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Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory, CBSE Class 8 English Honeydew Book Lesson 4 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

By Ruchika Gupta

 

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory Class 8 English Honeydew Book Lesson 4- Detailed explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered..

Class 8 English (Honeydew Book) Chapter 4 - Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory

By Satyajit Ray

glimpses of the past

 

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory- Introduction

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory written by Satyajit Ray. It takes you through the journey of a man named Bepin Babu who is faced with a very unique problem where he has lost his memory of one and only incident from the year ‘58 when he had a trip to Ranchi with his friend. Everyone, except him, recalls about his trip to Ranchi. As the story unfolds, he discovers that it was a punishment from an old friend of his named Chunilal whom he did not help in his trying times.

 

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Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory- Summary

 

Bepin Choudhury, popularly known as Bepin Babu, went to Kalicharan’s every Monday after work to stock up on his books to last a week. He lived alone, and did not have many close friends and was not fond of idle talk. One such Monday, when he was at Kalicharan’s looking for his books, a man named Parimal Ghose addressed him as if he knew Bepin Babu. Bepin Babu did not recognise him. The man claimed to have seen Bepin Babu in ‘58 when Bepin Babu visited Ranchi. But, Bepin Babu had never been to Ranchi. Despite wanting to visit the place, he had not been able to do it, so he told the man that he had been mistaken. But the man knew quite a lot of details about Bepin Babu and did not stop talking. Bepin Babu left the shop and went on a drive alongside Ganga. He was a hardworking man who had a responsible job at a big firm. It was hard for him to believe that he could not remember such an important event of his life and that too, from six to seven years ago. He did not want to think about what the man had said but could not stop doing so. He thought of visiting his friend Dinesh Mukerji who the man said was there on the trip with him. But he did not visit him because he did not want to feel any embarrassment face to face. According to Bepin Babu, he was attending the Pujas in Kanpur and stayed at his friend Haridas’ residence. He thought of confirming with him but remembered that he had moved to Japan and he did not have his new address. He was finally calmed after dinner when he snuggled in bed with his new book. It was only the next day in office before lunch that he thought of clearing this on call with Dinesh Mukerji. Dinesh also told him that they both went on a trip to Ranchi in the October of ‘58. Bepin Babu got more worried. On that very evening, an old friend of his named Chunilal visited him. Bepin Babu knew that he had come to ask for help for a job for which Bepin Babu had told him that there was very little hope for. He told his servant to send him away but he suddenly realised that he could ask Chunilal about his trip. Chunilal, too, remembered about the trip and he claimed to have booked his tickets to Ranchi for the same. Bepin Babu accepted that he had been working too hard and decided to go see a doctor. He visits a physician, Dr Chanda and his case was out of his area of experience and expertise. Still, he suggested that he visit Ranchi once again. Bepin Babu booked a first class ticket to Ranchi. As soon as he stepped out of the train, he realised that he had never been to this place. When he went to visit Hudroo falls, he was found unconscious by two Gujrati gentlemen who had come to picnic with a group. On waking up, Bepin Choudhury realised that there was no hope left for him and he came back to Calcutta. Upon reaching home, he receives a letter from Chunilal elaborating on how Chunilal plotted the entire punishment for Bepin Babu for unfeeling towards an old friend when he was out of luck. When the doctor visits him, Bepin Babu tells him that all is fine with his memory now and wants to get a pain killer for his hip pain that he got after having a fall in Ranchi. The doctor calls it “a unique case”.

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory- Lesson and Explanationt

 

Every Monday, on his way back from work, Bepin Choudhury would drop in at Kalicharan's in New Market to buy books. Crime stories, ghost stories and thrillers. He had to buy at least five at a time to last him through the week. He lived alone, was not a good mixer, had few friends, and didn’t like spending time in idle chat. Today, at Kalicharan’s, Bepin Babu had the feeling that someone was observing him from close quarters. He turned round and found himself looking at a round faced, meek looking man who now broke into a smile. “I don’t suppose you recognise me.”

Thrillers- a novel, play or film with an exciting plot, typically involving crime or espionage
Close quarters- very near to a person or thing
Idle chat- unnecessary; routine conversation
Meek- quiet; humble

It was a routine for Bepin Choudhury to stop at Kalicharan’s in New Market to buy books every monday, when he was on his way home from work. He usually bought crime stories, ghost stories and thrillers. He bought at least five books to keep him occupied at home for a week. He lived alone and did not have many friends as he was not very sociable. He was not very interested in spending time to indulge in small talk that had no meaning. On that particular day, Bepin Babu felt as if someone was looking at him continuously from a close distance. As he turned around to find who it was, he saw a round-faced, humble looking man staring at him. On seeing him Bepin Babu made eye contact, the man started smiling and exclaimed that he did not expect Bepin Babu to identify him.

bepin babu

“Have we met before?” asked Bepin Babu. The man looked greatly surprised. “We met every day for a whole week. I arranged for a car to take you to the Hudroo falls. In 1958. In Ranchi. My name is Parimal Ghose.”
“Ranchi?”
Now Bepin Babu realised that it was not he but this man who was making a mistake. Bepin Babu had never been to Ranchi. He had been at the point of going several times, but never made it. He smiled and said, “Do you know who I am?”

