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Karnataka State Board Class 9 English Supplementary Chapter 3 Balai
Balai Questions and Answers, Summary, Notes
How is Balai related to the writer?
Balai is the writer’s nephew. He is the son of the writer’s elder brother. When the brother went to England for higher studies, the motherless child was left in the care of the writer and his wife.
What kind of a boy was Balai?
Balai was very different from other boys of his age. He didn’t seem to belong to the modem age. If people had moved away from nature and had become more and more commercialised, Balai had feelings for all things in nature and was extremely attached to plants. The trees, flowers, sky, rain, grass were living creatures to him and he used to talk to them. He would get upset if anyone broke a branch or plucked a flower or even hit a tree. He was sad when the grass-cutter mowed the grass.
What traits in Balai do you admire most?
Balai was the intensely sensitive boy with utter devotion towards plant kingdom, He used to get hurt when someone broke a branch or plucked a flower. He would be in despair when the grass cutter came to mow the lawn. He vehemently resisted Tagore’s attempt to chop the silk cotton plant that grew in the middle of the graveled driveway. This quality of empathy and devotion towards flora is indeed very admirable.
Why didn’t Balai want the grass-cutter to cut the plants?
He had watched countless wonders in the grasl, small creepers, nameless violet and yellow flowers, tiny in size, nightshades whose blue flowers had little golden dots in the centre, medicinal plants near the fence; kalmegh and anantamul growing, neem seeds sprouting into plants. All these were cleared with a heartless weeding tool by the grass cutter. He used to be depressed when this happened.
What do you think is the message in the story?
The message in the story is a plea for biodiversity. We tend to keep only those plants which are useful to us. We cut other plants calling them weeds and unwanted growth. We don’t treat plants as we would treat animals, leave alone other human beings. Hence, the value of eco-consciousness and eco-friendliness should be upheld. We should know that every creation of nature is equal and important and that the plants should be treated with respect.
Balai Additional Questions and Answers
Describe Balai’s relationship with nature.
The notes of the plant kingdom were dominant in Balai. Ever since his childhood days, he was watchful of the nature around him. When layers of dark clouds gathered in the sky, he seemed to feel the aroma of the entire forest. When the rain came down in torrents, his entire body listened to its sound.
When there was sunlight on the terrace, he wanted to absorb something from the sky’s expanse. When the mango tree blossomed, there was an intense joy in him; in spring, his soul filled out and took a deeper color. When he saw the grass-grown from the top to the bottom of the hill, he would consider himself part of the grass.
It hurt him to see people plucking flowers or fruits from trees. He was hurt the most when the grass-cutter came to trim the plants and cut the grass. His world of beautiful nature within the grass was destroyed by the grass-cutter. Balai would creep into the deodar woods early in the morning to watch the golden sun rays reach the deodar trees. Balai was a child of nature.
Where did Balai belong, according to the writer?
According to the writer, Balai belonged to the age, millions of years ago, when the earth’s would-be forests cried at birth among the marshlands newly sprung from the ocean’s depths. There were no animals, no birds, no din and bustle of life, only rocks and mud, and water all around. It was the time when the plants had decided to stay on the earth. Balai seemed to be a part of that life. He, in a strange way, seemed to have the message of the plant world in his bloodstream – the message of, “I want to stay”. For this reason, it hurt him when the plants were hurt.
Why was showing the silk-cotton plant to his uncle a mistake?
One day Balai took his uncle to the garden and showed him a plant sprouting in the middle of the gravelled garden path. He had noticed it when it was a small sapling. Since then, he had watered it every morning and evening and had eagerly kept track of its growth. Silk-cotton trees grow fast. This one was growing in the middle of the path. When it became bigger, it would scatter cotton all around and be a big bother.
If Balai had not shown the plant, the writer would not have noticed it at all. But since he had, the writer started noticing it every day. It became quite tall in a year’s time. The writer proposed its death a few more times and also tried to bribe Balai by promising some very beautiful rose plants instead of the tree. Because it got noticed by -the writer, and became an eyesore for him, he feels that it would have been better if Balai had not shown it to him.
Why did Balai come to live with the writer and how was he taken care of by them?
Balai was the son of the writer’s elder brother. Balai’s mother had died when he was a few months old. His father, the writer’s elder brother, took a sudden desire to go to England to study Engineering, after his wife’s death. Probably, her death came as a shock for him. At that time, he had left his infant son, Balai with his brother and his wife. So, Balai came to live with his uncle and aunt.
