Class 10 English The Letter Summary and Important Questions

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Summary

Like every day for the past five years, Coachman Ali walked slowly through the town. Now and then he drew his torn clothes tighter to shield his body from the cold and biting wind. At the post office, the old man went in quietly and squatted on the veranda.
Inside, the clerks separated the letters. Name after name rang out from within as the clerk read out the English addresses in the letters and flung them to the waiting postmen while the old man waited patiently outside. In the middle of this action, a jesting voice from inside called out Coachman Ali's name.
The old man got up, raised his eyes to heaven in gratitude and stepping forward put his hands to the door. He called out eagerly to the clerk who had called out his name to enquire if there was a letter for him.
The clerk turned to the postmaster and said that Ali was a mad man who worried the post office employees by calling every day for letters that never came. Disappointed, the old man went back slowly to the bench on which he had been accustomed to sit for five long years.
Ali had been a clever shikari but now, in his old age, he had given up hunting. His only child, Miriam had got married and gone off with her husband, a soldier, to his regiment in the Punjab, and for the last five years Ali had received no news of his daughter.
As a result of the parting, Ali had come to understand the meaning of love and separation and had therefore given up hunting. The post office had become his place of pilgrimage. He always sat in a particular seat in a particular corner of the building. People got to know his habit and they laughed at him. The postmen made fun of him. Even though there was no letter for him they would call out his name for the fun of seeing him jump up and come to the door. But with unlimited faith and patience, he came every day, and went away empty-handed.
For several days Ali did not come to the post-office. Though no one had enough sympathy or understanding, they were all curious to know why Ali had not come. Finally, one day Ali came, breathing with difficulty, looking as if he were at death's door. He asked for his Miriam's letter and was rudely rebuked by the postmaster.
Ali came out very slowly, turning after every few steps to gaze at the post office, his eyes full of tears. He heard one of the clerks coming up behind him, and turned to him. He gave the clerk five golden guineas and told him to forward Miriam's letter to him to his grave. That was the last anyone saw of Ali and no one bothered to check on him.
Then the postmaster's daughter fell ill in another town and he sat anxiously waiting for news of her.
The post was brought in, and the letters piled on the table. Looking anxiously through the mail, he spotted a letter addressed to Ali. He picked up the letter thinking he'd give it to Ali himself when he came, for now the postmaster understood Ali 's heart and his very soul. After spending one night anxiously waiting for news of his daughter, his heart was full of sympathy for the poor old man who had spent his nights in the same suspense for the last five years.
At five, he heard Ali at the door and called him in. He handed the letter to the old man, bent double with age, who was standing outside.
One of his clerks, Lakshmi Das, the one to whom Ali had given the money, came to check who the postmaster was talking to. On learning that the postmaster was talking to Ali, he exclaimed that Ali had died three months ago.
The postmaster was bewildered. Miriam's letter was still lying near the door, Ali 's image was still before his eyes. He listened to Lakshmi Das's recital of the last interview, but he could still not doubt the reality of the knock on the door and the tears in Ali 's eyes.
That evening ykshmi Das and the postmaster walked with slow steps to Ali's grave and laid the letter on it.
 
 
SOLVED QUESTIONS


Q.1: Ali came out very slowly, turning after every few steps to gaze at the post office His eyes were filled with tears of helplessness, for his patience was exhausted even though he still had faith. Yet how could he still hope to hear from Mirriam?
(a) Why were Ali's eyes filled with tears of helplessness?
(b) Why was his patience exhausted?
(c) What did he still hope to hear?
Ans. (a) Ali's eyes were filled with tears of helplessness because of the inhuman behaviour of the postmaster towards him.
(b) Ali's patience was exhausted because he had suffered much humiliation and didn't even receive Miriam's letter.
(c) Ali still hoped to hear from Miriam.
 
Q.2 Ali was leaning on a stick, and the tears were wet on his face as they had been when the clerk left him. But his features had been hard then, and now they were softened by lines of kindliness. He lifted his eyes and in them was a light so unearthly that the postmaster shrank back in fear and astonishment.
(a) In what state did Ali appear to the postmaster?
(b) How were his featured softened?
(c) Why did the postmaster shrink back in fear and astonishment?
Ans. (a) Ali was leaning on a stick and tears rolled down his wet face.
(b) His features were softened by 'lines of kindness'.
(c) The postmaster shrunk back in fear and astonishment as he noticed a light 'so unearthly' in Ali's eyes.
 
Q.3: The newly-wakened father's heart in him was reproaching him for having failed to understand Ali's anxiety, for now he himself had to spend another night of restless anxiety. Tortured by doubt and remorse, he sat down in the glow of the charcoal sigri to wait.
(a) Why and how was the heart of the postmaster newly wakened?
(b) Why was the postmaster reproaching him for?
(c) What was the tortured father waiting for?
Ans. (a) The postmaster's heart was newly wakened by new understanding of life and relations.
(b) The postmaster was reproaching himself for being unkind to Ali.
(c) The tortured father was waiting for a letter from his sick daughter.
 
Q.4: What were Ali's observations about the peons who came to the post office?
Ans. Going to the post office was a ritual for Ali. There he would observe the peons who came to the post office. Most of them came to receive the letters for their firms. Ali would hear them discussing the scandals and stories of their masters. They were smart and young people. They dressed smartly and
wore creaking shoes. They were always eager to talk or gossip. They would wait for their turns and went back to offices after collecting their letters.
 
Q.5: 'From that day he a had risen at four o'clock each morning to walk to the post office.' What brought about this change in Ali? Why did he visit the post office regularly?
Ans. Ali was a passionately loving father. He was a lonely man since the day miriam had gone away after her marriage. He came to conclusion that the whole universe is built up through love. The grief of separation is inescapable. He sat down under a tree and wept bitterly. From that day he would rise at 4 O'clock in the morning to walk to the post office. He hoped to get a letter from his beloved daughter Miriam.
 
He visited the post office with boundless faith and infinite patience. Though he always came empty-handed, he never hope of getting a letter from Miriam.
 
Q.6: Imagine you are the postmaster. Since you have realised the pain Ali has gone through, you are full of remorse. Write a letter to your friend.
Ans.
Post office
 
Shrafatganj
 
20th March, 2011
 
Dear Raju,
 
It is often said that one never feels the pinch of the shoes till one wears them. Really true. How could I understand the pain the misery of a father separated from his daughter ? Only my own anxiety and worry which made me miserable reminded me of Ali's helplessness. I suffered only for a day. Imagine the suffering of an old man who had been experiencing it for more than five years. I feel ashamed at my insensitivity and indifference to a father's sufferings.
 
I confess that I behaved like a haughty and ill-tempered official with Ali. Everyone made a fun of him. I particularly, was very harsh on him. When he pressed me for knowing if there was a letter for him. I lost my temper. I called him a pest' and a senselless fellow. I shooed him out of the post office like a dog.
 
Today I am desperately waiting for news of my sick daughter. I can understand and feel the pangs of separation now. Now a letter is a document of human feelings and emotions for me. I am now torn by remorse and repentance for not understanding the agony of a father's heart.
 
Yours sincerely
Ram Saran
 
 

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