Bepin Babu asks the man if they have met before. The man had a surprised expression on his face and made efforts to remind Bepin Babu of who he was. He told Babu that they met each day for a week in Ranchi in 1958. He claimed himself to be Parimal Ghose and even mentioned that he arranged a car for Bepin Babu to the Hudroo falls. On hearing “Ranchi”, Bepin Babu realised that it was not him, but the man who was mistaken because he had never been to Ranchi. Even though he wanted to visit Ranchi and had been at the point of going there multiple times. Thus, with a gentle smile, he asked the man, Parimal if he really knew who he was.

The man raised his eyebrows, bit his tongue and said, “Do I know you? Who doesn’t know Bepin Choudhury?” Bepin Babu now turned towards the bookshelves and said, “Still you’re making a mistake. One often does. I’ve never been to Ranchi.”

On hearing Bepin Babu’s reply, the man started biting his tongue and raised his eyebrows while he said, “Do I know you?”. He further added that he wondered if there is anyone who does not know Bepin Choudhury. As he turned back towards the bookshelf, Bepin Babu told him that he was making a mistake and that it is something very normal to do. One often gets confused. He exclaims that he had never been to Ranchi.

 

 

The man now laughed aloud. “What are you saying, Mr Choudhury? You had a fall in Hudroo and cut your right knee. I brought you iodine. I had fixed up a car for you to go to Netarhat the next day, but you couldn’t because of the pain in the knee. Can’t you recall anything? Someone else you know was also in Ranchi at that time. Mr Dinesh Mukerji. You stayed in a bungalow. You said you didn’t like hotel food and would prefer to have your meals cooked by a bawarchi. Mr Mukerji stayed with his sister. You had a big argument about the moon landing, remember? I’ll tell you more: you always carried a bag with your books in it on your sight-seeing trips. Am I right or not?”

Bawarchi- hindi word for a cook

The man laughed at Bepin Babu’s response and did not believe a word that he said. He further elaborates how Bepin had a fall in Hudroo and had cut his right knee and the man had helped him with Iodine. He even mentioned that he arranged a car for Bepin Babu to go to Netarhat the next day but unfortunately, he could not go because of the knee pain. The man asks if he still does not recall anything from the trip. He goes on and gives more details about their trip. He tells Bepin Babu that he had come with one of his acquaintances, Mr Dinesh Mukerji who stayed with his sister. On the other hand, Bepin Babu stayed in a bungalow because he prefered having his meals prepared by a cook instead of having hotel food. He further mentions the argument Bepin Choudhury had about the moon landing.
He asks if Bepin Babu recalls anything and goes on to elaborate how Babu always carried a bag of books whenever he went sight-seeing. He again asks Bepin Babu if the details he gave are apt.

Bepin Babu spoke quietly, his eyes still on the books. “Which month in ’58 are you talking about?” The man said, “October.” “No, sir,” said Bepin Babu. “I spent Puja in ’58 with a friend in Kanpur. You’re making a mistake. Good day.” But the man didn’t go, nor did he stop talking.

Spoke quietly- speaking in a calm and even tone

Amazed by the precision of the details the man gave, Bepin Babu asks him in a calm and even tone, about the particular month of ‘58 he was talking about. Bepin Babu’s eyes were still on the books. The man mentioned that he is talking about the month of October. Instantly, Bepin Babu claims that he spent his October that year attending a puja with a friend in Kanpur. He assures the man that he is mistaken and wishes him a good day. But the man stood still and continued talking.

“Very strange. One evening I had tea with you in a veranda of your bungalow. You spoke about your family. You said you had no children, and that you had lost your wife ten years ago. Your only brother had died insane, which is why you didn’t want to visit the mental hospital in Ranchi...”

The man goes on to mention how unusual this is because he even remembered having tea with Bepin Babu in the veranda of his bunglow in Ranchi where he told him about his family. The man gives complete details about Bepin Babu’s family and tells him that he had no children. He even adds that Bepin Babu told him that he lost his wife ten years ago and his only brother died in a mental hospital in Ranchi which is why he did not want to visit the mental hospital in Ranchi.

When Bepin Babu had paid for the books and was leaving the shop, the man was still looking at him in utter disbelief.

Utter disbelief- complete surprise

Bepin Babu paid for his books and moved on his way out of the shop without saying anything. Meanwhile, the man looked at him in bewilderment.

Bepin Babu’s car was safely parked in Bertram Street by the Lighthouse Cinema. He told the driver as he got into the car, “Just drive by the Ganga, will you, Sitaram.” Driving up the Strand Road, Bepin Babu regretted having paid so much attention to the intruder. He had never been to Ranchi — no question about it. It was inconceivable that he should forget such an incident which took place only six or seven years ago. He had an excellent memory. Unless — Bepin Babu’s head reeled.

Intruder- a person who intrudes
Inconceivable- not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable
Head reeled- he was shocked and confused

Bepin Babu went towards his car that was parked in Bertram Street nearby Lighthouse Cinema. As he sat in the car, he told his driver Sitaram to drive by the Ganga. While the driver drove up the Strand Road, Bepin Babu felt immense regret at having given so much importance to the man. He knew he had never been to Ranchi and he was sure about it. He knew it was impossible for him to forget about such an important time of his life and that too, not from very long ago. It was only a period of six to seven years and regardless, he had no doubts related to his flawless memory unless his head was shocked or confused.


