Q. Where was Abdul Kalam’s house?
Ans. Abdul Kalam’s house was on the Mosque Street in Rameswaram in the former Madras state.
Q. What do you think Dinamani is the name of? Give a reason for your answer.
Ans. Dinamani could be the name of a newspaper because Abdul Kalam used to try to trace the stories of the Second
World War, which his brother-in-law told him, in the headlines in Dinamani.
Q. Who were Abdul Kalam’s school friends? What did they later become?
Ans. Abdul Kalam had three close friends in school “Ramanandha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. Ramanandha
Sastry took over the priesthood of the Rameswaram temple from his father; Aravindan started a business of arranging
transport for visiting pilgrims; and Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railways.
Q. How did Abdul Kalam earn his first wages?
Ans. During the Second World War, the newspapers were bundled and thrown out of a moving train. Abdul Kalam
earned his first wages by helping his cousin, who distributed newspapers in Rameswaram, to catch these bundles.
Q. Had he earned any money before that? In what way?
Ans. Yes, Abdul Kalam had earned some money before he started helping his cousin. He used to collect and sell
tamarind seeds at a provision shop, during the Second World War, earning one anna for a day’s collection.
Q. How does the author describe: (i) his father, (ii) his mother, (iii) himself?
Ans. (i) Kalam’s father, Jainulabdeen was not a wealthy or educated person. However, he was an honest and
generous man, who possessed great innate wisdom. He was self-disciplined and avoided all inessential luxuries.
(ii) Kalam’s mother, Ashiamma was an ideal helpmate to her husband. She believed in goodness and profound
kindness, and fed many people every day.
(iii) The author describes himself as a short boy with undistinguished looks, who had a secure childhood. He is an
honest and self-disciplined person, who believes in goodness and deep kindness.
Q. What characteristics does he say he inherited from his parents?
Ans. The author inherited honesty and self-discipline from his father, and faith in goodness and deep kindness from
Q. “On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different
social groups,” says the author.
(a) Which social groups does he mention? Were these groups easily identifiable (for example, by the way they
Ans. The author mentions the two major religious groups of India “Hindu and Muslim” as the social groups
predominant in Rameswaram.
Yes, these groups were easily identifiable. The factors that demarcated these groups from one another were their
dressing sense and the place they lived in. Abdul Kalam wore a cap, which marked him as a Muslim. Besides, he lived
on the Mosque Street. On the other hand, his friend, Ramanandha Sastry, wore the sacred thread as he belonged to
an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family.
(b) Were they aware only of their differences or did they also naturally share friendships and experiences?
(Think of the bedtime stories in Kalam’s house; of who his friends were; and of what used to take place in the
pond near his house.)
Ans. They naturally shared friendships and experiences. Abdul Kalam was a Muslim while his friends were from
orthodox Hindu Brahmin families. However, they were tied with a strong bond of friendship. Besides this friendship,
during the annual Shri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony, Kalam’s family arranged boats with a special platform for
carrying idols of the Lord from the temple to the marriage site. Moreover, events from the Ramayana and from the life
of the Prophet were the bedtime stories his mother and grandmother would tell the children of their family. All these
incidents show that different social groups co-inhabited in Rameswaram.
(c) The author speaks both of people who were very aware of the differences among them and those who tried
to bridge these differences. Can you identify such people in the text?
Ans. Kalam mentions two people who were very aware of the differences among the two religious groups. One of
them was the new teacher of Abdul Kalam’s school, who did not let Abdul Kalam and his friend, Ramanadha Sastry, sit
The second person was the wife of Sivasubramania Iyer (Abdul Kalam’s science teacher). She was very conservative
and did not want Kalam to eat in her pure Hindu kitchen.
The people who tried to bridge these differences were Lakshmana Sastry (Ramanadha’s father) and Sivasubramania
Iyer (his science teacher).
(d) Narrate two incidents that show how differences can be created, and also how they can be resolved. How
can people change their attitudes?
