KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady

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Karnataka State Board Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady

The Portrait of a Lady Questions and Answers, Summary, Notes


C1. Answer the following questions:

Question 1.
Read paragraph 2. There are a few sentences which speak about the grandmother’s features. Pick out those sentences and write them.
She had always been short and fat and slightly bent. Her face was a crisscross of wrinkles running from everywhere to everywhere. She could never have been pretty, but she was always beautiful.

Question 2.
“……… she used to get me ready for school”. How did the grandmother get the author ready for school?
The grandmother used to wake the author up in the morning and get him ready for school. She would fetch his wooden slate which she had already washed and plastered with yellow chalk, a tiny earthen ink-pot and red pen, tie them all in a bundle and hand it to him. After a breakfast of thick stale chapattis with a little butter and sugar spread on it, they would leave for school.

Question 3.
Why did the grandmother accompany the author to the school?
The grandmother accompanied the author to the school because the school was attached to the temple. She would sit there to say her prayers and read the scriptures.

Question 4.
“That was a turning point in our friendship”. What was the ‘turning point’?
When the author’s parents were settled in the city, they called the author and grandmother to come there. That was the turning point. Though the author and grandmother shared the same room, she did not go with him to the school. She gradually remained away from his activities and him.

Question 5.
What made the grandmother unhappy? Why?
In the village, the temple priest used to teach the alphabet and the morning prayer. That was ‘schooling’, according to the grandmother. But, in the city school, the author had to learn modern education with English, Science, Mathematics, etc. When he came back from school she would ask him about the lessons. But she understood very little of it. As there was no teaching.about God and scriptures, she felt unhappy.

C2. Discuss the following questions and present them before the class:

Question 1.
“The thought was almost revolting”. What is ‘the thought’ referred to? Why does the author use the word ‘revolting’ to describe the thought?
‘The thought’ refers to the concept of grandmother being ‘young and pretty’. The author had seen her for the last twenty years as the ‘same, old, wrinkled’ woman. He couldn’t imagine her in any younger condition. If anybody told him to imagine her as young, it would be totally opposite of his perception of ‘grandmother’. So he says the thought itself was ‘revolting’.

Question 2.
How did the grandmother help the author as a boy during the school days?
The author’s parents had left him with his grandmother when they went to live in the city. The author and his grandmother were good friends. She used to wake him up early in the morning, bathe him and dress him, all the while singingthe morning prayer which the author used to like listening to.

She used to pack his wooden slate, a small earthen Ink-pot, his red pen all in a bundle and give him after providing him with a breakfast of a thick chapathi smeared with ghee and sugar. She then used to drop him to school, wait at the temple reading scriptures and after school, bring him back home.

Question 3.
Describe the relation between (animals/birds) – dogs and sparrows and the grandmother.
The grandmother used to feed street dogs with pieces of chapattis when the grandmother and grandson duo returned home from the ‘temple-school’. At a later stage, in the city, when the author was engrossed in his higher studies, she used to spend some time feeding birds like sparrows. They had become so friendly with her that they would perch on her legs.

When the grandmother died, thousands of sparrows sat around the corpse without any chirping, all in silence. They did not touch the bread crumbs which the author’s mother had thrown for them. They flew away quietly when the dead body was carried off and never came back.

Question 4.
Describe the three stages in the relationship between the author and his grandmother (before he went abroad).
The first stage of the author’s relationship with his grandmother started when he was still a child. The old lady used to tell him and other children of the games she used to play as a child. Her stories not only looked quite funny, they also seemed quite strange and exaggerated. The author did not take them seriously.

The second stage of this relationship began when the narrator started going to school. His parents left him with her and they went to live in the city. They were constantly together. She used to wake him up in the morning and get him ready for school. Then she would fetch his wooden slate, a tiny earthen inkpot, and a red pen. After a breakfast of a thick, stale chapatti, they went to school. She carried several chapattis for the village dogs. The school was attached to the temple where she would sit and pray. They would walk back together after school.

