The Fight, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 6 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

 

The Fight Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 6– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson


 

Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 6 – The Fight

By Ruskin Bond

 

lesson 6 the fight

 

The fight- Introduction

 

The lesson ‘The fight’ by Ruskin Bond tells us a tale about two young boys who fight in the beginning regarding who owns the possession of the pool in the forest. Once they get tired and exhausted, they decide to continue their fight the next day. The following day, both of them somehow end up becoming great friends who are willing to help each other in learning and becoming a better version of themselves.

 

The fight- Summary

 

The lesson begins by introducing us to a young boy named Ranji, who had recently moved to Rajpur. He did not have any friends there and his school had also not begun. It was the peak of summer at that time and he used to roam around forests in his vests and shorts. It was on one such hot day, that he caught sight of a pool in the forest. The water in the pool was so clear that one could even see the bottom of it covered with smooth round pebbles. The pool was being fed by a small stream of water that emerged out of a cluster of rocks. In the monsoon, however, the stream would be rushing, coming down like a waterfall. But during summers, the rocks somehow managed to keep the pool intact unlike the pools in plains that would dry up. Ranji jumped in the pool without hesitation as he was used to swimming alone or with his friends  when he had lived with his parents in a thirsty town in the middle of the Rajputana desert. There, he had seen only the sticky, muddy pools in which  buffaloes rolled in. Thus, he jumped into the water and his body moved flexibly as it was free of any fat. 

He came there again the following day to get some relief from the scorching heat. Once he swam in it for a while, he rested on the smooth yellow rocks under the shade of sal trees. Suddenly, his eyes fell  upon a stranger who was looking at him from a distance. He was taller than him, a little older too, thickset and had a broad nose and thick red lips. Although Ranji extended a friendly offer towards him to come and swim along, the other boy’s tone was quite hostile. He told Ranji that it was his pool and Ranji had come there uninvited. He exclaimed himself to be a Warrior. Ranji on the other hand, exclaimed that he was a Fighter. Both of them ended up in a violent fight.  But after five minutes of frenzied, unscientific struggle, neither boy emerged victorious. Their bodies heaving with exhaustion, they stood back from each other, making tremendous efforts to speak. All they could say was repeat that “I am a Warrior”and “I am a Fighter”. Suddenly, the Warrior got an inspiration and they both decided on continuing the fight the next day.

As Ranji reached home, it became difficult for him to explain the cuts and bruises on his face, legs and arms. It was clearly evident that he had been involved in a usual violent fight. His mother insisted upon him to stay indoors for the rest of the day. But somehow, he managed to slip out in the evening to go to the bazaar. There, he found solace in a bottle of vividly coloured lemonade and sweet jalebis. As he finished his lemonade, his eyes fell upon his approaching enemy. At first, he wanted to turn his head and look away. On second instinct, he wanted to throw the lemonade bottle at him. But he resisted, and stood his ground as he looked at the other boy angrily. 

Next day, although Ranji felt weak and stiff from the previous day’s fight, he could not refuse the challenge. It would mean that he surrendered. He was well aware that with his physical condition, he would anyway end up losing the fight. But then, he still had to show up. Half-hoping that the Warrior must have forgotten about the fight, Ranji went to the pool. His expectations  were crushed when he saw the opponent rubbing oil on his body. The other boy challenged him to come towards his side of the pool. Not wanting to submit to the conditions laid down by the opponent, Ranji called the boy towards his side of the pool. The other boy provoked him. Thus, Ranji took out his vest, dived into the water and cut through it like a knife, leaving the stranger’s mouth open with amazement. The stranger asked Ranji to teach him how to dive. Ranji willingly helped him. Despite the other boy’s not-so-good attempt at diving, Ranji did not discourage him and showed him how to do it. This time, when the other boy waited for him to show up on the surface of the water, Ranji circled around him under water and came out from behind him. The other boy was surprised to know that Ranji could even swim under water. He was inclined towards trying it himself. But when he tried, he thought that he had successfully been under the water, but actually his bottom was above the surface just as it happens in case of ducks. He asked Ranji to come to the pool every day and teach him how to dive and swim under water. In return, he promised to help skinny Ranji become a pahelwan. Both of them shared their names and agreed that the pool belonged to both of them and no one else could use it. Ranji smiled in the end, knowing that he had conquered the day. 

