"Sumitra's Story" by Rukshana Smith (Q&A)
Vi fikk i oppgave og lese boka Sumitra's Story, og her er oppgavene med svar.
1) Why are Mr Patel and his daughter Sumitra on their way to Kampala? - Mr. Patel and Sumitra are on their way to buy fireworks for his daughter Leelas wedding.
2) Why are there right from the beginning so many Indian words in the text, although we are in Africa? - Sumitra`s family, as so many other Asian families have moved to Africa to work. As Asian people were considered smarter and better educated, they were most wanted for the technical labour.
3) Explain what a dowry settlement is: - A dowry is the money, goods and estate that the woman brings into the marriage, in case of widowhood the woman is entitled to her dowry.
4) Why are there so many different races in the country where Sumitra was born? And which race does she belong to? - Sumitra is Asian, and originally from India. The white entered Uganda during colonization. They enslaved the Africans and created apartheid. While the Asian were wanted for their skills and mind, they immigrated to Uganda for labour opportunities.
5) What does that quotation tell you about the position of this Indian family in Uganda? - The Asian in Africa feel superior to the black Africans. This is because of their beliefs and upbringing. Yet the Asians feel degraded towards the white colonists.
6) Tell about the balck schoolfriend that Sumitra has: - Birungi is Sumitra`s black best friend. But Sumitra is scared to ask her father permission to invite Birungi home. This is because she has been raised not to be with black people or white people after school. To stay with her kin.
7) Is Sumitra satisfied with the explination? - Sumitra was puzzled; she does not understand why she can not hang out with her friends, limitless of their race.
1) What kinds of preparations are made for the wedding? - They made loads of food, there were musicians and the women carried cushions onto the lawn for the guests to sit on.
2) Who have been invited to the wedding? - There were a lot of children, Sumitra`s cousins, and her relatives children.
3) Tell about the ceremony: - Leela and her to be husband sat on raised dais, and in front of them sat the Guru. The hostess carried out dishes of food while, and there was a magnificent firework display.
4) What happens to Sumitra during the celebrations? - During the celebrations Sumitra gets burned by the fireworks and people run to help her.
5) What is that Sumitra and the black girl, Birundi, discuss after the wedding? - They discuss the political situation in Uganda, and why some people have black skin colour while other white.
6) What has Sumitra learned about England, a very remote country? -She has learned that it belongs to a continent with several countries and beliefs. She has learned how the climate is compared to Uganda.
7) Why should even Mary, who was white, and her family leave Uganda? - Idi Amin, the ruler of the country wants the land ruled by the native Africans as it once was. His idea is to throw all Indian immigrants and English colonists out of the country.
1) What does it mean the Indians were being dispossessed in Uganda? Indians being dispossessed means that their businesses, shops homes and jobs were taken from them and given to Africans.
2) Why is Bap queuing in front of the British Embassy? - During the last year Idi Amin had been making speeches about throwing the Asian out of their communities, kicking them out. That was why Bap was queuing for papers that enabled them to leave.
3) Why do they still prefer to go to England instead of India when they have to leave Uganda? - They chose to live in England because of the welfare system. There the girls could attend school, and they had British passports.
4) What kind of life has Mai, Sumitra’s mother, had in Uganda? - Sumitra`s mother had been the manager of a company, and at home she had servants to do the cooking and cleaning for her.
5) Explain Bap’s feelings when sitting in the plane, leaving his second home country: - He had come to Uganda as a young man, there he built his business and became an honourable man. Now Leaving Uganda he wonders how life can be in England. Will they be poor and struggle to provide food, was it the best solution, going to England.
6) How do the Indian passengers react to the food served on board the plane? - The Indian flight passengers had brought homemade food with them as they suspected the plane meals to be poisoned by Africans.
7) Explain that sentence: - Sumitra has taken English lesson at school, reading Cambridge books. She is therefore the only fluent speaker of the family, and she has to organize, decide and explain.