Was he losing his mind? But how could that be? He was working daily in his office. It was a big firm, and he was doing a responsible job. He wasn’t aware of anything ever going seriously wrong. Only today he spoke for half an hour at an important meeting. And yet… And yet the man knew a great deal about him. How? He even seemed to know some intimate details. The bag of books, wife’s death, brother’s insanity... The only mistake was about his having gone to Ranchi. Not a mistake; a deliberate lie. In ’58, during the Pujas, he was in Kanpur at his friend Haridas Bagchi’s place. All Bepin Babu had to do was write to — no, there was no way of writing to Haridas. Bepin Babu suddenly remembered that Haridas had left with his wife for Japan some weeks ago, and he didn’t have his address.

Losing his mind- becoming mad
Intimate- very personal and private
Deliberate- done consciously and intentionally

Will it be apt to say that Bepin Babu was losing his mind? It was quite impossible to believe because he worked at a big firm and he worked daily. He had a responsible job. Even if there was something not right, he never realised that there was something major going on with him. That particular day he spoke for a stretch of only half an hour at a very important meeting.
But it is also true that the man knew quite a lot about Bepin Choudhury and that too, some very personal details. Details like wife’s death, bag of books and brother’s insanity are quite intimate details for a stranger to know about. The man was right about everything except the fact that Bepin Babu had been to Ranchi. The man was not making a mistake, but he spoke a “deliberate lie”. Bepon Babu was sure that he was in Kanpur at the Pujas in ‘58 and he stayed at his friend Haridas Bagchi’s place. Bepin Babu just needed to write to Haridas to clear the matter but he suddenly remembered that he couldn’t because he had moved to Japan a few weeks ago with his wife and Bepin Babu did not have his new address.

But where was the need for proof? He himself was fully aware that he hadn’t been to Ranchi — and that was that.

Then Bepin Babu thought that there was no need for proof because he was quite sure that he had never been to Ranchi and there was no doubt about it.

bepin babu thought

The river breeze was bracing, and yet a slight discomfort lingered in Bepin Babu’s mind. Around Hastings, Bepin Babu decided to roll up his trousers and take a look at his right knee. There was the mark of an old inch-long cut. It was impossible to tell when the injury had occurred.

Bracing- stimulating
Lingered- spend a long time over something
Hastings- rapidity of action or motion

The breeze along the river was comforting but Bepin Babu’s mind was still not at peace. Amidst everything, he decided to roll up his trousers to see if his right knee has a mark. He did find an inch-long cut but it was nearly impossible to infer the date of the injury.

Had he never had a fall as a boy and cut his knee? He tried to recall such an incident, but couldn’t. Then Bepin Babu suddenly thought of Dinesh Mukerji. The man had said that Dinesh was in Ranchi at the same time. The best thing surely would be to ask him. He lived quite near — in Beninandan Street. What about going right now? But then, if he had really never been to Ranchi, what would Dinesh think if Bepin Babu asked for a confirmation? He would probably conclude Bepin Babu was going nuts. No; it would be ridiculous to ask him.

Going nuts- going mad or crazy

Next moment we know, he began wondering if he ever fell when he was a boy and cut his knee. No matter how hard he tried, he could not think of a time when he got himself injured. Amidst all this, he suddenly remembered that the man also mentioned that Dinesh was in Ranchi with him too. So, he thought it would be best to ask him about it. He lived in Beninandan Street, which was nearby. He thought of visiting him at the very moment. But the thought of what Dinesh would think if he asked him about the trip and he had never really been to Ranchi, made him stop. He was afraid Dinesh would conclude that Bepin had gone mad. So, he did not ask him because it was a “ridiculous” idea.

And he knew how ruthless Dinesh’s sarcasm could be. Sipping a cold drink in his air-conditioned living room, Bepin Babu felt at ease again. Such a nuisance! Just because they have nothing else to do, they go about getting into other people’s hair

Ruthless- having or showing no pity or compassion for others
Nuisance- a person or thing causing inconvenience or annoyance
Getting into other people’s hair- to annoy or bother someone

Moreover, Bepin Babu was well aware how merciless Dinesh could be when he was being sarcastic. As he sipped his cold drink in the air-conditioned living room, he finally felt relaxed. He thought how annoying it was that just because people do not have much to do, they start bothering others.

After dinner, snuggling in bed with one of the new thrillers, Bepin Babu forgot all about the man in New Market. Next day, in the office, Bepin Babu noticed that with every passing hour, the previous day’s encounter was occupying more and more of his mind. If the man knew so much about Bepin Babu, how could he make such a mistake about the Ranchi trip?

Snuggling- settle or move into a warm, comfortable position

Post dinner, he forgot all about the strange man in the New Market as he snuggled in bed with one of his new thrilling books. But the next day, he realised when he was in office that the last day’s incident was taking more of his attention as each hour passed. He started thinking that if the man knew even the most personal details about Bepin Babu, how could he be inaccurate about the Ranchi trip.

Just before lunch Bepin Babu decided to ring up Dinesh Mukerji. It was better to settle the question over the phone; at least the embarrassment on his face wouldn’t show. Two-Three-Five-Six-One-Six. Bepin Babu dialled the number.
“Hallo.”
“Is that Dinesh? This is Bepin here.”
“Well, well — what’s the news?”
“I just wanted to find out if you recalled an incident which took place in’ 58.”
“’58? What incident?”
“Were you in Calcutta right through that year? That’s the first thing I’ve got to know.”
“Wait just a minute... ’58... just let me check in my diary.”