 

The fight- Lesson and Explanation

 

I

RANJI had been less than a month in Rajpur when he discovered the pool in the forest. It was the height of summer, and his school had not yet opened, and, having as yet made no friends in this semi-hill station, he wandered about a good deal by himself into the hills and forests that stretched away interminably on all sides of the town. It was hot, very hot, at that time of the year, and Ranji walked about in his vest and shorts, his brown feet white with the chalky dust that flew up from the ground. The earth was parched, the grass brown, the trees listless, hardly stirring, waiting for a cool wind or a refreshing shower of rain. 

Wandered- walk or move in a leisurely or aimless way

Interminably- endlessly 

Parched- hot and dry

Listless- lacking energy or enthusiasm 

It had not even been a month since Ranji came to Rajpur and he had already discovered the pool that was there in the forest. Summer was at its peak and the schools were still closed. Ranji hadn’t made any friends in the semi-hill station, so he used to roam around alone in the hills and the forests that extended endlessly on all sides of the town. It was extremely hot at that time of the year which is why Ranji went out in his vest and shorts. As he walked  on the ground, his brown feet turned white with the chalky dust that flew from the ground. The earth had dried out with the heat, the grass had turned brown and the trees were spiritless as they waited for a chilly wind and a rainshower that would revive them.

It was on such a day — a hot, tired day — that Ranji found the pool in the forest. The water had a gentle translucency, and you could see the smooth round pebbles at the bottom of the pool. A small stream emerged from a cluster of rocks to feed the pool. During the monsoon, this stream would be a gushing torrent, cascading down from the hills, but during the summer, it was barely a trickle.

Translucency- clarity (possible to see through) 

Emerged- move out of or away from something and become visible 

Cluster- a group of similar things positioned closely together

Gushing- exaggeratedly enthusiastic

Torrent- rushing stream (of water)

Cascading- coming down (like a waterfall)

Trickle- weak or thin flow of water

On one such hot and tiring day, Ranji discovered the pool in the forest. The water was so clear that one could see the bottom of the pool covered with small round pebbles. The pool got its water from a small stream that was coming from the cluster of rocks.  In the monsoon season, the same stream of water used to become unstoppable as it came down from the hills like a waterfall but during the summer season, it was just a thin flow of water. 

The rocks, however, held the water in the pool, and it did not dry up like the pools in the plains. When Ranji saw the pool, he did not hesitate to get into it. He had often gone swimming, alone or with friends, when he had lived with his parents in a thirsty town in the middle of the Rajputana desert. There, he had known only sticky, muddy pools, where buffaloes wallowed and women washed clothes. He had never seen a pool like this — so clean and cold and inviting. He leapt into the water. His limbs were supple, free of any fat, and his dark body glistened in patches of sunlit water.

Wallowed- rolled about (in mud or dirty water)  

Leapt- jumped

Supple- bending and moving easily and gracefully; flexible

Glistened- shine with a sparkling light

Despite the reduced flow of water in the stream in the summer season, the rocks didn’t let the pool dry up (like it happens in the plains) by holding the water in it. Upon seeing the pool, Ranji didn’t think twice before getting into it. He knew how to swim as he used to go swimming with his friends or sometimes even alone where he lived earlier with his parents. It was a “thirsty town” in the centre of the Rajputana desert. Back there, he had only seen sticky pools that were filled with mud. Buffaloes used to roll themselves in it whereas women washed clothes. It was the first time that he had seen a pool so clean, cool and attractive. Thus, he jumped into the water. He was loose limbed and flexible. He did not have any extra fat on his body and as he swam in the pool, his brown body glowed in the sunlit water.

ranji and the other boyThe next day he came again to quench his body in the cool waters of the forest pool. He was there for almost an hour sliding in and out of the limpid green water, or lying stretched out on the smooth yellow rocks in the shade of broad-leaved sal trees. It was while he lay thus that he noticed another boy standing a little distance away, staring at him in a rather hostile manner. The other boy was a little older than Ranji — taller, thickset, with a broad nose and thick, red lips. He had only just noticed Ranji, and when Ranji did not say anything, the other called out, “What are you doing here, Mister?” 