The third stage of their relationship began when the narrator’s parents sent for them in the city. That was a turning point in their friendship. He used to go to an English school in a motor bus. As the years rolled by they saw less of each other. She didn’t like the English school as there was no teaching about God and scriptures there. She hated western science and music. When he went up to university he was given a room of his own. The common link of their friendship was snapped. His grandmother accepted her seclusion with resignation.

Question 5.
Grandmother and prayer were inseparable. Find instances from the lesson to justify this observation.
Prayer was a part of the life of the grandmother. All the time she had the rosary in her hand, her fingers kept rolling the beads and her lips kept muttering prayers. From morning till evening, whether she did her work or some work for the grandson, she did it with prayers. She went along with the grandson to the school, sat in the temple attached to the school reading scriptures till the school bell rang.

When the author grew up and went to the university, she spent her time spinning; yet all the time she had her prayers on her lips. When she fell ill also, she prayed – and prayed till her last breath. Thus, prayer was an integral part of the life of the grandmother.

Question 6.
‘She thumped the sagging skins of the dilapidated drum’. Has the description of the drum anything to do with the grandmother? Explain.
The old grandmother became more and more secluded from the family bonds as the years passed. Perhaps this is part of the ageing process. She did not show any emotional changes when the grandson went abroad despite the fact that she had sensed her end. When her end actually neared, she gathered the neighbouring women and sang for the last time with them, playing the drums.

The ‘sagging skins’ and ‘dilapidated drum’ symbolize the old body of hers, the song ‘home-coming of the warrior’ indicates the return of the soul or death of mortal life. It also shows that even as the body sags, the soul sings and sings louder still.

Question 7.
Did the grandmother predict her death? How?
The day the author returned from abroad, she sang and played drum singing about the warrior returning home. The next morning she was laid up with mild fever. Though the doctors said she would recover, she predicted that her end was near and it was because she did not chant any prayer.

So she decided to stop talking to others and only chant prayer. Until her end came, she did as she told others and passed away with the Lord’s name on her lips and the rosary beads in her hand.

Question 8.
How did the sparrows react to her earlier in her life and later after her death?
Whenever the grandmother sat in the verandah breaking the bread into little bits, hundreds of little birds collected round her creating a veritable bedlam of chirping. After her death, thousands of sparrows sat scattered on the floor. There was no chirping. The sparrows took no notice of the bread crumbs put by others. When grandmother’s corpse was carried off, they flew away quietly.

Question 9.
What picture of the grandmother do you get from the lesson?
From the lesson, it is very evident that the grandmother was a very active woman till her demise. In the village, she took care of the author and even dropped and picked him up from the school. In the city when going out was not an option, she spent the whole day at the wheel, spinning and feeding spanous.

We also realize that she was a very devout lady. She always had a prayer in her lips. She used to speak less, pray more. Grandmother had a special affinity to animals and birds. Size used to feed stray dogs in the village and once she settled in the city, she used to feed the sparrows.
She was very much attached to the author.

They used to have lengthy conversations in the village and after coming to city’, when the conversations got reduced and finally stopped, she became very much withdrawn but never blamed her grandson at all. From the story, the picture one gets of the grandmother is of a physically frail woman but mentally a very strong woman.

Additional Questions:

Question 1.
What was an inseparable part of the grandmother?
The rosary and her prayers were an inseparable part of the grandmother.

Question 2.
Why did the grandmother say her morning prayer in a monotonous sing-song?
She hoped that the author would listen and get to know it by heart.

Question 3.
What did the writer have for breakfast in his school days?
Thick, stale chapattis with a little butter and sugar spread on it.

Question 4.
Why did the grandmother always accompany the author to his school?
The school was attached to the temple. The priest taught the alphabet and the morning prayer. When the school went on, the grandmother sat inside the temple reading the scriptures.

Question 5.
How is the grandfather described by the writer?
Khushwant Singh describes his grandfather as he was painted in the portrait that was hung above the mantlepiece. He wore a big turban and loose-fitting clothes. He had a long white beard and he looked at least 100 years old. He looked like the kind of person who could have only lots and lots of grandchildren.

Question 6.
Why did the writer listen to his grandmother’s prayers while he was young?
The author’s grandmother used to say her prayers aloud as she got him ready to go to school. She hoped that
he would listen and get to know them by heart. He never paid attention to her prayers. He only listened to her voice because he loved it.

