Chapter 3 – Iswaran the Storyteller
Think About It
1. In what way is Iswaran an asset to Mahendra?
Iswaran was Mahendra’s cook who follows his master uncomplainingly wherever he was posted. Apart from cooking, he used to wash Mahendra’s clothes, tidy up his place and chats with him at night. He was a great entertainer. He could weave out endless stories. He was amazing at managing resources as he could find vegetables out of nowhere. Also, he never had complain while accompanying his master. Thus, Iswaran was truly an asset to Mahendra.
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2. How does Iswaran describe the uprooted tree on the highway? What effect does he want to create in his listeners?
Iswaran descriptions were greatly influenced by the Tamil authors. Even while describing the smallest incidents he tried to introduce suspense and a surprise ending to the story. He describes the uprooted tree on the highway with eyebrows suitably arched and hands held out in a dramatic way. He would begin by saying that the road was deserted and he was all alone. Suddenly he spotted something that looked like an enormous bushy beast lying sprawled across the road. He was half inclined to turn and go back. But as he came closer he saw that it was a fallen tree, with its dry branches spread out.
He wanted to create attention in his listeners by adding the elements of suspense and surprise in his description.
3. How does he narrate the story of the tusker? Does it appear to be plausible?
Iswaran begins narrating the story of the elephant by saying that one day a tusker escaped from the timber yard and started roaming about, stamping on bushes, tearing up wild creepers and breaking branches behaving as if it had gone mad. At this stage, Iswaran gets so caught up in the excitement of his own story that he gets up from the floor and jumps about, stamping his feet in the emulation of the mad elephant. Continuing his story, he tells that the elephant then came to the main road of the town and smashed all the stalls selling fruits, mud pots, and clothes. It then entered a school ground where the children were playing. It pulled out the football goal-post, tore down the volleyball net, flattened the drum kept for water and uprooted the shrubs. All the teachers and students were so afraid that they climbed up to the terrace of the school building. He tells that at that time he was studying in the junior class and was watching the whole drama from the rooftop. He grabbed a cane from a teacher and moved towards the elephant. The elephant continued grunting and stamping its feet. It looked frightening. However, he moved slowly towards it. When the elephant was ready to rush towards him, he moved forward and whacked its third toe nail. At this the beast collapsed.
This story does not appear to be plausible and it is difficult to believe that a child can control a mad elephant and collapse it.
4. Why does the author say that Iswaran seemed to more than make up for the absence of a TV in Mahendra’s living quarters?
The author says so because Iswaran was a great entertainer for Mahendra. He would chat with him at night and tell him countless stories packed with adventure, horror and suspense. Mahendra enjoyed listening to all his stories. Thus, Mahendra never felt bored and never felt the need of having a TV for entertainment.
5. Mahendra calls ghosts or spirits a figment of the imagination. What happens to him on a full-moon night?
Mahendra calls ghosts or spirits a figment of the imagination because he did not believe in ghosts.
On one full moon night, Mahendra was woken up from his sleep by a low moan close to his window. At first he thought that it was a cat chasing mice. But the sound was too deep and guttural for a cat. He resisted looking outside as he did not want to witness a sight that might stop his heartbeat. But when the noise became louder, he could not resist himself from looking outside. When he lowered himself to the level of the windowsill he looked at a dark cloudy form clutching a bundle. He broke into a cold sweat and fell back on the pillow, panting.
6. Can you think of some other ending for the story?
This story ends with Mahendra resigning from his post and leaving the haunted place. However, the story could have ended on a positive note. The ghost theory should have been proved wrong by calling it merely an image formed in the subconscious mind of Mahendra. Since Iswaran kept narrating to him stories of various ghosts, he started fancying the things. Otherwise, there are no such things as ghosts.
Iswaran the Storyteller Extra Questions and Answers Class 9 English Moments
Iswaran the Storyteller Extra Questions and Answers Short Answer Type
In what way is Iswaran an asset to Mahendra?
He is an asset because he not only cooks delicious meals for Mahendra, but also follows him around uncomplainingly to his various postings. He washes his clothes, tidies up his shed and entertained him with stories and anecdotes on varied subjects.
How does Iswaran describe the uprooted tree on the highway?
He describes it as an enormous bushy beast lying sprawled across the road.
How does Iswaran narrate the story of the tusker? Does it appear to be plausible?
He narrates the story with a lot of drama and excitement, jumping about and stamping his feet in imitation of the mad elephant.
[The second part of the question is subjective, and either option is acceptable.]
If Yes: Yes, the story seems plausible because there are vulnerable points in the body that can be used to control a wild animal if one has knowledge of them.
If No: No, it seems to be a typical exaggerated story that Iswaran was fond of telling.
Why does the author say that Iswaran seemed to more than make up for the absence of a TV in Mahendra’s living quarters?
