1st PUC English Textbook Solutions

If I Was a Tree – 1st PUC English Textbook Solutions

If I Was a Tree
Mudanakudu Chinnaswamy
 
SUMMARY
 
 This poem has been
written by Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy. In this poem he is speaking on behalf of the
untouchables. He loves the life of a tree instead of being an untouchable
because a tree is acceptable to society but an untouchable is not acceptable to
society. Even in modern times an untouchable is disliked and kept out of
society. If he becomes a tree, a bird may build its nest on the tree without
thinking of the tree as untouchable. Sun light would not discriminate him as
untouchable tree. An untouchable’s shadow is considered unclean but a tree’s
shadow is not untouchable. Rain would have fallen on it without discrimination.
A cow is  considered  very 
sacred  but  it 
would  come  and 
touch  the  tree. 
At  last,  the 
dry  broken  wood 
of  the  tree 
may  be  used 
for  the funeral of good people.
Through this poem, the author condemns the blind belief called
untouchability. 
 Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy
has written on the evils of untouchability in this poem.  The feeling of anger and dejectedness is
expressed through a young boy who feels that if he had been a tree, he could
have birds build its nest without asking him which caste he was, sun would have
embraced him and his friendship with the breeze and leaves would have been cool
and pleasant.   The boy states that if he
had been a tree, the rain would not turn its back because he was an untouchable
and the mother earth would  not  have 
run  to  take 
bath  because  his 
roots  were  touching 
hers.  Through  this, 
the  boy  states 
the  attitude  of 
the  people towards him and how
hurt he was.   He also states that as a
tree, he would allow the cows to scratch its skin against the rough surface of
the bark and in turn he would get blessings from the thousand gods and goddess
who were supposed to be residing in the cow’s stomach   The boy also yearns to be purified in some
way or the other and states his wish that if he had been a tree, he would have
been broken into pieces and would have been used for some holy rituals, or
would have been used to burn a sinless person or would have been used to carry the
body of the dead by touching the shoulders of four men.  He calls the four men as “good” because only
those people are allowed to carry all the bodies of all the caste people.  
 
Comprehension: I  
 
1.     
The speaker wants to be a tree because
Ans:
– Trees are not treated as objects of defilement. 
 
2.     
What wouldn’t the bird ask the tree?
Ans:
– The bird wouldn’t ask what caste the tree belongs to before it builds its
nest. 
 
3.     
When does the sacred cow scrape her body onto
the bark?
Ans:
– Sacred cow scrapes her body onto the bark of the tree when it felt an itch,
or whenever it get itched. 
 
4.     
How does the speaker want to be purified?
Ans:
– By burning in the holy fire the speaker wanted to be purified. 
 
5.
The phrase ‘dog –eater’ refers to Untouchable. 
 
5.     
What uses of the wood does the speaker see?
Ans:   
The  wood  can 
be  used  in 
a  holy  fire 
for  sacrifices  or 
rituals.  It  also 
becomes  the  bier 
for  a  sinless 
dead  body  on  the
shoulders of four good men. 
 
Comprehension:
II 
 
1.     
Why would mother earth not flee according to the
speaker?
or
2.     
How do the life forces-sunlight and the cool
breeze enforce nature’s idea of equality?
Ans:
– The poem if I was a tree by Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy is a satire on social
discrimination as it portrays how even a tree is treated better than a human
being who belongs to the lower castes. Literally Dalit means oppressed or
crushed. In earlier times, these people 
were  made to live outside the
villages and cities and their touch or even shadow  was considered polluting. These groups were
not entitled to education or any position of status and authority. However, the
sad reality is that it is still in practice in a lot of place around the
country. 
The
poet feels that if he was a tree he would not have to face discrimination at
the hands of people. The poet says if he was tree then the bird wouldn’t ask
for his cast before it built its nest on him, his shadow wouldn’t feel defiled
(polluted) if the sunlight embraced him. He further thinks that his friendship
with the breeze and leaves would be sweet and congenial (friendly,
pleasing) 
The
poet is trying to tell us that nature does not differentiate between upper and
lower caste; it does not reserve its resources only for the upper castes.
Forces like the rain, the wind, water serve all human beings in the same way.
It is in the name of caste and creed that man differentiates and oppresses
those who come from the lower castes.
The
poet feels that the sacred cow would scrape her body on the tree’s bark
whenever he feels the need to scratch its body and the three hundred thousand
Gods sheltering inside her would touch him as well. 
Even
if it is cut and made into pieces it may be used to light the holy fire or used
as a bier for a sinless body being carried by four good men on the
shoulders. 
How
can someone be purified by a bath if their inner selves are polluted  with the idea of discriminating individuals?
The poet feels  it  is 
convenient  to  be 
a  tree  that 
is  beyond  the 
boundaries  of  caste 
rather  than  being 
a  human  being 
who  belong  to  the
untouchable caste and suffer from caste politics.
 
 

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