Unseen Passage: I was Born

I was born in the small but beautiful mountain village of Nakuri near Uttarkashi in Garhwal, with the gurgling, playful Bhagirathi river flowing near- by. My parents were a hard-working and extremely self-contained couple. Even though our family was poor, barely managing the essentials, my father taught us how to live and maintain dignity and selfrespect—the most treasured family value till today. At the same time my parents also practised the creed, ‘‘Kindness is the essence of all religion.’’ They were large-hearted, inviting village folk passing by to have tea at our home, and gave grains to the sadhus and pandits who came to the house. This characteristic has been ingrained in me so deeply that I am able to reach out to others and make a difference in their lives — whether it is in my home, in society or at the work place.

I was the third child in the family—girl, boy, girl, girl and boy in that order and quite a rebel. I developed a tendency to ask questions and was not satisfied with the customary way of life for a girlchild. When I found my elder brother, Bachchan, encouraging our youngest brother, Raju, to take up mountaineering I thought, why not me? I found that my brothers were always getting preferential treatment and all opportunities and options were open to them. This made me even more determined to not only do what the boys were doing, but to do it better.

The general thinking of mountain people was that mountaineering as a sport was not for them. They considered themselves to be born mountaineers as they had to go up and down mountain slopes for their daily livelihood and even for routine work. On the other hand, as a student, I would look curiously at foreign backpackers passing by my village and wonder where they were going. I would even invite them to my house and talk to them to learn more about their travels. The full significance of this came to me later when I started working. The foreigners took the trouble to come all the way to the Himalayas in order to educate themselves on social, cultural and scientific aspects of mountaineering, as well as to seek peace in nature’s gigantic scheme of things.

Questions:

  1. What does the author tell us about the financial condition of her parents?
  2. What is the most treasured value of the author’s family?
  3. Give an example to show that the author’s parents were very hospitable.
  4. What kind of girl was the author?
  5. How do you know that the author’s parents discriminated between sons and daughters?
  6. Why do the mountain people consider themselves to be born mountaineers?
  7. Why would the author invite foreign mountaineers to her house ?
  8. Why were foreigners drawn to the Himalayas?

Answers

  1. They were poor, and barely managed the essentials.
  2. The most treasured value of the family is: how to live and maintain dignity and self-respect.
  3. The author’s parents invited village folk passing by to have tea at their home and gave grains to sadhus and pandits who came to the house.
  4. The author was a rebel. She asked questions and was not satisfied with the customary way of life.
  5. The author’s brothers were always getting preferential treatment. All opportunities and options were open to them.
  6. The mountain people consider themselves to be born mountaineers as they have to go up and down the mountain slopes for their daily livelihood and even for routine work.
  7. The author would invite foreign mountaineers to her house to talk to them and to learn more about their travels.

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