Kari, the Elephant has a Daily Routine

Kari was five months old when he came under the care of the narrator. The narrator too was a young boy, merely nine years old. The narrator could reach Kari’s back if he stood on his toes. Kari remained of the same height for the next 2 years.  Both the narrator and Kari grew simultaneously. Kari lived in a Pavilion under a thatched roof with thick tree stumps to prevent him from falling. Every morning Kari used to lie down on the sand bank while the narrator used to rub and clean him. After that, Kari would spend a long time in the water and when he would come out of it, he would be in a very happy state.

Kari’s Eating Habits

Kari did not eat much, but still he consumed about forty pounds of twigs every day. The narrator would leave him on the edge of the jungle while he went to get food for Kari. The narrator would describe how he had to be very careful about the selection of the twigs as an elephant does not consume mutilated twigs. The narrator would spend half an hour to sharpen the hatchet required for the same.

Kari Screams to Seek the Narrator’s Help

While the narrator was busy selecting twigs and young branches of the banyan tree, he hears Kari screaming for help. Since Kari was really young, the narrator gets worried that somebody was hurting him.

The narrator hurried to Kari’s rescue but he was not there where the narrator had left him.

As the narrator reached the edge of the water, he saw something black struggling above the surface of the water. Soon, the narrator felt that Kari was drowning in the water. The narrator felt helpless as it was difficult for him to jump into the water and rescue Kari as it weighed four hundred pounds. But, that very moment the narrator saw Kari emerging from the water. He pushed the narrator into the stream towards a young boy who lay flat on the bottom of river.

The Narrator with the Help of Kari Save the Boy

The narrator, seeing the boy somewhat afloat, went back into the water. Kari stood there, his feet firmly rooted in the sand and his trunk stretched out towards the narrator as if offering his hand to him. Since the narrator was not a good swimmer, it was difficult for him to save the boy. Kari, at that point, came halfway into the water and with his trunk tried to pull out the narrator.

Kari’s Love for Bananas Renders him a Punishment

According to the narrator, Kari was no less than a baby. The narrator felt that Kari needed to be trained, else he would be up to some or the other mischief. Once Kari ate some bananas and suddenly grew very fond of the bananas. In the narrator’s house, large plates of fruits were kept on the dining table. Disappearance of bananas soon became a regular feature. Sometimes the blame fell upon the servants and at other times the narrator was declared the culprit.

Soon, the narrator realised that Kari was responsible for the mysterious disappearance of the bananas. The narrator, then, showed the real thief to his parents and also scolded Kari. Kari was so ashamed that he never again dared to steal anything. Nevertheless, when someone offered him fruits he would be really delighted.  Elephants are willing to be punished for misdeeds. However, if they are punished without a reason, they remember it and pay it back.

Kari’s Training

Elephants require to be trained. They need to be taught when to walk, when to sit, when to slow down, and so on. If you say ‘dhat’ and pull them by their ears, they would learn to sit down. Similarly, if you say ‘mali’ and pull their trunk, they would learn that it is the signal to walk.

Kari took three classes to learn ‘mali’, but it took him 3 weeks to learn ‘dhat’ It is important to teach to sit else humans would need a ladder to climb their back. An elephant grows really tall in 2 to 3 years.

The Master Call

It is very important to teach an elephant the master call. The master call is a hissing and howling sound as if a snake or a tiger were fighting. Elephants need to be taught this call because this is the signal that the elephant needs to pull down the tree to frighten other animals. This is usually given when one feels lonely and frightened in the jungle. The elephant can frighten all the animals in the jungle by doing so.

Word Meanings

Word                                                                    Meaning in English

Drowning                                                                  to be suffocated in water

Tip toe                                                                       the process of serialising

Thatched                                                                a buildup of cut grass, hay and other material

Bumped                                                                     a collision

Ebony                                                                        a tree that yield wood

Squeal                                                                        cry, trumpet

Hatchet                                                                      small axe

Mutilated                                                                  disfigured torn

Cathedral                                                                  central place

Dived                                                                         to swim under water

Ashore                                                                       towards the shore

Drift                                                                           direction along which anything is driven

Ponderous                                                                 boring, dull

Dart                                                                            a sudden, fast movement

Sneak                                                                         to take away

Crept                                                                          to move slowly

Strewn                                                                       to distribute randomly

Dhat                                                                           a command to sit

Mail                                                                            a command to walk

Howling                                                                     a mournful cry

Growl                                                                         sound made by hungry stomach

NCERT Solutions

Exercises (NCERT Page 14)

Answer the following questions.

  1. The enclosure in which Kari lived had a thatched roof that lay on thick tree stumps. Examine the illustration of Kari’s pavilion on page 8 and say why it was built that way.

Ans. Kari lived in a pavilion under a thatched roof with thick tree stumps. These thick tree stumps were there in order to prevent the roof from falling whenever Kari bumped into the poles. It was built in this way to accommodate the heavy weight of an elephant.

  1. Did Kari enjoy his morning bath in the river? Give a reason for your answer.

Ans. Kari felt really pleased after his morning bath in the river. He would spend a long time in the water and give a squeal after having his bath.

  1. Finding good twigs for Kari took a long time. Why?

Ans. Finding twigs for Kari was not an easy task. Elephants did not eat mutilate twigs. So, the narrator had to be very careful. This also required a sharp hatchet.