Ranji, who was prepared to be friendly, was taken aback at the hostility of the other’s tone. 

“I am swimming,” he replied. “Why don’t you join me?” 

“I always swim alone,” said the other. “This is my pool; I did not invite you here.” 

Quench- cool (his body)

Limpid- (of a liquid) completely clear and transparent

Sal trees- a North Indian tree that yields hard, durable timber and dammar resin

Hostile- showing or feeling opposition or dislike; unfriendly

Thickset- stout/ solidly built 

Taken aback- surprised 

Hostility- ill will/ enmity

Ranji visited the pool again the next day to relax his body in its cool waters. For almost an hour, he moved smoothly in and out of the clear green water and stretched himself out on the smooth yellow rocks that were under the shade of the broad-leaved sal trees. As he was relaxing on the rock, his attention was caught by a boy standing at some distance as his gaze was fixed upon Ranji in an unfriendly manner. He seemed a little older than Ranji. He had quite a solidly built body and a wide nose with bulky red lips. He had also seen Ranji only then and upon not hearing anything from his side, the boy spoke up and asked Ranji what he was doing there. Ranji, on the other hand, was expecting to make a new friend but he was quite surprised by the bitterness of the other boy. Ranji replied and told him that he was swimming. He further extended the boy an offer to join him. The boy rudely told him that he always swam alone in the pool that he claimed to own. He told Ranji that he had come here uninvited. 

The stranger strode up to Ranji, who still sat on the rock and, planting his broad feet firmly on the sand, said (as though this would settle the matter once and for all), “Don’t you know I am a Warrior? I do not take replies from villagers like you!” 

“So you like to fight with villagers?” said Ranji. “Well, I am not a villager. I am a Fighter!” 

“I am a Warrior!” 

“I am a Fighter!” 

stranger strode up to Ranji

They had reached an impasse. One had said he was a Warrior, the other had proclaimed himself a Fighter. There was little else that could be said. 

Strode- (past of stride) walk with long decisive steps in a specified direction

Impasse- (also pronounced ampass) deadlock;  place or position from which there is no way out 

Proclaimed- announce officially; make something clear

The strange boy marched towards Ranji who was still resting on the rock. Upon reaching where Ranji sat, he thumped his broad feet on the ground (to look tough) and in order to settle the matter for once and for all, he told Ranji that he was a Warrior who didn’t listen to villagers like him. In response to his unfriendly and rude remark, Ranji asked him if he liked fighting with villagers instead. He also clarified that he is not a villager, but a Fighter instead. 

“I am a Warrior”, said the stranger 

“I am a Fighter”, said Ranji

They both found themselves at no conclusion from where no progress seemed possible. They continued making it clear to each other that one was a Fighter and the other was a Warrior. They were left with nothing much to say.

“You understand that I am a Warrior?” said the stranger, feeling that perhaps this information had not penetrated Ranji’s head. 

“I have heard you say it three times,” replied Ranji. 

“Then why are you not running away?” 

“I am waiting for you to run away!” 

“I will have to beat you,” said the stranger, assuming a violent attitude, showing Ranji the palm of his hand. 

“I am waiting to see you do it,” said Ranji. 

“You will see me do it,” said the other boy.

Penetrated- gone through/ into

The stranger kept on repeating that he was a warrior, as if he had not already made it clear enough for Ranji. Ranji replied that he has heard him say that thrice. The stranger then asks him why he is not running away. Ranji responded that he had been waiting for him to run away instead. In an aggressive tone, the stranger, as he showed Ranji the palm of his Ranji waited. The other boy made a strange, hissing sound. They stared each other in the eye for almost a minute. Then the Warrior slapped Ranji across the face with all the force he could muster. Ranji staggered, feeling quite dizzy. There were thick red finger marks on his cheek.

“There you are!” exclaimed his assailant. “Will you be off now?” For answer, Ranji swung his arm up and pushed a hard, bony fist into the other’s face.