Question 7.
What did the grandmother do with the stale chapattis that she carried to the school?
Those chapattis were used to feed the village dogs, which followed them from the temple door.

Question 8.
What was the turning point in the writer’s friendship with his grandmother?
The grandmother and the writer fully enjoyed each other’s company as long as they lived by themselves. After some time, his parents, who had comfortably settled in the city, sent for them. Their moving to the city was the turning point. She could no longer accompany him to school nor help him with his studies.

Question 9.
Why did the grandmother not like the writer’s city school?
In the city the writer started going to an English school in a motor bus. He learnt English and things of western science there. She could not understand them. It made her unhappy that she could not help him with his lessons. She also did not believe in the things they taught. They did not teach about God and the scriptures. This made her unhappy.

Question 10.
What reaction did the writer expect from his grandmother when he was going abroad?
He thought that his grandmother would be upset about his decision to go abroad. At her age, he was not sure what would happen, as he was going away for five years. When she kissed him good-bye on his forehead, he thought that perhaps it was the last sign of physical contact between them.

Question 11.
How did the grandmother react when their common link of friendship was snapped?
The writer and the grandmother were separated when he went to university, because he was given a room of his own. Earlier, he shared one with his grandmother. She accepted her seclusion with resignation. She rarely left her spinning wheel to talk to anyone. From sunrise to sunset she sat by her wheel spinning and reciting prayers.

Question 12.
Why did the narrator think that the grandmother’s kiss was the last sign of physical contact between them?
The grandmother kissed the forehead of the narrator before he left for abroad. The narrator considered it the last sign of physical contact. He might not see her again. He did not expect his old grandmother to live for five more years. She was a terribly old lady.

Question 13.
Which was the “happiest half-hour of the day” for the grandmother?
For Kushwanth Singh’s grandmother, there was no other pastime and happier activity than that of feeding the sparrows in the afternoon for half an hour. The sparrows could be seen perched on her but were never shooed away by her.

Question 14.
What did the priest teach at the village school?
The priest taught the alphabet and the morning prayer at the village school. He made the students stand in rows on either side. They would sing the alphabet and the morning prayer in a chorus.

Question 15.
Draw a comparison between the village school and the English school in the city.
The village school was quite simple and small. It was attached to a temple. The priest himself acted as the teacher. He taught the alphabet and the morning prayer at the school. In comparison, the English school in the city provided a contrast. They gave instructions in English and taught modem science and music. They didn’t teach anything about God and the scriptures at the English school.

Question 16.
Why did the grandmother hate music?
The grandmother actually hated music. She was a conservative old lady who had her own beliefs and superstitions. She thought that music was meant only for prostitutes and beggars. It was not meant for gentlefolk. Music was not meant for school children from respectable families.

Question 17.
How did the sparrows mourn the death of the grandmother?
The sparrows also joined in mourning the death of the grandmother. They sat in thousands around her dead body. They didn’t chirrup. Nor did they touch the combs of bread thrown to them. They flew away quietly when the dead body was carried off for cremation.

Multiple Choice Questions:

Question 1.
The author had known his grandmother for
A) ten years
B) twenty years
C) five years
D) forty years.
B) twenty years

Question 2.
In the portrait, the author’s grandfather looked
A) eighty years old
B) ninety years old
C) at least a hundred years old
D) fifty years old.
C) at least a hundred years old

Question 3.
The author’s parents left him with his grandmother when
A) they went to a foreign country
B) they went to live in the city
C) the author did not want to go with them
D) the grandmother told them to leave him there.
B) they went to live in the city

Question 4.
The author’s grandmother went to school with him
A) so that she could also learn
B) to be with him constantly
C) to read scriptures in the temple
D) to teach in the school.
C) to read scriptures in the temple

Question 5.
The turning point in the relationship between the author and the grandmother came when
A) they went to live in the city
B) they were living in the village
C) the author went abroad
D) the author went to the university.
A) they went to live in the city

Question 6.
The grandmother was unhappy because
A) the author went to school in a bus
B) the author did not talk to her
C) the author went to a local school
D) they did not teach about God and the scriptures in the English school.
D) they did not teach about God and the scriptures in the English school.