Ans. When Kalam was in the fifth standard, a new teacher came to his class. The teacher was a bigot and could not
tolerate Kalam, who was a Muslim, to sit with Ramanandha Sastry, who was a Hindu priest’s son. Thus, he changed
Kalam’s seat. This broke the heart of the two boys. When Ramanandha Sastry’s father came to know about it, he
rebuked the teacher for spreading communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children. The teacher apologized
and regretted his behaviour.
In another incident, Kalam’s science teacher, Sivasubramania Iyer, invited Kalam for a meal to his house. But his
conservative wife refused to serve a Muslim in her pure Hindu kitchen.
The unperturbed teacher served Kalam himself and even invited him for another meal the next weekend. Iyer believed
that once a person has decided to change the system, such problems have to be confronted. However, by Kalam’s
next visit, Iyer’s wife’s views had changed. She took Kalam inside her kitchen and served him food with her own
Hence, attitudes can change if we take initiative to resolve the differences.
Q. Why did Abdul Kalam want to leave Rameswaram?
Ans. Kalam wanted to leave Rameswaram for further studies. He wanted to study at the district headquarters in
Q. What did his father say to this?
Ans. After giving his consent to Kalam for pursuing his higher studies in Ramanathapuram, Kalam’s father said that he
knew Kalam had to go away to grow and follow his dreams.
He gave the analogy of a seagull that flies across the sun alone, without a nest. He then quoted Khalil Gibran to
Kalam’s mother, saying that their children were not their own. They were the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for
itself. They come through their parents, but not from them. Parents may give love to their children, but not their
thoughts, as children have their own thoughts.
Analogy = a comparison of two things based on their being alike in some way
Q. What do you think his words mean? Why do you think he spoke those words?
Ans. The words he spoke reveal his viewpoint. He believed that at some point of time, children will leave their home
and parents, to follow their dreams and to grow as an individual. Just like a seagull flies away alone and finds its own
food and nest, children will leave their parents to make their own life and family. Parents can merely nurture their
children with love. They cannot give them their thoughts. The children have their own opinions and beliefs.
He spoke these words to comfort Kalam’s mother, who was probably hesitant to let Kalam leave Rameswaram.
Besides, he could also be consoling his own self for the same.
Short Answer Type Questions
Q. What kind of poison was the young teacher spreading in the class?
Ans. He did not like that a Muslim boy would sit with a Hindu Brahmin boy in the class. Thus the young teacher was
spreading the poison of social inequality and communalism. He was poisoning the minds of children.
Q. How did Lakshmana Sastry reform the young teacher?
Ans. Lakshmana Sastry was Ramanadha Sastry’s father. When he came to know that the young teacher had shifted
Kalam to the last row he got very angry. He summoned the teacher. He told the teacher that he should not spread the
poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in the minds of innocent children. He asked him either to
apologize or quit the school. Thus the teacher regreted and he was reformed.
Q. What kind of a person was Kalam’s father?
Ans. Tall and handsome, Kalam’s father – Jainulabdeen, did not have much of formal education. He didn’t even have
much wealth. However, he was a very practical man with a vast store of wisdom. He was generous and never
obstructed the progressive ways of his children. As a responsible head of the family, he provided both material and
Q. How was Kalam’s mother an ideal support to her husband?
Ans. Kalam’s mother, Ashiamma, was an ideal support to her husband. She was a picture of goodness and deep
kindness. She was tall, good looking and very attached to her children. Like her husband, she was very generous and
fed a number of outsiders daily. Kalam inherited the values of kindness and generosity from her.
Q. What characteristics does Kalam say he inherited from his parents?
Ans. Kalam inherited honesty and self-discipline from his father and faith in goodness and deep kindness from his
mother. His socio-economic and emotional environment trained him as well as his three brothers and sister to acquire
Q. Who were Kalam’s school friends? What did they become later?
Ans. Kalam’s three close childhood friends were Ramanad Sastry, Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. All three of them
settled well in life. Ramanadha inherited priesthood of Rameswaram temple from his father, Aravindan took up the
business of arranging transport for visiting pilgrims and Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern
Q. What did Ramanadha Sastry’s father do when his son told him that the new teacher had sent Kalam to the
Ans. Ratnanadha’s father, Lakshmana Sastry was deeply distressed to learn that the new school teacher had shifted
Kalam to the last bench. He did not approve of this disparity. So he summoned the teacher and told him not to spread
the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance in young minds. He bluntly told him to either apologise or
leave the school. The teacher not only regretted his action but also reformed himself.