The writer and his wife took very good care of Balai. More so, the wife, Balai’s aunt. She had no children of her own and so, she brought him up like her own son. She loved him and Balai too was attached to her. All his complaints about anything were first attended to through his aunt. He wept bitterly when he had to leave his aunt. Their house became desolate once he was taken away by his father.
Even after two years of his going away, his aunt still wept thinking about him. She kept all his small things such as tom shoes, ripped rubber ball and picture books with animal stories, etc.
What was Tagore’s reaction to the silk- cotton plant?
When Tagore saw that the plant had grown in the middle of the gravelled garden path he wanted the gardener to uproot it and throw it away. When Balai requested him not to, Tagore said that since it was growing right in the middle of the path, it would create problem by scattering cotton all around.
Why did Balai go away with his father?
Balai’s father had gone to England to study engineering leaving the motherless child under the care of Tagore and his wife. Tagore’s brother came back after ten years from England and decided to provide British style schooling for Balai. So he took him to Shimla with the idea of later moving to England.
Describe the silk-cotton tree that grew’ in Tagore’s garden path.
The plant could not be chopped off by Tagore due to the orders given by his wife at the request of Balai. The tree grew quite tail within a year and looked perennially stupid. It stood in the same inconvenient spot and grew taller and taller every year. Anyone seeing it thought that it was an eyesore.
What was Balai’s request and why did he make that request?
Balai wrote a letter from Shimla to his aunt requesting her for a photograph of his silk- cotton tree. He had planned on visiting them before leaving for England. But since that plan could not materialise, he wanted to take a picture of his friend with him.
Balai Summary in English
Rabindranath Tagore begins the story of ‘Balai’ by stating that in man, like the different ragas in a song, there are characteristics of different creatures in nature. He adds that in Balai, the notes of the plant kingdom are the most powerful ones. It was as though Balai was part of nature and he was alert to every aspect of nature.
Unlike other boys of his age, instead of running around, he would remain still so that he could be a part of nature. On the one hand, if he listened intently to the sound of the rain and the wind, on the other, he exposed his bare chest to the heat of the sun rays.
The mango tree blossoming at the end of winter filled his heart with great joy and awakened happy memories in him. Spring compounded his joy. In such instances, he spoke to himself about the different creatures in nature and was not aware of anything else.
His joy knew no bounds when he went to the mountains with his uncle. The mountains gave him joy because he could roll down the grassy slope and feel the tickling sensation of the grass. When he went to the woods, in the trees he would see people who were like his ancient grandfathers.
That is why when people plucked flowers from or threw stones at the branches to get fruits, he felt terribly upset. But he could not share his concern with others who only laughed at him and even ill-treated trees in his presence to tease him. Surprisingly, what upset him the most was the cutting of the grass as he had seen many wonders in the grass.
He would sometimes plead with his aunt to tell the grass-cutter not to cut grass knowing fully well that she wouldn’t understand why he wanted the useless weed to grow.
Balai knew that others did not feel the same pain as he did when plants were not cared for. That is why the writer says that Balai belonged to the time, millions of years ago, when plants were the only inhabitants.of the earth and had sent up their prayers to the sun, expressing their desire to stay forever on the earth.
Once Balai made the mistake of showing to the writer a silk-cotton plant sprouting in the middle of the garden path. Balai had tended to the plant lovingly and had thought of surprising his unde by showing the plant. But the outcome was totally contrary to Balai’s expectations. The writer wanted the plant to be uprooted and thrown as it was right in the middle of the path.
When the writer refused to yield to Balai’s request not to cut the plant, Balai pleaded with his aunt to influence her husband. The aunt succeeded, though ever} time the writer looked at it, he felt like cutting the plant which was growing bigger and bigger.
But Balai had to leave the place to go to Shimla with his father who had come back after ten years from England. The childless wife of the writer had looked after Balai, the son of the writer’s elder brother, as her own after the death of Balai’s mother. The aunt who was sorrowful, would look at the things left behind by Balai and cherish his memory.
After two years, when Balai had to leave for England to study engineering, he wanted to visit his aunt and uncle; but was unable to. So he requested his aunt to send him the photo of the silk-cotton tree. When the aunt requested her husband to get a photographer, to her dismay, she came to know that he had the tree cut down.
The aunt, who took the tree as a symbol of Balai’s love, was heartbroken and did not eat for two days. She continued to remain silent with her husband for a long time as she was both sad and angry. Thus, we see that even the writer did not understand Balai’s feelings. However, the aunt, who had given him motherly love, understood his pain.