Memories of Childhood Part 2 We too are human Beings Class 12 Vistas Book Chapter 8 Summary, Explanation, Word Meaning and Question Answers

Memories of childhood Part 2 We too are human Beings CBSE Class 12 NCERT English (Vistas) Lesson 8  Summary and detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. of Part 2. Also, Summary is followed by the explanation of the story. All the exercises and Questions and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered


Class 12 English (Vistas) Chapter 8 Memories of childhood Part 2 We too are human Beings by Bama

Introduction to Memories of Childhood (Part 2  We too are human Beings)

The lesson describes the story of a fun loving little girl. She loves to observe every bit of thing happening in and around her street. But one day she while noticing an incident comes to know about the reality of a social evil in our country that is the practice of untouchability.

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Theme of the Lesson

The story “we too are human beings” talks about the evil of social discrimination. This is an excerpt from the writer’s autobiography ‘Kurukku’. A Tamil Dalit girl named Bama describes her experience in the third grade. Although she was unaware of the negative effects of untouchability, she had encountered humiliation and embarrassment in her environment. The excerpt shows how low caste individuals are viewed as untouchables due to caste prejudice. Low caste members not only show deference to high caste members, but they also poison everything they touch.


Summary of We too are human beings (Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Part 2)

The story is written by Bama who is one of the characters in this story. She is a little cheerful girl who loves to observe things taking place in her street. She says though it takes only ten minutes to reach home from her school but she takes about thirty minutes to reach her home from the school. She then explains the reason behind it. She says when she is on her way to home she sees a monkey performing and a snake charmer doing some act with his snake which was very interesting for her. Then there was a cyclist also who was cycling from past three days. There was one famous temple which had a big bell and a tribal man who sells clay beads, needles etc. She also comes across various snack stalls and street acts. Then she explains about how various political parties come to her street to give lectures. As she proceeds further, she saw a landlord sitting and watching his workers work in the field. She then saw an old man of her community handling a snack pack in a very strange manner and then offering it to the landlord. She founds it so amusing that she bursts out into a laugh. On reaching home she narrates it to her elder brother and starts laughing. He then tells her a real truth about her being from a low caste and that the upper caste people do not like their presence or touch the low caste as it would make them impure. She finds it so disgusting that she grows angry over the upper caste people. Some days later her elder brother is questioned about his whereabouts to know his caste. He then suggests her to study hard as only this could earn her respect. She works as per his suggestions and become topper of her class. This not only earns her respect but many friends too.


Summary of We too are human beings (Chapter 8 Memories of Childhood Part 2)

यह कहानी बामा द्वारा लिखी गई है जो इस कहानी के पात्रों में से एक है। वह एक खुशमिजाज लड़की है जो अपनी गली में हो रही चीजों को देखना पसंद करती है।

वह कहती हैं कि हालांकि उनके स्कूल से घर पहुंचने में केवल दस मिनट लगते हैं लेकिन उन्हें लगभग तीस मिनट लगते हैं। इसके बाद वह इसके पीछे की वजह बताती हैं। वह कहती है कि जब वह घर जा रही थी तो उन्होने देखा कि एक बंदर और एक सपेरा अपने सांप के साथ कुछ ऐसा कर रहे थे जो उनके लिए बहुत दिलचस्प था।

फिर एक साइकिल सवार भी देखा जो पिछले तीन दिनों से साइकिल चला रहा था और एक प्रसिद्ध मंदिर जिसमें एक बड़ी घंटी थी और एक आदिवासी व्यक्ति जो मिट्टी के मोती, सुई आदि बेच रहा था। उन्होने विभिन्न स्नैक स्टालों और स्ट्रीट एक्ट्स में भी देखे। फिर वह बताती हैं कि कैसे विभिन्न राजनीतिक दल व्याख्यान देने के लिए उनकी गली में आते हैं। जैसे ही वह आगे बढ़ी, उन्होने देखा कि एक जमींदार बैठा है और अपने मजदूरों को खेत में काम करते देख रहा है | फिर उन्होने देखा कि उनके समुदाय के एक बूढ़े आदमी ने एक बहुत ही अजीब तरीके से एक स्नैक पैक को संभाला और फिर उसे जमींदार को दे दिया | उन्हें यह इतना मनोरंजक लगा कि वह ज़ोर से हंस पड़ी।

