This chapter centres around an old man who wakes up early in the morning and goes to world’s most uninteresting building i.e Post office to receive his daughter’s letter. On reaching there, he squats on his particular position in the post office where he has been sitting for almost half a decade. He gets to hear the names being called at the post office such as; police superintendent and many more. At the same time, he hears somebody calling his name. When he stands up, he finds that he is being mocked by the clerks deliberately even when there is no letter from his daughter for him.
He comes back to home and follows the same routine patiently even when there is no response from his daughter. He has been bearing this pain (of not receiving his daughter’s letter) for five years.
According to the narrator, Ali, in his youth, used to be a very clever Shikari. He had separated many young partridges from their parents by killing them. Therefore he felt that he was suffering due to his karma of bereaving younger ones (partridges) from their parents.
Having been tired of going to the post office , he goes to the post office for the last time keeping his approaching death and ens in mind. But, it does not change the mindset of the post master and his clerks. Yet, they make fun of him calling him a ‘pest’ and a ‘madman’. While leaving, a clerk namely ‘Laxmi Das’ follows him and Ali hands him five golden guineas and request him to keep the letter on his grave when it comes. He also adds that these five guineas are useless for him but they can be helpful to the clerk.
After few months, the postmaster daughter falls ill which makes him sad and monotonous. He decides to stay in the post office but he could not sleep for the whole night owing to the pain & excitement of receiving his daughter’s letter the next morning. On scrounging the heap of letters next morning, he finds Ali’s daughter’s (Miriam) letter and he realises the pain of Ali who had been coming to receive his daughter’s letter regularly for five years. He starts waiting for Ali and soon some body knocks on the door. On opening the door, he find Ali standing over there whose eyes are teemed with tears. He starts talking to Ali and shares his pain too of not receiving his daughter’s letter when he is startled by the voice of Laxmi Das.
The clerk asks the postmaster who he is talking to. The postmaster replies that he was talking to Ali. Having heard him talking about Ali, the clerk can’t believe him & tells the postmaster that he had gone to Ali’s village where he got to know that Ali had died three months ago. The postmaster can’t believe in the words of Laxmi Das but soon realises that it was probably the soul of Ali whom he had been talking to. They both go to Ali’s grave and keep his daughter’s letter over there as promised by Laxmi Das. The postmaster regrets his act of ridiculing Ali. a helpless father, He comes back tortured with doubt and remorse and sits alongside the sigri while waiting for his daughter’s letter.
Q1. Why had Ali been going to post office daily? How did the clerks and postmaster behave with him over there?
Ans. Ali had been going to post office daily to receive his daughter’s letter for five years. The postmaster and clerks used to ridicule him by taking his name intentionally whether there was any letter with his name or not.
Q2. Was Ali a clever hunter? Explain.
Ans. Undoubtedly, Ali used to be a clever Shikari. He would kill partridges in a matter of seconds. Even, when those earth brown partridges missed from the eyes of dogs and other animals, Ali would see them with his bare eyes and shoot them on the spot.
Q3. What did Ali want Laxmi Das to do? How much had he paid the clerk for that?
Ans. Ali wanted Laxmi Das to put his daughter’s letter on his grave whenever it comes. For that, he had paid five golden guineas to that clerk.
Q4. Why did the postmaster call Ali a pest? Do you think he was really a trouble?
Ans. The postmaster was actually fed up with Ali’s visit to post office daily without any rhyme or reason. He was unable to put himself in the shoes of Ali till he himself suffered from the same problem. No, according to us, Ali was not a ‘Pest’ but an alienated father who had been waiting for his daughter’s letter for five years.
Q5. Did the post master realise his mistake in the end? How?
Ans. The postmaster realised his mistake and Ali’s pain when his own daughter fell ill. He did not receive any message from his daughter which made him restless for few days. Then, he realised how much would Ali had to bear who had not received even a single letter from his daughter for five consecutive years.
Q6. Why did Ali hold his hunting responsible for his daughter’s separation?
Ans. Ali used to be a clever hunter in his good times. He had separated many young partridges from their parents after killing them brutally. When he stopped receiving his daughter’s letters, he considered his hunting responsible for all the pain he was bearing. According to Ali, this all was happening because of his misdeeds.
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