Gavin Maxwell lived in a cottage in Camusfearna, in the West Highlands in Scotland. He was fond of keeping pets. After the death of his pet dog Jennie, he was too sad to think of a dog again. The author was in Basra city of Iraq on a visit. There, one of his friends presented him an otter. He took his otter to England where he had a flat of his own. He had some interesting experiences during his air journey from Basra to Paris and London.
Important Question and Answers
Q. What happened when Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom? What did Mijbil do two days after that?
Ans. When Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom, it became wild with joy for about half an hour. Then it rolled and plunged into it. After two days it went itself and struggled with the chromium tap till it had a full flow. It was very much happier with the water.
Q. What special characteristic of Mijbil did Maxwell learn after he took him to the bathroom?
Ans. After taking Mijbil to the bathroom, Maxwell witnessed Mijbil being almost mad with excitement, plunging and rolling in water, splashing water all around. It shows his love for water as marshes and wetlands are their natural habitat.
Q. What is the most common characteristic of an otter?
Ans. The otter, which looked more like a dragon, loved to plunge and roll in water. He played in water like a hippo. Aloof at first, he started taking an interest in its surroundings, started responding to his name and loved playing games for hours with toys like ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit etc.
Q. What guesses did the Londoners make about Mijbil?
Ans. The Londoners made a variety of guesses as to what kind of creature Mijbil was, i.e., a baby seal, a squirrel, walrus, a hippo, a beaver, a bear cub, a leopard or a brontosaurus.
Q. Give an example from the text to show that Mijbil is an intelligent animal.
Ans. Mijbil’s behaviour and reactions to the circumstances throw light on the trait of intelligence in the otters in general. They have basic congeniality. And it is portrayed in his behaviour that it took him mere a day to shed his inhibitions and familiarize himself with the new surroundings. Mijbil’s intelligence and sense of logic is reflected in his turning on the tap to get a flow of water.
Q. What game had Mijbil invented?
Ans. Mijbil enjoyed playing with marbles while lying on its back. He would lie and roll two or more of them up and down his wide, flat belly.
Q. Why did Maxwell put the otter back in the box? What do you think how he felt when he did this?
Ans. Maxwell put the otter in the box because he was shifting from Basra to England and he wanted the otter to get used to it. He felt sad on putting it back because the otter did not like it and so, he was trying to get out of it. He had torn the lining of the box to shreds.
Q. The way Maxwell was worried about Mijbil when he had to take him to London shows that he was very concerned about him. Do you think, owning a pet is a life-time commitment? Elucidate.
Ans. Maxwell was very concerned about his pet. The British airline refused to fly the animal. So he booked a flight to Paris on another airline, and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mijbil should be packed into a box not more than eighteen inches square, to be carried on the floor at his feet. He got the box made. He put Mijbil into the box so that he would become accustomed to the box, in which it had to travel. When Mijbil was injured in his attempt to come out of the box, the author was really concerned about his well being. He carried a parcel of fish for Mijbil on the flight. He carried Mijbil on his knee. The lesson definitely conveys the fact that when we decide to keep a pet, it is a commitment of lifetime. This is so because we are responsible for the well-being of that life and infact, keeping a pet at home is like bringing up and nurturing a child.
Q. What was Mijbil’s favourite game during Maxwell’s stay in London?
Ans. Mijbil invented a game with the ping-pong ball while his stay in London. One of Maxwell’s suitcase had got damaged its lid, when closed remained at a shope which Mij used as his game he would place the pingpong ball on the high end and allow the ball to slide down. Before the ball went down the slope he would dash around to the other end and spring up to grab it and trot off with it to the high end again. He would keep himself engrossed in the game for about half an hour at a stretch.
Q. How did otter behave in the beginning? How did he become familiar with the author?
Ans. In the beginning the otter was neither hostile nor friendly. He was simply aloof and indifferent. He preferred to sleep on the floor near the author’s bed. But soon he got familiar with the author and started taking keen interest in his surroundings. The second night he came on to the author’s bed and slept in the crook of his knees. Thereafter he became friendly with the author. Whenever he was in trouble, he rushed to the author for protection. When he was indoors he spent most of the time in play. He even escaped to the bathroom where it struggled with tap for water. In this way he became familiar with the author.
Q. What things did Mij do which tell you that he was an intelligent, friendly and fun loving animal who needed love?
Ans. Mij was an intelligent, friendly and fun loving animal who needed love. Mij was put into a box for transportation. When the author returned after meal, he saw blood from the airholes. He opened it, the animal whimpered and caught him by the leg. While travelling the box was opened in a flash. It disappeared down the aircraft. But very soon it was on his knees. It began to muzzle his face and neck. About his being funloving, the otter enjoyed galloping on the thirty yard wall near that of the author in London. It distracted the attention of school staff and the children. It was a fun loving animal. It enjoyed playing all kinds of game. It would play with a selection of toys, ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit and a terrapin shell. It required love and affection from Maxwell and it got that readily.