(Explanation, Meaning of Difficult Words)
Author – APJ Abdul Kalam
This lesson is taken from the book “Wings of Fire’ written by APJ Abdul Kalam
|Island town||A town situated on an island|
I was born in a family that lived in Tamil Nadu state of India. We used to live in a town Rameswaram. Our state was formerly known as Madras.
|Formal Education||Education in a school or college|
|Despite||In spite of|
|Innate||Since birth, Natural|
Name of my father was Jainulabdeen. He had not gone to the school for a long time. He was also not a rich person. In spite of these disadvantages, he was a wise person by his nature. Probably he had the wisdom since his birth. He was a very kind person as well.
|Helpmate||A person who helps|
|Far more||Many more|
My mother was a perfect help to my father. Her name was Ashiamma. I do not remember to how many people she gave food every day. But I am sure that number of outsiders eating in our house was large. They were more than the total members of our family.
|Undistinguished looks||Normal appearance, Not very good looking|
|Ancestral house||House built by forefather|
My parents had many children. I was one of them. I was short. Relatively I was not very good looking. My parents were tall and handsome. Our family used to live in a house that was constructed by our forefathers. The house was constructed in the middle of nineteenth century. Author wants to say that it was an old house.
|Fairly large||Quite big though not very big|
Our house was a pucca house. It was not very large but quite big house. It was constructed using limestone and bricks. It was situated on the Mosque Street of Rameswaram. My father believed in simple living. So he never bought any things that was not required essentially. Anything that could be considered a comfort or luxury was not available in our house.
|Provided for||Made available, Arranged|
But everything that was necessary for a decent living was made available to us. We had enough food and clothes. Whenever anybody was sick, he was given proper medicines. Actually I had a very safe and nice childhood. I had all facilities and good emotional support from family members.
|Erupted||Started or occurred suddenly|
The Second World War started in 1939. I was 8 years old at that time. Suddenly the demand of tamarind seeds became very high in the market. I could never understand the reason for the increased demand.
|Princely sum||A high amount of money|
I used to collect tamarind seeds. I used to sell those to a provision shop located on Mosque Street. I used to collect seeds every day. I used to sell my one day collection of seeds for one anna. During those days one anna was a very high amount for me.
|Trace||Find out, Read|
|Isolated||Remote, Cut off|
Name of my brother-in-law was Jallaluddin. He used to tell me some stories about the Second World War. I used to try to read more about those stories in a newspaper. Name of the newspaper was Dinamani. Our village was in a remote area. Therefore we were not affected by the War.
|Allied Forces||One group of nations fighting World War II together|
|State of emergency||Condition of emergency|
|Suspension||Temporarily end , Defer|
Very soon India was compelled to join the group of Allied Forces to fight the War. After that a situation of emergency was declared in India. The stoppage of train at Rameswaram station was temporarily deferred. It was the first effect of the declaration of emergency.
Now the train did not stop at Rameswaram. Therefore a bundle of newspapers used to be made. This bundle of newspapers used to be thrown from moving train at Rameswaram Road station. This station was between Rameswaram and Dhanuskodi stations. Name of my cousin was Samsuddin. He used to distribute newspapers in our town. He needed somebody to help him to collect bundles of newspapers. It was so natural for him to select me for this job.
|Pride||Feeling of being proud, Happiness, Dignity|
Thus Samsuddin gave me first salary of my life. Even after fifty years I can feel that I was very happy to receive my first salary. For the first time I had become owner of my own money.
|Inherited||Receive from forefathers|
|socio-economic environment||Social and economic conditions|
|figures of authority||People who have authority|
Every child receives some qualities from forefathers. The social and economic condition also provides some training to the child. The emotional support the child gets during his childhood affects him. The people of authority within the family try to train the child in their unique way.
