A Photograph – NCERT Solutions

Q. Infer the meanings of the following words from the context: paddling, transient. Now look up the dictionary to see if your inference is right.


  • ‘Paddling’ means ‘wading’ or ‘rowing’ a boat.
  • ‘Transient’ means temporary.

Dictionary meanings:

  • ‘Paddling’ means ‘walking or standing with barefeet in shallow water’.
  • ‘Went paddling’ means ‘swam with short movements of hands or feet up and down’.
  • ‘Transient’ means ‘staying in a place for only short time’.

Q. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?

Ans. The word ‘cardboard’ denotes the photograph pasted on a hard thick paper. This word has been used to refer to a practice in the past when photographs were pasted on cardboard and framed with glass front to preserve them.

Q. What has the camera captured?

Ans. The camera has captured the three girls—the poet’s mother and her two cousins, Betty and Dolly, in their swimming dresses with the poet’s mother in the middle and the two cousins on either side holding her hands and walking with bare feet in sea water.

Q. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?

Ans. The sea has not changed over the years. Its waves are as fresh, shining and tireless as they were years ago. The changelessness of sea reminds us of the changes in human face with advancing age.

Q. The poetess’s mother laughed at the snapshot? What did this laugh indicate?

Ans. ‘This laugh’ indicated her joy at remembering an incident connected with her past life, when she was quite young and free from the tensions and worries of life.

Q. What is the meaning of the line ‘‘Both wry with the laboured ease of loss’’?

Ans. The sea holiday and the laughter of the poet’s mother are incidents of the past. There is a sense of loss associated with them. Both are amusing yet disappointing as the state of feeling comfortable or relaxed is unnatural or forced one. This sense of loss is quite painful to bear.

Q. What does ‘this circumstance’ refer to?

Ans. The circumstance refers to the situation and the lapse of time since the poet’s mother died.

Q. The three stanzas depict three different phases. Name them.

Ans. The first stanza depicts the childhood of poet’s mother when she was enjoying a holiday on the sea side. The second stanza depicts the period when the poet’s mother has grown older and laughs at her own photograph. The third stanza depicts the time when she has died and the poet’s misses her.

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