‘My Childhood’ by Abdul Kalam Class 9 Explanation & Meanings: Here you would get para-wise meanings and explanation of the lesson ‘My Childhood’ in Class 9 NCERT English book ‘Beehive’. Click here for other lessons.
Para Wise Meanings & Explanations
- Erstwhile: Former, in the past.
- Innate: Inborn, natural, existing from birth.
- Helpmate: A helpful companion or partner.
- Ideal: Perfect or most suitable.
- Generosity of spirit: A kind and giving nature.
- Recall: Remember.
- Outsiders: People who are not part of the family or a particular group.
The author begins by providing details about their background, stating that they were born into a middle-class Tamil family in Rameswaram, which was part of the former Madras State. The father, Jainulabdeen, is described as someone with limited formal education and wealth. Despite these apparent disadvantages, the father is characterized by great innate wisdom and a true generosity of spirit. This suggests that, despite lacking in traditional measures of success, the father possesses valuable qualities that go beyond material wealth or academic achievements.
The term “helpmate” is used to describe the author’s mother, Ashiamma. It implies that she is not just a spouse but an ideal companion or partner, suggesting a harmonious and supportive relationship. The author expresses admiration for the mother’s generosity, highlighting that she fed a significant number of people every day. The phrase “far more outsiders ate with us than all the members of our own family put together” emphasizes the selflessness and hospitality of the family. It paints a picture of a household that extends its generosity to a broader community, welcoming and providing for more people outside their immediate family.
Overall, this passage sets the stage for the author’s upbringing in a modest family, emphasizing the importance of qualities like wisdom, generosity, and community care over material wealth or formal education.
- Undistinguished: Not standing out, ordinary or unremarkable.
- Ancestral: Relating to one’s ancestors or family heritage.
- Pucca: Solid, permanent, often used in the context of buildings to signify solidity and durability.
- Austere: Simple, plain, without excess or luxury.
- Inessential: Not necessary, superfluous.
- Luxuries: Comforts and pleasures beyond basic necessities.
- Secure: Safe, protected, free from danger or want.
The author describes themselves as one of many children, emphasizing their unremarkable appearance. Despite being short and having ordinary looks, they were born to tall and handsome parents. The family resides in their ancestral house, built in the middle of the nineteenth century. The term “pucca” is used to describe the house, indicating that it is a solid and permanent structure made of limestone and brick. The location is specified as Mosque Street in Rameswaram.
The father is characterized as austere, avoiding inessential comforts and luxuries. Despite this, the author emphasizes that all necessities, including food, medicine, and clothes, were provided for. The term “secure childhood” suggests that the author felt both materially and emotionally secure during their upbringing. This implies a sense of stability and protection within the family environment.
In summary, this passage provides insights into the author’s physical appearance, family background, and the nature of their ancestral home. It portrays a family that values simplicity and practicality, ensuring the fulfilment of basic needs while avoiding unnecessary extravagance. The use of the term “secure childhood” underscores the emotional well-being and stability experienced by the author during this period.
- Princely: Grand or impressive, often used ironically to emphasize a small or modest amount.
- Brother-in-law: The brother of one’s spouse.
- Dinamani: Presumably a reference to a newspaper, possibly a local publication.
- Allied Forces: The military alliance of the Allied Powers during World War II.
- State of emergency: A situation of national danger or disaster, usually involving government restrictions.
- Casualty: In this context, a negative consequence or effect.
- Train halt: A stopping point for trains.
- Rameswaram station: Presumably a railway station in Rameswaram.
- Dhanuskodi: A place or region mentioned in connection with Rameswaram.
The author recalls the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 when they were eight years old. During this time, there was an unexpected demand for tamarind seeds in the market. The author took advantage of this by collecting and selling the seeds to a provision shop on Mosque Street, earning one anna for a day’s collection. The term “princely sum” is used ironically to emphasize the modest amount earned.