Question 7.
On the day before her death, the author’s grandmother
A) sat in a comer and said her prayers
B) beat an old dmm and sang songs
C) talked to the members of the family
D) slept in her room soundly.
B) beat an old dmm and sang songs

Question 8.
We know that the author’s grandmother had a premonition of her death because
A) the doctor said her fever would not go away
B) she dreamt about her death
C) she went on feeding the sparrows
D) she told them her end was near.
D) she told them her end was near.

Question 9.
The portrait which hung above the mantlepiece was that of the
A) grandmother
B) great grand uncle
C) grandfather
D) great grandfather
C) grandfather

Question 10.
The author was given a room of his own when
A) he went to high school
B) he went to university
C) he went abroad
D) he went back to the village
B) he went to university

Language Activities:

A. Vocabulary:

V1. In the lesson, the word ‘tell’ has been used in different contexts to mean differently. Now match the usage of the word ‘tell’ with its meaning as used in the lesson. The use of the word “tell”:

The word Its meaning
1. Her fingers were busy telling the beads of her rosary a. Be sure
2. I would tell her English words b. Give information to somebody
3. She told us that her end was near c. Making something known to someone in spoken or written words
4. At her age, no one could tell d. Counting while reacting


  1. d
  2. c
  3. b
  4. a

B. Grammar And Usage:

G1. a) Fill in the blanks with the past perfect form of the verbs given in brackets:

I …………. (fail) to catch the train on that fateful day. If I ……….. (come) five minutes earlier, I ………… (tell) myself that I would never be late again.
I had failed to catch the train on that fateful day. If I had come five minutes earlier, I had told myself that I would never be late again.

b) Pick out five more sentences from the lesson having the verbs in past perfect form.

  1. She had always been short and fat and slightly bent.
  2. She had always been as we had known her.
  3. Old, so terribly old that she would not have grown older and had stayed at the same age for 20 years.
  4. She would fetch my wooden slate which she had already washed.
  5. ……….. she would ask me what the teacher had taught me.
  6. The setting sun had lit her room with a blaze of golden light.

c) Fill in the blanks using the past perfect form of the verbs given in brackets:

  1. When I reached the station, the train ………… (leave) already.
  2. By the time the teacher entered the class, the students …………. (stop) talking.
  3. I would have failed, if I ………….. not (work) hard.
  4. If I …………. (walk) fast, I would have won the race.


  1. had left,
  2. had stopped,
  3. had, worked,
  4. had walked.

G2. Prepositions:

Ex. 1 Here is a page from Renu’s diary. It talks about what Renu did in a week in August 2011. Read carefully and complete the following:

First one is done for you.
KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady 1
Eg. Renu went to a movie on Saturday evening.

  1. She telephoned Reema
  2. She did not do anything special
  3. She pressed her clothes
  4. She went to the library
  5. She went to the music class


  1. on Thursday,
  2. on Monday,
  3. on Sunday,
  4. on Wednesday evening,
  5. on Tuesday at 5-30.

Ex. 2

KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady 2
Where are the people in the picture? Complete the sentences. The first one is done for you.
Eg. Chandru is standing behind Farooq.

  1. Farooq is sitting …………… Esha.
  2. Esha is sitting …………. Devi and Farooq.
  3. Devi is sitting to …………. Esha.
  4. Farooq is sitting …………… Chandru.
  5. Esha is sitting ………….. Bhama.
  6. Arun is standing …………….. Devi.
  7. Bhama is standing ………….. Arun and Chandru.


  1. beside,
  2. between,
  3. next,
  4. in front of,
  5. in front of,
  6. behind,
  7. between.

Ex. 3 Mr. Feter asks you how to go to the park from the church. Now direct him using the picture clues. Write the sentences in the blanks given.

KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady 3
Now, rewrite the above-framed sentences using bubbles as given here.
KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady 4
Excuse me, where is the park?
Go past the church. Go under the bridge. Go up the hill. Get down the steps. Go by the street. Go beyond the hotel. Walk across the bridge. You will arrive at the park.

Ex. 4. Read the information and complete the sentences:

(Sandeep/Tuinakuni/2000-2007) Sandeep lived in Tumakuru from 2000 to 2007.