Hissing- to make a long ‘s’ sound

Muster- (here) use; collect or gather

Staggered- felt weak/unsteady (due to the blow)

Dizzy- having or involving a sensation of spinning around and losing one’s balance

Assaillant- the person who attacks; (here) enemy/ adversary

Bony- (of a person or part of the body) so thin that the bones can be seen

Ranji held back and waited for the other boy to act. The stranger, however, made a weird hissing sound to try and scare Ranji. Both of them looked into each other’s eyes for nearly a minute. The Warrior initiated the fight by summoning all its strength into slapping Ranji on his face. Feeling unsteady, Ranji almost lost his balance and felt a sensation that he was spinning around. As a result of the slap, thick red finger marks formed on Ranji’s cheeks. The other boy asked Ranchi if he would leave now. As a reply, Ranji raised his arm up to punch him in the face with his strong, bony fist.

 

And then they were at each other’s throats, swaying on the rock, tumbling on to the sand, rolling over and over, their legs and arms locked in a desperate, violent struggle. Gasping and cursing, clawing and slapping, they rolled into the shallows of the pool.

At each other’s throats- fighting

Swaying-moving from side to side 

Tumbling- fall suddenly, clumsily or headlong

Gasping- catch one’s breath with an open mouth; owing to pain or astonishment

Clawing- scratching (here)

The next moment we know, both of them were in a fight, swinging on the rock, falling clumsily on the sand and rolling over each other. Their arms and legs were locked against each other in a desperate and brutal wrestle. They were breathing heavily, uttering offensive words, scratching and slapping each other till they landed themselves into the shallow depths of the pool.

 

Even in the water the fight continued as, spluttering and covered with mud, they groped for each other’s head and throat. But after five minutes of frenzied, unscientific struggle, neither boy had emerged victorious. Their bodies heaving with exhaustion, they stood back from each other, making tremendous efforts to speak. 

Spluttering- speaking quickly/ confusedly

Frenzied- violent  

Heaving- produce (a sigh)

Exhaustion- tiredness/ fatigue

Tremendous- great

Once they landed themselves in the pool, the fight didn’t stop. The fight continued by throwing mud at each other so much so that they both ended up getting themselves covered in mud. They held each other’s head and throat. After five minutes of violent and illogical wrestling, none of them won. However, they were breathing heavily and were exhausted. They took their hands off each other and made a lot of efforts to speak (as they breathed heavily) 

 

“Now — now do you realise — I am a Warrior?” gasped the stranger. 

“Do you know I am a Fighter?” said Ranji with difficulty. 

They gave a moment’s consideration to each other’s answers and, in that moment of silence, there was only their heavy breathing and the rapid beating of their hearts. 

“Then you will not leave the pool?” said the warrior. 

“I will not leave it,” said Ranji. 

“Then we shall have to continue the fight,” said the other. 

“All right,” said Ranji. 

But neither boy moved, neither took the initiative. 

While they were on a break and as they breathed heavily, the stranger asked Ranji if he agreed that he was a Warrior. Ranji asked the stranger (while struggling with his breath) if he had made it clear to him that he was a Fighter. They took a moment to think upon what both of them had been saying and during that moment, there was a lot of heavy breathing and speeding heartbeats. The Warrior (stranger) asked if the Fighter (Ranji) would give up on the pool. The Fighter said he would not. The Warrior believed that they still needed to fight to be able to come to a conclusion. The Fighter agreed, but none of them took any action. They stood in their respective places.

 

The warrior had an inspiration. 

“We will continue the fight tomorrow,” he said. “If you dare to come here again tomorrow, we will continue this fight, and I will not show you mercy as I have done today.” 

“I will come tomorrow,” said Ranji. “I will be ready for you.” 

They turned from each other then and, going to their respective rocks, put on their clothes, and left the forest by different routes.

At that moment, the Warrior got an idea that they should resume fighting tomorrow. He further warned Ranji that if he dared to come to the pool again the next day, they would have to fight again and he would not show any leniency as he did that day. Ranji replied that he would see him the next day, all prepared to fight. They turned away from each other and went to the rocks to wear their clothes and they both went out of the forest into their respective directions.

