderly and important person our community submissively goes to shop to bring snack. He gives these to landlords with great respect and fear. He has to bow and move back. All this is done for a person who only sits there and puts these vadais into his mouth.
Narrator continues to think.
The thought about the situation made me very angry. Why these persons were thinking so high about themselves.
|Scraped four coins together||Earned enough money|
Narrator continues to think.
Because they have earned enough money [They are rich], they cannot lose all the feelings of being a human. We are also human beings.
|Run petty errands||To do minor works|
Narrator continues to think.
People of our community should not do such minor jobs for these persons. We should work in their fields. Earn our salary and come back to our home. We should not do anything beyond that.
|Often||Frequently, Many times|
My elder brother was studying in a University. He had come home during his holidays. He used to frequently go to a neighbouing village to borrow books from a library.
One day he was walking along the edge of irrigation tank. He was coming back to home. Some persons of landlord came to him. Annan was not known to them. So one of them asked my brother to tell his name.
Annan told his name. Immediately another man asked where did he live? He asked this question for a specific reason. If he knew which side of village we lived, he will know our caste. [They wanted to know our caste]
|Stripped of||Taken away|
Annan narrated this conversation to me. He told me that we were born in this community. So we are not given any honour, dignity or respect. All these things are taken away from us.
|Throw away||Get rid of , Remove|
But if we study and make progress, we can remove these insults from our life. So please study carefully and learn as much as you can.
If you are always ahead in your studies, people will come to you. They will become your friends. So please work hard and learn.
|Frenzy||Fully motivated, To make full efforts|
Advice of Annan made a deep impact on me. I studied very hard with all my attention. I was almost fully devoted to my study. As per strong advice of Annan, I secured first rank in my class. Because of that many people became my friends.