Unseen Passage: High School Results

Suspense was over when my high school results finally came out. But I was upset. I hadn’t done as well as I had expected. My father tried to console me. ‘Why are you worried? You have done very well my dear’. ‘No, I haven’t, Baba,’ I protested, controlling my tears, and wondering if I had disappointed him. ‘It doesn’t really matter,’ he assured me. ‘Do you know what I got when I finished high school ?’ I looked into Baba’s face and waited for the answer to his own question. ‘You know,’ he told me. ‘I’ve never told you this. I got just a third division. But, look at me, I’ve done quite well’. Baba got a third division! I was almost in shock, but the thought of my having done a lot better than that made me realize that I had no reason to complain. I certainly felt better! ‘Everything is under control !’ said Baba, smiling. That was his favourite phrase. Posted in Kolkata, my father was then a senior official in the Indian Railway Service, and an expert in goods traffic operations. He was soon to become a director with the Railway Board. By the time he retired in 1981, he was the general manager of the Central Railways. By the time Baba passed away in November 2000, his name had found place in several hearts as well. He was open, easy to know, and full of life. We were extremely close, but I had so much more to learn about him from many things I came to know after his death.

In September 2000, he was in hospital for treatment of cancer and given just two months to live. When he found out, his reaction was an extremely rational one. He asked me to fetch files from his cupboard, so that he could explain the details of my mother’s pension. He also dictated his will from his hospital bed. ‘Everything is under control !’ After Baba’s death, Satish, our old family retainer, was inconsolable. We tried to cheer him up. ‘Your Baba had scolded me only once in all these years!’ he cried. Satish pointed to the watch on his left hand. ‘I had been coming late for work and everyone in the family was complaining about it,’ said Satish. ‘Then, one day, your Baba gave me this watch and told me, ‘now that you have a watch, you can’t be late’’. That was the scolding Satish received. On the fourth day after Baba’s death, my sister and I had to perform a ceremony. Since several relatives were expected, we decided to order lunch from a caterer in our locality, who was reputed for his home cooked food. But, when we went to pay the owner, we got a surprise. He refused to accept any money! ‘When I wanted to start my catering business, it was your father who lent me money,’ he told us. It seems Baba never asked for it back. Now, after four or five years, the caterer wanted to repay that debt. Of course, we made him accept the full payment for the fine food and service. ‘It was Baba’s gift and it ought to remain so,’ I told him.

Some days later, (as we were preparing for the main ceremony) there was yet another piece of information. Vikram, my brother drove me to the local market. On recognizing our car, the parking assistant, in his twenties, came running towards us and asked why he had not seen its owner for long. We had to break the news to him and to our utter surprise, he started crying. We were really surprised by this reaction from a stranger—until the man told us that Baba used to pay his daughter’s school fees and buy her books. It seems, it was on my father’s advice that he’d even started sending the child to school. More than three years after Baba’s death, as we were looking into Baba’s personal things, we came across an old file with Baba’s certificates and I found among them, his high school diploma from 1937, the one he’d told me about 30 years earlier, about the third division that had made no difference in his life or career. It had made me see beyond mere marks and first classes as the main road to success. But there was one more fact. Baba had actually got a first division, a rare achievement in his day. Today, years after his passing, when I think of Baba, I see a man who was able to sympathise with others very easily and who had touched their lives in some very special way.

Q. Based on your understanding of the above passage, answer any five of the questions given below by choosing the most appropriate option:

  1. Why was the narrator in tears when her school results came out?
    1. She did better than she expected.
    2. She did not do as expected.
    3. Her Baba had not done well.
    4. Her Baba had done better than her.
  2. On knowing the result, how did the narrator’s father react?
    1. He scolded her.
    2. He beat her.
    3. He consoled her.
    4. He made fun of her.
  3. Why did the narrator say that she had nothing to complain?
    1. She had done better than her father.
    2. She had done as well as her father.
    3. She had topped in her school.
    4. She had not worked hard at all.
  4. Choose the option that is not correct.
    1. Baba was a senior official in the Indian Railway Service.
    2. Baba was to become a director with the Railway Board.
    3. Baba was the General Manager of the Central Railways.
    4. Baba had got a third division in high school.
  5. Which division did Baba actually get?
    1. First
    2. Second
    3. Third
    4. Failed
  6. Whose fees the narrator’s father used to pay?
    1. Satish, the caretaker.
    2. The caterer’s daughter.
    3. The parking assistant’s daughter.
    4. The narrator.

Answers

  1. She did not do as expected.
  2. He consoled her.
  3. She had done better than her father.
  4. Baba had got a third division in high school.
  5. First
  6. The parking assistant’s daughter

Q. Answer the following questions briefly:

  1. Why did the narrator’s sick father want her to fetch files from his cupboard?
  2. Why did Baba buy Satish a watch?
  3. Why did the caterer not want to take money from the narrator?
  4. Why were the narrator and her brother surprised on meeting the parking assistant?
  5. Today years after his passing away what has the narrator realized about her Baba?
  6. Find words/phrases from the passage that mean the same as the following:
    1. tension/anxiety (Para 1)
    2. servant (Para 2)

Answers

  1. The narrator’s father had cancer and he had two months to live. So he asked her to fetch files so that he could explain details of mother’s pension.
  2. Baba wanted to buy Satish a watch so that he was not late for work.
  3. The father of the narrator had lent money to caterer to start his catering business. He felt grateful to the narrator and refused to take money.
  4. The parking assistant started crying on learning of the father’s death. That day the narrator and her brother came to know that father had been helping his daughter by paying for her school fee and books.
  5. After years the narrator had come to know that her Baba had been a sympathetic man and had been able to touch people’s lives in a special way.
  6. Words are:
    1. Worried
    2. retainer

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