Iswaran’s stories were so dramatic and enthralling that Mahendra was completely captivated by them. As these stories were an everyday affair, he never missed the presence of a TV in his living quarters.
Mahendra calls ghosts or spirits a figment of the imagination. What happens to him on a full moon night?
Earlier, Mahendra would always look out of the window to admire the landscape on full moon nights. However, after hearing the ghost story, he avoided looking out of his window altogether in such nights.
Can you think of any other ending for the story?
Instead of giving in to his fear, Mahendra could have decided to check on the ‘ghost’, and found out that it was Iswaran who had been acting as a ghost to justify his story.
What work did Mahendra do?
Mahendra was a junior supervisor in a firm that supplied supervisors on hire at various construction sites, factories, bridges, dams, etc. His work was to keep an eye on the activities at these sites.
Do you think Mahendra was a fussy man? Give reasons for your answer.
No, Mahendra wasn’t a fussy man, because it is written that his needs were simple and he was able to adjust to all kinds of odd conditions whether living in a tent in a stone quarry, or an ill-equipped circuit house.
Why has Iswaran been called an asset? Who was he an asset to?
Iswaran has been called an asset to his master, Mahendra, because he took care of all his master’s needs, from cooking and cleaning, to washing his clothes. He also could cook the most delicious meals in the most desolate places where resources were difficult to get. Also, he entertained his master with wonderful stories and anecdotes at meal times.
How did Iswaran spend his day after his master left for work?
Iswaran would tidy up the shed, wash the clothes, have a leisurely bath while muttering his prayers. After lunch, he .would read for a while before dozing off to sleep.
Do you think his choice of literature had anything to do with his storytelling abilities? Give reasons for your answer.
Yes, in my opinion the fact that his favourite crime thrillers in Tamil were filled with imaginative descriptions and narrative flourishes added to his narration, as he would try to work in suspense and a surprising ending into the account.
Why according to Iswaran, had the tusker escaped from the timber yard?
According to Iswaran the tusker had escaped from the timber yard because it had gone mad.
Why did Iswaran decide that the tusker had gone mad?
Iswaran decided that the tusker had gone mad because it began to roam around, stamping on bushes, tearing up wild creepers and breaking branches at will.
How had Iswaran controlled the elephant?
He did so by hitting him hard on the third toenail, which had temporarily paralysed its nervous system. He called it the Japanese art of karate or ju-jitsu.
What were the types of stories that Iswaran liked to recount? Why did Mahendra like them so much?
He recounted stories packed with adventure, horror and suspense, and Mahendra enjoyed them because of the way in which they were told.
Why did Iswaran prepare a special dinner one night?
He did so because according to him it was the auspicious day on which traditionally delicacies were prepared to feed the spirits of one’s ancestors.
How had Iswaran stumbled upon the fact that the entire factory area that they were occupying had been a burial ground?
He had seen a human skull lying on the path and came across a number of skulls and bones in that area. He claimed that he had also seen ghosts at night.
Do you think Mahendra was fearful of ghosts? Give reasons for your answer.
Yes, Mahendra seems to be fearful of ghosts for several reasons. Firstly, he shivered in response to Iswaran’s description of the woman ghost, and then started feeling a sense of unease at night. He kept peering into the darkness outside the window to make sure there was no movement of dark shapes. He also lost his fascination for looking out at the milky-white landscape on moonlit nights.
What made Mahendra look out of his window even though he had started avoiding doing so?
The low, guttural moaning sound coming from just outside his window woke him up from his sleep, and as the sound became louder he could not resist the temptation of looking out of the window.
What did Mahendra see outside his window one dark night when he was woken up by a moaning sound? How did it affect him?
He saw a dark, cloudy form clutching a bundle. He broke into a cold sweat and fell back on his pillow, panting. However, on reasoning with himself, he calmed himself and concluded that it had probably been some kind of auto-suggestion or a trick played by his subconscious mind.
How did Iswaran remind Mahendra of the supernatural experience he had had the previous night?
He told Mahendra that he had seen the ghost the previous night, when he had come running after hearing the moaning coming from his master’s room.
How did Mahendra react to his ghostly misadventure?
He handed in his papers at the office and resolved to leave the haunted place the very next day.
How did Mahendra react to Iswaran’s comment about the factory being built on a burial ground?
Mahendra shivered with fear, called him crazy and scolded him for talking nonsense.
Why was Mahendra surprised at Iswaran’s behaviour the morning after he had scolded him?
Mahendra was surprised to see that instead of sulking, Iswaran was his usual cheerful self, and did not show any sign of anger or resentment at having been scolded the previous night.
