In Celebration of being Alive: NBSE class 10 Alternative English

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Here, you will find all the answers and solutions of NBSE class 10 Alternative English chapter 4 In Celebration of Being Alive for the academic year 2019-20. Additional questions will be added soon. However, these notes should be used only for references. These materials should be modified/changed as per the needs.


Dr Barnard begins by saying that he could not understand the purpose of suffering. He provides a general idea of the number of children who die or are ill physically or mentally. He also gives us a personal anecdote in which he and his wife were in an accident while crossing a road. Their broken bones had kept them away from their duties for some time. He was angry that it had happened. He could not find comfort in his father’s way of looking at suffering as God way of making us better people. His personal encounter with the suffering of children began with his father showing him the biscuit his brother had bitten before he died as a child with an abnormal heart.

As a doctor, he was particularly moved by the suffering of sick children because they believed that doctors could cure them and accepted their illness and suffering. His anguish changed to the appreciation of life when he saw two children in a children’s hospital racing in a food trolley as if it were a car. One of them was visually challenged and the other had only one arm. The other children in the ward cheered them on just as spectators do in a motor rally. The spirit with which the children used whatever faculties they had to enjoy themselves was an eye-opener to Dr Barnard. He concludes that we learn to value the good things in life because we see so much of the suffering around us.

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Choose the correct option

1. Which of the following words best describes the children Dr Barnard witnessed taking part in the Grand Prix?

Answer: a. Resilient

2. What does Dr Barnard mean by ‘joy in the real sense of the word’?

Answer: b. Looking past your troubles to enjoy every day and everything you have.

3. According to Dr Barnard, why is suffering important?

Answer: d. Because it makes you a better and more sympathetic person

4. Which of the following sentences from the text demonstrates Dr Barnard’s compassionate nature?

Answer: a. But as a doctor, I see nothing noble in a patient\ thrashing around in a sweat-soaked bed, mind clouded in agony.

5. Why do you think Dr Barnard became a cardiothoracic surgeon?

Answer: a. He was torn by the plight of all the suffering children in the world.

Read the lines and answer

1. More and more, as I near the end of my career as a heart surgeon, my thoughts have turned to the consideration of why people should suffer.
a. What gives the speaker the authority to speak knowledgeably about suffering? Give two reasons.
b. What are the lines in the text that tell you that suffering is widespread?
c. What are Dr Barnard’s contributions to the battle against suffering?

Answer: a. The speaker can speak so knowledgeably about suffering because he is a surgeon and he sees people suffering on a daily basis. He knows the agony of their suffering. Further, he also experienced suffering at a personal level when he learned about the unfortunate death of his brother as a child and when he and his wife met with an accident while they were crossing a street.

b. In the beginning, when the author mentions that of the 125 million children born each year, 12 million are unlikely to reach the age of one and another six million will die before the age of five and, of the rest, many will end up as mental or physical cripples, tells us that suffering is universal.

c. Dr Barnard was a cardiothoracic surgeon. He performed the first human heart transplant on 3 December 1967. As a surgeon, he saved the lives of many and later on founded the Christiaan Barnard Foundation to help the underprivileged children around the world.

2. If you can’t, they accept their fate.
a. Who do ‘you’ and ‘they’ refer to?
b. What is the fate that they accept?
c. Why do you think they accept their fate more willingly than others?

Answer: a. Here, ‘you’ refers to the doctors while ‘they’ refers to the suffering children.

b. They accept the fate that they cannot get better and the doctors have tried their best to help them.

c. They accept their fate more willingly than others because they are children and they trust others wholeheartedly. So if the person they trust fails, they assume they cannot get better. Other, on the other hand, cannot trust the doctors the way the children do and they assume there is always something more that can be done.

Answer these questions briefly

1. What upset him most about the death of his brother?

Answer: What upset him the most about the death of his brother was that he died as a child suffering much agony because he was born with an abnormal heart which could have been corrected if the technologies in those days were sophisticated enough.

2. Why could he not accept his father’s belief that suffering was God’s way of making us better people?

Answer: He could not accept his father’s belief that suffering was God’s way of making us better people as he could see nothing noble in a patient’s thrashing around in a sweat-soaked bed, mind clouded in agony. Nor could he see any nobility in the crying of a lonely child in a ward at night.

3. What was his changed attitude to suffering?

Answer: After he witnessed the two children in what he described as “Grand Prix of Cape Town’s Red Cross Children Hospital”, who suffered much and yet showed resilience, he had a completely changed attitude towards suffering. He understood that the business of living is the celebration of being alive and he was looking at suffering from the wrong end. The children showed him that it’s not what you’ve lost that’s important but what you have left.

Answer the questions

1. What was the cause of Dr Barnard’s ‘gloomy thoughts’?

Answer: Dr Barnard’s ‘gloomy thoughts’ had probably stem from an accident that he had few years ago while he and his wife were hit by a car. They were trying to cross a street after a lovely meal together. The car knocked him into his wife and she was thrown into the other lane and struck by another car coming from the opposite direction. During the next few days in the hospital, he experienced not only agony and fear but also anger. He could not understand why his wife and he had to suffer.

2. As a doctor, why is Dr Barnard upset with sickness?

Answer: Dr Barnard is upset with sickness because suffering seems so cruelly prevalent in the world. He mentioned that of the 125 million children born each year, 12 million are unlikely to reach the age of one and another six million will die before the age of five and, of the rest, many will end up as mental or physical cripples, tells us that suffering is universal. He also was affected by the death of his brother who died while he was still a child and that left a lifetime mark on him.

