My Old Home Summary

It was very cold weather when the narrator returned to his hometown after more than twenty years. The narrator got shocked when he found his old hometown desolate and miserable, different from what he had expected. The author has in fact returned to the village in order to permanently move away from his hometown to the workplace he has been living in.

At his home, his mother and eight-year-old nephew Hong’er were waiting for him. When he went inside his house, he went into melancholy as he found all the rooms and other things changed. He there also notices Mrs. Yang who has now transformed from a beautiful lady to an old miser and poor lady.

However, he was overjoyed when his mother reminds him of Runtu, his childhood friend. He remembers the emerald green watermelon field where he and Runtu used to play. He also remembers different activities such as catching birds, collecting sea shells, etc, that he did together with Runtu.

However, the narrator feels disheartened when Runtu comes there and greets him calling him “Master”. He finds that Runtu has been a poor and burdened man throughout his life. And he had been so because of the large number of children he had as well as the ill-mechanism of the state. High tax rates and the farmers being compelled to allocate their huge amount of production to soldiers, bandits, officials, gentry folk and so on has lead Runtu to poverty. The narrator provides Runtu with whatever household goods he requires. After this, the narrator leaves his old hometown and sets off his journey to his workplace along with his mother and his nephew. Runtu and his Suiseng came there during the departure and Runtu hands over the narrator some dried peas — the good food he could afford and finally they bid farewell.


Understanding the Text

Answer the following questions.

a.How does the narrator describe his feeling at the arrival of his old home? 

Ans.: In the story, the narrator was returning home after more than twenty years. The time he returned was during the cold weather. When he saw the surroundings of his village where his old home was, he found it to be drab, desolate, devoid of any semblance of life. He found that the reality of his village to be different from what he had imagined. There were no signs of progress in his village. Thus, he had a feeling of some kind of depression when he first saw his village after a long time.

b.What were the three kinds of servants in China then? What does it indicate about contemporary Chinese society ? 

Ans: The three kinds of servants in China then were: ‘yearlongs’, ‘short-timers’ and ‘busy- monthers’. The ‘yearlongs’ were the workers that worked the whole year long for one family, the ‘short-timers’ were the workers that worked by the day and the ‘busy-workers’ were those workers who tilled their own land but worked for a specific family just during the holidays or when rents were collected.

This indicates that there was the practice of feudalism in contemporary Chinese society when this story was written. It also depicts the gap between rich and poor in China. Some of the people were extremely rich and had a lavish lifestyle as the narrator’s ancestors in the story, whereas most of them were poor, worked for others and hardly earned their living. The three kinds of servants also depict the pathetic and exploitative nature of the higher class of people over the lower class of people in contemporary Chinese society.

c.What makes the narrator nostalgic? What did he do with Runtu in the teenage? 

Ans.: The narrator in the story was returning home after more than twenty years. When he saw the surroundings of his village where his old home was, he found it to be drab, desolate, devoid of any semblance of life which was totally different from what he had imagined. At the same time, the narrator remembered the past glorious days of his village during the time when he was a child. He too remembered the good childhood days that he spent with Runtu. And, these all made the narrator nostalgic.

The narrator used to get excited by all sorts of strange and wondrous things that Runtu could do which the narrator had never ever had imagined earlier. The narrator used to play with Runtu very fondly in the green emerald fields of watermelon. The narrator also used to set snares and catch birds with Runtu. In addition to this, the narrator and Runtu also used to go to the beach and collect shells.

d.How did Runtu hunt a Zha in his young age?

Ans.: Runtu when he was young, i.e. twelve years old at that time, used to carry a pitchfork in his hand. Then, suddenly and with all his might, the boy used to stab at a zha, but the animal was so crafty that it used to make a lighting turn, run back between Runtu’s legs and make its good escape.

e. How does the narrator make a humorous picture of Mrs. Yang? 

