Questions answers of Karma

Questions Answers from the story Karma

      Karma 

                       Khushwant Singh 

Karma is one of the masterpieces of Khushwant Singh. The story Karma deals with the result that testifies with one’s own act. Let’s find out some important questions answers from the story Karma like —

1. The title of the story Karma 

2. The character of Sir Mohan Lal

3. Compare and contrast the personalities of Sir Mohan Lal and Lady Lal etc.

4. The theme of the story Karma etc.

5. The conjugal life of Mr. and Mrs. Lal

Khushwant Singh Karma Questions Answers Analysis

Questions answers from the story Karma:

(1) Justify the title of the story Karma. 

(Or) Why do you think that the story is entitled Karma?

Ans:- ‘Karma’ is the Hindu theological idea. It means destiny. The philosophical implication of the word ‘Karma’ is that work with an effect. It gives emphasis on the effect that follows from one’s ‘karma’ or actions.

The story “Karma” shows the destiny of proud and polished, well-educated and anglicised husband, Mohan Lal who has so much association and fascination about everything English culture. The story shows that Mohan Lal suffers from identity crisis. Inspite of being an Indian, he hates India, his countrymen and even his native wife, Lachmi.

But as a result of his unfruitful fascination for what is English, he has to suffer from man-handling and humiliation at the hands of two rough English soldiers. He suffers the consequences of his own ‘karma’.

The story-teller is here distinctly sarcastic. To worship whatever is English blindly, is a silly karma or act that may lead to an extremely unhappy result and testify to the old saying– “as you sow, so you reap.” So, title clearly brings the theme of the story and it is justified. 

(2) Write a short character sketch of Sir Mohan Lal from his conversation with himself in front of the mirror. 

Ans:- The story “Karma” is about Mohan Lal who is greatly allured to the English language and the culture of foreign civilization. In the story “Karma”, Sir Mohan Lal is the protagonist whose life style is exactly like an Englishman.

The story opens with a background where Mohan Lal is seen waiting for the arrival of his train in the first class waiting room. He starts critically scrutinising the mirror which is obviously made in India. So, it does not suit to his taste. The mirror is worn-out and partly broken. He smiles at the mirror with an air of pity and patronage  and opines that it is inefficient, dirty and indifferent like everything of this country.

But he holds a high esteem about himself and thinks himself as distinguished, efficient and handsome. Thus, he remains a snob infront of the mirror which smiles back at him as if to tell him that he will receive a lesson soon.

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(3) Sketch the character of Sir Mohan Lal in the story Karma

Ans:- The story “Karma” is about Sir Mohan Lal who  is greatly allured to the English language and the culture of foreign civilisation. Inspite of being a native of India, Sir Mohan Lal practises English etiquette perfectly while studying in the Oxford University.

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He is accustomed to English cigarette, foreign drinks, The Times newspaper, fond of his Balliol tie which symbolize the English aristocracy. Sir Mohan seldom speaks Hindustani. Like a cultured Englishman he speaks fluently on almost any subject.

Sir Mohan Lal appears to be snobbish and proud. He thinks himself as distinguished, efficient and handsome and regards Indians as inefficient, dirty and indifferent even his wife.

However, Sir Mohan’s extreme fascination for whatever is English had a terrible shocking effect at his humiliation in the hands of two rough English soldiers. He is thrown away with his luggage on the platform despite all his Englishness. The author has tried to present this rejection ironically as his appropriate reward and this might have opened his eyes at the end.

(4) Compare and contrast the personalities of Mohan Lal and Lady Lal. 

Ans:- In respect of their appearance and disposition Sir Mohan Lal and his wife Lady Lal are diametrically opposite characters. They belong to two opposite poles in their manners and attitudes. Sir Mohan Lal embraces the English ways and cultures.

Inspite of being a native of India, Sir Mohan Lal has practiced English etiquette perfectly and thinks himself to be an Englishman. He took his education at Oxford and is accustomed to English cigarette, foreign drinks, The Times newspaper, foreign dress, Balliol tie which are the symbolic of his aristocracy.

Thus, he suffers from identity crisis and becomes separated from his own people and society and even from his wife, Lachmi.

                  Lachmi, on the other hand, is a simple, uneducated, rustic Indian woman who does not have any false attitude. She likes to remain what she has been and does not suffer from any identity crisis. She is happy with her gold bangles, filling meal, chapattis and mango-pickle and chewing beetle leaves. She is grateful to God for providing her all these necessities for simple living.

She is quite free and frank who can easily mingle with common people like bearer or coolie. Her pleasing disposition and open heart attitude bring her love and respect from every corner. 

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(5) Give a short character sketch of Lachmi in the story Karma. 

Ans:– Lachmi, the wife of Sir Mohan Lal, is one of the chief characters in the story, “Karma”. Considering her physical appearance, Lachmi is not charming but she has full of simplicity and goodness in her character. 

