When I Was Twelve – Summary Word-Meanings and Solutions Class 6 English

‘When I was Twelve’ is a Chapter of the Class 6 English. The chapter is about R K Laxman, the most famous political cartoonist of India. The chapter starts with a few cartoons of R K Laxman. The chapter ‘When I was Twelve’ contains the younger days incidents of R K Laxman. here we are giving important notes in the form of Word-meanings, summary and solutions of the chapter ‘‘When I was Twelve’.

Word-Meanings: When I Was Twelve

arguably – with reasons and logics

featuring – showing as important or interesting

tribulations – sufferings and troubles

pithy – short but very meaningful

elegant – attractive, stylish

exception – which is not the part of, not included

baffle – to confuse or bewilder

dreads – fear (v)

particularly – especially

nasty – bad, unpleasant

compassion – a deep sympathy for the sorrows of others

committed – determined and devoted to

get the hang of – try to learn how to do something

formidable – fearsome

beyond me – beyond my understanding

involved – engrossed

indeed – in fact,

subconsciously – unintentionally

inanimate – non-living things and objects

spilling out – come out as flowing or running over

rubbed off on – feeling or quality that gets transferred to others or others seem to have it

ridicule – to laugh at sb/sth

big affair – a big programme or function

reputation – the good or bad opinion that people have about you

hang upon words – to listen carefully and patiently

compulsive – natural behaviour that seems difficult to control or stop

enormous – in large or huge amount, immense

giggle – to laugh in a silly manner with high pitch

dimmish – to reduce, to lessen

good-humouredly – cheerfully

grimly – seriously

stomped – to walk away with heavy steps

woo – to persuade (मनाने की कोशिश करना )

roundly – strongly, by a large number of people

enlightened – having or showing a good understanding of people’s needs, a situation etc.


This excerpt from RK Laxman’s autobiography recounts his initial forays into the realm of comedy as a child. He attended a municipal school in Mysore that was backed by the Maharaja. Of all the things he encountered there, his Arithmetic teacher was the most intimidating. This teacher, who had a comically aggressive mustache and an imposing demeanor, was the subject of Laxman’s first inadvertent caricature. While sitting in class with his mind wandering far from his calculations, Laxman’s absent-minded doodle of the teacher evolved into a half-man, half-tiger creature. The teacher was so pleased with the caricature that he immediately boxed Laxman’s ear in praise.

Laxman notes that he acquired the cartoonist’s/caricaturist’s toolset early on, including not only a talent for drawing but also a natural inclination for observation. However, crucially, he also had the support and encouragement of his family, despite offending people early on as a caricaturist.

When he was twelve, leading up to a family wedding, the cook was brought in for consultations. According to Laxman, back then, the cook was the most critical person at a wedding. The family’s reputation was on the line, and no one was treated with more respect and subservience than the cook. As the family spoke to the cook in the most flattering way possible, Laxman sat in the corner and drew yet another caricature. Eventually, the family members noticed it and a small wave of laughter erupted from the corner of the room. The cook became curious and approached to see it himself, but upon seeing what it was, he flew into an apoplectic rage and announced that he would never cook for a family that dared to disrespect him. It took one of Laxman’s clever uncles to eventually win back the cook’s favor.


A. Answer these questions in brief.

  1. Who do you think are referred to as ‘we’ at the beginning of the extract by the author?
  2. How did Laxman relate things and creatures to personality?
  3. Why did Laxman think that his was a good school?
  4. How did the teacher react to Laxman’s caricature?
  5. Why did the caricature amuse everyone but the cook?
  6. How did the cook react to his caricature?


  1. It appears that the author is referring to their contemporaries.
  2. According to Laxman, personalities can be imbued into inanimate objects. Through his observations, he was able to establish connections between creatures and things with personalities.
  3. The teachers were of exceptional quality and were supported by the Maharaja of Mysore.
  4. Laxman’s teacher punished him by twisting his ears out of anger.
  5. Not everyone possesses enough humour to appreciate their own caricature. The cook was one such person who was unable to comprehend that the caricature was not meant to tarnish his image and was only created by a child.
  6. The cook became infuriated and refused to cater for the wedding, storming off in a fit of anger.

B. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

  1. It was a most elegant school-not the kind of Municipal schools we have today.
    a. Which school was most elegant?
    b. Who went to this school?
    c. What does the speaker think about present day municipal schools?
  2. So we mumbled and he twisted our ears and shouted.
    a. What did they mumble?
    b. Who is the ‘he’ referred to here?
    c. Why did he twist their ears?
  3. A man with bristling moustache, teeth and all that developed as the questions went on.
    a. Who was this man?
    b. What does ‘all that developed’ refer to?
    c. What is the significance of ‘as the questions went on’?


  1. a. The Kannada Municipal school Laxman went to was most elegant.
    b. Laxman and his friends went to it.
    c. The speaker does not think that present day municipal schools are up to the mark.
  2. a. They mumbled the answers to the Arithmetic questions.
    b. ‘He’ is the Arithmetic teacher.
    c. He twisted their ears because they could not answer his question and in addition, kept mumbling.
  3. a. This man was the Arithmetic teacher.
    b. ‘All that developed’ refers to the caricature that Laxman was drawing.
    c. ‘As the questions went on’ refers to the fact that Laxman had become quite oblivious to the fact
    that he might get caught caricaturing his teacher

C. Answer these questions.

  1. Do you think Laxman and his classmates were really weak in Arithmetic? Give reasons.
  2. How did Laxman’s fear of his teacher get reflected in his caricature?
  3. What did he mean when he said, ‘I got nothing out of the 2 + 4 – 1’?
  4. How does a cartoonist ‘rub people on the wrong side’?
  5. How did Laxman’s family make the cook feel important?
  6. Why was Laxman not scolded for making a caricature of the cook?
  7. Do you agree with Laxman’s opinion that ‘Every child dreads the presence of a teacher’? Give reasons.
  8. How would your family react if something like the wedding episode happened in your family?
  9. How did Laxman’s family support him in becoming a cartoonist?
  10. What does RK Laxman think about the art of caricaturing?


  1. Laxman and his classmates struggled with arithmetic, but their fear of their teacher made their performance even worse. Laxman believed that his classmates were afraid to even provide correct answers.
  2. The scary tiger shape of Laxman’s caricature was a clear indication of his fear towards the teacher.
  3. Laxman did not have an interest in arithmetic and did not wish to pursue a career in it.
  4. Being the subject of a caricature can be fun for others, but it can rub the subject the wrong way.
  5. Laxman’s family welcomed the cook with humility and flattery, acknowledging his expertise in cooking.
  6. Laxman’s family supported his passion and career in caricature making, indicating their progressive mindset.
  7. Laxman’s negative experiences with his arithmetic teacher do not represent all teachers, and many teachers create a conducive environment for learning.
  8. Engaging in such episodes may result in parental scolding and punishment.
  9. Laxman’s parents nurtured his talent by providing him with materials such as chalk, pencils, colour pencils, and paint boxes. They expressed pride in his every achievement.
  10. Laxman believes that the essence of caricaturing lies in finding extensions of people’s personalities in other creatures or objects. He also acknowledges that caricatures can be offensive to their subjects.

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