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CBSE CLASS VIII ENGLISH
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A SHORT MONSOON DIARY

A SHORT MONSOON DIARY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruskin bond was born on 19th May 1934 in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, India. He completed his education at Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, and he has lived in Mussorie- Landour since 1962. He is an Indian author of British descent. He is considered to be an icon among Indian writers and a top novelist. He is much renowned for his role in promoting children’s literature in India. The Indian Council for Child Education has recognized his role in the growth of children’s literature in India. As a prolific writer, he has written over 500 short stories, essays and novels. His popular novel 'The Blue Umbrella' was made into a Hindi film and was awarded the National Film Award for the best children’s film in 2007.

INTRODUCTION

These are a few extracts from Ruskin Bond’s diary. They show the silent miracles of nature and life's little joys and regrets. They are about the author’s experiences during the monsoon months in Mussoorie. Monsoon starts in the last week of June and continues till the end of August.

MEANINGS OF WORDS AND PHRASE

  • mist : a cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface that limits visibility
  • melancholy: a feeling of sadness
  • conceal : to hide
  • blankets : to cover completely with a thick layer of something
  • deathly : resembling death
  • genuine : real and exactly what it appears to be
  • rears : brings up
  • privacy: a state in which one is not observed or disturbed
  • paradise : an ideal place
  • heralded : be a sign that something is about to happen
  • imprecations: a spoken curse
  • bloodletting : withdrawal of blood
  • scarlet minivets : a small bird found in tropical southern Asia
  • flitting : move swiftly and lightly
  • contrive : arrange for something to happen
  • drongos : a songbird with glossy black plumage found in Africa, southern Asia, and Australia
  • aggressive : ready or likely to attack
  • dearth : shortage
  • insectivorous : feeding on insects, worms, and other invertebrates
  • drumming : the sound or feeling of continuous beating
  • corrugated : having parallel rows of folds that look like a series of waves when seen from the edge
  • downpour : heavy rainfall
  • disconsolately: unhappily
  • thrush : a small or medium-sized songbird
  • ravine : a deep, narrow gorge with steep sides
  • soggy: very wet and soft
  • bobbing : make a quick, short movement up and down
  • suffused : gradually spread through
  • drenched : wet thoroughly

EXPLANATION

June 24 was the first day when the mist appeared. The author called it “strange”. Because all the birds suddenly went silent as a cloud of tiny water, droplets climbed up the hill.

The author claims the mist to be melancholic in nature for two reasons. First, it covers up the mountains and hides the serene view. Second, it silences the birds, thereby bringing sadness.

An hour before the mist appeared, the trees were ringing with birdsong. But later, it became so still and silent. The author called the forest “deathly” as he felt that it was almost midnight, and the forest was wrapped in utter silence. The author could hear Bijju calling out for his sister but could not see him through the mist. He could anticipate that Bijju was running about on the hillside.

On the 25th day of June, the hills witnessed some early monsoon rain, which brought with itself warmth and humidity. It was different from the showers the hills receive all year that cools environments at such high altitudes. The plants also knew very well that the monsoon had arrived. The author describes as the first cobra lily of the season reared its head, making its way among the ferns as the author walked till the bank and the post office. Upon being asked by a school boy, the author described the hill station and valley as “A paradise that might have been”, implying that during the monsoon season, the hill station and valley were heavenly and hence the description.

In the entry on 27th June, the author mentions how the rain had brought with it a few seasonal visitors like the leopard and lots of leeches. On the afternoon of the day before, the leopard attacked a dog. The latter was lifted from near the servants’ quarter below the school. In the evening it almost took one of Bijju’s cows but ran away as soon as Bijju’s mother came crying and screaming.

As the presence of leeches were increasing during the monsoon, the author says that losing little blood to them every day has become unavoidable. He mentions a few other creatures that arrived with the rain such as the scarlet minivets-bright red birds that look like cuckoos; however, their female-counterparts are yellow. They move swiftly and lightly among the leaves giving the appearance of brilliant jewels around them. These birds are so bright in their colour that regardless of how leafy the tree is, it was difficult for them to hide themselves. Sometimes they manage to go unnoticed by remaining silent. A pair of Drongos also came along. These birds, quite unnecessarily aggressive in nature, chased the minivets away. During this time, a treecreeper grew up the trunk of the oak tree, plucking insects on its way. The rainy season ensured that there was no lack of food for those birds that fed on insects.