Ranji got home

II

When Ranji got home, he found it difficult to explain the cuts and bruises that showed on his face, leg and arms. It was difficult to conceal the fact that he had been in an unusually violent fight, and his mother insisted on his staying at home for the rest of the day. That evening, though, he slipped out of the house and went to the bazaar, where he found comfort and solace in a bottle of vividly coloured lemonade and a banana leaf full of hot, sweet jalebis. He had just finished the lemonade when he saw his adversary coming down the road. His first impulse was to turn away and look elsewhere, his second to throw the lemonade bottle at his enemy. But he did neither of these things. Instead, he stood his ground and scowled at his passing adversary. And the warrior said nothing either but scowled back with equal ferocity

Solace- comfort or consolation in a time of great distress or sadness

Vividly- in a way that produces powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind 

Impulse- a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act

Scowled- looked angrily  

Adversary- opponent/ enemy 

Ferocity- fierceness (suggesting anger/ cruelty)

When Ranji reached his home, he found himself stuck in a situation where it became difficult for him to justify all the cuts, scratches and the injuries on his body. It became nearly impossible for him to hide that he had been in an uncommon rough fight. His mother commanded him to stay indoors for the remaining part of the day. Despite the instructions, he went out of the house stealthily to go to the bazaar in the evening. There he found comfort and consolation in the brightly coloured lemonade and hot, sweet jalebis that were served on a banana leaf. As he finished drinking his lemonade, he caught sight of his enemy coming down the road. His immediate thought was to turn towards the other side and look somewhere else. Secondly, he got an  urge to throw the lemonade bottle at his approaching opponent. But he resisted and did not act upon his unreflective desires. He just stood there firmly as he stared angrily at his enemy. The Warrior too, on the other hand, passed by the Fighter while giving him angry glances backed by equal fierceness.

 

The next day was as hot as the previous one. Ranji felt weak and lazy and not at all eager for a fight. His body was stiff and sore after the previous day’s encounter. But he could not refuse the challenge. Not to turn up at the pool would be an acknowledgement of defeat. From the way he felt just then he knew he would be beaten in another fight. But he could not acquiesce in his own defeat. He must defy his enemy to the last, or outwit him, for only then could he gain his respect. If he surrendered now, he would be beaten for all time; but to fight and be beaten today left him free to fight and be beaten again. As long as he fought, he had a right to the pool in the forest. 

Sore- (of a part of one’s body) painful or aching

Encounter- unexpectedly be faced with or experience (something hostile or difficult) 

Acquiesce- accept quietly

Outwit- deceive by greater ingenuity

The temperature on the next day was just as high as the previous day. Ranji lacked the power and will to fight because he felt tired. His body was aching and he felt rigid because of the previous day’s confrontation. Despite feeling this way, he could not afford to back off from the challenge. If he did not go near the pool that day, it would mean that he had accepted his loss.  He was well-aware that if he fought in this condition, he would anyway end up losing in a violent fight but he couldn’t sit quietly and see himself loose. In order to gain respect, he needed to win against his opponent, or atleast outsmart him. Because if he gave up, it would mean that he has accepted his defeat for lifetime; but if he showed up and even got beaten up by the other boy, it would set him free and he could fight again even if it meant being beaten up once more. But he knew that as long as he showed up for the fight, he reserved himself a right to swim in the pool in the forest.

 

warriorHe was half hoping that the warrior would have forgotten the challenge, but these hopes were dashed when he saw his opponent sitting, stripped to the waist, on a rock on the other side of the pool. The warrior was rubbing oil on his body. He saw Ranji beneath the sal trees, and called a challenge across the waters of the pool. 

“Come over on this side and fight!” he shouted. 

But Ranji was not going to submit to any conditions laid down by his opponent. 

“Come this side and fight!” he shouted back with equal vigour. 

“Swim across and fight me here!” called the other. “Or perhaps you cannot swim the length of this pool?” 

Dashed- destroyed (hopes or expectations)

Stripped- without clothes

Vigour- strength 

Although Ranji was on his way to show up for the fight, he was half-hoping in his mind  that the other boy would have failed to remember about the challenge. Unfortunately, all expectations came crashing down when he caught sight of his enemy sitting naked till the waist, on a rock on the other side of the pool.  He was rubbing oil on his body as he prepared himself for the fight. He saw Ranji underneath the sal trees and challenged him from right across the pool. The strange boy shouted from the other side and told Ranji to come over to his side and fight. Ranji wasn’t going to surrender to the conditions that were being laid down by his enemy. Thus, he replied with equal strength and told him to come to his side instead. The other boy asked him to swim across and fight with him. He even mocked Ranji by indicating that he was not coming to the other side because he cannot swim the length of the pool.

