Question 1 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“The morning stretched calm, beautiful, and warm.
Sprawling half clad, I gazed out at the form
Of shimmering leaves and shadows. Suddenly
A strong flash, then another, startled me.
I saw the old stone lantern brightly lit.”
i) Who is “I”? What does he want to say?
Answer : ‘I’ is the speaker. He is a doctor by profession. He wakes up one fine morning, half-clothed, and is enjoying the calm and beautiful view outside. Suddenly he describes seeing two strong flashes of light and the old stone lantern brightly lit.
ii) Name the poem and the poet. What did the doctor see?
Answer : The name of the poem is ‘A Doctor’s Journal Entry for August 6, 1945’ and the name of the poet is Vikram Seth. The doctor was enjoying the beautiful and tranquil morning, when he saw two flashes of light in the sky which he believed to be magnesium flares.
iii) How does the poem start? How does the scene change completely?
Answer : The poem starts on a peaceful note where the speaker wakes up in the morning, lazying around and enjoys the view outside. Suddenly, there are two flares of light in the sky and everything changes. The old stone lantern lits up brightly and the building turns into debris.
iv) What kind of flashes did the doctor see? What were they?
Answer : The doctor saw two strong flashes in the sky. He believed those were magnesium flares which are used in wars and are full of destructive elements. Suddenly because of the flashes the old stone lantern lits up and the building collapses to debris.
v) Which historical context does the poem refer to?
Answer : The poem refers to the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945 ,that brought death and destruction for the people of Japan. The poem, narrated by a doctor, brings out sheer vulgarity and enmity among human beings, that turns them into inhuman beasts. A doctor who is considered to be a life-saver, too, finds himself helpless amidst the chaos.
Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“I called out, panic-stricken, to my wife.
Pale, bloodstained, frightened, Yecko-san emerged,
Holding her elbow. “We’ll be fine, ” I urged –
“Let’s get out quickly.” Stumbling to the street
We fell, tripped by something at out feet.”
i) Why was the speaker concerned?
Answer : The speaker was concerned because the building had collapsed into debris and he couldn’t see his wife anywhere. He called out to her and she emerged pale, frightened and with bloodstains on her body. He was concerned about the sudden alarming situation that they were facing.
ii) What happened after they got out?
Answer : After they got out of the debris, they rushed to move towards the hospital and they tripped on the head of a person which got crushed under the gate. He thought that the person was alive, hence he said “Excuse me”, but he was horrified to see that he was dead.
iii) What is the name of the doctor’s wife? What is her state of mind?
Answer : The name of the doctor’s wife is Yecko-san. She is extremely frightened and pale and has bloodstains on her body due to the atomic bombing on their city. The speaker assures her that they will be fine and decide to move out of that place and go to the hospital.
iv) Where do they want to go?
Answer : They want to go to a safer place, after the building collapsed. They thought of going to the hospital as they needed aid and treatment and the doctor wanted to help his staff too. Though, he was not in a state to do so, still both him and his wife Yecko-san started to walk towards the hospital.
v) Does the poem aptly depict the horrors of the war? Give your opinion.
Answer : Yes, the poem aptly depicts the horrors of the war. During the time of Second World War, atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and three days later on Nagasaki.
The poem aptly depicts the condition that would have been at that time, through the words of a doctor who himself is considered to be a life-saver, but is still unable to help in this situation.
Question 3 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“I saw the shadow forms of people ,some
Were ghosts, some scarecrows, all were wordless, dumb-
Arms stretched straight out, shoulder to dangling hand,
It took some time for me to understand
The friction on their burns caused so much pain
They feared to chafe flesh against flesh again.”
i) Why do people look like ghosts and scarecrows?
Answer : People were looking like ghosts and scarecrows because of the sudden onset of death and destruction. There were dead bodies lying around and people were wounded to the extent that their arms were dangling from their shoulders.
ii) Where is the doctor’s wife? What happened to her?
Answer : As the speaker and his wife were moving quickly to towards the hospital, the speaker could not move his legs anymore. His wounds and the dried blood on them made it difficult for him to walk anymore. He asked his wife to go ahead without him. Though she did not want to, but they had no choice.
iii) Explain the line, “They feared to chafe flesh against flesh again.”