It took about half an hour to sharpen the hatchet. Also, the narrator had to climb all kind of trees in order to select delicate and tender twigs.

  1. Why did Kari push his friend into the stream?

Ans. Kari pushed his friend into the stream so that he could help the young boy from drowning.

  1. Kari was like a baby. What are the main points of comparison?

Ans. The narrator called Kari a baby because Kari was naughty and mischievous.

Once Kari developed a love for bananas he started stealing bananas from the fruit plates that were kept on the dining table in the narrator’s house. Furthermore, his call would sound to the narrator like a baby’s voice.

  1. Kari helped himself to all the bananas in the house without anyone noticing it. How did he do it?

Ans. Nobody noticed Kari stealing bananas because he would quietly come towards the dining room and through the large window near the table, he would sneak out bananas with his trunk.

  1. Kari learnt the commands to sit and to walk. What were the instructions for each command?

Ans. Kari had to be trained to learn that how to sit and walk. The word ‘dhat’ spoken in his ears was a signal for him to sit down. Uttering the word ‘mali’ and pulling his trunk was a signal for him to walk.

  1. What is ‘the master call’? Why is it the most important signal for an elephant to learn?

Ans. The master call was a strange hissing and howling sound, as if snakes and tigers were fighting. It was a very important signal for the elephants. Master call is a signal for the elephants to pull down the trees, thereby scaring all the other animals in the jungle.

Questions and Answers

Very Short Answer Type Questions

  1. How old was Kari when he was brought into the care of the narrator?

Ans. Kari was five months old when the narrator first met him.

  1. How much food did Kari consume daily?

Ans. Kari did not eat much, but he still consumed about forty pounds of twigs on a daily basis.

  1. Why did the narrator think that Kari was in trouble?

Ans. The narrator thought that Kari was in trouble because Kari was really young and his call for help was more like that of a baby crying for help than of a grown up elephant.

  1. Why did the narrator scold Kari?

Ans. The narrator observed that elephants willingly accept punishment if they have done something wrong. However, if they are unreasonably punished by us, they remember it and pay us back in our own coin.

       5.What does the narrator say about the elephants and their attitude towards punishment?

 Ans. The narrator observed that elephants willingly accept punishment if they have done something wrong. However, if they are unreasonably punished by us, they remember it and pay us back in our own coin.

Short Answer Type Questions

  1. What change did the narrator notice in Kari’s behaviour while they were trying to save the young boy?

Ans. The narrator observed that Kari is usually slow and ponderous. However, in an attempt to save the young boy’s life, Kari darted down like a hawk and came halfway into the water. Kari was quick to action to make all possible attempts to save the boy.

  1. Why did the narrator feel helpless in rescuing Kari?

Ans. The narrator thought that Kari was getting drowned in the stream of water. However, he felt helpless because Kari was much heavier and higher than him. Kari weighed about five hundred pounds and it seemed impossible for the narrator to carry him on his back.

  1. Why did the narrator think that there was a snake thieving bananas from the dining room?

Ans. The narrator, while sitting in the dining room, saw a long, black thing suddenly appear through the window and disappearing with all the bananas. The narrator thought that this long, black thing was probably a snake. The narrator was really scared as he had ever seen a snake eating bananas.

  1. In what way did Kari react to the scolding he received from the narrator?

Ans. Kari understood that everyone was angry with him, the narrator, his family and even the servants. His pride was greatly injured. Therefore, he never again stole anything from the dining room. At the same time, Kari gracefully allowed himself to be scolded for he knew that he was wrong.

Long Answer type Questions

  1. How did the narrator find out the truth about the mysterious banana-thief?

Ans. The narrator thought that a terrible snake was trying to sneak out the bananas from the dining room. As he walked out, the narrator saw Kari’s back disappearing towards the pavilion.

The narrator was really frightened and therefore wanted to rush towards Kari, but soon he realised that the long, black thing he had seen was actually Kari’s trunk. It is then that the narrator realised that the mysterious banana thief was Kari.

  1. Why is it so essential to train an elephant?

Ans. Elephants need to be trained and it is important to teach them certain signals and calls. For instance, the word ‘dhat’ when spoken in an elephant ears which signals him to sit down. Teaching this call to an elephant is important because it would become impossible to climb his back. Similarly, the master call that an elephant takes about five years to learn is an important indicates the need to frighten all the other animals in the jungle in order to protect oneself.

  1. What happens when an elephant acts in response to the master call?

Ans. On hearing the master call, the elephant begin to pull down the trees in front of them with their trunks.

This frightens all the other animals. With the falling down of the trees, monkeys begin to run from branch to branch.

The stages too, begin to run in all directions. The tiger gets scared as well and begins to growl. The elephant keeps pulling down trees after trees till it has created a sort of a road out of it.

Value Based Question

The chapter discusses two very important virtues in Kari. What are they?

Ans. Kari is a young elephant, despite that he does his best in trying to save the life of a young boy. The narrator observes that Kari was usually slow and ponderous in his attitude.

However, that very instant he was moved to quick action, The second virtue seen in Kari was his willingness in acknowledging his mistakes. He allowed the narrator to scold and punish him for he knew that he was in the wrong.