3. Why is Dr Barnard particularly saddened by sick children?

Answer: Dr Barnard is particularly saddened by sick children because he feels the children trust the doctors and nurses completely. They believe the doctors are going to help them and if they cannot, the children accept their fate. They go through mutilating surgery and afterwards they don’t complain.

Think and answer

1. Complete this table.

a. i. The writer and his wife had an accident.a. ii. “Why should this happen to us?”a. iii. Agony and fear; anger at their suffering.
b. i. The writer’s father showed him a biscuit his brother had eaten.b. ii. Reflection on his brother’s suffering and premature death.b. iii. sadness and regret (a wish that things had been different)
c. i. Two young patients had great fun with a breakfast trolley.c. ii. Realization of the joy and resilience of children despite their suffering.c. iii. Insight into the celebration of being alive and the importance of focusing on what remains rather than what is lost.

2. The writer mentions a few people in this text. Who are they? Which of them do you think had the greatest impact on his thinking? Explain.

Answer: The writer mentions several individuals: his wife, father, brother, two young patients (the driver and mechanic from the Grand Prix), and his past self. The two young patients from the Grand Prix likely had the greatest impact on his thinking. Their ability to find joy and laughter despite their severe physical challenges helped the writer to understand that the essence of life is not diminished by suffering but can be celebrated through what remains, shifting his perspective on suffering and the value of life.

3. This text begins with a question and ends with a suggested answer to that question. Write the question and the answer.

Answer: The implied question at the beginning is about the purpose or necessity of suffering, as Dr. Barnard reflects on his career and the pervasive nature of suffering. The suggested answer, found towards the end, is that suffering does not inherently make one a better person; rather, experiencing suffering allows one to appreciate life more fully and understand the importance of what remains, not what is lost. This shifts the focus from suffering itself to the resilience, joy, and celebration of being alive despite the challenges.

4. Complete this line in your own words. The business of living is…

Answer: The business of living is embracing each moment with joy and gratitude, recognising the value of our experiences—both good and bad—as they shape our understanding of life’s true beauty and the strength we possess.

Going beyond

1. Recollect something that you have lost that was very dear to you. How did you react to that loss? How could you have applied Dr Barnard’s message to deal with it?

Answer: (This is just an example. You need to write on your own) I misplaced a priceless family heirloom, a necklace handed down through generations. I felt grief and sadness over the loss, as well as frustration and anger that the necklace had gone missing. I attempted to replace it, but the loss of the necklace was irreversible.

In dealing with this loss, I could have applied Dr. Barnard’s message by recognising that suffering is a part of life but not the only thing. I could try to find joy and meaning in other things, like spending time with loved ones or coming up with new ways to honour and remember the family heirloom. I could also try to find ways to cope with my grief and find solace in the lost object’s memories and emotional connections.

2. Imagine you are one of the boys from the Grand Prix. Write a diary entry talking about your problems and how you found the strength to cope with them.

Answer: (This is just an example. You need to write on your own)

Hi diary,

What has happened to me is unbelievable. I used to play and run around like any other six-year-old boy a few months ago. Now, however, everything has changed. My village was bombed one day, and I was left without an arm. I sometimes feel so frustrated and angry because I can’t do everything I used to be able to. That I’ll never be able to do some things again is difficult to accept.

But despite everything that has happened to me, I have managed to muster the courage to carry on. There are other children in the hospital with me who are also in pain. We all have experienced a lot, but we work hard to maintain our optimism and seek out ways to have fun. The breakfast trolley was commandeered by my friend and me, just like today, and we entertained the other patients. Everyone was giggling and applauding because it was hilarious. Adding a little happiness to everyone’s day was such a wonderful feeling.

I am aware that I still have a long way to go and that I will encounter many difficulties. But no matter what happens, I’m going to keep fighting and find a way to be happy. I am aware that life involves suffering, but I am also aware that this is not all there is to life. I’m not going to let my problems prevent me from enjoying and living my life because there is still so much to do that.

Diary, I appreciate you being a place for me to vent. Having a conversation partner is crucial.


3. Dr Barnard’s recollection describes how his attitude towards suffering changed from being negative to positive. Share the story of what you last changed your opinion about with the class. Be sure to mention what caused the change of heart.

Answer: (This is just an example. You need to write on your own) I had always believed that math was boring and difficult, and I had no interest in learning it. However, one day, I had a math teacher who made the subject come alive for me, using interactive examples and engaging activities. I began to see math in a new light and realized that it could be fun and rewarding to learn. This caused a change in my opinion about math and I became more motivated to study and excel in the subject.

The change in my opinion was caused by my experience with a different math teacher who made the subject more engaging and enjoyable. This helped me to see that my previous negative opinion about math was not necessarily true and that there were different ways to approach and view the subject.

Extra MCQs

1. What profession did Christiaan Barnard have?

A. Pediatrician B. Cardiothoracic surgeon C. Neurologist D. Orthopedic surgeon

Answer: B. Cardiothoracic surgeon

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20. What did the incident with the breakfast trolley demonstrate?

A. The importance of hospital security B. Children’s ability to find joy despite suffering C. The need for better medical equipment D. The effectiveness of physical therapy

Answer: B. Children’s ability to find joy despite suffering

Extra questions and answers

1. What happened to the author and their wife in the accident mentioned in the story?

Answer: In the accident, the author was hit by a car and knocked into their wife, who was then struck by another car coming from the opposite direction. The author suffered eleven broken ribs and a perforated lung, and their wife had a badly fractured shoulder.

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13. What is the role of the nurse in the “Grand Prix” event?

Answer: The nurse’s role in the “Grand Prix” event is to leave the breakfast trolley unattended, allowing the two young patients to commandeer it and put on a show. The nurse eventually scolds the patients and puts them back to bed after the show is over.

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