Abbu Khan’s Goats and their Mystery of Running Away
An old man, named Abbu Khan, lived in Almora all by himself excepts for a few goats whom he kept as pets. He gave funny names to his goats and treated them like his children. During the day, he would take them out for grazing, while during the night he would tie a string around their neck. Abbu Khan gave choicest food to his goats, juiciest grass and grains. Also, the love he showered on these goats was beyond measure. Despite that, one after one, the goats would run away from Abbu Khan’s hut, into the hills. Abbu Khan failed to understand why all his goats abandoned him, and for what.
The Old Wolf
Abbu Khan became more and more sad because the goats that ran away from him were all devoured by a greedy old wolf. Abbu Khan failed to understand their love for freedom, for this freedom was really short lived.
Chandni, the New Goat Left him Too
When all his goats left him, Abbu Khan was so heartbroken that he decided to never have any more goats as pets. However, he felt so lonely that one day he bought a very young goat to his house. He named the goat Chandni.
He thought that the goat was so young that it would stay with him for a very long time and perhaps would be able to reciprocate his love and affection. Also, he told Chandni the stories of the dead goats as a warning.
As Chandni grew up, she kept observing the hilltops bathed in sunlight and began to desire the open fields and fresh air. She stopped eating grass and lost interest in the stories Abbu Khan told her. She decided to convey her desires to Abbu Khan. On knowing about Chandni’s desire for freedom, Abbu Khan warned her again, but to no avail.
Abbu Khan Tried to Restrict Chandni
When all his attempts failed, Abbu Khan decided to tie Chandni in the smaller hut in order to save her from a predictable death at the hands of the old wolf. However, he forgot to shut the small window, which Chandni used to run away into the open field that very night.
Freedom to Chandni and her Death
At last, Chandni got what she wanted. She was finally breathing in the free air of the hills. It seemed to her as if she was meeting her parents after several years of separation. She was overwhelmed to see the tall grass, blooming flowers and the endless expand of the green field. In comparison to this, she thought of Abbu Khan’s compound as a prison. While playing in the grassy slopes, she came across a herd of wild goats who asked her to join them, but she denied wanting to be all by herself.
Very soon the day paved way for the night. She heard a strange sound, like a grunt. Instantly, she knew that this sound was neither of Abbu Khan nor of the other goats. She understood that this was the sound of the wolf. She pondered whether to go back to Abbu Khan or to be right there. Her heart told her to die in an open field was better than living in a small hut. Soon the fight between the wolf and Chandni ensued and though Chandni put up a very brave front, she died. Next morning, she became a topic of discussion among the birds. Some saw her as the loser, while some saw her as a winner.
Grazing scrape, eat grass
Grunt to make a murmur sound
CHECK (NCERT Page 45)
- Why did Abbu Khan’s goats want to run away? What happened to them in the hills?
Ans. Abbu Khan’s goats wanted to run away because they desired freedom. However, they had to pay the price for freedom with their lives. They were killed and devoured by an old and greedy wolf.
- Abbu Khan said, “No more goats in my house ever again.” Then he changed his mind. Why?
Ans. When all his goats left him, Abbu Khan was heart-broken and he decided, “No more goats in my house ever again.”
However, he was so lonely and did not know what to do without his pets, that he changed his mind.
- Why did he buy a young goat?
Ans. Abbu Khan bought a young goat thinking that she would stay with him for a long time and also she might learn to love Abbu Khan dearly and never run away from him.
CHECK (NCERT Page 49)
- Why did Chandni hate the rope round her neck?
Ans. Chandni hated the rope around her neck because she wanted to run away into the fields but every time she did that, the rope stopped her with a jerk.
- “Now Abbu Khan understood Chandni’s problem…” What was Chandni’s problem?
Ans. Abbu Khan understood Chandni’s desire for freedom.
She wanted to run around in the hills rather than stay in Abbu Khan’s compound. The rope around her neck, however, stopped her from doing so. This was Chandni’s problem.
- Abbu Khan pushed Chandni into a small hut. This shows that he
(i) was cruel.
(ii) loved her and wanted to save her life
(iii) was selfish
Ans. (ii) loved her and wanted to save her life
CHECK (NCERT Page 51)
- Why did Chandni refuse to join the group of wild goats?
