When I Was Twelve – Summary Word-Meanings and Solutions

When I Was Twelve – Summary Word-Meanings and Solutions: The lesson 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’.

When I was Twelve Class 6 English Wind Chimes

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

diminish – 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.
Some extra questions:
Q.1. Why does every child dread the presence their math teacher?
Ans. It is a popular fallacy or expected behaviour about fearing maths but cannot be said so same about every maths teacher. The author concludes his opinion based on his own experience of his own maths teacher as being “formidable” and without “compassion, pity.” The teacher is also described as being physically punishing students who struggled with answering his questions.
There are many math teachers who are patient, understanding, and encouraging. However, the passage does illustrate how a negative experience with a math teacher can lead a child to dread math class.


A. Use these compound adjectives in sentences of your own. You may practise orally in pairs before writing down your sentences.

1. cold-blooded    2. two-sided     3. well-educated     4. long-lost     5. half-eaten     6. moth-eaten     7. freedom-loving     8. under-nourished

Answer: Students should attempt making sentences by themselves. Here we are giving sample sentences from our side.

1. cold-blooded:

  • The snake is a cold-blooded animal, which means it doesn’t have a warm body temperature.
  • The cold-blooded killer calmly walked away from the crime scene.

2. two-sided:

  • The coin has two sides, heads and tails.
  • The issue of gun control is a two-sided one, with valid arguments on both sides.

3. well-educated:

  • The well-educated people are expected to behave well in tense conditions.
  • My family is full of well-educated members.

4. long-lost:

  • The film ends with the long-lost brothers reunited.
  • The long-lost friend came back into my life after many years.

5. half-eaten:

  • The thief left the food half-eaten when he heard the police siren.
  • It is not sensible to give your half-eaten apple to a beggar.

6. moth-eaten:

  • The moth-eaten sweater was full of holes.
  • The moth-eaten book was falling apart.

7. freedom-loving:

  • The freedom-loving people of the country fought for their independence.
  • The freedom-loving bird flew away from its cage.

8. under-nourished:

  • The under-nourished child was pale and weak.
  • The under-nourished plants were not growing well.

B. Now, use the same expressions without the hyphens in sentences of your own.

Answer: Students should attempt making sentences by themselves. Here, we are giving meanings and sample sentences for each phrase.

  1. Called Upon:
  • Meaning: To request someone to do something or to ask for their assistance or participation.
  • Example Sentence: She called upon her friend to help her move the heavy furniture.
  1. Looked At:
  • Meaning: To direct one’s gaze in the direction of someone or something in order to see or examine it.
  • Example Sentence: He looked at the beautiful sunset over the horizon.
  1. Stood Up:
  • Meaning: To rise from a sitting or lying position to a standing position.
  • Example Sentence: When the national anthem played, everyone stood up in respect.
  1. Hung Upon:
  • Meaning: To suspend something from a higher point, typically so that it dangles freely.
  • Example Sentence: She hung the painting upon the wall in the living room.

c. Use the dictionary in groups of three to find, learn and share the meanings of these phrasal verbs beginning with calllook and stand.

Ans. The meanings are given below

C. 1. to formally ask someone to do something
    2. to officially order someone to join the armed forces; (informal) to telephone someone
    3. to say something loudly
    4. to try to find something that one has lost, or someone who is not where they should be
    5. to try to find out the truth about a problem, crime, etc. in order to solve it
    6. admire
    7. to stay loyal to someone and support them, especially in a difficult situation
    8. to support a particular set of ideas, values, or principles
    9. to be very easy to see or notice


A. Fill in the blanks with the correct present tense forms of the verbs in the brackets.

1. The President ……………… (inaugurate) the seminar this evening.

2. Tell me as soon as he ……………… (come).

3. I am ……………… (go) to Jaipur tomorrow.

4. We all ……………… (meet) for lunch on Sunday.

5. We are ……………… (organise) a fete this year.

6. The train leaves as soon as the minister ……………… (arrive).

Ans. 1. inaugurates 2. comes 3. going 4. are meeting 5. organising 6. arrives

B. Fill in the blanks with the simple future tense forms of the verbs in the brackets.

1. You ……………… (regret) such hasty decisions.

2. I have decided that I ……………… (speak) later.

3. Naresh ……………… (manage) the shopping for the event.

4. They ……………… (reach) Kalimpong about an hour late.

5. Maya ……………… not ……………… (accept) such behaviour!

6. ……………… we ……………… (review) what you have learned?

Ans. 1. will regret 2. shall speak 3. will manage 4. will reach 5. will not accept 6. Shall…review

C. Fill in the blanks with the future continuous tense forms of the verbs in the brackets.

1. Please fasten your seat belts. We ……………… (take) off in a few minutes.

2. What are you doing this weekend? Oh, I ……………… (work) as usual.

3. Vinay ……………… (leave) for Canada soon. He has got a job there.

4. He ……………… (pick) them up from the theatre.

5. Our teacher ……………… (give) us a mock test next week.

6. This time tomorrow everyone ……………… (read) about your success.

Ans. 1. shall be taking 2. shall be working 3. will be leaving 4. will be picking 5. shall be giving 6. will be reading

D. Fill in the blanks with am/is/are + going + to + the base form of the verbs in the brackets.

1. Have you decided on your colour schemes? Yes, I (paint) this room white and the living room powder blue.

2. …………………………….. you …………………………….. (try) to take photographs. It’s not allowed. No, I …………………………….. (try) to sell the camera. That is not allowed either. If the policewoman sees you, she …………………………… . (confiscate) the camera.

3. Arun Roy …………………………….. (write) a book about relationships this time. I wonder if any one …………………………….. (buy) it. Oh, yes, many people …………………………….. (want) it. He is an award-winning writer.

Ans. 1. am going to
        2. Are…going to try;   am going to try;   is going to confiscate
        3. is going to write;   is going to buy;   are going to want

Perform: Writing

A.  RK Laxman was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in March 2005. Write a letter to him as an old classmate of his, congratulating him on receiving the award.

Ans. Students should attempt by themselves. Here we are giving a sample letter.

Dear RK Laxman,

I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and spirits. It has been quite some time since we last met, and I couldn’t be happier to hear the wonderful news about you being awarded the Padma Vibhushan in March 2005.

Congratulations are in order for this remarkable achievement! Your contributions to Indian literature and art have been nothing short of exceptional, and this recognition is truly well-deserved. I remember our school days when you used to sketch those humorous cartoons that made everyone burst into laughter. Little did we know that your talent would one day earn you such a prestigious honour.

I am proud to have known you as a classmate and witness your journey towards becoming a celebrated artist and writer. Your work has not only entertained but also enlightened countless people over the years.

Once again, heartiest congratulations on this significant accomplishment. May you continue to inspire us all with your creativity and passion.

Warm regards,

Ajeet Sir

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I want solved back exercise of chapter when I was twelve

      1. Sirji

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