Glory at Twilight
The slow, narrow-gauge Indian train with its awkward freak of an engine had a way of making unauthorised stops for no good reason, between fields of corn or at the foot of a village—it was said that the guard signalled a halt to pluck a pumpkin or ripe melons from its stem or to buy fistfuls of green gram from a peasant. Some of the passengers grumbled and sat with drawn brows, composing in their minds angry letters to Authority, or to the Press, but others seized the chance to slip merrily out of doors for a breath of air and a view of the green fields.
Satyajit, languid on the cushioned bench now vacated by the other occupants, reached out for his cigarettes but, on second thought, withdrew his hand brusquely. That won’t do, he told himself with a stern shake of his head. His smoke was rationed. He had attuned himself in the past month to a fast-growing list of denials, large and small, and this was one. How can he afford the unrestricted luxury of chain smoking? Life lay sharpening to realities that still had the semblance of an undreamable dream.
He winced, the turning wheel of fortune in his unhappy eye, as always. Along the orbit of reminiscence he went round and round, pulled by a force beyond his will. The banking establishment of which he had attained control. The amazing tempo of it all. Luck had come his way, undeniably, but behind it was his mind, his initiative, grit, energy. Starting as a mere clerk he had become Managing Director. And now? What now? Tall, thin, near forty, he had sharp features, the hair receding on his temple in wide shiny smooth patches. His eyes hated glare and he wore smart eye-glasses to shield them. His mouth, thin-lipped, would tighten in repose to a line that suggested strength of will but might have been only pride.
‘What now?’ he said to himself in an underbreath. Those words had become his obsession. ‘What now?’ He had no business to be on this wretched train on a neglected railroad, travelling away from the city where he must look for work, for the means of living. With the sudden collapse of his bank, all his private assets were gone overnight; the equities; the house on Tagore Street; even the two cars, his and his wife’s. A mercy that she was away from the scene, with her parents at Delhi, and unaware of the full extent of the ruin. A telegram had come last Tuesday announcing the safe birth of her child. Their first-born, for he had married late in life. His son, his heir. And he had sold off his diamond ring to send his young wife a remittance for the name-giving rites.
UNDERSTANDING THE TEXT
1. Give reasons for the following
a. Satyajit attending the village wedding.
b. Satyajit’s recollection of the forgerer when he was on the train.
c. Srinath and his family members’ eager expectation of Satyajit’s arrival.
d. Srinath’s disappointment with Satyajit.
e. Satyajit’s feeling that he was an impostor.
f. Satyajit not disclosing his present financial status to his uncle.
2. Describe the cycle of events in Satyajit’s life that brought him back to where he began.
TALKING ABOUT THE TEXT
Discuss in pairs
1. It is difficult to adjust to a fall from glory.
2. ‘Failure had a tempo faster than success.’
3. Satyajit should have revealed his predicament to his uncle.
4. The author’s comment on crime and punishment.
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 11 English Elective Glory at Twilight