 

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It was just before lunch that Bepin Babu decided to confirm with Dinesh Mukerji. He thought of clearing the matter over a call would save him from facing the embarrassment before Dinesh. He dialed his number, Two-Three-Five-Six-One-Six and heard, “Hallo” as Dinesh picked up the call. Bepin Babu confirmed if it was Dinesh on the line. Dinesh replied by asking him what news he had. Bepin Babu preferred not to go round and round and straightaway asked him if he remembered the events that took place in ‘58. Dinesh asked Bepin Babu to be a bit clear. Bepin Babu asked him (indirectly) if he was in Calcutta that particular year. Dinesh told him that he will have to check his diary for that.

For a minute there was silence. Bepin Babu could feel that his heartbeat had gone up. He was sweating a little.
“Hallo.”
“Yes.”
“I've got it. I’d been out twice.”
“Where?”
“Once in February — nearby — to Krishnanagar to a nephew’s wedding. And then... but you’d know about this one. The trip to Ranchi. You were there too. That’s all. But what’s all this sleuthing about?”
“No. I just wanted to — anyway, thanks.”
Bepin Babu slammed the receiver down and gripped his head with his hands. He felt his head swimming. A chill seemed to spread over his body. There were sandwiches in his tiffin box, but he didn’t eat them. He had lost his appetite.

Sleuthing- carry out a search or investigation in the manner of a detective

There was silence between them while Dinesh checked his diary. At that time, Bepin Babu could feel his heart rate going up and he had even started sweating. Dinesh came back and resumed speaking. He told Bepin Babu that he had been out twice in ‘58. Upon being asked, Dinesh told that he went out once to attend his nephew’s wedding in Krishnanagar in February and the second, he said Bepin Babu would also know about it because he was there with him. They had gone together to Ranchi.
Dinesh asked Bepin Babu the reason behind his question to which he did not give a reply and hung up. He held his head with his hands and felt as if his head was swimming. He even experienced chills all over his body. He had brought sandwiches in his tiffin box for lunch which he did not eat because he had lost his appetite.

III

After lunch-time, Bepin Babu realised that he couldn’t possibly carry on sitting at his desk and working. This had never happened in the twenty-five years he had been with the firm. He had a reputation for being a tireless, conscientious worker. But today his head was in a whirl.

Carry on- continue
Conscientious- careful and correct
Head was in a whirl- confused and able to think clearly (here)

After lunch break, Bepin Babu had the realisation that he just could not continue sitting on his desk and work like nothing had happened. This was something so unusual that he had not faced anything like it in his twenty five years of association with the company. He was known for his hard-work and diligence. Unlike always, he was unable to think clearly today.

Back home at two-thirty, Bepin Babu lay down in bed and tried to gather his wits together. He knew that it was possible to lose one’s memory through an injury in the head, but he didn’t know of a single instance of someone remembering everything except one particular incident — and a fairly recent and significant one at that. He had always wanted to go to Ranchi; to have gone there, done things, and not to remember was something utterly impossible.

Wits- intelligence
Tried to gather his wits together- make an effort to become calm and think clearly
Utterly- absolutely

As he reached home by two-thirty in the afternoon, Bepin Babu lay down in his bed and made an attempt to become calm to be able to think clearly. He was well aware about the possibility of losing one’s memory because of an injury in the head but he had never heard a case where one does not remember just one particular incident. It was more difficult for him to believe it because the incident he had forgotten was quite recent and actually significant. As it had been mentioned earlier, he had always wanted to go to Ranchi and do stuff so, it makes it all the more difficult for him to believe that he could forget about something he had wanted to do for a long time.


At seven thirty, Bepin Babu’s servant came and announced, “Chuni Babu, sir. Says it’s very important.” Bepin Babu knew what Chuni had come for. Chunilal had been at school with him. He’d been having a rough time lately and had been coming to see him about a job. Bepin Babu knew it was not possible to do anything for him and, in fact, told him so. But Chuni kept turning up like a bad penny.

Having a rough time- having a lot of problems
Turning up like a bad penny- appearing at a place where one is not welcome

It was about seven thirty in the evening when Bepin Babu’s house help came to announce that Chuni Babu had come to see him and he says it’s regarding something important. But Bepin Babu was well aware of what he had come for. They both went to school together and Chuni Lal had been going through a rough time, so he had come to ask for help related to a job. Bepin Babu had already told him that it was difficult for him to help Chuni Lal with a job but Chuni Lal did not stop turning up at his house. He has been compared to a bad penny to indicate that he was not very welcomed by Bepin Babu.

Bepin Babu sent word that not only was it not possible for him to see Chuni now, but not for several weeks. But as soon as the servant stepped out of the room, it struck Bepin Babu that Chuni might remember something about the ’58 trip. There was no harm in asking him.

In the light of the current situation, Bepin Babu sent a message for Chuni Lal that it would not be possible to meet him now or for a few weeks, for that matter. As the servant left the room to convey the message to Chuni Lal, Bepin Babu was hit with an idea. He thought there was no harm in asking Chuni about the Ranchi trip of ‘58.