But Ranji could have swum the length of the pool a dozen times without tiring, and here he would show the warrior his superiority. So, slipping out of his vest, he dived straight into the water, cutting through it like a knife, and surfaced with hardly a splash. The warrior’s mouth hung open in amazement. 

“You can dive!” he exclaimed. 

“It is easy,” said Ranji, treading water, waiting for a further challenge. “Can’t you dive?” 

“No,” said the other. “I jump straight in. But if you will tell me how, I will make a dive.” 

“It is easy,” said Ranji. “Stand on the rock, stretch your arms out and allow your head to displace your feet.” 

Dive- plunge head first into water with one’s arms raised over one’s head

Treading water- keeping oneself upright in deep water by moving the feet 

Ranji could actually swim the length of the pool a multiple times, without even getting tired. Thus, he thought of showing the Warrior his excellence. He removed his vest and dived right into the pool, cutting through it like a knife and came smoothly onto the surface. The Warrior’s jaw dropped in surprise. He remarked, “You can dive!”. Ranji told him that it was quite simple. While keeping himself upright in the water by moving his feet, Ranji asked the other boy if he could not dive. The strange boy replied that he couldn’t and used to jump right into the pool. He asked Ranji if he could teach him how to dive. Ranji told him that it was quite easy. He only needed to stand on the rock, stretch his arms out and allow his head to displace his feet.

The warrior stood up, stiff and straight, stretched out his arms, and threw himself into the water. He landed flat on his belly, with a crash that sent the birds screaming out of the trees. 

Ranji dissolved into laughter.

“Are you trying to empty the pool?” he asked, as the warrior came to the surface, spouting water like a small whale. 

“Wasn’t it good?” asked the boy, evidently proud of his feat. 

“Not very good,” said Ranji. “You should have more practice. See, I will do it again.” 

And pulling himself up on a rock, he executed another perfect dive. The other boy waited for him to come up, but, swimming under water, Ranji circled him and came upon him from behind. 

“How did you do that?” asked the astonished youth. 

“Can’t you swim under water?” asked Ranji. 

“No, but I will try it.” 

The warrior made a tremendous effort to plunge to the bottom of the pool and indeed he thought he had gone right down, though his bottom, like a duck’s, remained above surface. 

Ranji, however, did not discourage him. 

“It was not bad,” he said. “But you need a lot of practice.” 

Dissolved- subside uncontrollably into (an expression of strong feelings); break into

Spouting- send out (liquid) forcibly in a stream

Feat- clever act; special skill

Astonished- greatly surprised or impressed; amazed

Plunge- jump 

The warrior did just as the Fighter had suggested. He stood up, stiff and straight, stretched out his arms, and threw himself into the water. Unfortunately, he landed straight on his belly causing a collision that scared away the birds as they came out of the trees, screaming. This made Ranji laugh uncontrollably. Ranji mocked him and asked if his intention was to empty the pool. It was only then that the warrior came back to the surface of the pool and splashed water out of his mouth like a small whale. 

The boy was quite proud of the way he performed the dive. He wanted to know what Ranji thought about it and asked him if it wasn’t good according to him. Ranji told him that it was not that good and that he needed more practice. He told the Warrior to observe him doing it again. He came out of the water, stood on the rock and performed another flawless dive. The strange boy waited for him to come up on the surface while Ranji moved around him in a circle, and then finally showed up from behind him. Amazed as he was, the other boy asked Ranji how he did it. Ranji asked the boy if he did not also know how to swim under water. The boy told him he couldn’t, but he was definitely willing to give it a try. Thus, he gathered all his strength and went to the bottom of the pool and while the Warrior thought that he had made straight away to the bottom, his bottom had remained above the surface, like a duck. Ranji did not want to discourage him. So, he told him it was ‘not bad’ but he still needed a lot of practice.

“Will you teach me?” asked his enemy. 

“If you like, I will teach you.” 

“You must teach me. If you do not teach me, I will beat you. Will you come here every day and teach me?” 