I received qualities of honesty and self-discipline from my father. My mother gave me qualities of being good to all and to be kind to all. My three brothers and sister also received these qualities.
|Upbringing||Moral training given by parents|
During my childhood I had three close friends. Their names were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. All the three were from the traditional Hindu Brahmin families. During our childhood we did not feel any difference because our religions were different. We did not feel any difference in the moral values our parents taught us.
|High Priest||Main Priest|
|Took over||Assumed, Became|
|Pilgrims||Visitors coming for religious purpose|
Actually father of Ramanadha Sastry was the main priest of Rameswaram temple. After death of his father, Ramanadha Sastry became the main priest of the Rameswarm temple. Arvindan started his business of arranging transport for the pilgrims who used to come to Rameswaram. Sivaprakasan became a contractor in Southern Railways for providing food to passengers.
|Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony||Marriage ceremony of Ram and Sita|
Every year the occasion of marriage of Ram and Sita was celebrated in our town. Our family used to arrange boats to carry idol of Lord Ram from the temple to the site of marriage. This site was in the middle of a pond. Name of the pond was Ram Tirhta. This pond was near our house.
|High Priest||Main Priest|
My mother and grandmother used to tell us stories while we were trying to go to sleep. These stories were told to every child of our family. They used to tell us stories from Ramayana. They would also tell stories from the life of Prophet Mohammad.
|Sacred thread||Pious thread worn around the neck, Janeu|
This incident occurred when I was studying in fifth standard. I was studying in Rameswaram Elementary School. I used to sit in the front row next to Ramanadha Sastry. I used to wear a white cap. So I could be easily identified as Muslim. That day a new teacher came to our class.
|Could not stomach||Could not tolerate|
The new teacher could not tolerate that a Muslim boy and a son of a Hindu Priest should sit together. The new teacher believed that priests had a higher place in society. So he asked me to sit at the back bench. I felt very sad. Ramanadha Sastry was also very sad.
|Lasting impression||Permanent impression|
Ramanadha Sastry was completely disappointed when I was shifting to the last row of the class. He started weeping. This has left a permanent impression on my mind. Friendship of author and his friend was very sound.
|Communal||Relating to different communities|
|Intolerance||Not able to tolerate, Unwillingness to accept|
After the school we both went to our respective houses. We narrated the incident to our parents. Lakshmana Sastry was father of my friend. He called the teacher to his house. That time we were also present there. Lakshmana Sastry told the teacher that he should not teach the social inequality to children. He should not spread the wrong message of communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children.
|Bluntly||Directly, Straight forwardly|
|Regret||To feel sorry|
Lakshmana Sastry directly told the teacher that either he should apologise for his wrong behaviour or he should leave the school. The teacher said sorry for his wrong behaviour. The strong belief of Lakshmana Sastry for equality, changed opinion of the young teacher forever.
|Conservative||Old fashioned, Unchanging|
|Rebel||One who thinks differently, One who revolts|
Overall the small society was very firm about division or separation among various social groups. They followed certain practices strictly. But my science teacher Sivasubramania Iyer had different thoughts. He belonged to a traditional Brahmin family. His wife possessed old fashioned thoughts. Still he thought very differently.
My science teacher made his best efforts to remove the restrictions created by the society. He wanted that people from different backgrounds should socialize with each other. He used to teach me for many hours. He motivated me to develop myself further. He wanted that I should become equal to highly educated people of the big cities.
|Horrified||Shocked, Full of horror|
|Dine||To eat food|
One day my science teacher invited me to his house to take food. His wife was shocked that a Muslim boy would have food at her house. She thought that her kitchen was pure as per religion. She refused to allow me to enter in her kitchen. She even refused to serve me food.
|Perturbed||Disturbed, Bothered, Upset|
My science teacher Sivasubramania Iyer was not disturbed. He did not get angry with his wife. He served me food with his own hands. He sat near me and we both ate food together. His wife was watching us. She was standing behind the door of the kitchen.
|Weekend||Last days of week|
I was thinking if she could find any difference in the way I ate rice or I drank water or in the way I cleaned the floor. When I was leaving the house, my science teacher invited me again to his house on the next weekend.