 

 

Bepin Babu hurried down the stairs and into the living room. Chuni was about to leave, but seeing Bepin Babu appear, he turned round hopefully. Bepin Babu didn’t beat about the bush. “Listen, Chuni - I want to ask you something. You have a good memory, and you've been seeing me off and on for a long time. Just throw your mind back and tell me - did I go to Ranchi in ’58?”
Chuni said, “’58? It must have been ’58. Or was it ’59?”
“You’re sure that I did go to Ranchi?”
Chuni’s look of amazement was not unmixed with worry. “D’ you mean you have doubts about having gone at all?”
“Did I go? Do you remember clearly?”
Chuni sat down on the sofa, fixed Bepin Babu with a long, hard stare and said, “Bepin, have you taken to drugs or something? As far as I know, you had a clean record where such things were concerned. I know that old friendships don’t mean much to you, but at least you had a good memory. You can’t really mean that you’ve forgotten about the Ranchi trip?”

Didn’t beat about the bush- came straight to the point
Off and on- now and then
Throw your mind back- think back and recall a past event

Bepin Babu rushed to the living room through the stairs and Chuni was just about to leave but on seeing Bepin Babu, he turned back in a ray of some hope. Instead of going round and round, Bepin Babu came straight to the point and asked Chuni in case he knew if Bepin Babu went to Ranchi in ‘58. Bepin Babu told him that Chuni must remember because he had a good memory and had been seeing Bepin Babu every now and then. Chuni was not sure if it was ‘58 or ‘59.
Bepin Babu reconfirms with Chuni Lal if he is sure that Bepin Babu went to Ranchi at all. This left Chuni Lal shocked and worried. He asked Bepin Babu if he was having doubts about having taken that trip to Ranchi at all. Bepin Babu asked him again if Chuni remembers about his trip to Ranchi clearly. On hearing this, Chuni Lal sat on the sofa and stared at Bepin Babu for a long time. He asked Bepin Babu if he had resorted to drugs or something of the sort. Chuni Lal mentions how Bepin Babu had a good memory and had a clear record of the events of his life in his mind. He further adds that he is well aware of how disconnected Bepin Babu is when it comes to old friendships but he could not believe that he had forgotten about such a significant event like his trip to Ranchi.

Bepin Babu had to turn away from Chuni’s incredulous stare. “Do you remember what my last job was?” asked Chunilal. “Of course. You worked in a travel agency.” “You remember that and you don’t remember that it was I who fixed up your railway booking for Ranchi? I went to the station to see you off; one of the fans in your compartment was not working — I got an electrician to fix it. Have you forgotten everything? Whatever is the matter with you? You don’t look too well, you know.” Bepin Babu sighed and shook his head.

Incredulous- unbelieving or doubtful
Sighed- emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness, or similar
Shook his head- an act to show agreement

Chuni Lal was staring at Bepin Babu since so long that Bepin Babu had to look away. Chuni continues to ask Bepin Babu if he remembers what Chuni’s previous job was. Bepin Babu remembered and told him it was in a travel agency. Chuni pointed out that he remembers what his last job was but how could he forget that it was Chuni only who booked his railway tickets to Ranchi. He further adds that he even went to the station to see him off. He even remembered minute details like one of the fans in Bepin Babu’s compartment did not work properly and how he got an electrician to fix it. Chuni could not believe how Bepin Babu had forgotten about everything. He points out that Bepin Babu does not look in the best of his health and shape too. Emitting a sigh, Bepin Babu shook his head in agreement.

“I’ve been working too hard,” he said at last. “That must be the reason. Must see about consulting a specialist.” Doubtless it was Bepin’s condition which made Chunilal leave without mentioning anything about a job.
Paresh Chanda was a young physician with a pair of bright eyes and a sharp nose. He became thoughtful when he heard about Bepin Babu’s symptoms. “Look, Dr Chanda,” said Bepin Babu desperately, “You must cure me of this horrible illness. I can’t tell you how it's affecting my work.”

Must see about consulting- (here) may have to consult
Thoughtful- absorbed in or involving thought

At last, Bepin Babu accepted that he had been working too much and that could be taking its toll on his memory. They agreed that he needed to see a specialist for his condition. Chuni Lal left without even mentioning about the job and the reason for which was Bepin Babu’s condition, undoubtedly.
Bepin Babu finally visited a physician named Paresh Chanda. The young doctor had bright eyes and a sharp nose. He got into thinking upon hearing Bepin Babu’s symptoms. Bepin Babu told the doctor of how badly and desperately he wanted to get rid of this illness. He termed his situation “horrible”. He further added that the ways it might be affecting his work had started bothering him.

Dr Chanda shook his head. “You know what, Mr Choudhury,” he said. “I’ve never had to deal with a case such as yours. Frankly, this is quite outside my field of experience. But I have one suggestion. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it’s worth a try. It can do no harm.”

Dr Chanda shook his head upon hearing Bepin Babu and began to reveal how a case like Bepin Babu’s is something he had never come across in his career. He stays honest and tells Bepin Babu that this is also outside his area of expertise but he tells him that he has a suggestion to offer that might work. He calls it “worth a try” and adds that there are no negative consequences of doing it too.


Bepin Babu leaned forward anxiously. “As far as I can make out,” said Dr Chanda, “And I think you’re of the same opinion — you must have been to Ranchi, but due to some unknown reason, the entire episode has slipped out of your mind. What I suggest is that you go to Ranchi once again. The sight of the place may remind you of your trip. This is not impossible. More than that I cannot do at the moment. I’m prescribing a nerve tonic and a tranquilliser. Sleep is essential, or the symptoms will get more pronounced.” Bepin Babu felt somewhat better the next morning. After breakfast, he rang up his office, gave some instructions and then procured a first class ticket for Ranchi for the same evening.