“If you like,” said Ranji. They had pulled themselves out of the water, and were sitting side by side on a smooth grey rock. 

“My name is Suraj,” said the warrior. “What is yours?” 

“It is Ranji.” 

“I am strong, am I not?” asked Suraj, bending his arm so that a ball of muscle stood up stretching the white of his flesh.” 

ranji and suraj“You are strong,” said Ranji. “You are a real pahelwan.” 

“One day I will be the world’s champion wrestler,” said Suraj, slapping his thighs, which shook with the impact of his hand. He looked critically at Ranji’s hard, thin body. “You are quite strong yourself,” he conceded. “But you are too bony. I know, you people do not eat enough. You must come and have your food with me. I drink one seer of milk every day. We have got our own cow! Be my friend, and I will make you a pahelwan like me! I know — if you teach me to dive and swim underwater, I will make you a pahelwan! That is fair, isn’t it?” 

“That is fair!” said Ranji, though he doubted if he was getting the better of the exchange.

Seer- same as ser, a unit of weight used previously in India. A ser, a little less than a litre, was one-fortieth of a maund

Conceded- admitted 

The other boy asked Ranji if he would teach him. Ranji told him that he would, if he was willing to learn. The boy told him that in fact, Ranji must teach him and if he didn’t, he would get beaten up. He asked Ranji if he would come to the pool daily to teach him. Ranji said that he would, if he’d like. Both of them got out of the water and sat by each other’s side on a smooth grey rock.

The warrior introduced himself as Suraj and asked his opponent’s name. Ranji told him his name. Suraj said that he was strong and asked Ranji what he had to say about it as he bent his arm in a tightened way so that his muscles stood out stretching out of his white flesh. Ranji told him that he was strong, indeed. He told Suraj that he was a real pahelwan (wrestler). While slapping his thighs, which shook with its impact, Suraj exclaimed that he will become the world’s champion wrestler one day. He stared at Ranji’s thin and hard body with judging eyes and told him that he was also strong but also very bony and thin. Suraj said that he knew it was because he didn’t eat enough. He further invited Ranji to have food with him sometime and see how he used to drink one seer of milk everyday. He told Ranji about their own cow. He offered to help Ranji become a pahelwan too if Ranji agreed to become his friend. 

Suraj said that if Ranji would teach him how to dive and swim underwater, he would help Ranji become as strong as a wrestler. He asked Ranji if it was fair. Ranji agreed that it was fair although he doubted if he was getting more benefit out of it. 

Suraj put his arm around the younger boy and said, “We are friends now, yes?” 

They looked at each other with honest, unflinching eyes, and in that moment love and understanding were born. 

“We are friends,” said Ranji. 

The birds had settled again in their branches, and the pool was quiet and limpid in the shade of the sal trees. 

“It is our pool,” said Suraj. “Nobody else can come here without our permission. Who would dare?”

“Who would dare?” said Ranji, smiling with the knowledge that he had won the day. 

Unflinching- (without blinking) looking straight at each other

Limpid- clear

Suraj put his arm around Ranji and asked him if they were friends now. They looked into each other’s eyes with complete honesty and without blinking. At that particular moment, love and understanding emerged between the two. Ranji replied that they were friends, indeed. By that time, the birds that were scared away, had come back to the branches and the pool was still and clear under the shade of the sal trees. 

Suraj exclaimed that from now onwards, it was their pool and no one else could use it without their permission. He said, “Who would dare?” . Ranji repeated after him in agreement, “Who would dare?” as he smiled with the thought that he had conquered the day.

 

The fight- Questions and Answers

 

Comprehension Check 

1. In what way is the forest pool different from the one which Ranji knew in the Rajputana desert? 

A. Ranji used to live with his parents in a thirsty town in the middle of the Rajputana desert. There, he had known only sticky, muddy pools, where buffaloes wallowed and women washed clothes. He had never seen a pool like this — so clean and cold and inviting as it was in the forest.

 

2. The other boy asked Ranji to ‘explain’ himself. 

(i) What did he expect Ranji to say? 

A. The other boy expected Ranji to apologise for entering the pool without his permission. Further, he wanted Ranji to never use the pool again.