The author’s brother-in-law, Jallaluddin, shared stories about the War, and the author tried to verify these stories by reading headlines in Dinamani, a newspaper. Despite their area being initially isolated from the war’s impact, India eventually joined the Allied Forces, leading to a state of emergency. The suspension of the train halt at Rameswaram station and the need to distribute newspapers led to a unique opportunity for the author.
The author’s cousin, Samsuddin, who distributed newspapers in Rameswaram, enlisted the author’s help in catching newspaper bundles thrown from a moving train between Rameswaram and Dhanuskodi. This activity helped the author earn their first wages. The mention of feeling a “surge of pride” in earning their own money highlights the significance of this experience in the author’s memory.
In summary, this passage provides a glimpse into the author’s childhood during the Second World War. It illustrates their entrepreneurial spirit in responding to market demands, the impact of the war on their community, and the unique opportunity that arose due to the war-related changes, leading to the author’s first earning experience.
- Inherited: Received from one’s ancestors or parents.
- Socio-economic: Relating to the social and economic factors that influence one’s status in society.
- Emotional environment: The atmosphere or surroundings that shape one’s emotional experiences.
- Self-discipline: The ability to control one’s own behaviour, especially in terms of work and personal conduct.
- Faith in goodness: A strong belief in the inherent goodness of people or situations.
- Orthodox: Adhering to traditional and established beliefs or customs.
- Brahmin families: Families belonging to the Hindu priestly class, traditionally associated with religious and scholarly pursuits.
- Priesthood: The position or role of a priest.
- Catering contractor: A person or business responsible for providing catering services.
- Southern Railways: Presumably a reference to the railway system in the southern region of India.
The author reflects on the idea that every child is born with certain inherited characteristics and is raised in a specific socio-economic and emotional environment. From the author’s father, they inherited honesty and self-discipline, while from their mother, they inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness. The author’s siblings also inherited these qualities.
The author had three close friends in childhood—Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan, and Sivaprakasan. All of them came from orthodox Hindu Brahmin families. Despite religious and upbringing differences, the children did not feel any distinctions among themselves. Ramanadha Sastry, the son of the high priest of the Rameswaram temple, eventually took over the priesthood from his father. Aravindan became involved in arranging transport for visiting pilgrims, and Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railways.
This passage emphasizes the influence of family, upbringing, and friendships in shaping the author’s early life. It also highlights the diversity of career paths and choices made by the author’s childhood friends, showcasing how individuals with different backgrounds can pursue distinct professions while maintaining their bond of friendship.
- Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam: A religious ceremony or ritual related to the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita in Hindu tradition.
- Idols: Images or representations, often of deities in a religious context.
- Marriage site: The location where a marriage ceremony takes place.
- Rama Tirtha: The name of the pond mentioned in the passage.
- Ramayana: One of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, narrating the life of Prince Rama.
- Prophet: Typically used in the context of Islam, referring to a person who delivers messages from a divine source.
- Bedtime stories: Stories told to children before they go to sleep.
The passage describes a family tradition during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony. During this event, the family arranged boats with a special platform to carry idols of Lord Rama from the temple to the marriage site, located in the middle of the pond called Rama Tirtha near their house. This tradition suggests a strong religious and cultural connection within the family, involving active participation in religious ceremonies.
The mention of events from the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet being bedtime stories indicates the religious and cultural education provided to the children in the family. The Ramayana is a significant Hindu epic, while the term “Prophet” suggests Islamic teachings, showcasing a multi-religious influence within the family’s storytelling. This reflects a rich cultural environment where children are exposed to narratives from both Hindu and Islamic traditions.
In summary, the passage highlights the family’s involvement in a religious ceremony, emphasizing the importance of cultural traditions and religious education within the household. The mention of stories from both the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet reflects a diverse cultural and religious upbringing for the children in the family.
- Fifth standard: A specific grade level in primary education.
- Elementary School: A school that provides primary education.
- Sacred thread: A symbol worn by some Hindus, typically signifying a ritual or ceremony.
- Hindu priest’s son: The child of a Hindu religious leader.