The most striking feature in her character is that she is happy with whatever she is and does not feel ashamed to show her identity. In the story Karma, the story teller presents her as a typical representative of rustic Indian woman.

She is aged around forty with short and fatty appearance. She has neither formal education nor accustomed to English culture and manners. She is happy with her simple dress, betel leaf, simple meal with chapattis and mango pickle and fond of her gold bangles and diamond nose ring. Even she does not mind her educated husband’s indifference towards her.

She does not even bear any grudge against her husband for not giving her enough time and importance. She obeys her husband passively. She is extremely lovable character and representative of the rural Indian women who are faithful and loyal to their husband in a male dominated society. 

(6) “Sir Mohan’s thoughts were disturbed….” –Briefly give an account of Sir Mohan’s thoughts while sitting in the first class waiting room. 

Ans:– The train arrived and the platform became noisy. Sir Mohan, the chief character in the story Karma was found in the first class waiting room, sitting quietly and exhibiting his superior English etiquette.

He was lost in thoughts and was ruminating about the five glorious years in England. He wondered if he would have to travel alone.  He was thinking of an impressive conversation with English co-passengers. He loved to exhibit the British culture and manners and their company. But he did not show any outward eagerness.

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Infact, he thought that he would cleverly play some cards to win  their attention. He would get out a copy of The Times while solving crossword puzzle in it to attract their attention. He also thought that someone might recognize his Balliol tie. He fancied that it would help him to recall his fanciful days of Oxford Colleges, masters, dons, tutors, boat races, sports blazers, rugged matches etc.

He also thought if both The Times and the Balliol tie failed, then he would ask for whiskey and bring out his gold cigarette case full of English cigarettes to surprise his English co-passengers. Infact, Mohan Lal was lost in reverie or dream like state which was disturbed by a bearer’s information that his luggage had already been placed in the first class coupe.

(7) How did Sir Mohan compare his life in England with his later life in India?

Ans:– In the story Karma, Sir Mohan Lal, the protagonist of the story had been presented as an anglicised, well-educated, polished character who loved and perfectly followed English etiquette and culture.

According to him, his five years in England were like fairytales. Those were the days of Oxford Colleges, masters, tutors, boat races and rugged matches. Those were the glorious days of grey bags, gowns, sports blazers and of mix doubles, of dinners at the Inns and spending nights at Piccadilly. For Sir Mohan, those were the days of five glorious past.

In comparison, Sir Mohan Lal considered his later life in India was a dirty one with vulgar countrymen and sordid details of road to success and the nocturnal visit to the upper storey to meet obese Lachmi, his wife with smelling of sweat and raw onions.

Those five years were the times of spending in a dream like state with  the British. Now, he cherished those moments only by his foreign etiquette and communicating with Englishmen.

(8) Briefly discuss the picture of the society as reflected in the short story Karma by Khushwant Singh. 

Ans:- Karma is a short story that deals with different aspects of the society in the early part of the nineteenth century in India. It deals with the effects of colonialism in the society along with the populism of foreign language, dress,  culture and some sections of the people got allured to those Westernisation.

It rippled into people’s thoughts and mind. On the other hand, the story represents the dismal situation of the Indian society under the British dominance. The story serves a deep contradiction between privileged educated class and simple, rustic class of the society; the position of women in the male dominated society.

In the short story, Khushwant Singh also shows the hypocrisy towards Indian values and culture and society by some of her own people who were very much affected by foreign culture. In the short story, Mohan Lal represents those educated cultured Indians who were culturally enslaved by the British ways of life.

On the other hand, his wife Lachmi is the representative of the women of then Indian society where the women simply devoted to their husband. The two British soldiers stand for the ruling class dominating over the black Indians. 

(9) Briefly discuss the conjugal life of Mr. and Mrs. Lal as reflected in the short story Karma 

Ans:- The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Lal as reflected in the story “Karma” is not complementary to each other. In terms of their relationship, they belonged to two opposite poles of life. The harmony and love of conjugal life were absent in them. Though they lived together, but there was no cordial link between them.

Sir Mohan who always patronized the English culture and educated class of society, looked down his Indian wife as unculture, worthless and vulgar. Mrs. Lal lived in the upper storey and Mohan Lal on the ground floor. He did not like to spare his valuable time for his wife. He only made once or twice nocturnal visit, stayed for few minutes and ordered in Anglicised Hindustani.

Mrs. Lal obeyed it passively like the most traditional Indian wife. As there was no passion of love between them, this type of visits brought no fruitful results in their life. Sir Mohan Lal rather felt attraction towards the women of Piccadilly. The bad smelling of sweat and raw onions from his obese wife became unbearable to him. All these prove that their conjugal life was not happy at all. 

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