His First Flight

Summary: This is a story about the painful process of learning an important lesson in life. The main character of this story is a baby seagull which has to learn to fly. For most of the birds, learning to fly is taken for granted but we seldom think the mental agony which the bird may have to go through while doing so. This short story beautifully depicts the situation. The parents and siblings of the baby seagull apply all the tricks to cajole and force it to fly. Finally, the baby seagull succeeds in overcoming its fear and learns to fly.

NCERT Exercise

Question 1: Why was the young seagull afraid to fly? Do you think all young birds are afraid to make their first flight, or are some birds more timid than others? Do you think a human baby also finds it a challenge to take its first steps?

Answer: The young seagull was afraid of falling and hurting itself. Any animal or bird, including humans is afraid to take first steps or first flight.

Actually this is not a simple act of flying or walking. This is about growing independent, about taking a giant leap towards maturity. As the process of learning anything is difficult so we are apprehensive while taking the proverbial first steps in life. You must have observed a kid crying on his first day to school. As the kid is going to face the harsh outside world, there will not be the protective environment of its parents. So, consciously or subconsciously the kid is having fear about challenges which lie ahead.

Once you will graduate from school and will enter the college, you will feel nervousness and anxiety during initial days of college. But tackling that nervousness is worth it as it will give you enough confidence to enter the adult world.

Question 2: “The sight of the food maddened him.” What does this suggest? What compelled the young seagull to finally fly?

Answer: This episode can be an important lesson to develop self dependence. We human beings get the protection of our near and dear ones almost throughout our lives. Even if somebody becomes adult his/her parents remain protective about him/her. It sounds good but more often than not this possessive behaviour hampers our mental development.

Had seagull’s parents continued to feed him, he won’t have tried to fly. But the hunger; along with sight of tasty fish; compelled him to fly and reach for the sky.

Question 3: “They were beckoning to him, calling shrilly.” Why did the seagull’s father and mother threaten him and cajole him to fly?

Answer: You can compare the situation with the way your parents cajole and sometimes pressurize you to focus on your study. Excess of either love or pressure will not do well for you. You will be spoiled or you can become stubborn.

So a mix of carrot and stick always give the desired results. Probably seagull’s parents have learnt this lesson through their experience. That is why they are following the carrot and stick policy.

Question 4: Have you ever had a similar experience, where your parents encouraged you to do something that you were too scared to try?

Answer: There can be variety of examples, like learning to ride a bicycle, or getting goose-bumps on a ferry wheel, or the apprehension while traveling alone for the first time.

You can try recalling how nervous you felt. What suggestions were given to you and how you overcame your fear to succeed in difficult acts which seem simple for you at present.

The Black Aeroplane

Question 1: “I’ll take the risk.” What is the risk? Why does the narrator take it?

Answer: A huge storm was between the pilot and his destination. Flying through storm can be very risky, especially for small planes like Dakota. But as the pilot was going on holiday to meet his family, so he thought of taking the risk. Even those of you living with parents must be looking ahead to meet with cousins and grandparents during holidays. And once you are in a mood for holiday then no matter if your train or flight is running behind schedule, you will suffer all hardships in the way because the happiness of holiday will numb your pain.

Especially, think about those students who are living in boarding schools and get once in a year opportunity to meet their parents. They will happily face all harsh conditions of journey to reach their home.

Question 2: Describe the narrator’s experience as he flew the aeroplane into the storm.

Answer: The plane twisted and turned in the storm. The instrument panel was not working. Pilot was not sure about his location and direction. This must have been a fearsome experience.

Then the pilot sees a plane flying besides his plane. The pilot of another plane waves and shows him the way out of storm. It was like a godsend for him. Following the unknown person, the pilot comes out of the storm and reaches his destination.

Question 3: Why does the narrator say, “I landed and was not sorry to walk away from the old Dakota…”?

Answer: Dakota’s status among flying community is same as a Maruti 800 is having among cars, or an old scooter is having among two wheelers. These models are the basic means of conveyance. People don’t feel elated while commuting by them. So more often than not a pilot coming out of an old Dakota always feels sorry for having to fly such an old and rickety model.

But in this story as the pilot weathered the storm and landed safely so he was more than happy to come out from the old Dakota.

Question 4: What made the woman in the control centre look at the narrator strangely?

Answer: The woman at the control centre was sure that nobody apart from the narrator was flying at that time. So, when she heard about another pilot showing the way to the narrator, see had every reason to disbelieve.

People at airport control center get information about each and every plane flying in the vicinity. They get information through RADAR.

Question 5: Who do you think helped the narrator to reach safely?

Answer: It is difficult to guess. But probably it was the narrator’s self confidence or self belief, which created the illusion of another plane flying nearby.

As other concrete evidences in the story from control centre indicate, there was no other plane flying at that time. So may be the illusion theory holds more water.

How to Tell Wild Animals

If ever you should go by chance
To jungles in the east;
And if there should to you advance
A large and tawny beast,
If he roars at you as you’re dyin’
You’ll know it is the Asian Lion...

This is an extreme situation to identify a lion. The poet says that if the roar of the animal is so fearsome that you feel like you are dying then you can be sure that you are near a lion.

But nobody would like to recognize a lion in this way.
Or if some time when roaming round,
A noble wild beast greets you,
With black stripes on a yellow ground,
Just notice if he eats you.
This simple rule may help you learn
The Bengal Tiger to discern.

What to do if you see a wild animal with black stripes on yellow body. If he starts eating you then you can be sure that it is a tiger. But it is better not to wait to be a tiger’s lunch to identify it.

If strolling forth, a beast you view,
Whose hide with spots is peppered,
As soon as he has lept on you,
You’ll know it is the Leopard.
’Twill do no good to roar with pain,
He’ll only lep and lep again.

If you happen to see an animal with spots which gives it a salt and pepper appearance, wait until he leaps on you. Because no matter how hard you cry, it will continue pouncing on you. So , be careful and don’t allow it to leap on you.

If when you’re walking round your yard
You meet a creature there,
Who hugs you very, very hard,
Be sure it is a Bear.
If you have any doubts, I guess
He’ll give you just one more caress.

Bears are thought to be good wrestlers and can give a really tight hug. Although a friendly hug is referred to as bear hug. But if a real bear will hug you, then it may not feel friendly at all.

Though to distinguish beasts of prey
A novice might nonplus,
The Crocodile you always may
Tell from the Hyena thus:
Hyenas come with merry smiles;
But if they weep they’re Crocodiles.

Some animals are famous for their weird behaviour. For example, a laughing hyena’s voice resembles human’s laughing sound. A crocodile is said shed tears while eating its pray. So don’t wait for a hyena to laugh or for a crocodile to weep.

The true Chameleon is small,
A lizard sort of thing;
He hasn’t any ears at all,
And not a single wing.
If there is nothing on the tree,
’Tis the chameleon you see.

A chameleon or garden lizard is an expert at camouflage. If you are unable to see a thing on tree then chances are chameleon is sitting there. As it changes colour as per its surrounding it is difficult to see. This capacity of camouflage helps the lizard in saving it from hunters.


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