Ans.: The writer in the story got startled when he saw a woman of fifty or so something before him. When the woman asked the narrator if he recognized her since she sued to hold him in his arms when he was a kid, the narrator was even more at a loss. Thankfully, the narrator’s mother came at the moment and introduced that the woman was Mrs. Yang.

The narrator makes the description of Mrs. Yang that her cheekbones protruded and her lips were thin. Wearing a pair of trousers (she hadn’t tied a skirt over them), hands on her hips, legs wide apart, she stood balanced on a pitiful little pair of bound feet, looking for all the world like a pair of compasses out of someone’s drafting kit. The author also remembers her working in the beancurd shop and then, people used to call her the “Beancurd Beauty”. At that time, she was beautiful, she had a powdered face, her cheekbones weren’t high nor were her lips so thin. What was more, since she had always been seated, the narrator mentions that he had never before seen her “compasses” pose. Thus, the narrator in the story makes a humorous picture of Mrs. Yang.

f.According to the narrator, what were different factors that made Runtu a poor man throughout his life? 

Ans.: The narrator in the story mentions different factors that made Runtu a poor man throughout his life. The first factor he mentions in the story is the large number of children that Runtu had. Likewise, another reason for Runtu’s poverty was famine. In addition to this, the poor and ill mechanism of the state, i.e. the then China also greatly contributed to his poor statutes throughout his life. At the time in China, the tax rates were harsh and the farmers were compelled to allocate their huge amount of production to soldiers, bandits, officials, gentry folk and so on.

g.How does the narrator help Runtu before leaving the old home? 

Ans.: When the narrator saw the poor and harsh condition of Runtu, he felt very sorry for him. The writer was more sad to know that Runtu was poor not because of his own reason, but because of the plight caused by too many children, famine, harsh taxes, soldiers, bandits, officials, gentry folk – everything that had plagued him. So, the narrator told him to take whatever he wanted. After the narrator’s permission, Runtu selected a few things such as: two long tables, an incense burner, some candlesticks, and a set of scales. He also asked for the ashes from the narrator’s kitchen stove that worked as fertilizer for crops. He gathered everything together and took them with him. In this way, the narrator helped Runtu before leaving the old home.

h.How does the author differentiate two kinds of idols? 

Ans.: When Runtu took the censer and candlesticks, the narrator in the story believes that Runtu was superstitious as he couldn’t let go of that superstitious idol-worship of his for a single minute. The narrator also interprets that it was a thing called ‘hope’ more than it was ‘idol- worship’. However, the author expresses that everyone in the world worships idols with ‘hope’ though there can be differences in what people hope in their life. As in the story, the narrator states that the things Runtu hoped for were of immediate needs whereas the things the narrator hoped were of somewhere far off in the murky distance.

Reference to the context

a.While reading the friendship between the narrator and Runtu, Hindu readers remember the friendship between Krishna and Sudama. Which particular description reminds you of the mythological example ? 

Ans: The friendship between the narrator and Runtu, Hindu readers remember the friendship between Krishna and Sudama. The comparison between the narrator and Runtu is worth comparing the friendship between Krishna and Sudama since there are a lot of similarities. The narrator in the story is rich as was Krishna and Runtu was poor as was Sudama. However, there was deep love, affection, care and devotion in the friendship.

As the narrator and Runtu were friends since childhood in the story and parted at the later stage of life, so were Krishna and Sudama. Krishna and Sudama were very close friends while studying in the gurukul (school). In gurukul, in addition to the study, the students had to carry out their own tasks, and therefore, Krishna and Sudama had been to the forest to collect wood. And, suddenly it started to rain and they went under a tree to escape the rain. Krishna felt hungry and asked if Sudama had something to eat. Sudama, though didn’t want to share the puwa (fried beaten rice) earlier, however seeing Krishna’s hunger, shared the food with Krishna. Krishna told him that it was his favourite snack. Their friendship developed more intense than after.