घर पहुंचकर वह अपने बड़े भाई को यह बात सुनाती है और हंसने लगती है। फिर वह उन्हें एक निचली जाति से होने की वास्तविक सच्चाई बताते हैं और केसे उच्च जाति के लोग उनकी उपस्थिति को नपसंद करते हैं या नीची जाति के स्पर्श से वे अपने आप को अशुद्ध मानते है|

उन्हें यह इतना घृणित लगता है कि वह उच्च जाति के लोगों पर क्रोधित हो जाती है।

कुछ दिनों बाद उनके बड़े भाई से उसकी जाति जानने के लिए उनके ठिकाने के बारे में पूछताछ की जाती है। फिर वह उन्हें कड़ी मेहनत से अध्ययन करने का सुझाव देते है क्योंकि इससे ही उन्हें सम्मान मिल सकता था।

वह उनके सुझावों के अनुसार काम करती है और अपनी कक्षा की टॉपर बन जाती है। इससे न सिर्फ उन्हें इज्जत मिली बल्कि कई दोस्तों की भी मिले।


Lesson Explanation – We too are human Beings (Memories of Childhood Part 2)

Memories of Childhood Part 2 We too are human Beings by Bama Class 12 Video Explanation

Passage : When I was studying in the third class, I hadn’t yet heard people speak openly of untouchability. But I had already seen, felt, experienced and been humiliated by what it is.

Word Meaning : Humiliated: insulted

Explanation of the above passage: The writer says that when she was a student in the third class she had never heard anyone speaking openly about untouchability. But she by then had already seen and felt it. For her it was very embarrassing to experience the concept of untouchability.

Passage : I was walking home from school one day, an old bag hanging from my shoulder. It was actually possible to walk the distance in ten minutes. But usually it would take me thirty minutes at the very least to reach home. It would take me from half an hour to an hour to dawdle along, watching all the fun and games that were going on, all the entertaining novelties and oddities is the streets, the shops and the bazaar.

Word Meaning :
waste time, idle
Novelties: newness, freshness
Oddities: strange things

Explanation of the above passage: The writer says that one day she was coming back home from her school. She was carrying an old bag with her. The distance between her school and home was only ten minutes. But she would take thirty minutes to reach her home. It was so because she used to waste her time in the street watching all the fun and games happening there. She used to see new or sometimes strange things happening there, and then there were the shops and the bazaar that she loved to see.

Passage : The performing monkey; the snake which the snake charmer kept in its box and displayed from time to time; the cyclist who had not got off his bike for three days, and who kept pedalling as hard as he could from break of day; the rupee notes that were pinned on to his shirt to spur him on; the spinning wheels; the Maariyaata temple, the huge bell hanging there; the pongal offerings being cooked in front of the temple; the dried fish stall by the statue of Gandhi; the sweet stall, the stall selling fried snacks, and all the other shops next to each other; the street light always demonstrating how it could change from blue to violet; the narikkuravan hunter gypsy with his wild lemur in cages, selling needles, clay beads and instruments for cleaning out the ears — Oh, I could go on and on. Each thing would pull me to a stand-still and not allow me to go any further.

Word Meaning :
Snake Charmer:
an entertainer who appears to make snakes move by playing music.
Spur: encouragement
Offerings: donation, gift
Demonstrate: to show
Lemur: an animal
Instrument: tool

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snake charmer

Explanation of the above passage: The writer describes of those things she watched in the street or the bazaar. There was a performing monkey, a snake charmer who could make snakes move by playing music. He would kept the snake in a box and display it from time to time. There was a cyclist also who had been riding his bike from past three days. He pedaled hard to continue his riding as he was into some kind of contest. Somebody had pinned the rupee notes on his shirt so as to encourage him and keep him going on his cycle. Then there was spinning wheel and the Maariyaata temple, there was a huge bell hanging inside the temple. The pongal offering that is a particular dish cooked during pongal was cooked outside this temple. There were dried fish also that were sold by the statue of Gandhi. Next she describes that there were stalls of sweet and fried snacks and other shops next to each other. There were street lights that turn violet from blue and then the narikkuravan, a tribe in south India. He had a lemur an animal that looks like a monkey in a cage. He was a seller of needles, clay beads and some instrument used for cleaning ear. These sights of various things were so entertaining for her that it prevents her from going further.