Answer : The line means that people were extremely wounded everywhere in the city. Their arms were dangling from their shoulders due to the sudden massive destruction. Their wounds were so sore that they found it even difficult to move, walk or say anything. Also, due to the soreness, they were even afraid to rush flesh against flesh again.
iv) What was happening everywhere?
Answer : There was death, destruction and chaos everywhere. People were dying and losing their loved ones. Some mysterious things had robbed them of their clothes. They were wounded and shocked. Even the doctor who saves people’s lives was unable to help even himself.
v) What was the state of mind of the narrator?
Answer : The narrator was bewildered at the state of things. He was enjoying a calm and peaceful morning when two strong flashes destroyed the peaceful environment. The narrator searched for his wife Yecko-san and found her pale, frightened and wounded. He wanted to help themselves and also his staff at the hospital, although he found himself at a loss to do so. He was helpless at the sudden turn of events.
Question 4 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“I saw, dismayed,
A woman with a child stand in my path
Both naked. Had they come back from the bath?
I turned my gaze, but was at a loss
That she should stand thus, till I came across
A naked man-and now the thought arose
That some strange thing had stripped us of our clothes.”
i) Why was the doctor dismayed?
Answer : The doctor was dismayed because he saw people walking in naked parade to the hospital. On his way to the hospital, he saw a woman with a child, both unclothed. The doctor was shocked that she should stand like this. It seemed to him that both the woman and child had come back from a bath.
ii) What conclusion did the speaker come to after analysing the situation?
Answer : After analysing the situation and looking at the woman and the child unclothed and later the naked man, the doctor came to the conclusion that some mysterious thing had stripped everyone of their clothes and was causing havoc and destruction everywhere.
iii) Explain the line, “Had they come back from the bath”?
Answer : The line implies that the woman and the child were stark naked just like when one comes out straight from the bath. But here, the reason of such a condition was the atomic bombing on the city which had burnt down everyone’s clothes.
iv) What strange thing had stripped everyone of their clothes?
Answer : The strong flashes of light seen by the doctor were actually magnesium flares used to destroy places and people during wars. These magnesium flares are destructive elements which burnt down people’s clothes. The speaker describes it as ‘strange thing’ because everything happened in a few moments and nobody had the time to understand the situation.
v) What had actually happened there? Give your opinion.
Answer : The strong magnesium flares were actually nuclear bombs thrown at the city causing death of millions of people. The energy coming out of it had burnt down people’s clothes which was the result of this. Wars destroy health and life. Human beings have turned into beasts that wreak havoc on fellow human beings without any consideration of peace. The poem is a tale of the shattered minds and tortured souls, of a city where people were clinging to life after the monstrous, gruesome tragedy of nuclear warfare took place.
Question 5 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“The face of an old woman on the ground
Was marred with suffering, but she made no sound.
Silence was common to us all. I heard
No cries of anguish, or a single word.”
i) What did the doctor observe about the old woman?
Answer : The observed the face of the old woman on the ground was wounded and it had marks of suffering. She probably died due to to her wounds and had suffered in pain. The woman was silent as death. Everything around him was silent and people looked like ‘ghosts’.
ii) Do you think ‘I’ is lucky to survive? Why?
Answer : We cannot say whether ‘I’ is lucky to survive. The kind of situation he was in, death was better. Life is the most beautiful thing humankind has been bestowed with, but this beautiful gift has been ruined completely which can be seen through the perspective of the speaker. He was not happy to have been surviving in the grim atmosphere.
iii) Explain the line, “Silence was common to all.”
Answer : People were looking like ‘ghosts’ and ‘scarecrows’. Death had embraced most of them and those that were alive were as silent as death. They did not seem alive and were too much to understand things. There pervaded silence like the silence of graveyard. There was not a single groan and moan.
iv) Does the speaker feel he is capable of handling the situation?
Answer : No, the speaker does not feel that he is capable of handling the situation. He is a doctor by profession and wants to help his staff at the hospital to handle all the patients. But he is unable to take care of himself and his legs are too stiff to reach the hospital.
v) Compare the beginning and end of the poem.
Answer : The poem begins on a calm and pleasant morning where the speaker who is a doctor by profession, is enjoying the ‘shimmering leaves and shadows’ but all of a sudden two strong flashes of light are seen and the whole building collapses and turns to debris. Towards the end of the poem, the situation is deathlike, people are silent and everything seems to end.