Ans. Chandni wanted to enjoy her freedom all by herself. Therefore, she politely refused to join the group of wild goats.
- Chandni fought the wolf because she
(i) was stronger than the wolf.
(ii) hated the wolf.
(iii) had to retain her freedom at all costs.
Ans. (iii) had to retain her freedom at all costs
Exercises (NCERT Page 51)
Discuss the following topics in groups.
- Why did the wise old bird say, “Chandni is the winner”?
Ans. The wild old bird declared Chandni the winner because she fought till her last breath. She put a very brave front to protect her dream and desire for freedom.
- “Death in an open field is better than life in a small hut,” Chandni said to herself. Was it the right decision? Give reasons for your answer.
Ans. Had Chandni never ventured out, her dream and desire for freedom would have remain unfulfilled. Though short lived, she had the experience of living a free life, dancing in the grassy fields, admiring the beautiful flowers and being happy. Her decision was right to the extent that she dared, despite knowing the price she might have to pay for it. She did not live a cowardly and unhappy life fearing the consequences of her choice.
- Freedom is life. Discuss this with reference to “Chandni’ and ‘I Want Something in a Cage’.
Ans. In both the chapters, ‘Chandni’ and ‘I want something in a cage,’ the idea of freedom is discussed as a priceless possession. Its value is known only to those who do not have it but desire it. The strange customer in “I want something in a cage” spends his entire earnings to buy someone’s freedom; the pair of doves. This was his way of appreciating freedom and expressing his joy at his new found freedom. Chandni, too, pays a price for desiring freedom, but does so willingly. Paying a heavy price for gaining freedom is better than living a life in prison.
Questions and Answers
Very Short Questions and Answers
- What kind of funny names did Abbu Khan give to his pet goats?
Ans. Abbu Khan gave funny names to his pet goats, such as Kalua, Moongia or Gujri. The youngest goat he bought was named Chandni.
- How and why did Abbu Khan’s goats run away?
Ans. Goats in hilly regions hate to be died. Very often, at night, the goats would pull so hard at the string that it would break loose and they would run away to the hills.
- What did Abbu Khan mean by goats “running straight into the jaws of death”?
Ans. The goats ran away from Abbu Khan’s compound and went to the hilly slopes. However, they were killed by an old and greedy wolf. Abbu Khan called this “running straight into the jaws of death.”
- According to Abbu Khan what was the meaning of freedom?
Ans. According to Abbu Khan, freedom meant struggle, hardship and even death.
- What was Abbu Khan’s reaction on understanding Chandni’s problem?
Ans. On understanding Chandni’s problem, the earthen pot that contained Chandni’s breakfast fell from his hands and he became very upset.
Short Answer Type Questions
- Write a description of Abbu Khan’s new goat, Chandni.
Ans. Abbu Khan’s new goat was very pretty. She was white as snow and had two little horns and gleaming red eyes.
Abbu Khan called her Chandni, which meant ‘moonlight.’ Chandni had a very friendly temperament and she listened to Abbu Khan’s stories with a lot of interest and affection.
- Why was Abbu Khan mistaken?
Ans. Abbu Khan had bought a young goat thinking that this goat would stay with him for a long time and would soon begin to love him and the food he offered her and therefore would never think of hills and grassy slopes. However, Chandni, too, began to desire freedom and wanted to run away.
Long Answer Type Questions
- What changes occurred in Chandni once she found the hilltops fascinating?
Ans. When Abbu Khan brought the young Chandni to stay with him, she heard the tales told by Abbu Khan with a lot of interest and affection. However, after her fascination for hills grew, she lost interest in Abbu Khan’s tales. Chandni used to relish juicy grass offered by Abbu Khan, but soon she lost her appetite and grew very thin. She moodily stared at the hilltops and imagined herself breathing in the free air of grassy slopes.
- Why did Abbu Khan restrict Chandni to his small hut?
Ans. On hearing Chandni’s request to be freed, Abbu Khan became angry but was also concerned for Chandni’s life. He tried to warn her by again telling her the tales of the dead goats. However, when Chandni refused to understand and told him that she would fight the wolf with her pair of horns, Abbu Khan knew the consequences, He, therefore, tied Chandni in one of his smaller huts.