Anxiously- in a matter resulting from or revealing anxiety
Tranquilliser- a medicine to reduce stress and anxiety
Procured- got (with a little difficulty)

Bepin Babu was anxious as he leaned towards the doctor in order to understand what he was prescribing clearly. The doctor continues to explain to Bepin Babu that he thinks Bepin Babu must have been to Ranchi but due to some unidentified reasons, the entire episode has slipped out of his mind. The doctor thinks that Bepin Babu is thinking this too. The doctor suggests him to visit Ranchi once again in light of the possibility that the visuals of the place might bring back his memory of the trip. He further adds that the possibility of it is not negligible and that this is the most he can do at the moment. He further prescribes him a nerve tonic and a medicine to reduce stress and anxiety that would help him sleep better. Inadequate sleep would only worsen the symptoms.
As Bepin Babu woke up the next morning, he felt a bit better. After having breakfast, he called his office to give some instructions and then arranged a first class ticket to Ranchi for the same evening.

IV

Getting off the train at Ranchi next morning, he realised at once that he had never been there before. He came out of the station, took a taxi and drove around the town for a while. He realised that the streets, the buildings, the hotels, the bazaars, the Morabadi Hill — with none of these had he the slightest acquaintance. Would a trip to the Hudroo Falls help? He didn't believe so, but, at the same time, he didn't wish to leave with the feeling that he hadn’t tried enough. So he arranged for a car and left for Hudroo in the afternoon.

He reached Ranchi the next morning and as soon as he deboarded the train, he was sure that he had never visited that particular place before. He took a taxi as he came out of the railway station and roamed around in the town for a while. He had never seen those buildings, hotels, markets or Morabadi Hill ever before. He was not sure if a trip to the Hudroo Falls would make any difference but he just did not want to leave with a feeling of not having tried enough. Thus, he arranged for a taxi to Hudroo and he left in the afternoon.


At five o’clock the same afternoon in Hudroo, two Gujarati gentlemen from a group of picnickers discovered Bepin Babu lying unconscious beside a boulder. When he came round, the first thing Bepin Babu said was, “I’m finished. There’s no hope left.”

Boulder- a very big rock
Came round- regained consciousness

It was around five o’ clock the same afternoon when two Gujrati men who had come with a group of picnickers found Bepin Babu lying unconscious beside a large rock. When he regained his consciousness, his first words were , “I’m finished. There’s no hope left.”

Next morning, Bepin Babu was back in Calcutta. He realised that there was truly no hope for him. Soon he would lose everything: his will to work, his confidence, his ability, his balance of mind. Was he going to end up in the asylum at...? Bepin Babu couldn’t think any more.

Bepin Babu had realised that there was no hope left for a situation like his’. So, he came back to Calcutta the next morning. He began to worry about how he might lose everything; his interest in work, confidence, abilities and peace of mind. He even wondered that he could end up in an asylum if the situation worsened. He had exhausted his ability to think anymore by that time.

Back home, he rang up Dr Chanda and asked him to come over. Then, after a shower, he got into bed with an ice bag clamped on his head. Just then the servant brought him a letter which someone had left in the letter box. A greenish envelope with his name in red ink on it. Above the name it said ‘Urgent and Confidential’. In spite of his condition, Bepin Babu had a feeling that he ought to go through the letter. He tore open the envelope and took out the letter.

Clamped- (here) put

As he was now at home, he contacted Dr Chanda and requested him to visit him at his place. He took a shower and got in bed with an ice bag on his head. It was only then that his servant brought him a letter that he had found in the letter box. The envelope was green in colour with his name written on it in red ink The envelope read ‘Urgent and confidential’ above his name. Regardless of how he felt at that moment, Bepin Babu could anticipate that he should open and read this letter. Thus, he tore open the envelope and took out the letter.

This is what he read —
Dear Bepin,
I had no idea that affluence would bring about the kind of change in you that it has done. Was it so difficult for you to help out an old friend down on his luck? I have no money, so my resources are limited. What I have is imagination, a part of which I used in retribution of your unfeeling behaviour.
Well, you’ll be all right again now. A novel I’ve written is being considered by a publisher. If he likes it enough, it'll see me through the next few months.

Yours,
Chunilal

Affluence- the state of having a great deal of money
In retribution of- as a punishment for
Unfeeling- unsympathetic

The letter began with a salutation to Bepin. The writer of the letter had further shown disappointment at how wealth had changed Bepin Babu. He says that it was unexpected. In the letter, Chuni Lal asks him if it had become so difficult for him to help his childhood friend. He further adds that he has scarcity of resources as he had no money and all he had was imagination which he used to take revenge for Bepin Babu’s behaviour towards his misery. He reveals that Bepin would be fine now. He also tells him that a novel that Chuni Lal had written is being considered by a publisher. He will have enough money for the next few months if the publisher likes it and approves of it.

When Dr Chanda came, Bepin Babu said, “I’m fine. It all came back as soon as I got off the train at Ranchi.”
“A unique case,” said Dr Chanda. “I shall certainly write about it in a medical journal.”
“The reason why I sent for you,” said Bepin Babu, “is that I have a pain in the hip from a fall I had in Ranchi. If you could prescribe a painkiller…”

When Dr Chanda came to see him, Bepin Babu revealed that he has got his memory of the Ranchi trip from ‘58 back. It all came running back as he got off the train. Dr Chanda remarks it as “a unique case” and informs that he will add this in his medical journal. Bepin Babu tells the doctor that he called him to prescribe him a pain killer for the pain he has in his hip from the fall he had in Ranchi.