On August 2, the author wrote an entry in his diary describing the rain from the previous night. It wasn't a thunderstorm; instead, it was a steady rain that drummed on the tin roof. The music that the rain and the roof together created helped the author to remain awake when he had wanted to. On the other hand, it wasn't disturbing as the sound never prevented him from falling asleep.

He explains how the sound of rain created a pleasant atmosphere for reading. The sound of rain outside helped him find the quiet within himself. However, the author explains that tin roofs would cause the rainwater to leak through the corners of the inner wall of the room. Nevertheless, the author claims that he was not disturbed by the leaks as they gave him the feeling of being touched and yet remain untouched by the rain.

As the rain stopped on the 3rd of August, the clouds began to separate, giving way to the sun over the hills on the author’s left. A woman was seen chopping up sticks, and the tinkle of cowbells was also heard. A crow was seen sitting on the oak tree shook itself to remove the raindrops on its feathers as it cawed unhappily. The water dripped from the leaking drainpipe that carried off rainwater from the building. Finally as everything settled, the pure song of the whistling thrush was heard like a “dark sweet secret” from the depths of the valley.

By August 12, the hills had been experiencing continuous rain and permanent mist. They had not seen the light of the sun for eight to nine days. Everything was wet and moist. One could not go anywhere. The only option was to walk around in one's room or look out of the window where a few people could be seen walking about under their umbrellas.

The author was pleased that it was not cold rain. The vegetation could be seen growing luxuriantly and abundantly on the hillsides as the last-monsoon flowers began to blossom. A few flowers that started to appear were wild balsam, dahlias, begonias and ground orchids.

The diary entry on 31st August declares the end of the monsoon. An abundance of flowers and lush green growth fill the hills. The colour was changing from the seeds of the cobra lily to red, hinting the end of the rainy season.

As the next few days, the flowerless plants would begin to turn yellow against their present fresh green colour as they stand firm and upright. The author mentions how the ground orchids, white butterfly orchids and the mauve lady’s slipper made the grassy slopes of Landour look fashionable.

Furthermore, the wild dahlias, red, yellow and magenta, turned their heads back towards the narrow openings in the rocks where they had taken hold. The snakes and rodents came out of their holes and burrows in huge numbers. They took shelter in roofs, attics and godowns. A small insectivorous mammal resembling a mouse, namely a shrew, with quite weak eyesight moved about clumsily in the room. The children were amused by the shrew who blindly bolts around the room. Their grandmother calls the shrew as Chuchundar and warns them against killing it. She says the Chuchundars, as shrews are called in Hindi, are known to bring good luck, money and prosperity.

The author, too, mischievously wonders if the shrew has something to do with the cheque he receives in the mail. Although not a huge amount, he welcomes it anyway. The month of October took the mountains straight into winter rain as it marked the end of the extended monsoon season. The higher altitudes were covered with snow.

On the 3rd day of October, the sky and hills were bathed in beautiful golden light after experiencing a hailstorm the evening before.

In January, the hills receive winter rains. The author talked about the 26th of January when he was alone in his house. A friend who was with him a while ago had also left. He mentions how he felt very lonely and quiet as he sat in complete silence, experiencing the silence within. He was surrounded by the rhythm of the rain, the slow and gentle movement of water on leaves, lemons and roof as it drummed on already wet dahlias and window panes. The mist covered the house gently in its darkness. As the author stood still near the window, the rain stopped and showered again. He mentions that the trees were now grey and no longer green, threatening him with their loneliness.

Phrases used in the diary entry like "dark caress" and "menacing grey leaves" tell us that the rain has altered its lavish tone to a grave one. The diary entry reinforces the sense of melancholy and loneliness that the author seems to suffer. Perhaps, the feeling of the author lies at the heart of any art form and its creation.

Next, he writes about late March that marked the end of winter season. He recorded having seen the blackest and darkest cloud resting over Mussoorie. It poured hail that looked like marbles for about thirty minutes. He reveals how there was nothing like a hailstorm that clears the sky. Bond could see a rainbow forming as he wrote, signifying that there is hope and joy yet in the lap of nature.