Passage : At times, people from various political parties would arrive, put up a stage and harangue us through their mikes. Then there might be a street play, or a puppet show, or a “no magic, no miracle” stunt performance. All these would happen from time to time. But almost certainly there would be some entertainment or other going on.

Word Meaning :
to give lecture
Miracle: wonder

Explanation of the above passage: The writer says that sometimes, the people from various political parties would come in their street and put up a stage to deliver lectures for all of us. Sometimes street plays, puppet show and no magic no wonder acts were also staged in the street. So basically there was a regular display of such entertaining acts in the street.

Passage : Even otherwise, there were the coffee clubs in the bazaar: the way each waiter cooled the coffee, lifting a tumbler high up and pouring its contents into a tumbler held in his other hand. Or the way some people sat in front of the shops chopping up onions, their eyes turned elsewhere so that they would not smart. Or the almond tree growing there and its fruit which was occasionally blown down by the wind. All these sights taken together would tether my legs and stop me from going home.

Word Meaning :
Tether: tie up

Explanation of the above passage: She further says that even if no such act was staged in the street then also there were the coffee clubs in the bazaar. She liked the way waiters cooled the coffee by pouring it from one jug to another. There were some other people who used to sit in front of their shops and chop onions. They always turned their eyes on the other side so as to save them from getting teary. Other interesting thing for the writer was an almond tree that was still growing and whose fruit was blown away by the wind. All these sights were so very interesting for the writer that she couldn’t help her from stopping there and watching them. She feels like her legs been tied up so that she could not reach her home.

Passage : And then, according to the season, there would be mango, cucumber, sugar-cane, sweet-potato, palm-shoots, gram, palm-syrup and palm-fruit, guavas and jack-fruit. Every day I would see people selling sweet and savoury fried snacks, payasam, halva, boiled tamarind seeds and iced lollies.

Word Meaning :
a salty or spicy dish
Payasam: sweet dish made with rice and milk
Iced lollies: piece of flavored ice on stick

Explanation of the above passage: There were sellers of various things in the bazaar. They used to sell items as per the season so there were mango, cucumber, sugarcane, sweet potato, palm-shoots, gram, palm- syrup, guavas and jack-fruit for sale. Even the writer saw many other sellers selling sweet and spicy snacks, payasam, halva, boiled tamarind seeds and iced lollies. So the writer was quite a good observer and she used to notice every bit of thing happening in the market street.

Passage : Gazing at all this, one day, I came to my street, my bag slung over my shoulder. At the opposite corner, though, a threshing floor had been set up, and the landlord watched the proceedings, seated on a piece of sacking spread over a stone ledge. Our people were hard at work, driving cattle in pairs, round and round, to tread out the grain from the straw. The animals were muzzled so that they wouldn’t help themselves to the straw. I stood for a while there, watching the fun.

Word Meaning :
Threshing floor: A specially flattened outdoor surface to separate the grain from straw.
Proceedings: events, activities
Sack: bag
Ledge: shelf
Tread: walk
Muzzled: a covering used to cover the mouth of an animal

Explanation of the above passage: The writer says that looking at all those skits and beautiful things all day she then entered her own street. On the opposite side of the street there was a newly made threshing floor, a flattened outdoor surface made to separate grain from straw. The landlord was sitting on a stone shelf and was watching people work in his field. She then describes the laborers who are working in the field. They belonged to the writer’s community. She says that they are very hardworking and they were driving the cattle in pairs in the field. They were doing so to separate the grain from the straw. Further, she says that the mouth of the animals was covered so as to stop them from eating grains. All this was such a fun to watch for her.

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Passage : Just then, an elder of our street came along from the direction of the bazaar. The manner in which he was walking along made me want to double up. I wanted to shriek with laughter at the sight of such a big man carrying a small packet in that fashion. I guessed there was something like vadai or green banana bhajji in the packet, because the wrapping paper was stained with oil. He came along, holding out the packet by its string, without touching it. I stood there thinking to myself, if he holds it like that, won’t the package come undone, and the vadais fall out?

