The Parting in Kashmir – Comprehension


Wren and Martin Comprehension Exercise 147

This romantic life in Kashmir was drawing to its end after three glorious months. Miss Joan was leaving a week earlier than Mrs. Rhodes, and about two days before she left I took her alone to the hotel for dinner. We walked to the hotel in perfect silence, a silence so heavy that I could hardly breathe. The hotel seemed to be far away and yet not far enough. That night, as I served her at table the temptation to touch her was overpowering, and I had almost forgotten myself when I dropped her coffee cup, which made me pull myself together and realize my position and my caste. On the way home there was a bridge over the canal to be crossed. She stopped on the bridge without a word, so I stopped beside her looking on to the calm water of the canal shining between the gigantic chenar trees. In the distance a gramophone was playing and the music floated over the water. We stood for a long time without saying a word to each other. I think the parting was disturbing her. There was something which she could not have explained and which she was trying to express. It might have been just a fancy of her own, or it may have been the subconscious knowledge of the secret, consuming passion of her attendant that was affecting her on this calm and beautiful night as we tarried on the bridge. It seemed to me that we stood there for ages, as if neither of us dare break the magic spell of night and music. Our houseboat was only a few yards from the bridge, and the Goodnight was the only word that passed between us as we parted – everything then went into the darkness. The Mail lorry came up to the bridge to take her away from the romantic city of Srinagar and away from me. -After she had taken her seat I put a woolen rug over her knees to keep her warm on the journey, and she handed me a ten-rupee note as a parting gift and sweetly said Good-bye. I watched her wave her hand till the lorry was out of sight. Then I realized what I had lost, and lost for ever.
– Hazari

1. What was the matter with the attendant as he walked with Miss Joan to the hotel? Why did they not talk to each other?
The reason why they did not talk was because of the parting. According to the author, having a wonderful experience of three months, Miss Joan was reluctant to part but, had to. So, she was quite upset.

2. After reading the passage can you give reasons to show what caste the attendant belonged to?
The attendant belonged to an “untouchable” caste. This is evident from the fact that, on realizing his caste, he pulled himself together from his temptation to touch her.

3. The author mentions the chenar trees of Kashmir. Give a brief but graphic description of these trees.
The Chenar trees are magnificent, vibrant trees whose leaves change colors to red and yellow during the autumn season. The colorful leaves dot the autumn landscape of Kashmir, bringing cheer to people. Kashmir is characterized by the beauty of Chenar trees.

4. “I think the parting was disturbing her.” Was it the romantic atmosphere of the surroundings, the thought of having to leave Kashmir, the kindness of her attendant, or thoughts of home that were the cause of the disturbance?
It was possibly the the kindness of her attendant that was disturbing Miss Joan. She was trying to express something – a fancy of her own, or the subconscious knowledge of the secret, consuming passion of her attendant.

5. Why does the author call Srinagar a romantic city? Give the meaning of “romantic.” Show how it may apply to Srinagar.
Srinagar is characterized by calm waters of the canals shining between gigantic and vivid Chenar trees. Houseboat rides and nocturnes floating over the water make Srinagar nights romantic.

6. Why did Miss Joan give the attendant a ten-rupee note? Do friends do such things?
No, friends don’t do such things. However, Miss Joan gave the attendant a ten-rupee note as a gesture and reward for his kindness.