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English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Vistas Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words

MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD

(Explanation)

I. The Cutting of My Long Hair

Author – Zitkala Sa

Word Meaning
Land of Apples Area where apples are grown in abundance
Land of Apples Place that has restriction
Bare Without snow

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.

Word Meaning
Belfry Place where bell is installed
Sensitive Easily affected

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.

 

 

Word Meaning
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]

Word Meaning
Undercurrent In the background
Unknown tongue Unknown language
Bedlam Confusion, Disturbance
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.

Word Meaning
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.

 

 

Word Meaning
Shingled hair Boy cut hair, Short hair
Moccasins Shoes with soft sole
Sinking to the floor Feel ashamed
Blanket Dupatta, Scarf
Stripped Removed

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.

Word Meaning
Immodest Indecent

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.

Word Meaning
Young braves Young boys
Rear ranks Back rows
Drew Pulled

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.

 

Word Meaning
Shyly Nervously
Crawl Move slowly

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.

 

Word Meaning
Glanced Looked
Caught the eyes Made eye contact
Dropped my eyes Looked away, Looked down
Wondering Not understanding
Keenly Carefully

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.

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
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.

 

 

Word Meaning
Fate Destiny, Luck
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.

 

Word Meaning
Chance Opportunity
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.

 

Word Meaning
Whither Where
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.

 

 

Word Meaning
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.

 

Word Meaning
Huddle Lie with hands and legs close to body
Peer Stare, To look intently
Shuddering Shivering, Trembling

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.

 

Word Meaning
Closet Almira
Trunks Boxes

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.

 

Word Meaning
Stoop To bend down
Wildly Vigorously

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.

Word Meaning
Inspite of myself Against my wish
Downstairs Lower floor
Tied fast Tied tightly

Against my wish, I was carried to the lower floor. I was tightly tied in a chair.

 

Word Meaning
Gnaw off Cut slowly
Spirit Courage

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.

 

Word Meaning
Indignities Insults, Humiliations

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]

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
Dawdle To walk slowly
Entertaining Interesting
Novelties New, Unique
Oddities Strange, Peculiar

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

 

Word Meaning
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

 

Word Meaning
Offering Prasaad
Stall Small shop
Pongal A festival

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

Word Meaning
Narikkuravan A community in Tamil Nadu
Huntergypsies Nomadic hunters
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.

Word Meaning
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

Word Meaning
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.

 

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
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.

 

Word Meaning
Blown down Fell down due to wind
Sights Scenes
Tethered Tied, Restricted

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.

 

Word Meaning
Savoury Delicious, Tasty

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.

 

Word Meaning
Threshing Process of removing grains
Proceedings Activities
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.

Word Meaning
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.

 

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
Shriek Shout
Shriek with laughter Laugh loudly
Vadai Type of cooked vegetable
Bhaji Type of cooked vegetable
Stain Mark, Spot

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.

 

Word Meaning
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’

Word Meaning
Comic Funny

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.

 

Word Meaning
Fall about with laughter Laugh without stopping
Amused Happy

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.

 

Word Meaning
Disgusting Objectionable, Offensive

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.

 

 

Word Meaning
Provoked Agitated, Upset
Wretched Miserable, Dirty, Ugly
Straightaway Right now

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?

Word Meaning
Meekly Submissively, Without protest
Reverently With great respect
Shrinking Fearing
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.

Word Meaning
Infuriated Angered

Narrator continues to think.

The thought about the situation made me very angry. Why these persons were thinking so high about themselves.

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
Run petty errands To do minor works
Wages Salary

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.

 

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
Bank Edge, Embankment
Familiar Known

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.

Word Meaning
Thambi Brother

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]

 

Word Meaning
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.

Word Meaning
Indignity Humiliation, Insult
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.

 

 

Word Meaning
Frenzy Fully motivated, To make full efforts
Urged Strongly advised

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.

****

 

Important Links
Memories of Childhood – Textbook Q&A Memories of Childhood – Extra Q&A
Evans Tries An O-Level – Explanation The Third Level – Explanation
Evans Tries An O-Level – Textbook Q&A The Third Level – Textbook Q&A
Evans Tries An O-Level – Extra Q&A The Third Level – Extra Q&A
Passages Note Making
Letter Writing Notice Writing
Advertisement Writing Article Writing
Report Writing

 


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