Do you think Iswaran had started the supernatural drama outside Mahendra’s window? Give reasons for your answer. [Subjective answer]
Yes, it appears to have been staged, because he probably wanted to teach Mahendra a lesson for having scolded him for making up the story about the woman and the ghosts the previous night.
No, he couldn’t have staged it because had seen skulls and bones in the area and had found out that it had been a burial ground in the past. He truly believed in these facts, and would not stage such a drama since he actually believed in the ghosts.
Iswaran the Storyteller Extra Questions and Answers Long Answer Type
Do you think the title ‘Iswaran the Storyteller’ is appropriate?
Yes, I feel the title is appropriate for the story as the story revolves around the anecdotes and stories told by the mainhero or protagonist of the story, Iswaran. Iswaran works for his master Mahendra, a bachelor who is a junior supervisor working in remote construction sites. The only source of entertainment for him is the stories that Iswaran tells him every day at dinnertime.
Not only are his stories exciting, thrilling and dramatic—heavily influenced by the Tamil thrillers Iswaran loves to read—his method of presenting his stories is also unique. He expresses himself with a lot of drama and often leaves the listener wanting more at crucial moments, thereby increasing their interest in the story. Even recounting simple, everyday occurrences like seeing a fallen tree on the road is an occasion for him to create stories where the tree is described as a fallen animal.
Describe the incident with the tusker. What does it reveal about Iswaran’s character?
The story about the tusker was one of the real life incidents that Iswaran recounted to entertain his master. According to Iswaran, the tusker had escaped from the timber yard where he worked, and began roaming around stomping on bushes, breaking branches and tearing up creepers. Upon reaching town, it had broken down fences, smashed all the fruit stalls, mud pots and clothes. People ran helter-skelter in panic, when finally it entered the school ground where children were playing. All the children ran into the classrooms and shut the door tightly.
The elephant pulled out the football goalpost, tore down the volleyball net and kicked and flattened the drum kept for water, before uprooting the shrubs growing around the ground. There was no one to be seen on the roads, when young Iswaran jumped up, grabbed a cane from one ofthis teachers and ran down to face the rampaging elephant. The elephant looked at the approaching boy, lifted its trunk and trumpeted loudly.
At that moment, the boy moved forward and mustering all his force, whacked him on its third toenail. The beast looked stunned for a moment, shivered from head to foot and then collapsed. This story revealed Iswaran’s talent as a storyteller and the fanfare and drama with which he recounted his stories. It also reveals that Iswaran was fond of embellishing his stories.
Iswaran was a fantastic storyteller. Comment.
Iswaran was definitely a fantastic storyteller and knew how to engage the complete attention and interest of his listeners. He knew how to make even an ordinary event like a fallen tree sound exciting by describing it as if it was an enormous bushy beast lying sprawled across the road. Moreover, he could weave endless stories and anecdotes on varied subjects. His vivid descriptions were greatly influenced by the Tamil thrillers that he liked to read. Even when narrating the most trivial incident, he would try to work in an element of suspense and a surprise ending.
At the most interesting points of the story, he would often stop, leaving the tale unfinished and thereby increasing the listener’s interest. Finally, he would take his own time to conclude the story, In fact, his vivid description of the supernatural was so realistic that it forced his master Mahendra to resign and move away from the place that he came to believe was haunted.
Discuss the character of Mahendra.
He was a bachelor who earned his living as a junior supervisor working at construction sites. He worked for a firm that supplied supervisors to remote sites. He was a simple man with simple tastes, and did not even feel the need to own a TV, even though he spent most of his time in remote areas far from sources of entertainment. He was very adjusting and accommodating, and could live wherever he was posted, whether in a tent or a dilapidated building. He was a kind and caring master, and his servant Iswaran was happy to follow him around wherever he was posted.
Mahendra seems to have enjoyed listening to stories, and would spend his evenings listening to the tales recounted by Iswaran. He was somewhat naive and gullible, and believed the stories Iswaran recounted. In fact, Iswaran’s stories about ghosts and spirits had such an effect on him that he even resigned from his job because he believed the area was haunted. He was convinced that he had seen the spirit of a woman with a foetus that Iswaran had told him about in one of his tales.
Describe the supernatural story recounted by Iswaran. What was its effect on Mahendra?
Iswaran related a story about the supernatural on the day when, according to tradition, the spirits of one’s ancestors had to be fed. He started by informing his master Mahendra that the entire factory area had once been a burial ground. He added that he had seen a human skull lying on the path, and had come across a number of skulls and bones.
He further narrated how he had seen ghosts sometimes at night, and he described one particular ghost, an ugly creature with matted hair, shrivelled face like a skeleton, holding a foetus in its arms. Mahendra had shivered at the descriptions and had interrupted him sharply, calling him crazy and emphasising that ghosts did not exist. He insisted that ghosts were a figment of his imagination and that he was talking nonsense.