He could observe that I was not ready to accept his invitation. He asked me not to get upset about incident of that day. He told me that once you decide to change something, some problems and resistance would have to be tackled. Next week I went to his house. This time his wife allowed me to sit inside the kitchen. She gave me food with her own hands.
|Imminent||Very near, About to happen|
|Unprecedented||Unmatched, That had never occurred before|
Then the Second World War was over. India was about to attain its freedom. Gandhiji had declared that future of India would be built by Indians. The whole country was full of hope. Indian had never been so hopeful. I requested my father to allow me to leave Rameswaram. I wanted to study at Ramanathapuram. It was the headquarters of our district.
|Thinking aloud||Express thoughts as soon as these occurred|
|Seagull||Type of bird that lives near sea shore|
He told me without giving any thoughts to what he was saying. Meaning that it was an instant reply. He told me that he was aware that I had to go for my own development. Seagulls also fly alone in the sky leaving their homes. When they fly away their nest is not ready. They make their own home later. They make their own destiny. The same way I should also make my own destiny.
My mother was not ready to give me permission to move to another town. My father explained her the saying of Khalil Gibran. He had said that your children are not your children forever. They are sons and daughters of what Life wants them to become. They have their own expectations from Life. They are born through their parents but they may not follow the thoughts of their parents. You should not impose your thoughts on them. Because they have their own thoughts.
A.P.J. ABDUL KALAM
[an extract from Wings of Fire]
NO MEN ARE FOREIGN
Poet – James Kirkup
In this poem, poet wants to advocate that all the people living on this earth are similar. Their needs are similar. Their emotions are similar. So people should be considered as residents of this universe rather than residents of a country.
|no men are strange, no countries foreign||Repetition|
|Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes||Alliteration|
|Beneath all uniforms||Metaphor, Uniform refers to soldiers|
|Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon||Simile|
|Is earth like this||Simile|
Poet says that all people living on this earth are similar. They are not different. Therefore they should not be considered foreigner by any country. Though the uniform worn by soldiers are different but the people in every uniform is similar. Just like we walk on land, every other person walks on the earth. The earth is same for all the people living on it. We all die in similar way. So we should promote the feeling of brotherhood in the world.
|Fed||To get food|
|Starv’d (starved)||Hungry because not getting food|
|aware of sun and air and water,||Repetition|
|aware of sun and air and water,||Alliteration|
|by war’s long winter starv’d.||Alliteration|
|Their hands are ours, and in their lines we read||Repetition|
‘They’ means people of other countries.
People of other countries experience the same sun, air and water. Things provided by nature is same for everybody. They also do farming and reap harvest. It fills their bellies. During war and extreme winter season they also face shortage of food. Many times people starve during such time. Their bodies are similar to that of ours. They also read and study as we do. They also do hard work as we all do.
Poet is once again expressing that all people throughout the world are similar. They have similar experiences.
|Eyes like ours that wake||Simile|
|Or sleep, and strength that can be won||Alliteration|
Poet wants to remind us that everybody sees with their eyes. They also wake up by opening their eyes. And when they sleep their eyes close. They have a great strength that can be won by expressing love and affection. They also show love and affection. In every country life is similar. Everybody in this world can recognize their friends. Everybody can understand what others want to express.
Poet is once again expressing that people are similar. Their habits are similar. Their understanding is similar. They express themselves in a similar fashion. If we can recognize the similarity and understand it, we all can leave peacefully.
|Betray||To cheat, Deceive|
|Take arms against||To fight|
|Let us remember, whenever we are told||Alliteration|
|we who take arms against each other||Alliteration|
Poet wants to remind us that whenever we hate people of other countries, we deceive ourselves. We disown our own existence. We criticize ourselves. We should have brotherly attitude towards each other. Whenever we fight against any other country, we also suffer a lot. Thus we should avoid wars.
|Defile||Pollute, Make impure|
Poet wants to remind us that when we fight against each other we pollute the earth and the Mother Nature. During war lot of fire and destruction is caused. It appears as if everything in this world has become angry. Lot of dust is generated which pollutes the air. The air belongs to everyone living on this planet.
Poet once again says that all people living on this earth are similar. They are not different. Therefore they should not be considered foreigner by any country.