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1. Bring out the significance of the title ‘Karma’. [5] 

Answer:  According to Hindu mythology ‘karma’ signifies the reward and punishment of one’s deeds. In the story, Sir Mohan Lal, an Indian is a blind admirer of the British cultures and manners. He hated anything that belonged to India, even his wife Lachmi who could neither speak English nor follow the British manners. At the end of the story, his sin of pride was punished as he got slapped and ultimately was thrown out of the first-class compartment by the two English soldiers with whom he was very optimistic of having an impressive conversation. On the other hand, Lachmi had a safe and comfortable journey in her inter-class zenana. The ‘karma’ precisely acts upon them. So, the title of the story is apt and appropriate.

2. Give a brief description of the appearance of Lady Lal? [5] 

Or. “I am only a native woman.” – Give a short estimation of the speaker’s character in the light of the above comment. 

Answer: Lady Lal, the wife of Sir Mohan Lal is a quite contrast to her husband. She is a typical Indian house wife, a village woman. She is short, fat, and in her middle forties. She was wearing a dirty white sari with a red border. She put on a diamond nose ring which was glistening. She had several gold bangles on her arms. She loved chewing betel leaves. Unlike her husband she was not proud of her class. She did not hesitate to talk with an ordinary coolie or a bearer. She did not hesitate to have her meal sitting on the railway platform. Her relationship with her husband was that of a master and servant. From the conversation with the coolie, we came to know that she was illiterate and did not understand English and the ways of aristocracies.

3. Sketch the character of Sir Mohan Lal. [5]

Answer: Sir Mohan Lal, the protagonist of Khuswant Singh’s short story ‘Karma’ is an upper-class Indian who was a blind admirer of the British and their culture and manners. He is a vizier and a barrister. He had spent five years in England and had acquired the manners and attitudes of the British. He considers himself distinguished, efficient and handsome. He rarely spoke Hindustani. He hates anything that belonged to India. His relationship with his wife is that of a master and servant. He is very cautious of his appearance in his western outfit. He likes to show off his love for the British. He was very optimistic of having an impressive conversation with the two English soldiers but he was thrown out of the compartment by them.  

4. Briefly describe the train of Sir Mohan Lal’s thoughts as he sat waiting alone in his first-class compartment. [5] 

Answer:  Sir Mohan Lal was disappointed to find himself alone in the first-class compartment. As there was no English officer, he thought he missed the possibility of having an impressive conversation with them. He was thinking about how to impress the English man by showing off the Times and his Balliol tie. If they failed, he had the whiskey that never failed with English men. He knew his gold cigarette case filled with English cigarettes would definitely invite conversations. After that, he recalled the glorious memories of five years in England – grey bags and gowns, sports blazers, mixed doubles, the dinners, the nights at Piccadilly etc. He thought five years in England is better than living forty-five years in India.

5. ’You are a bit of all right, old chap’ – Who is the speaker? Who has been referred to as ‘old chap’? What picture of the person’s character here spoken to is revealed in this line? [1+1+3 = 5]

Answer: The mirror of a first-class waiting room in a railway platform is the speaker.

Sir Mohan Lal has been referred to as ‘old chap’.

Sir Mohan Lal looked at himself in the mirror of a first-class waiting compartment and grieved for the wretched condition of it. He was confident that it was made in India like other things in the country, inefficient, dirty, and indifferent. But he considered himself distinguished, efficient, and handsome. His moustache was neatly trimmed. He looked perfect in his suit from Savill Row, aroma of eau de cologne, talcum powder, and scented soap. The imaginary conversation with the mirror reflected Sir Mohan Lal’s thoughts and character i.e. he wanted to copy Englishmen and hated his country and countrymen. His shining exterior stands in sharp contrast with his hollow interior.

6. ‘He was dismayed’ – Who was he? When was he dismayed and why? What did he do then? [1+2+2 = 5] 

Answer:  Sir Mohan Lal was dismayed.

When he entered the first-class compartment of the train and found it empty, he was dismayed.

He was dismayed because he was expecting some fellow Englishmen with whom he could have an impressive conversation.

He was frustrated and with a sigh he sat down in a corner beside the window. Then he opened the copy of The Times which he had read several times before. He looked out of the window to see if he could invite any English gentleman in the coupe with whom he could relive the good old days of his life.

7. How did Sir Mohan Lal feel when he saw two Englishmen coming towards his coupe? [5] 

Answer:  Sir Mohan Lal felt delighted when he saw two Englishmen coming towards his coupe. He had always been a great admirer of English culture and language. He felt himself as not less than an Englishman. When he saw the compartment empty, he was disappointed. Now his face lit up to see the two English soldiers. He decided to welcome them cordially. He knew that they were entitled to travel only in the second class but he decided to talk with the guard on behalf of the two soldiers to get his consent and accomodate them into his compartment.

8. ‘Preposterous, preposterous! he shouted’ – Who shouted and why? What was the result? [1+1+3 = 5] 

Answer:  Sir Mohan Lal shouted at the two English soldiers.

When Jim and Bill, the English soldiers flung his suitcase, thermos flask, briefcase, bedding, and The Times one after another on the platform, Sir Mohan Lal could not hold his calm and he shouted at them.

When Sir Mohan Lal threatened to have them arrested in his Oxford accent, they paused for a moment. But the next moment, they ordered him to keep his mouth shut and struck him flat on the face. Finally, they caught Sir Mohan’s arms and threw him out of the train.

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