When they grew up, their life and ways get separated. Krishna, later grew up as a powerful part of the noble ruling family in Dwarka whereas Sudama remained a humble and ordinary poor villager, often suffering from poverty. Later, Sudama was encouraged by his wife,

Susheela to meet and ask for favour from well-to-do Krishna, however, Sudama didn’t follow her. Later, Krishna himself visited Sudama and knew about his poverty. Sudama was so ashamed of his poverty that he didn’t invite Krishna into his house. Krishna himself went inside the house and asked snack from Sudama. Sudama had just last grains of beaten rice from which he prepared prawa. Krishna’s favourite food during childhood, and offered him. Krishna eats the food in delight and leaves some pleasantries to Sudama. That is, when Krishna departs from Sudama Sudama later finds that his small hut has changed into a big mansion. Later, when Sudama visits Krishna to his palace with puwa, to inquire what actually happened, Krishna treats Sudama royally despite Sudama being a poor and ordinary fellow. This depicts the friendship of true friends as the story ‘My Old Home’ depicts the true friendship between the well-to-do narrator and poor Runtu.

b.How does the story support the proposition that the relationships of childhood are innocent, impartial and disinterested? 

Ans: The story ‘My Old Home’ portrays a great relationship that exists between two friends: one narrator of the story and another, Runtu. In the story, the narrator returns to his old home after more than twenty years. And, he did so in order to sell his house in the village and to shift his family in the city of his workplace. Upon returning to the village, the narrator feels nostalgic as he remembers his past days. Among the fine past days during his childhood, the finest moments of his life were those moments spent together with Runtu.

In the story, the narrator belonged to a well-to-do family and Runtu was in fact a son of the servant that the narrator’s family had hired. The narrator and Runtu being of a similar age, developed a close friendship. However, they parted in the later stage of life. The narrator got a good job in the city whereas Runtu remained to be a poor peasant in the village. Upon the return of the narrator in the village, though the narrator had thought of addressing Runtu as his brother, Runtu addresses the narrator as “Master” and even displays his respect as a servant does to this master. Runtu gets hurt by this and even gets more disappointed to see Runtu not healthy and weak struggling against poverty. Later, when departing, the narrator allows Runtu to take all the things that he required and Runtu also gives the narrator some dried peas, the only remaining fine food with Runtu and asks the narrator to accept them. Thus, the story shows the proposition that the relationships of childhood are innocent, impartial and disinterested through the narrator and Runtu. The true friendship between the narrator and Runtu even resembles a great degree with the friendship between Lord Krishna and his poor friend, Sudama.

c.After reading the story, what inferences can you make about contemporary Chinese economic and social system ? 

Ans.: The setting of the story ‘My Old Home’ dates back to the period of China which was ruled by of Qing Empire. The period with the help of the narrator, Runtu and other villagers shows that there was the practice of feudalism in the then-contemporary Chinese society. The writer in the story brilliantly portrays the gap between rich and poor in China. The rich had a comfortable life and they exploited three kinds of servants: ‘yearlongs’, ‘short-timers’ and busy-monthers’. However, life for the poor was extremely difficult during those days. The poor involved themselves in cultivation and produced food that was barely sufficient for them. In addition to this, they had a lot of children and it was difficult to take fulfil the needs and desires of the family. The story also depicts the rich growing rich and powerful as the narrator was from a well-to-do family and remained so and in contrast to this, the poor remained poor despite the hard work and toil they carried out as Runtu’s family was from a poor background and so was his condition.