Q. Who was Sivasubramania Iyer? / In what sense was Sivasubramania Iyer ‘something of a rebel’?
Ans. Sivasubramania Iyer was Kalam’s science teacher. Though an orthodox brahmin, he was something of a rebel. A
man of liberal views, he wanted to change the society that was rigid in terms of segregation of different social groups.
He knew that if one wished to change the system, one was bound to confront many problems.
Q. Why did Sivasubramania’s wife refuse to serve food to Kalam in her kitchen?
Ans. Sivasubramania Iyer’s wife was an orthodox and conservative Brahmin. She had peculiar notions about the
sanctity of her kitchen which she feared would be defiled if she served meals there to someone who belonged to a
different faith. So, she refused to serve food to a muslim boy in her kitchen.
Q. How did Sivasubramania react to his wife’s behaviour when she refused to serve Kalam (a muslim boy) in
Ans. Sivasubramania was mentally prepared for such behaviour from his conservative wife. So, without getting angry
or perturbed, he served Kalam with his own hands and sat beside him to eat his meal.
Q. Why did Sivasubramania invite Kalam for dinner again the next weekend?
Ans. Kala m was visibly upset by Sivasubramania Iyer’s wife’s refusal to serve him food in her kitchen. This must have
pained Iyer. So, in order to make amends and to ensure that Kalam overcame his disappointment and hurt,
Sivasubramania Iyer invited Kalam to another dinner the following weekend. During the intervening time Iyer must
have wanted to speak with his wife on the issue. lyer wanted Kalam to brace up for such obstacles, if he wanted to
change the system.
Q. What did the Indians feel when the nation’s Independence was in full sight?
Ans. Indians were filled with unprecedented optimism when India’s independence was in full sight at the end of
Second World War. Gandhiji’s declaration that Indians would build their own India made everyone hopeful.
Q. Why did Kalam’s father allow Kalam to leave Rameswaram and go to Ramanathapuram?
Ans. Though not educated himself, Kalam’s father understood the significance of education. He did not want to hinder
the growth of his children in any way. Since Rameswaram had nothing more than an elementary school, his father
willingly allowed Kalam to go to Ramanathapuram to pursue higher studies.
Q. What did Kalam’s father mean to say when he quoted Khalil Gibran? Why do you think he spoke these
Ans. Kalam’s father meant that every human being must be given the opportunity to build his life as per his wishes and
parents should not hinder this effort. He spoke these words to convince Kalam’s mother that her son’s decision to
leave home was right. She should allow him happily to shape his life according to his own ideas.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q. Write a character sketch of Abdul Kalam.
Ans. Abdul Kalam was a boy of ordinary looks. He had many sterling qualities right from his childhood. He had
immense affection and respect for his parents. He inherited the values of honesty and self-discipline from his father
and faith in goodness and deep kindness from his mother. Kalam was an enterprising and a hard-working child. He
collected tamarind seeds, when they were in demand, and sold them to earn small yet significant amounts. Very
confident of himself, he did every piece of work assigned to him with full dedication. He helped his cousin to catch
bundles from the running trains when the train-halt at Rameswaram was suspended during the Second World War. He
was also a sensitive child and learnt valuable lessons from his experiences. He learnt early in life that caste based
segregation is a poison that must not be allowed to thrive. Kalam was also progressive and took decision at the right
time to leave his hometown to study further and grow in life.