 

(ii) Was he, in your opinion, right or wrong to ask this question? 

A. In my opinion, it was right on the part of the boy to ask Ranji this question. This is because the pool belonged to the forest and was open for use by everyone. He had no right to claim it as his.

 

3. Between Ranji and the other boy, who is trying to start a quarrel? Give a reason for your answer.

A. Between Ranji and the other boy, it was the other boy who was trying to initiate a quarrel with Ranji. On seeing Ranji, the other boy gave him hostile looks while Ranji’s first thought was to be friendly with him. Ranji even invited the strange boy to swim with him while on the other hand, the strange boy refused to do so. He told Ranji that the pool belonged to him and he swam alone in it. He even threatened and told Ranji that he was a Warrior.

 

4. “Then we will have to continue the fight,” said the other. 

(i) What made him say that? 

A. Upon realising that Ranji was not ready to give up on the pool, the other boy said, “Then we will have to continue the fight,”.

 

(ii) Did the fight continue? If not, why not?

A. No, the fight did not continue. It is because both of them were tired after that day’s quarrel. They were breathing heavily and their heartbeats were speeding. Although they had not come to a solution, both of them decided to continue the fight the following day. 

 

5. What is it that Ranji finds difficult to explain at home? 

A. When Ranji got home, he found it difficult to explain the cuts and bruises that showed on his face, leg and arms. It was difficult to conceal the fact that he had been in an unusually violent fight.

 

6. Ranji sees his adversary in the bazaar. 

(i) What does he wish to do? 

A. When Ranji saw his adversary in the bazaar, his first impulse was to turn away and look elsewhere, his second to throw the lemonade bottle at his enemy.

 

(ii) What does he actually do, and why? 

A. He stood his ground and scowled at his passing adversary. He did neither of the things he wished to, probably because he did not want to initiate a fight in the bazaar. 

 

7. Ranji is not at all eager for a second fight. Why does he go back to the pool, then?

A. Ranji felt weak and lazy and not at all eager for the second fight. His body was stiff and sore after the previous day’s encounter. But he could not refuse the challenge. Not to turn up at the pool would be an acknowledgement of defeat.  He must defy his enemy to the last, or outwit him, for only then could he gain his respect. If he surrendered now, he would be beaten for all time; but to fight and be beaten today left him free to fight and be beaten again. As long as he fought, he had a right to the pool in the forest. Thus, he went back to the pool.

 

8. Who was the better swimmer? How do you know it?

A. Ranji was the better swimmer. This is evident from the fact that he could dive flawlessly and even swim under water. Suraj, on the other hand, couldn’t do either of these things.

 

9. What surprises the warrior? 

A. The Warrior asked Ranji to come over to his side of the pool and fight him. He said that the reason behind Ranji not coming to his side, is probably because he couldn’t swim the length of the pool. But Ranji could have swum the length of the pool a dozen times without tiring, and here he would show the warrior his superiority. So, Ranji slipped out of his vest, dived straight into the water, cutting through it like a knife, and surfaced with hardly a splash. This made the warrior’s mouth hang open in amazement.

 

10. Now that they are at the pool, why don’t they continue the fight?

A. Now, when both of them were at the pool, both of them got into a conversation about diving and the Warrior asked Ranji to teach him how to dive. Ranji gave him the instructions and Suraj tried. Then Suraj asked him to teach him how to swim under water. Thus, both of them got involved in this and decided to not fight against each other. Instead, they made a pact and promised to help each other.

 

11. Ranji’s superiority over the other boy is obvious in the following:

Physical strength, good diving, his being a fighter, sense of humour, swimming under water, making a good point, willingness to help

Underline the relevant phrases

A. The relevant phrases that highlight Ranji’s superiority over the other boy are-

i) Good diving 

ii) swimming under water

iii) willingness to help

 

12. What, according to you, make the two adversaries turn into good friends in a matter of minutes? Explain it as you have understood it

A. According to me, good skills, appreciation for each other and their willingness to help each other made the two adversaries turn into good friends in a matter of minutes. The Warrior admired Ranji’s diving skills and his ability to dive under water. Ranji, on the other hand, was more than happy to teach him these skills. The Warrior, in return, promised to help Ranji become a pahelwan.