In addition to this, the narrator also sheds light on the corrupt society as well as an ill mechanism of the state of the then Chinese era. At the time in China, the tax rates were harsh and the farmers were compelled to allocate their huge amount of production to soldiers, bandits, officials, gentry folk and so on. Thus, after reading the story, we can make inferences that the contemporary Chinese económic and social system from that of the was harsh with ill mechanism and with a huge gap between the rich and the poor ones.

d.What does the story indicate about the geographical features of the narrator’s hometown?
Ans.: Going through the story, we come to know that the author’s hometown is in the countryside and the countryside is located on an island. This gets confirm when the narrator dives into his old memory when he and his playmate Runtu used to go to the shore and collects shells. And, this island in the story appears to be far off mainland China. And, this too gets confirmed when the writer in the story implicitly maintains that in order to reach the hometown located in the far island from the place where the speaker works, i.e. the mainland China, the speaker in the story mentions that to approach the village from the place where he works, the narrator should first travel by train and then should cross a river by boat. Only then, he can reach the village. The later part of the story also confirms a river and mountains that the speaker sees while moving to his workplace from his old home. Thus, regarding the geographical location, in the story, it is primarily revealed that the narrator’s hometown is located on an island far off mainland China.

Reference beyond the text

A.Human beings are on the road from time immemorial, always migrating to new places. Write an essay on The Trend of Migration in Nepal in about 300 words.


The Trend of Migration in Nepal

The place of moving from one place to another is called migration. Human beings (even animals including birds and insects) migrate from one place to another place where they get a better environment.

Traditionally, people migrated from one place to another in search of good cultivable land for growing adequate crops and for security where they could get safe shelter, away from natural disasters, wars and their enemies. But, people at present days migrate from one place to another in search of new jobs, better infrastructures, health care and facilities, quality education and other facilities. In Nepal too, migration has taken place owing to these reasons. In Nepal, it is reported that about 4% of the population cross regional boundaries every year. Most of the migration takes place from the mountain and hilly region to the Terai region and from the rural areas to the urban areas.

In Nepal, there has been a steady pattern of migration from the hill and mountain regions

to the Terai region of Nepal in recent years. And, it is so since the Terai region has a plain and fertile land suitable for agriculture and making houses. The access to water is easy in the Terai region too since there is abundant and easy-accessed underground drinking water. Likewise, it is very easy to build the infrastructures of development in the Terai region, as a result, the Terai region is more developed and advances in comparison to the Hilly and Himalayan regions. Moreover, the easy topography has resulted in the concentration of large cities along with factories and industries in the Terai region. Because of these reasons, migration has been steadily increasing in the Terai region.

Though it appears people migrating from the Hilly and Mountain region to the Terai region as natural, however, it may create ecological disturbance in the long run. The Terai region soon will be overcrowded whereas the Hilly region and Himalayan region will have very few people to carry out the development activities and resources in this region. Hence, this trend can result in the environmental imbalance of the whole country. Therefore, the concerned authorities must be careful to check such kind of haphazard migration and for this, different infrastructures of development and adequate factories and industries should be carried out as well as different services should be made available in the Hilly and Himalayan regions too.

B.Find one of your relatives or friends, who has migrated to a new place leaving his/her old home. Talk to him/her and prepare a report on what he/she felt while leaving the old home. 

Ans.: My own big brother has migrated to the United States living the home where he was born and the family with whom he grew up. He went there in an illegal way. Though we all family members reminded him of the risk of going to the US illegally and suggested him not to go there that way, he didn’t listen to us. We too could not force him since he was the breadwinner of our family as my parents have grown old and I was just a student. During the part of departure, he had a sad and gloomy face. His eyes were full of tears and he left the house with heavy steps.

Luckily, my brother landed there in the US safely. However, he was very sad to miss two of his friends who accompanied him on the journey from Nepal to the US as they died on the way to the US when a boat sank in the Caribbean Sea. When he reached there and joined us in a video call, he cried bitterly as a child does. He stated that he was struggling hard and every moment was challenging to him. He was very nostalgic and stated that he has severely missed the family, friends, the home and the village. However, he feels used to and fine nowadays. He mentions that he is willing very much to return to Nepal but he will do so only when he will. get a naturalized citizenship certificate (or just a Green Card) from the US.