Sunday, 27 September 2015

Workbook Answers/Solutions of A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories, The Tiger in the tunnel by- Ruskin Bond


I
(i) Tembu is the twelve year old son of Baldeo, a khalasi at a small wayside signal stop. Tembu is lying in a corner of a hut near the station, with his father. He suddenly woke up in the night and wondered if his father, who used to go every night on his night duty at the railway signal, had left for the duty as it was a dark and cold night.
(ii) Tembu’s father was working as a watchman at a small wayside railway signal. His nightly errand was to signal whether or not the tunnel was clear of obstruction for the train to pass and to see that the lamp was burning.
The author has described the night as calm and still by portraying it as dark, moonless, chilly, having the "deathly, stillness of the surrounding jungle" which was occasionally broken by the shrill cry of the cicada, the hollow hammering of a woodpecker or the grunt of a wild boar.
(iii) It means that there was complete silence on a chilly, dark night with the only sounds heard occasionally being that of a cicada, a woodpecker or the grunt of a wild boar. And these occasional sounds were engulped by the silence of the forest.
(iv) The station was said to be in name only because it was a small shack where mail trains stopped only for a few seconds before entering the tunnel.
(v) Most of the trains slowed down near the station because there was a sharp curve before the cutting which led to the tunnel and to wait for the signal to make sure if it was free of all obstructions.
II.
 (i) Baldeo’s duties included—
to check whether the lamp was burning; and
using his hand-worked signal to signal whether or not the tunnel was clear of obstruction for the train to pass through.
(ii) The station, a small shack, which served as a wayside signal stop, was three miles away from human habitation. It was surrounded by dense jungle with hills overhanging the main line of the railway. A deep cutting in the forest led to a tunnel through which mail train passed. There was darkness and complete silence in the jungle with the only sounds heard being those of a barking deer, grunting boar, hammering woodpecker and that of dense undergrowth.
(iii) The darkness of the night heightened the eeriness of the station with the black tunnel entrance looming up menacingly.
(iv) Tembu normally used to sleep in his home, in a small tribal village on the outskirts of the forest, about three miles from the station, where his father worked as a night watchman.
(v) Baldeo’s financial condition was quite poor as his income from the small rice fields was not enough to provide for his family. He considered himself lucky to get the job of a khalasi at the signal stop because that supplemented his meagre income from his land in the village.
III.
(i) Before leaving for duty, Baldeo lit his lamp and closed the door of his hut, where his son lay fast asleep.
(ii) Baldeo thought whether the lamp on the signal post would still be alighted. The path leading to his work place, i.e., the station, was marked by dense jungle and hills which overhung the main line of the railway. If he had his way, Baldeo would go back to his hut and feel the warm comfort there instead of working out in a chilling, dark night.
(iii) The rock walls towering high above the rails reminded Baldeo of the wild animals that he might encounter on the way. He had heard that the tiger frequented the tunnel and was a maneater. The other animals mentioned included panthers, whom Baldeo had never seen but had occasionally heard their sawing when they called their mates.
(iv) Baldeo had a small axe, whose head was made of pure steel, was thin but ringing time like a bell. Though it looked fragile, it was deadly when put to use. Baldeo could cut down a tree using his axe in just three or four swift strokes.
Baldeo was emotionally attached to his axe because it belonged to his forefathers and its axe-head had been made by his father over a charcoal fire. That is why he carried the axe wherever he went and did not part with it in return for a good amount of money.
(v) Baldeo had excellent skill in using his axe. He could cut down a tree with just three or four swift strokes using his axe, as neatly as if it had been sawn. He was proud of it because of the skill he had acquired in killing wild animals with it.
IV.
(i) A cutting refers to a narrow open passage that is dug through high ground for a railway tunnel or a road.
It means that in the darkness the black entrance to the tunnel appeared threateningly.
(ii) Just five minutes before the arrival of the mail train, the signal light was out and Baldeo would have to rush back to his hut if the oil in the signal lamp had finished.
(iii) The signal light was out and the mail train was due in five minutes and within five minutes Baldeo had to lit the lamp and check the tunnel of any obstruction.
Baldeo hauled the lamp down by its chain, checked the oil in the lamp and finding a little oil still remaining, lit the lamp and put it back into position. In order to ensure that the line was clear, Baldeo took his own lamp in his hand walked down the tunnel and by swinging his lamp, which cast shadows on the wall made sure that there was no obstruction in the line.
(iv) Baldeo was out in the dark, chilling night at the railway signal. He walked from his hut to the station, lighted the signal lamp
and checked the tunnel of any obstruction. Since the train was late, he huddled up in a corner and dozed off in the biting cold.
(v) Baldeo was indeed a responsible employee. He would not shirk his duty even in the dead of night, extreme cold and amidst prowling wild animals. Every night, he used to leave the warmth of his bed to proceed toward the station, lit the signal lamp and walking down the tunnel check for any obstruction in the line.
Baldeo was a caring father. He took up the job of a watchman, unmindful of having to stay away from home and family, just to supplement his meagre income from land. When he heard the roar of a tiger, his first thought was whether the tiger was moving towards his hut, where his son was sleeping unprotected.

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