8) What impression does London make on the refugees? - It’s a calming place, as it is all they know from before. Still they see this different culture and it amuses them. The way people talk walk and dress. They are confused about the groceries stores and the traffic sounds.
9) Why don’t their two relatives who are already in London com and pick them up in the camp? - Because Sumitra has not informed them the name of the refugee camp they’re staying at, therefore Leela and Jayant are unable to track them down.
10) Why does this new life confuse Sumitra in terms of human relations? - She wonders what her pecking order is, who is more respectable than them. She feels like she is on the bottom of the food chain.
1) Describe the family’s reactions to finally seeing somebody from their own family: - They were shocked with relief and happiness; the family hugged and held each other.
2) How does Jayant show them that he has been in England for some time? - As they drive past well know places he call out the names, and who lives there and so on.
3) Why is Bap not satisfied with the job he has got? - He used to work as a manager of an electric artefacts, and repair man, here he worked at a factory. Feeling dumb and depressed because he could not speak the native language.
4) What is completely new to her? - She is taken back by the fact that they bring dinner money to school, to pay for their lunches, instead of bringing a homemade meal with them.
5) Bap has been called a Paki, doesn’t he show any prejudice himself? He is annoyed and sad that people called him a “paki” while he himself prejudices both Africans and the British. He looks at himself as a child of a better race than anyone else, and he seems to be a nationalist.
6) Why is Sumitra so disturbed at the end of this chapter? - She still didn’t understand why some people were considered better than others. In Africa blacks were bad and British were honourable. Here she was taught to hate the British.
1. Why is the temple a place of relief for the Patel family? - The temple is the one place where they can meet and share their culture with others who understand it and have fun.
2. Sumitra has difficulties doing her homework. Why? - Sumitra has difficulties doing her homework because she has a lot of things that she needs to do at home.
3. How is her life compared to Hilary’s? - Hilary’s life was easy compared to Sumitra’s because Hilary always came home to a clean house and a hot meal. She had time to do her homework and watched TV afterwards.
4. Why doesn’t her family have any understanding of her problems at school? - They think that she has to work harder and then afterwards do her homework. In their culture the girls and women were expected to cook and clean and afterwards to things like homework.
5. Why is eating a hamburger such an awful act for Sumitra’s sister? Sumitra’s sister doesn’t want her to eat meat because it is not their culture, but Sumitra has adapted to the British culture nice and doesn’t seem to think it is bad at all. This you understand when Sumitra eats the burger.
6. How does the social worker react to their living conditions? - She was shocked and totally agreed that they should be moved to another place.
7. Describe Antonio Moni: - Antonio Moni was Italian, had dark curly hair and sparkling eyes. Had a wife and three children, and a guesthouse to run so he was pretty stressed.
8. Why were they not told that they would probably have to stay in that guest house for a very long time? - Because they felt it would be better to not tell the truth, because then their morale would be so low and everyone would be sad. Because they didn’t build enough houses to get everyone a home and so they just told them they had to wait some months to get a new place to live.
1. Tell about the clients that the Patels meet in the guest house: - The clients are the homeless families and the “ordinary guests”. The ordinary guests were out all day and returned in the evening to have fun. The homeless had to live by a set of rules to all times.
2. How are the Patels treated by Jean? - She showed the Patel’s that she didn’t like them by saying things to them and avoiding them at all times.
3. Why does Sumitra feel happy after having talked to Martin and especially Maria? - Sumitra was happy because she had finally found someone who would listen to what she had to say and someone that actually wanted things to change and tried making things change.
4. What do Sumitra and Maria talk about when they met in Maria’s room? - Sumitra talks about how she got her and her problems, and Maria tells her about her problems, and why she is all alone with a baby.
5. What does she mean by that? - She had found someone that cares about the Indians and how they live and work in Britain.