- Social ranking: The perceived hierarchy or status within a social group.
The author recounts an incident from their time in the fifth standard at Rameswaram Elementary School. A new teacher entered the class, and the author, who wore a cap that identified them as a Muslim, habitually sat in the front row next to Ramanadha Sastry, who wore the sacred thread, a symbol of Hindu identity. The new teacher, seemingly uncomfortable with the seating arrangement, decided to enforce a different seating plan based on perceived social or religious differences.
Due to the teacher’s bias, the author was asked to move to the back bench, ostensibly because of their Muslim identity and the proximity to a Hindu classmate. This incident made both the author and Ramanadha Sastry feel sad. The emotional impact on Ramanadha Sastry is particularly highlighted, as he appeared visibly upset when the author moved to the last row. The author emphasizes the lasting impression of seeing Ramanadha Sastry in a state of distress.
This passage highlights issues of prejudice and discrimination based on religious identity and social perceptions within an educational setting. It underscores the emotional impact of such incidents on individuals, leaving a lasting impression on the author and shaping their awareness of social biases.
- Respective: Belonging individually or separately to each of the mentioned parties.
- Summoned: Called or requested someone to come.
- In our presence: While we (the students) were there.
- Poison: Metaphorically used here to describe harmful ideas or influences.
- Social inequality: Unfair differences in social status or opportunities.
- Communal intolerance: Lack of tolerance or acceptance between different religious or ethnic communities.
- Bluntly: Directly and without mincing words.
- Apologise: Acknowledge and express regret for one’s actions.
- Quit: Leave or resign from a position.
- Reformed: Changed for the better, often implying personal or moral improvement.
Following the incident at school, where the author and Ramanadha Sastry were asked to change their seats based on religious differences, they went home and informed their respective parents. Lakshmana Sastry, presumably an influential figure in the community or school, took action. He summoned the teacher and, in the presence of the students, addressed the issue directly.
Lakshmana Sastry admonished the teacher, expressing that spreading the “poison” of social inequality and communal intolerance among innocent children was unacceptable. He gave the teacher a choice: either apologize or leave the school and the island. The use of the term “bluntly” suggests that Lakshmana Sastry was firm and straightforward in conveying his message. The passage indicates that the teacher not only regretted his behavior but was also ultimately reformed by the strong sense of conviction that Lakshmana Sastry conveyed.
This passage illustrates a positive outcome where a person in authority took a stand against discrimination and intolerance. Lakshmana Sastry’s intervention not only addressed the immediate issue but also had a transformative effect on the young teacher, potentially influencing their future actions and attitudes. It emphasizes the importance of standing up against injustice and fostering a sense of equality and tolerance.
- On the whole: Generally, considering all aspects.
- Rigid: Strict, inflexible.
- Segregation: The action or state of setting someone or something apart from others.
- Social groups: Different communities or classes within society.
- Science teacher: A teacher specializing in the subject of science.
- Orthodox Brahmin: A person adhering to traditional beliefs and practices, belonging to the Brahmin caste in Hinduism.
- Conservative: Holding to traditional attitudes and values.
- Rebel: Someone who resists or defies authority or convention.
- Social barriers: Obstacles or restrictions that prevent social interaction between different groups.
- Mingle: Mix or socialize with others.
The author describes the small society of Rameswaram as being very rigid regarding the segregation of different social groups. However, they introduce their science teacher, Sivasubramania Iyer, who, despite being an orthodox Brahmin with a conservative wife, is portrayed as a rebel. The teacher goes against the social norms by making efforts to break down barriers, allowing people from diverse backgrounds to mingle easily.
Sivasubramania Iyer’s approach stands out in the context of the rigid social structure of Rameswaram. He spends time with the author, expressing a desire for them to develop and be on par with the highly educated people of big cities. This mentorship and encouragement reflect a positive influence on the author’s education and aspirations.