Word Meaning :
Double up:
laugh out loud
Shriek: burst out
Wrap: cover
Stain: Spot
Strings: thread

elder person

Explanation of the above passage: Then she saw an elder person, who was her neighbor coming from bazaar. He was carrying a packet of some snack with him. The manner in which the old man was walking made her burst in laugh. He was handling it at some distance from his body. She says that she came to know that the packet contained vadai or green banana bhaji. She guessed it because of the oily spots on the packet. The man was carrying it by the threads. This made the writer think that this way of handling a packet could lead to fall of its contents.

Passage : The elder went straight up to the landlord, bowed low and extended the packet towards him, cupping the hand that held the string with his other hand. The landlord opened the parcel and began to eat the vadais.

Word Meaning :
hold out
Cupping: holding hands together to catch something

Explanation of the above passage: The old man went up to the landlord. He bends down to show respect to the landlord and holding his hand out he offered the carry bag to the landlord. The landlord took the parcel and started eating vadais out of it.

Passage : After I had watched all this, at last I went home. My elder brother was there. I told him the story in all its comic detail. I fell about with laughter at the memory of a big man, and an elder at that, making such a game out of carrying the parcel. But Annan was not amused. Annan told me the man wasn’t being funny when he carried the package like that. He said everybody believed that they were upper caste and therefore must not touch us. If they did, they would be polluted. That’s why he had to carry the package by its string.

Word Meaning :
finding something funny
Polluted: impure, harmful

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Explanation of the above passage: After watching all this she went back to her home. She narrated the whole incident of the old man to her elder brother. She was laughing out by recalling the way that big man was handling the packet. But her brother Annan didn’t found it funny. He told her that the man wasn’t being funny, He did it because we belong to a lower caste. People from upper caste do not touch us as this would make them impure. Even the food should be handled by the strings if it is for the upper caste, that is why the old man was carrying it like this.

Passage : When I heard this, I didn’t want to laugh any more, and I felt terribly sad. How could they believe that it was disgusting if one of us held that package in his hands, even though the vadai had been wrapped first in a banana leaf, and then parceled in paper? I felt so provoked and angry that I wanted to touch those wretched vadais myself straightaway. Why should we have to fetch and carry for these people, I wondered. Such an important elder of ours goes meekly to the shops to fetch snacks and hands them over reverently, bowing and shrinking, to this fellow who just sits there and stuffs them into his mouth. The thought of it infuriated me.

Word Meaning :
Disgusting: unpleasant
Provoked: evoke, arouse
Wretched: miserable, sad
Fetch: bring, carry
Meekly: quietly, submissively
Reverently: with deep respect
Infuriate: anger

Explanation of the above passage: When she heard all this from her brother, the writer became very sad. She wanted to know how the people of upper caste could have such a belief about their community. She knew that vadais are first packed in banana leaves and then in a parcel so how could they get polluted with their touch. She felt so angry at this that she decided to go and touch those vadais herself. She then questioned herself again as to why we have to go and bring things for these upper caste people. She also felt bad for that elder person who was one of the important people of her tribe. She said he even had to go to bring things for them. He had to hand all that with great respect to such a person who just sits there and pops the things into his mouth. This very thought filled her with anger.

Passage : How was it that these fellows thought so much of themselves? Because they had scraped four coins together, did that mean they must lose all human feelings? But we too are human beings. Our people should never run these petty errands for these fellows. We should work in their fields, take home our wages, and leave it at that.

Word Meaning :
here, saved
Errands: task, job

Explanation of the above passage: The poet says that what if the upper caste people have some money with them. Does that mean that they will not treat others nicely? She says that we are also human beings and should be treated like a human. She also thinks that people from her community should not do such small tasks of bringing food for them. We should work in their fields, take our wages and then leave out. We should never do any extra work for them.

Passage : My elder brother, who was studying at a university, had come home for the holidays. He would often go to the library in our neighboring village in order to borrow books. He was on his way home one day, walking along the banks of the irrigation tank. One of the landlord’s men came up behind him. He thought my Annan looked unfamiliar, and so he asked, “Who are you, appa, what’s your name?” Annan told him his name. Immediately the other man asked, “Thambi, on which street do you live?” The point of this was that if he knew on which street we lived, he would know our caste too.