1. Describe the new life in Britain compared: - Bap is used to being the one in control, being admired and now he has a low paid job, were he is not looked upon as the honourable man he is. He feels lost in this new world where he does not speak the language. Mai is locked up in her room all day. Depressed and sick, she feels unwanted and unwelcome. She would have welcomed anyone, while they act in a hostile attitude towards her.
2. What does Mai feel very uncomfortable in the TV-room? - She feels unwanted and she can feel Jean and Ritas eyes upon her back.
3. What were they supposed to do? - The elder girls watch television and talk to the guests. They explore and play. Instead of studying hard as their parents think they are.
4. Describe how the carol-singing choir in the guest housewas formed: - Martin encouraged them to do so while they are on sight seeing. He suggests that they sing carols for charity. Back at the house he tries to get as many in the choir as possible.
5. What effect does the choir singing have atmosphere? - They laughed, shouted and held hands. Christmas eve they had a friendship.
1. What does Sumitra mean by this? - She means that her parents were not tied together by love, their marriage was arranged.
2. How could the arrival of the new guest, Mike, threaten? - Mike offers Sumitra a Saturday job, which sets Jean of to a hostile mood. She claims that all the foreigners are stealing their jobs, men and houses.
3. How does Sumitra get a Saturday job? - Mike gives the Saturday job to her. She works with paperwork, doing phone calls at the centre where they give houses to homeless.
4. Sautrday job lifeline. Explain: - It gives them a little more economical space and gives her the opportunity to have nice clothes and do what she wants. It also gives her a chance to help Bap.
5. How does Sumitra’s family showtheir gratitude? - To show their gratitude towards Martin, Mike and Maria, they invite them to a marriage ceremony.
6. What is arranged marriage? - An arranged marriage is when your parents collect your spouse for you. Sumitra fears this because she wants to experience real love.
1. From where does the father get the idea of calling the Housing Department? - Other Indian families are given homes faster than the Patel’s. So Bap decides to call the housing office to nag a little, as this is all that works.
2. How does Sumitra explain that she understands English? - She heard Jean mutter, and then she realized that it was true. The Indians are taking their jobs and their homes. And they are prioritized on the housing list.
3. Mention some reasons why Indians have been rehoused quickly? Religion, children, their cooking traditions and language difficulties are reasons to why the Indians were re-housed faster.
4. How does Sumitra try to convince the social worker? - Sumitra tells the social worker that they are not allowed to cook, her mother is ill and that the kids can not do their homework.
5. What sort of housing do they finally get? - They are finally moved in to a fully furnitured two bed roomed flat. Jean says she wishes that she was black, and then she would have a job and a house. While the others are delighted yet sad that their leaving.
6. How does Sumitra experience the change in her father’s behaviour? He gets happier, and feels like his own master again. He bosses them around and acts like the head of the family again.
7. Elder sisters happy new apartment. Feel sorry. Why? - They are sad; they feel like they should have stayed in Uganda. Now they have seen what freedom really is.
1. Sumitra talks to mother in kitchen. Both sides of problem. Why? - She feels like she is connecting her family to England, she speaks for them and protect them. Yet she has all her Indian traditions and values to protect as well.
2. What kind of job has her mother got? - Mai worked in a shoe factory in Enfield.
3. Why does Sumitra feel so isolated after they move to Hendon? - At the hostel she had a community of friends at Hendon, she felt like she had no one.
4. What are these homes like? - After she had visited her school friends she found it harder to reconcile with the life she led. She found their lives to be so much easier.
5. What is the anthropological different colours? - The anthropological answer was that people had evolved in different regions and climates.
6. In what ways is Sumitra’s life restricted now? - She was restricted because she did not choose her own career or future husband; her life would never be what she made it.
7. Why does she watch so much television? - Watching TV kept her from dwelling and philosophizes.
1. What happens at Maria’s house-warming party? - She served an Indian (burned) banquet to the Patel’s.
2. Why is the family rehoused once again. New house like? - Other families need the flat, and now that the kids are growing they need more space. So the Patel’s receive a 4 bed room house.