 

 

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory- Question and Answers

Comprehension Check

1. Why did the man stare at Bepin Babu in disbelief?
A. The man stared at Bepin Babu in disbelief because Bepin Babu did not recognise the man and even refused to have been to Ranchi where they seemed to have initially met.

2. Where did Bepin Babu say he went in October '58?
A. Bepin  Babu claimed to have spent his October of ‘58 at a Puja with his friend in Kanpur.

3. Mention any three (or more) things that Parimal Ghose knew about Bepin Babu.
A. Parimal Ghose claimed to have met Bepin Babu in Ranchi and he seemed to know quite a bit about Bepin Choudhury. Parimal mentioned that Bepin always carried his bag full of books to sight-seeing locations. He even knew few personal details about Bepin like he had no children and had lost his wife ten years ago.

4. Why did Bepin Babu worry about what Parimal Ghose had said?
A. Bepin Babu worried about what Parimal Ghose had said because Parimal knew very minute and intimate details about Bepin Babu but was only mistaken about his trip to Ranchi. Moreover, it was difficult for him to believe that he had forgotten such an important incident. It was also hard for him to accept that there could be something wrong with his memory.

5. How did he try to decide who was right—his memory or Parimal Ghose?
A. To decide who was right, his memory or Parimal Ghose, he first thought of writing to Haridas, whose place he stayed at while attending the Pujas in Kanpur at the same time Parimal Ghose claims Bepin Babu was in Ranchi. But Haridas had shifted to Japan a few weeks ago and he did not have his new address. Secondly, he called Dinesh, who Parimals said was there with Bepin Babu in Ranchi. 

6. Why did Bepin Babu hesitate to visit Mr Mukerji? Why did he finally decide to phone him?
A. Parimal Ghose claimed that Bepin Babu came to Ranchi with Dinesh Mukerji. There was only one way to confirm, which was to confirm with Mr Mukerji who lived nearby Bepin Babu’s place. But Bepin Babu hesitated to go and see him because he did not want to go through face to face embarrassment if Bepin was wrong. Moreover, he knew how merciless he could be when Dinesh was being sarcastic.

But the next day, when Bepin Babu was in his office, he realised that the words of Parimal Ghose were occupying his mind with each passing hour. Thus, he decided to clear it out with Dinesh Mukerji before lunch once and for all. Therefore, he finally decided to phone him as it would save him from the embarrassment too.

7. What did Mr Mukerji say? Did it comfort Bepin Babu, or add to his worries?
A. Mr Mukerji told him that he had been out twice that year and the second time was with Bepin Babu, which he assumed Bepin would remember. The phone call left Bepin Babu more worried. He held his head in his hands, he could feel chills all over his body and he had lost his appetite.

8. Who was Chunilal? What did he want from Bepin Babu?
A. Chunilal was an old friend of Bepin Babu. They went to school together. He had been going through a rough time and wanted help from Bepin Babu in procuring a job.

9. Why was Dr Chanda puzzled? What was unusual about Bepin Babu's loss of memory?
A. Dr Chanda was puzzled because never in his career had he seen a case such as that of Bepin Babu. BEpin Babu had only forgotten about one event of his life that took place in ‘58. He did not remember anything about his trip to Ranchi that he took that year. Apart from this, he remembered everything clearly. This is what made his loss of memory unusual.

10. Had Bepin Babu really lost his memory and forgotten all about a trip to Ranchi?
A. No, Bepin Babu had not lost his memory and he had not forgotten about the trip to Ranchi because he never took a trip to Ranchi in ‘58. It was all a plan curated by Chunilal to take revenge from Bepin Babu for not helping him with a job during his hard times.

11. Why do you think Chunilal did what he did? Chunilal says he has no money; what is it that he does have?
A. Chunilal plotted this plan against Bepin Babu to punish him for not helping out an old friend in his trying times. He said he did not have any money and thus, he had limited resources but all he had was his imagination.

Working with the text
1. The author describes Bepin Babu as a serious and hardworking man. What evidence can you find in the story to support this?
A. The author has righteously described Bepin Babu as a serious and hardworking man. Evidence from the story suggests that he worked daily, which means he was diligent. He was doing a responsible job in a big firm which means he must have worked his way to a position. It also suggests that he was trustworthy. Moreover, he had the reputation of being a tireless and conscientious worker.

2. Why did Bepin Babu change his mind about meeting Chunilal? What was the result of this meeting?
A. In the light of his current circumstances, Bepin Babu sent a message for Chuni Lal that it would not be possible to meet him now or for a few weeks, for that matter. As the servant left the room to convey the message to Chuni Lal, Bepin Babu was hit with an idea. He thought there was no harm in asking Chuni about the Ranchi trip of ‘58. So, he rushed down the stairs into the living room.

The meeting resulted in Bepin Babu coming to the realisation that he had been working too hard lately which is taking its toll on his memory. Thus, at the end of the meeting, he decided that he must visit a doctor.

3. Bepin Babu lost consciousness at Hudroo Falls. What do you think was the reason for this?
A. While Bepin Babu was at the Hudroo Falls, he must have slipped and fallen off a boulder. This is how he must have lost his consciousness. Because of this, he even had pain in his hips for which he asked Dr Chanda to prescribe him some medicines.

