Q. You will probably agree that this story does not have breathless adventure and exciting action. Then what in your opinion makes it interesting?
Ans. The story ‘The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse’ is a tale told from the viewpoint of a nine-year old boy. At that age, imagination is rich and one can romanticise even insignificant actions. To such a person the world is full of excellence and glory and life is delightful and a mysterious dream. For the young poor boy, a ride on a beautiful white horse is a dream fulfilled. He had been always longing to ride and his cherished dream is realised when his cousin Mourad offers him a chance to ride on horseback—first with him and then alone. Riding the stolen horse and hiding it safely are great feats of adventure for the two boys. Though the story line is thin, we eagerly follow the course of action taken by the boys till they return the horse to its rightful owner. The story provides us a peep into child psychology. For boys who are crazy about horses, stealing a horse for a ride is not stealing. Though they enjoy the thrill of riding, they are conscious of their family pride. The Garoghlanian family is well-known for honesty and trust. They would neither steal nor take advantage of anybody in the world. Another point of interest is characterisation. The delineation of the common traits of uncle Khosrove and cousin Mourad is superb. The story also contains many purple passages full of pictorial descriptions. All these heighten its appeal to the reader.
Q. Did the boys return the horse because they were conscience-stricken or because they were afraid?
Ans. The story gives no indication that the boys were afraid of anyone or anything. Hence the return of the horse was not directed by fear. Secondly, they were not at all conscience stricken. They did not feel any pangs of repentance or remorse at their action of stealing a horse solely for the purpose of riding it. The narrator makes it amply clear when he asserts that stealing a horse for a ride was not the same thing as stealing something else, such as money. For him, it wasn’t stealing at all as he and Mourad were so crazy about horses. In his opinion, it would become stealing only when they offered to sell the horse, which he knew they would never do. The last phrase gives a clue to their mental make up. Mourad had the horse for over a month when farmer John Byro visited the narrator’s house. They retained it for two weeks more. Mourad outrightly rejected the narrator’s suggestion of keeping the horse any longer. It was his family pride that would not let him steal. He decided that the horse must go back to its true owner. The meeting with John Byro proved conclusive. He praised their family for its honesty. He trusted the boys as he knew their parents. Hence in order to uphold the family tradition and reputation, the boys returned the horse to its rightful owner.
Q. “One day back there in the good old days when I was nine and the world was full of every imaginable kind of magnificence, and life was still a delightful and mysterious dream……”. The story begins in a mood of nostalgia. Can you narrate some incident from your childhood that might make an interesting story?
Ans. I had just completed my primary education when I visited my uncle. He was a forest ranger in Dehradun. In those days there was a thick forest in the vicinity of the city and all sorts of wild animals prowled there. Uncle had advised us not to enter the deep forest, but forbidden fruit is sweet. My cousin Varun, a couple of his friends and I decided to explore the southern range. We had the kits of scouts and were fully prepared. In our boyish enthusiasm, we went deep into the jungle and reached a gorge. We were amazed to see a lioness with her cubs. One of us, perhaps, Mohit clicked his camera. The flashlight scared the lioness and she roared and leaped. Fortunately there was a big ditch and she fell into it. Meanwhile, we lit our torches, collected dry leaves and twigs and set them on fire. Momentarily, we got respite from our attackers. Then we threw some green leaves on fire to give smoke signal. A patrol party noticed it and rescued us. I shudder whenever I think of this adventure when we were close to death.
Q. The story revolves around characters who belong to tribe in Armenia. Mourad and Aram are members of the Garoghlanian family. Now locate Armenia and Assyria on the atlas and prepare a write-up on the Garoghlanian tribes. You may write about people, their names, traits, geographical and economic features as suggested in the story.
The Garoghlanian Tribes
The Garoghlanian family was an Armenian tribe. Eleven centuries ago it was the wealthiest family in that part of the world. However, now every branch of the Garoghlanian tribe was living in the most amazing and comical poverty in the world. These poor people had no money. Nobody could understand where they ever got money enough to keep them with food in their bellies. The Garoghlanian tribes were famous for their honesty. It had been the hallmark of the tribe for many centuries. They were proud of their family. Honesty came next and then they believed in right and wrong. None of them would take advantage of anybody in the world. No member of the Garoghlanian family could be a thief. The elders felt pained to remember that they had lost their homeland. These people shifted their residence from one place to the other. The narrator says, “That year we lived at the edge of the town, on Walnut Avenue.” They loved countryside having vineyards, orchards, olives and walnuts. The names of the people are semi- Arabic: Mourad, Aram, Khosrove etc.