  1. (Sandeep/Tumakurit/2007) Sandeep lived in Tumakuru ………. 2007.
  2. (Sandeep/Bengaluru/2007-) Sandeep has lived in Bengaluru …………. 2007.


  1. Sandeep lived in Tumakuru until 2007.
  2. Sandeep has lived in Bengaluru since 2007.

Ex. 5. Fill in the blanks using ‘until / since / for’:

  1. I was tired this morning. I stayed in bed …………. 10 o’clock.
  2. We waited for Usha ………… half an hour, but she did not come.
  3. “Have you just arrived? No, I have been here ………….. half past seven”.
  4. “How long did you stay in the office yesterday?” ” ………… 8 p.m.”
  5. Don’t open the door of the train …………. the train stops.
  6. This is my house. I have lived here …………… I was seven years old.
  7. Sumana has gone away. She will be away ………….. Wednesday.
  8. Next week I am going to Delhi ……….. three days.
  9. I usually finish work at 5-30, but sometimes I work ………….. six.
  10. “How long have you known Harshitha?” ……….. we were at school together.
  11. Shwetha and I are good friends. We have known each other …………. ten years.
  12. “I am tired. I am going to lie down …………. a few minutes”


  1. until
  2. for
  3. since
  4. Until
  5. until
  6. since
  7. until
  8. for
  9. until
  10. Since
  11. for
  12. for

G3. Question forms:

KSEEB Solutions for Class 9 English Prose Chapter 3 The Portrait of a Lady 5
A. Frame questions to get the underlined words as the answers:

  1. We have our annual exams during summer.
    When do you have your annual exams?
  2. Mr. Rao and his family went to Andaman during the vacation.
    Where did Mr. Rao and his family go during the vacation?
  3. Sorry, I am late because of heavy traffic.
    Why are you late?
  4. My friend walks to school.
    How does your friend go to school?
  5. Sheetal had toasted bread for breakfast.
    What did Sheetal have for breakfast?
  6. The Indian Ambassador visited the Western countries.
    Who visited the Western countries?
  7. This is our school’s property.
    Whose property is this?
  8. The doctor talked to the patient yesterday.
    Whom did the doctor talk to yesterday?
  9. Masala dosa is my favorite dish.
    Which is your favorite dish?
  10. The red-colored bag is mine.
    Which bag is yours?

B. Yes/No questions:

Question 1.
Was the grandmother happy with the company of sparrows?
Yes, she was.

Question 2.
Did you complete your homework?
Yes, I did. OR No, I didn’t.

Question 3.
Shall we go now?
Yes, we shall. OR No, we shall not.
The above questions begin with auxiliary verbs. They are answered either with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Now answer these questions with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’:

Question 1.
Do you like mangoes?
Yes, I do. OR No, I don’t.

Question 2.
Has the doctor arrived?
Yes, he has. OR No, he hasn’t.

Question 3.
Is the train running on time?
Yes, it is. OR No, it isn’t.

Question 4.
Can Rani swim?
Yes, she can. OR No, she can’t.

Question 5.
Will your mother accompany us?
Yes, she will. OR No, she won’t.

C. Question Tags:

Read the following examples :

  1. We all love ice-cream, don’t we?
  2. She cannot drive, can she?
  3. He is tall, isn’t he?
  4. You have a car, don’t you?
  5. She has visited the place, hasn’t she?
  6. They will be here tomorrow, won’t they?
  7. You are good, aren’t you?
  8. They are not going to school today, are they?

Add question tags to the statements below:

  1. It is a beautiful day, ………………….
  2. You have been to Paris, ……………….
  3. The film wasn’t very good, ……………….
  4. Anu lives near your house, ……………….
  5. You don’t know French, ……………….
  6. The policeman directs the traffic, ………………
  7. Some species are getting extinct on earth day-by-day, ……………….
  8. He has a Benz car, ………………
  9. We should not tell lies, ………………..
  10. Indians love peace, ……………….


  1. isn’t it?
  2. haven’t you?
  3. was it?
  4. doesn’t she?
  5. do you?
  6. doesn’t he?
  7. aren’t they?
  8. hasn’t he?
  9. should we?
  10. don’t they?