MAIN IDEAS

The writer was in Mussoorie, a hill station in U.P. The first day of moonsoon brought mist. The birds got silent and the hills became invisible. On June 25, came the early monsoon rain. He described the hill station as A paradise’ that might have been’ to a school boy. With the onset of the monsoon one could see leopards and leeches and the colourful minivet birds. There was no dearth of insects for the birds to eat. On August 2, it rained heavily and non-stop. The roofs began to leak. The rain stopped on August 3. The sunlight fell on the hills and the song birds began to sing. On August 12, there was heavy downpour and mist for more than a week. Everything was damp. Meanwhile wild flowers began to appear. August 31 saw the greenery at its peak. Snakes and rodents came out of their flooded holes and hid in roofs or godowns. Winter rain, hailstones and snow came on October 3. The author couldn’t go outside and he felt very lonely in his room. Late March saw the end of winter. He received a cheque in the mail.

WORKSHEET ON A SHORT MONSOON DIARY

  1. What is the importance of diary entry?
  2. Why was the writer unable to sleep on the night of 2nd August?
  3. What are the two ways in which the hills appear to change when the mist comes up?
  4. Why can scarlet minivets not conceal themselves under the trees?
  5. What were the feeling of author on August 2?
  6. What happened on August 3?
  7. Why is mist called Melancholy?
  8. Why can scarlet minivets not conceal themselves under the trees?
  9. Who are the seasonal visitors? How does the author describe them?
  10. Mention a few things that can happen when there is endless rain for days together.
  11. What changes in the trees does the writer describe in his diary entry on 26th August?
  12. Describe the writers day on 31st August.

WORKSHEET ANSWERS ON A SHORT MONSOON DIARY

  1. Diary entry is a form of literature when one expresses his thoughts without hesitation. A diary writer make entries that reflects his mood. He also writes to keep a record of events and happenings that he would like to remember forever. It is also helpful in understanding the journey a person go through.
  2. The writer was kept awake by the sound of the rain water falling on the tin roofs. The writer was able to read the sounds; the sound of the rains outside and the silence within him. It provided him some kind of peace and he spent the night observing the pattern of the rain.
  3. When the mist comes up, the hills appear to change. All the birds sitting on the hills fall silent when the mist comes climbing up the hill. When the mist comes up, it conceals not only the hills but blankets them in silence also.
  4. Scarlet minivets (bright red bird like a cuckoo) they flit among leaves like brilliant jewels. But they cannot conceal themselves. No matter how leafy the tree because they are very bright in colour.”
  5. On August 2, all night rain were falling on the corrugated tin roof. There was no storm, no thunder. His tin roofs were springing unaccountable leaks. So there was a feeling of being untouched by yet in touch with the rain.
  6. On August 3, the rain stops the clouds begin to break up, the sun strikes the hills, he heard the tinkle of cowbells and suddenly, clean & pure the song of whistling thrush emerges like a dark sweet secret from the depths of the ravine.
  7. Melancholy is a feeling of pensive sadness. And it is called so because as the mist comes climbing up the hills birds fall silent, forest becomes deathly still and it shows the unhappy environment.
  8. Scarlet minivets are bright red coloured bird. They are like Cuckoo. They flit among leaves like brilliant jewels, but cannot conceal themselves no matter how leafy the tree would be. It is because they are very bright in colour.
  9. The seasonal visitors are a leopard, several thousand leeches and different kinds of birds. The leopard created nuisance. It lifted a dog from near the servants’ quarter below the school. In the evening, it attacked one of Bijju’s cows. The scarlet minivets flitted silently among the leaves like brilliant jewels. No matter how leafy the trees, these brightly coloured birds could not conceal themselves. There was also a pair of drongos. They looked aggressive and chased the minivets away. A tree creeper moved rapidly up the trunk of the oak tree, snapping up insects, all the way.
  10. Endless rains create a number of problems. The work gets obstructed as it makes difficult for people to step outside their homes. If there is no proper drainage system, it leads to problems of water logging and traffic jams on roads. During rains, there is an increase in the insect population, which could also cause diseases. Sometimes, due to excessive rains, the crop gets destroyed.
  11. The writer notes that the rain had put a dark blanket on everything around the house. The trees didn’t appear green anymore. They had gone gray; threatening the writer with their darker shades.
  12. The last day of August marks the last few days of the monsoon. The writer notices that the monsoons have already reached the peak and now the rains would come to an end as indicated by different elements of nature. He see the seeds of cobra lily turning red and the ferns beginning to get yellowish in colour. At the same time, he also sees a variety of colourful flowers and butterflies. It gives delight to the writer. The writer also gets a pay cheque on this day.
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