Q. How did Abdul Kalam earn his ‘first wages’? How did he feel at that time?
Ans. Abdul Kalam’s cousin, Samsuddin, used to distribute newspapers in Rameswaram. The Second World War
broke out in 1939. Now the train’s halt at Rameswaram was suspended. The bundles of newspapers were thrown out
from the moving train on the Rameswaram road between Rameswaram anu Dhanuskodi. Now Samsuddin needed a
helping hand to catch the bundles which were thrown out of the moving train. He employed Abdul Kalam to do this job.
Thus Abdul Kalam earned his first wages. This was a great moment for him. He felt a great wave of joy and pride in
earning his own money for the first time. Even atter tiny years Abdul Kalam clearly remembers that day
Q. What does Abdul Kalam say about his parents in the lesson ‘My Childhood’?
Ans. Abdul Kalam is full of praise for his parents. He was born into a middle class family of Rameswaram. His father
was Jainulabdeen. He was neither educated nor rich. Yet he had plenty of natural wisdom. He was also very generous.
Abdul Kalam’s mother was Ashiarnma. She was a kind and helpful lady. Kalam’s parents were generous. A number of
outsiders daily ate with the family. Their number was more than all the members of Kalam’s family put together. Abdul
Kalam was greatly influenced by his parents. His father taught him the value of self-discipline and honesty. From his
mother he inherited faith in goodness and deep kindness. His parents were not rich but they provided their children all
the bask necessities of life like food, clothes and medicines. Thus, Abdul Kalam’s parents greatly influenced him.
Q. “Once you decide to change the system, such problems have to be confronted.” What ‘system’ is this
sentence referring to? What are `such problems’? Does the text suggest that the problems have been tackled?
Ans. The above sentence refers to religious differences between people. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam belonged to
Rameswaram. At that time, the small society of that town was rigid in terms of the segregation of different social
groups. This system was prevalent in the whole of the country. The high caste people did not like to eat or drink with
the people of low castes. The new teacher in Abdul Kalam’s class could not tolerate that a Muslim boy should sit with
the son of a Hindu priest. He sent Abdul Kalam to the back bench. But some people have tried to fight these problems.
Abdul Kalam’s teacher, Sivasubramania lyer served Abdul Kalam with his own hands. He sat down beside him to eat.
Later, his wife realised her mistake. The next week, she served Abdul Kalam in her kitchen. Yet these problems are
deep rooted in India. These have not been tackled even now.
Q. How does Abdul Kalam describe his three close friends?
Ans. Abdul Kalam says that in his childhood, he had three close friends. Their names were Ramanadha
Sastry,Aravindan and Sivaprakasan. All these boys were from orthodox Hindu Brahmin families. Ramanadha Sastri
was the son of Pakshi Lakshmana Sastry. He was the high priest of the Rameswaram temple. When Ramanadha grew
up, he took over the priesthood of the temple from his father. Aravindan went into the business of arranging transport
for the pilgrims who visited Rameswaram.The third friend, Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern
Railways. Abdul Kalam says that althbugh they were from different refigOts, none of them ever felt any difference
among themselves because of different religious backgrounds. Their parents were also liberal and generous.
Ramanadha’s father rebuked the new teacher for spreading the poison of social inequality in the minds of innocent
Q. In this chapter, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam describes two of his teachers. What is the difference in the outlooks of
these two teachers?
Ans. Abdul Kalam describes two teachers of his school days. When he was in the fifth standard, a new teacher came
to the class. Abdul Kalam was sitting in the front row, next to his close friend Ramanadha Sastry. The teacher could
not tolerate that a Muslim boy should sit with a Brahmin boy. He sent Abdul Kalam to the back bench. It made both
Abdul Kalam and Ramanadha very sad. Later, however, the teacher realised his mistake.
The attitude of Abdul Kalam’s science teacher was quite different. His name was Sivasubramania lyer. He did not
believe in social barriers and tried his best to break them. One day he invited Abdul Kalam home for a meal. His wife
was a traditional lady. She refused to serve a Muslim boy into her kitchen. But Iyer served Abdul Kalam with his own
hands. Then he sat down beside him to eat his meal. Thus we find that there is a lot of difference in the outlooks of the