Word Meaning :
Irrigation Tank:
water pond made for watering fields
Thambi: brother

Explanation of the above passage: Writer’s elder brother had come home for the holidays. He was a student in a University. He was on the way to his home from a neighboring village, where he had gone to borrow books from the library. He was walking along an irrigation pond when he was stopped by one of the men of the landlord. He was asked his name. Annan told his name. He then queried about his street so that he could know his caste.

Passage : Annan told me all these things. And he added, “Because we are born into this community, we are never given any honour or dignity or respect; we are stripped of all that. But if we study and make progress, we can throw away these indignities. So study with care, learn all you can. If you are always ahead in your lessons, people will come to you of their own accord and attach themselves to you. Work hard and learn.” The words that Annan spoke to me that day made a very deep impression on me. And I studied hard, with all my breath and being, in a frenzy almost. As Annan had urged, I stood first in my class. And because of that, many people became my friends.

Word Meaning :
Dignity: nobility
Indignities: humiliate, disrespect
Frenzy: madness, mania

Explanation of the above passage: Annan told the whole incident to the writer. He also told her that as they were born into a low caste they will never get any respect from the upper caste. They are deprived of all this. But if they study hard and make progress in their life they can throw away this disrespect. He suggested his sister to study hard and stay ahead over others as this would earn her respect and company from others. The words of the elder brother touched her so deeply that she started working hard almost like a mad person. As Annan had asked she stood first in her class and because of this she made so many friends.


Memories of Childhood Question and Answers

Q1- The two accounts that you read above are based in two distant cultures. What is the commonality of theme found in both of them?
Ans- The autobiographical accounts covered under ‘Memories of Childhood’ are by the two women from socially marginalized sections in two different cultures of the world. In the first story the author describes how she became victim of the social discrimination when she was badly treated by the European staff of the school because she was a Native American. She feels so humiliated when her blanket is removed from her shoulders and her hair was shingled. In her culture shingled hair was a symbol of being a coward. In the second story Bama describes the social discrimination faced by the low castes in India. She being a student of third standard was forced to face the harsh reality of untouchability, when she saw an old Dalit man carrying food packet by strings as it was meant for an upper caste man. Although both the stories are set in different parts of the world but still they have a similar theme. They show the hardships and sufferings of the marginal communities in different parts of the world.

Q2- It may take a long time for oppression to be resisted, but the seeds of rebellion are sowed early in life. Do you agree that injustice in any form cannot escape being noticed even by children?
Ans- Yes, it is true that injustice in any form cannot escape being noticed even by the children. This we have seen in both the stories we have read. In the first story when Judewin told Zitkala that the authorities have planned to shingle their hair, Zitkala decides to rebel. Judewin says that the authorities are strong we have to agree with them. But Zitkala hides herself, when she is found out she kicks and scratches them wildly. Finally she is tied up in the chair and her hairs are cut down. In the second story Bama as a child finds it very funny to see an old man carrying a snack pack by strings. Her brother tells her that they being Dalits cannot touch food meant for upper caste as this will pollute them. Bama gets infuriated on hearing this, she at once makes a decision of snatching the vadais from the upper caste man who according to her did nothing and still treats Dalits badly. Her brother diverts her anger towards studies which makes her topper of her class. All this proves the above said that children not only notice the injustice but also show their anger.

Q3- Bama’s experience is that of a victim of the caste system. What kind of discrimination does Zitkala-Sa’s experience depict? What are their responses to their respective situations?
Ans-Zitkala Sa was ill treated by the European school authorities as she was a Native American. As shown in the story her moccasins were taken away, they remove her blanket from her shoulders which make her feel so insulted and her hairs were shingled. In Zitkala’s culture, only a coward’s hairs were cut down and girls did not wear tight fitting clothes as they were considered immodest. She was even pointed out for not following the table manners. All this took away her confidence and she was left in tears. But when she grew up, she with the power of her education wrote articles against the Carlisle Indian School and their discrimination with the Native Americans. On the other side Bama also studied hard and became a famous writer and wrote against the caste discrimination. So, here we can say that though both the women belonged to different periods of time and different parts of the world but used education as their tool to fight against the discrimination.


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