3. Why is Sandya worried about Sumitra? - Sandya is worried about Sumitra because all she does these days are watching TV, and she’s not even present while doing so.
4. What is the difference between the way Jayant looks up culture? Jayant lives in England with his Indian culture, he looks upon the Englishmen as filthy pests. While Sumitra wants to take the best from both cultures and mix them together.
5. Why do Sandya and Sumitra discuss equality when conditions? - At school they are treated as individuals, and encouraged to be so. At home they have to behave to the Indian culture, not having meanings of they’re own.
6. Why does Maria talk to Mai abourt ordinary bread? - Maria talks about bred to Mai, because ordinary bread would give her more time, and it is cheaper. In stead of making every meal from scratch.
7. School, work and home. How are these three words so separated in Sumitra’s life? - She is three different persons at each one, at home she’s the disciplined, helping devoted daughter, at school she is the sophisticated, studious pupil, and at work she is a grown up responsible free person.
1. Why is Sumitra so happy when offered Martin’s old guitar? - She is very happy indeed when offered Martins guitar. She has long dreamed of being a musician, making her own music.
2. Why is Maria and Martin’s wedding such a shock for Bap? - In their culture arranged marriages are a tradition, Maria and Martin married out of love and devotion.
3. What will a washing machine mean for the family? - The washing machine will mean less labour for Mai, and becoming more English.
4. Why don’t they just call a local plumber to install it? - Bap does not trust Englishmen or other plumbers than those he already know from Uganda or Indian families. Therefore he hires an electrician for the job.
1. Has the mother changed her attitude to life while being in England? She hasn’t really changed her ways, she gets a bit shocked seeing how her daughters now act and think. And it is not in a traditional Indian way.
2. What does Mai expect all her four daughters to do in the future? - She expects all her daughters to marry well with a husband chosen by her and Bap, as her parents did before her. She expects them to cook and clean, and deliver babies like a machine.
3. What has she forgotten to realize about the education? - She hasn’t realized that the girls will question their way of living and she has forgotten that they might get less traditional with all the English influence.
4. What stories are told in the news about the Asian population in Britain? - The Asian population is experiencing racial discrimination; they are killed for their skin, language and religion.
5. Why does the outing have such a good effect on Sumitra’s state of mind? - Because the outing defined boundaries between the immigrants and the hosts.
6. What is it really that binds these friends together? - They were homeless together; Maria didn’t care about their colours, but their beings. And so Mai and Bap saw it as well. Martin and Maria were the only English people that had welcomed them.
7. Why isn’t it popular in the Indian Community girls education? Because after their belief a good woman was a good wife and cook, not a business woman with loads of knowledge.
1. Why are the visits to Martin and Maria so important for her? - Maria and Martin always cheered her up. She always left light hearted.
2. How can she be a completely different girl on Saturdays? - At work she goes to lunch with English boys and girls, chat about things and have fun. She feels like a different person.
3. Why does she enjoy her pub lunches on Saturday so enormously? - It made her feel like an individual, in a responsible adult world.
4. What is Leela’s life like? - She is like a slave to Jayant. He is a traditional man and does not let her work. She does all the house work herself, and cooks from scratch. Which none of this he helps out with?
5. What happens on Saturday morning when Sumitra goes into the pub? - Jayant sees her and follows her, there he shouts at her, making a scene. Sumitra is awfully embarrassed.
6. What kind of reactions does she anticipate from her parents? - Her parents call her a disgrace; she has put shame upon her family. They do not see how they’re daughters can marry well now.
7. Why can’t she just simply move out from home? - Because it is against her families’ traditions, a daughter stays at home to help until she is married.
8. What is the big difference in this case? - The culture, and their traditions changes they’re view of things.
1. What is he really afraid spoiled behaviour? - He is really afraid that she has spoiled her chances to marry.
2. Is Mrs Baker’s presence of any use to Sumitra? - Not much, since The Patel’s do not se her point of view, thy do not understand that Sumitra would like to be like any other teen.