The Portrait of a lady by Khushwant Singh About The Author:

This prose piece is written by Khushwant Singh, one of the well known Indian novelists and journalists. He is better known for his writings in the “Illustrated Weekly of India”. Secularism and humor are a prominent part of his writing. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2007. His works include ‘A History of the Sikhs’, ‘Train to Pakistan’ and ‘Delhi’.

In this essay, he makes a vivid character-sketch of his grandmother, who was a pious lady and led a devout life. The only time she seems to have given up praying was when she sang with ecstasy on the arrival of her grandson from abroad after completing his education. It is a very touching story too.

The Portrait of a lady Summary in English

In this story, Khushwant Singh draws a pen picture of his grandmother. He describes how he had spent his childhood with her in the village. He also describes the change that came in the relationship in the city. Ultimately, he describes the moving scene of her death.

Khushwant Singh draws here an interesting portrait of his grandmother. He presents her as a tender, loving and deeply religious old lady. Singh says that his grandmother was an old woman. Her face was so wrinkled that it was difficult to believe that she had ever been young and pretty. Her hair was white as snow. She had a little stoop in her back. She could be seen reciting her rosary all the time. A picture of the author’s grandfather was hung on the wall. He appeared old too and it was difficult to believe that he ever had a wife.

He appeared to have only lots and lots of grandchildren. Singh was the only child at that time. His parents had gone to live in the city leaving him behind in the village under the care of his grandmother. She would get him ready for school, and would also feed him with chapattis. The school was attached to a temple. All the children sat in the verandah reciting the alphabet while his grandmother was engaged in reading the holy scriptures.

Finally, in the evening, the author and the grandmother would walk back home feeding the dogs on the way.

After a friendly relationship with his grandmother, he had to adapt to a new life in the city. This was a turning point for the grandmother and the grandson. Both of them were sent to settle down in the city with his parents. The author went to an English school but the grandmother never liked the way he was taught. Though Singh and his grandmother shared the same room, she was unable to help him. Apart from this, she was also disappointed that he was learning music that she considered inappropriate for gentle folks.

In due course, when Singh went up to University he was given a separate room. This indeed made the common link of their relationship snap completely. The grandmother accepted the fact, and she would spin the wheel from sunrise to sunset to compensate that. Only during the afternoons, she would relax by feeding the sparrows with little pieces of bread. They were her best friends and the sparrows also liked her company.

Later, Singh went abroad for higher studies for five long years. He had a doubt in his mind whether his grandmother would survive or not until he came back. He also thought that it might be the last physical contact between them when she came to the railway station to see him off. However, after five years, when he came back, incredibly he was welcomed by his grandmother who seemed had not grown older by a single day. Singh noticed that even at that time when everyone was joyful about his return, grandmother’s happiest moments were with her sparrows.

Later in the evening, there was a change in her attitude. She celebrated the return of her grandson by collecting some women of the neighborhood and beating the drum for several hours. But, in the morning, grandmother’s health deteriorated and she revealed that she was nearing her end. So she decided that she was not going to waste a single moment by talking. So she prayed. Quite suddenly, the rosary fell from her hand and she exhaled her last breath and it was clear that she was no more.

After making the preparations for the funeral, the family members went to fetch her body for the last journey. The golden blaze of light of the setting sun glittered in her room. And to pay their last homage to the grandmother, thousands of sparrows gathered in and around her room. The sparrows never did chirrup nor did they bother to notice the bread pieces thrown at them. When the grandmother’s corpse was carried off, the sparrows flew away quietly.


puckered (adj): tightly gathered or contracted into wrinkles or small folds
serenity (n): the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled
monotonous (adj): dull, tedious and repetitious, lacking in variety and interest, (monotonously – adv)
veritable (adj): used for emphasis, often to qualify a metaphor
bedlam (n): a scene of uproar and confusion
rebuke (v): express sharp disapproval or criticism (of someone) because of their behavior or actions (rebuke is also a noun)
pallor (n): an unhealthy pale appearance
turning point (n): a time at which a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results
frivolous: not having any serious purpose or value.

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