In summary, this passage highlights the contrast between the rigid social norms of Rameswaram and the progressive mindset of the science teacher, Sivasubramania Iyer. It emphasizes the teacher’s rebellion against social barriers and the encouragement he provides to the author, emphasizing the importance of education and breaking down societal constraints for personal development.
- Invited: Asked someone to join for a meal or an event.
- Ritually pure: In a religious context, clean and in accordance with religious rituals.
- Perturbed: Disturbed or unsettled.
- Hesitation: Pausing or being uncertain before deciding or acting.
- Confronted: Dealt with or faced directly.
- System: In this context, likely referring to social or cultural norms and practices.
The author recounts an incident where their science teacher, Sivasubramania Iyer, invited them to his home for a meal. However, the teacher’s wife was horrified at the thought of a Muslim boy dining in her ritually pure kitchen. She refused to serve the author in her kitchen. Instead of getting upset or angry, Sivasubramania Iyer took matters into his own hands. He personally served the author and sat down beside them to eat the meal. The teacher’s wife observed from behind the kitchen door.
The author reflects on whether the teacher’s wife noticed any differences in their behavior during the meal. When leaving, Sivasubramania Iyer invited the author to join him for dinner again the next weekend. Understanding the author’s hesitation, the teacher encouraged them not to get upset, emphasizing that when one decides to change the system, such problems must be confronted.
During the next visit, the teacher’s wife took the author inside her kitchen and served them food with her own hands, signaling a shift in her attitude. This episode illustrates the teacher’s commitment to breaking down social barriers and challenging existing norms. It also reflects the transformative power of personal actions in fostering understanding and change within societal systems.
- Imminent: About to happen, impending.
- Gandhiji: An honorific term used for Mahatma Gandhi, a key figure in the Indian independence movement.
- Unprecedented: Never before known or experienced.
- Optimism: A hopeful and positive outlook on the future.
- District headquarters: The administrative center of a district.
- Ramanathapuram: A district in the southern part of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The passage describes a significant historical moment—the end of the Second World War and the imminent freedom of India. Mahatma Gandhi declares that “Indians will build their own India,” creating a sense of unprecedented optimism throughout the country. This period is marked by the anticipation of India gaining independence.
In response to this optimistic atmosphere, the author expresses a desire for change and growth. They request permission from their father to leave Rameswaram, their hometown, and study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram. This decision indicates the author’s aspiration for education and a broader perspective, aligning with the spirit of building a new India as envisioned by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi.
The passage captures the historical context of India on the brink of independence and the individual’s response to the changing times, symbolized by the desire to pursue education at a district level. It reflects the collective hope and optimism of the nation during this transformative period.
- Thinking aloud: Expressing one’s thoughts audibly, often without addressing a specific listener.
- Seagull: A type of bird commonly found near coastlines.
- Hesitant: Showing uncertainty or reluctance.
- Quoted: Repeated or cited the words of someone else.
- Khalil Gibran: A Lebanese-American poet, writer, and philosopher.
- Sons and daughters: A figurative way of referring to children.
- Longing for itself: A desire for existence or continuation.
- Give them your love but not your thoughts: Implying the importance of allowing children to form their own ideas and beliefs.
The author’s father responds to their request to leave Rameswaram and study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram. He addresses the author by the name “Abul” and shares a profound perspective. He mentions that he knows the author has to go away to grow. Using the metaphor of a seagull flying across the sun alone and without a nest, the father implies that individual growth often involves venturing into the unknown.
To further convey his point, the father quotes Khalil Gibran to the author’s hesitant mother. The quote emphasizes the idea that children are not possessions of their parents; rather, they are the result of life’s longing for itself. The quote advises parents to give their children love but not to impose their own thoughts on them because each child has their own thoughts and individuality.
This passage reflects a moment of deep understanding and wisdom on the part of the author’s father. It emphasizes the importance of allowing children the freedom to explore, grow, and develop their own perspectives in life. The use of metaphors and the quote from Khalil Gibran add depth to the father’s message about the nature of parenthood and the journey of self-discovery for each individual.