3. What are they going to do with her to punish her? - They made her work in Jayant`s shop, and Sandya was to be with her at all times.
4. Why does she lode all incentive to do her homework? - She feels like an old woman whose life had already been lived, therefore she did not see a reason to study anymore.
5. How does the arrival of the grandmother change life in the house? She made Bap and Mai remember the harsh customs and they were now slaves. Their grandmother is only aware of life in India, and won’t let them blend in.
6. What is Grandma’s view of the role of women? - Sumitra`s Grandmothers point of view on women are that they are less worthy, and that they are made to serve they’re husbands to the end of time.
7. Why is it difficult for Maria to teach Mai English? - She had never taught anyone English before, and when she tried learning Mai English from a magazines the gap between weekly language and literature became to big.
8. Ho does Maria realize alien British society? - Maria understood that how people seemed in media, in magazines, so surreal and confusing, must be how it was for her stepping outside her front door. Everyone wearing different clothes than you, speaking and thinking differently.
1. Why is it so important for Sumitra to find a job herself? - She had to find herself a job before Bap made her work in Jayants shop.
2. What does she experience when she goes into an agency? When going into the agency she discovers that she can be a music director, or a secretary.
3. How is her future employer, Mr Remus? - Mr. Ribbons had a converted warehouse; he was an old wizened man whom looked like a fox to Sumitra.
4. Meteoric rise to fame. Explain expression: - In such a short time she feels like she has become more successful, from being a pupil to handling an office on her own.
5. Why is it difficult for Sumitra to choose between these two possibilities? - Doing what her parents want will make her unhappy, while being sent away makes her evenly unhappy.
6. What happens immediately after they have come home from school? - All the kids went to school with each other being friends with each other. But at home they all are a part of their own society, where they are brought up in their parent’s traditions and beliefs.
7. What in Sumitra’s dream shows that she is still thinking of Africa and black people there? In her dream she experiences race discriminating violence, and the person that helps her out is a black person.
8. Tell about the phone-in programmes that Sanyda and Sumitra listen to: The callers presented the white liberals point of view, obviously believing that there was no such thing as racism.
9. How can it be maintained that Mai represent? - By acting on her own terms, and not accepting the English men’s way of living she shows that she doesn’t want to be accepted
10. Why is Sumitra attracted to a job in the detective agency? - She expects it to be exiting like in the media, and therefore finds it attractive.
1. What does Sumitra find in the detective’s files that interests her? She found a file containing information about missing Indian girls, and Indian girls who had killed themselves. And they all had the same problem as she had.
2. Why does she find it so difficult to leave home? - It would crush her mothers heart, disgrace her family and give her sister bad marriages.
3. What is Sumtra’s point of view regarding arranged marriages? - She wants to marry someone she knows, someone she wants. And she doesn’t want to follow her family’s tradition and rules.
4. Why isn’t her decision to leave home a matter just for herself? -Sumitra is torn in two directions and can not decide; therefore Maria is a great comfort.
5. What does Maria advise her to do? - She advices her to leave, she wants Sumitra to be happy. And at home her parents will, but Sumitra will truly never be.
6. Sumitra accept a marriage with Kirit: - Because she would never be left alone with him long enough to find out what he is really like.
Chapter 18 & 19
1. What is the job she gets through the job centre? - The job is in a travel agency doing booking and office work. Her wages are quite good and there is a chance for promotion. This fits her future plans independent of her parents.
2. Who helps her to find a good room, where she will not be lonely? Maureen helps her get a good room, as a flatmate with Gwyneth.
3. How does she move her clothes without arousing suspicion? - By moving some clothes in her work brief case each day, she didn’t arouse any suspicion.
4. How is the last night she spends at home? - Sumitra broke down and cried, when they all asked her why she said it was nothing. The family comforted her and made her rest. The last night she experienced how her family could be like.
5. What kind of freedom is it that she seeks? - She was an urban freedom fighter, fighting for equality and unity.
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