4. How do you think Bepin Babu reacted when he found out that Chunilal had tricked him?
A. When Bepin Babu realised that Chunilal had tricked him as a punishment for his unfeeling behaviour, he must have been filled with remorse for not helping out an old friend who was down on his luck. He must have also felt relieved because nothing was wrong with his memory and he could continue working.

Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory- Grammar Exercises

 

Fill in the blanks below using ‘had to’/ ‘have to’/ ‘has to’.
(i) I ________________ cut my hair every month.
(ii) We ________________ go for swimming lessons last year.
(iii) She ________________ tell the principal the truth.
(iv) They ________________ take the baby to the doctor.
(v) We ________________ complain to the police about the noise.
(vi) Romit ________________ finish his homework before he could come out to play.
(vii) I ________________ repair my cycle yesterday.

Solution-
(i) I have to cut my hair every month.
(ii) We had to go for swimming lessons last year.
(iii) She had to tell the principal the truth.
(iv) They had to take the baby to the doctor.
(v) We have to complain to the police about the noise.
(vi) Romit had to finish his homework before he could come out to play.
(vii) I had to repair my cycle yesterday.

2. Here are a few idioms that you will find in the story. Look for them in the dictionary in the following way. First, arrange them in the order in which you would find them in a dictionary. (Clue: An idiom is usually listed under the first noun, verb, adjective or adverb in it. Ignore articles or prepositions in the idiom). To help you, we have put in bold the word under which you must look for the idiom in the dictionary.)
(i) at/from close quarters (close: adjective)
(ii) break into a smile (break: verb; look under ‘break into something’)
(iii) carry on (carry: verb)
(iv) have a clean record (you may find related meanings under both these words)
(v) beat about the bush (verb)
Now refer to your dictionary and find out what they mean.

Solution-
(i) at/from close quarters- from nearby
(ii) break into a smile- smile suddenly
(iii) carry on- to continue the task
(iv) have a clean record- does not have recorded problems or has not broken any laws/rules
(v) beat about the bush- to make a guess without proper or adequate knowledge

3. Study the sentences in the columns below

A

B

I saw this movie yesterday.

I have seen this movie already.

Bepin Babu worked here for a week last year.

Bepin Babu has worked here since 2003

Chunilal wrote to a publisher last week.

Chunilal has written to a publisher.

I visited Ranchi once, long ago.

I have visited Ranchi once before.

 

Compare the sentences in the two columns, especially the verb forms. Answer the following questions about each pair of sentences.
(i) Which column tells us that Bepin Babu is still working at the same place?
(ii) Which column suggests that Chunilal is now waiting for a reply from the publisher?
(iii) Which column suggests that the person still remembers the movie he saw?
(iv) Which column suggests that the experience of visiting Ranchi is still fresh in the speaker's mind?

Solution-
(i) Which column tells us that Bepin Babu is still working at the same place?
Answer- Column B
(ii) Which column suggests that Chunilal is now waiting for a reply from the publisher?
Answer- Column A
(iii) Which column suggests that the person still remembers the movie he saw?
Answer- Column B
(iv) Which column suggests that the experience of visiting Ranchi is still fresh in the speaker's mind?
Answer- Column A

4. Given below are jumbled sentences. Working in groups, rearrange the words in each sentence to form correct sentences. You will find that each sentence contains an idiomatic expression that you have come across in the lesson. Underline the idiom and write down its meaning. Then use your dictionary to check the meaning. One sentence has been worked out for you as an example.
Jumbled sentence: vanished/ The car/ seemed to/ into thin/ have/ air.
Ans: The car seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Idiom: vanished into thin air: disappeared or vanished in a mysterious way

(i) Stop/and tell me/beating about/what you want/the bush
Ans: _______________________________________________________
Idiom: _____________________________________________________

(ii) don’t pay/If you/ attention/you might/the wrong train/to the announcement/board
Ans: _______________________________________________________
Idiom: _____________________________________________________

(iii) The villagers/tried/the crime/on the young woman/to pin
Ans: _______________________________________________________
Idiom: _____________________________________________________

(iv) Bepin Babu/orders to/telling people/under/loved/doctor’s/eat early/that he was
Ans: _______________________________________________________
Idiom: _____________________________________________________

(v) the students/The teacher/his eyebrows/when/said that/all their lessons/raised/they had revised
Ans: _______________________________________________________
Idiom: _____________________________________________________

Solution-
(i) Stop/and tell me/beating about/what you want/the bush
Ans: Stop beating about the bush and tell me what you want
Idiom: Beating the bush: talk vaguely

(ii) don’t pay/If you/ attention/you might/the wrong train/to the announcement/board
Ans: If you don’t pay attention to the announcement, you might board the wrong train
Idiom: pay attention: be careful

(iii) The villagers/tried/the crime/on the young woman/to pin
Ans: The villagers tried to pin the crime on the young woman.
Idiom: pin the crime on: to frame someone for a crime

(iv) Bepin Babu/orders to/telling people/under/loved/doctor’s/eat early/that he was
Ans: Bepin Babu loved telling people that he was under doctor’s orders to eat early.
Idiom:  under one’s order: been told to do something by someone in authority

(v) the students/The teacher/his eyebrows/when/said that/all their lessons/raised/they had revised
Ans: The teacher raised his eyebrows when the students said that they had revised all their lessons.
Idiom: raised his eyebrows: be surprised

 

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