The Fragrance of Gods: NBSE Class 10 alternative English chapter

The Fragrance of Gods
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Here you’ll find a short summary of NBSE Class 10 alternative English chapter ‘The Fragrance of Gods’ by Toshi Langu and questions and answers. However, these notes should be used only for references. These materials should be modified/changed as per the needs.


Toshi Langu recounts his carefree childhood days growing up in a remote Naga village called Lakhuni in the 1950s. The village was located deep in the Japukong mountain range, enveloped by thick jungles and far removed from any semblance of modern civilization. 

As children, Toshi and his friends lived more like “civilised apes” than human beings. Their days were spent outdoors, exploring the forests, climbing trees, eating wild fruits and nuts, and engaging in all sorts of mischievous monkey-like antics. While the world outside was making major technological advancements like launching rockets into space, the children of Lakhuni remained blissfully unaware, occupied with swinging from branches high up in the trees.

Toshi vividly paints a picture of his village life – perched atop a mountain, surrounded by dense jungles on all sides. The only road connection was an old pony trail used by American missionaries travelling to and from Assam. During World War II, this trail was broadened to allow vehicles, though motor vehicles remained an extreme rarity in those days. In fact, Toshi recalls seeing aeroplanes flying overhead before ever witnessing a motor vehicle on the road.

Any sighting of a vehicle, whether a jeep, truck or motorcycle, was a major event that sent the children into a feverish excitement. They called these vehicles ‘karis’ and the two-wheelers ‘thup thup karis.’ The arrival of a vehicle could be heard from miles away as it laboured up the winding dirt road leading to the village. Upon hearing the telltale engine sounds, children would raise an animated alert of “Kari, kari!” and the news would spread like wildfire.

Scores of children, including Toshi and his gang, would then frantically race downhill towards the main road, slipping and scrambling along the overgrown footpath, holding up their tattered half-pants. Their goal – to chase after the vehicle, running at full tilt while gulping down the exhaust fumes which they dubbed the “fragrance of the gods.” To them, raised without any machinery, the smell of engine exhaust was an exotic delight to be savoured.  

After an exhilarating chase alongside the lumbering vehicle, the exhausted children would collapse by the roadside, panting heavily. Later, they would recount their grand exploit, comparing who ran fastest, whose pants fell off and any lucky finds like a fuel patch on the ground – a real “jackpot” to be carefully hidden away for sniffing at leisure.

Looking back, Toshi marvels at the paradoxical beauty of those seemingly uncivilised days. His village cohorts lived almost like theinka’tangle tribesmen from the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy – half-naked, filthy, malnourished and unkempt, yet ever joyful in their innocent ways. By modern standards, the risks they faced from disease, injury and harsh living conditions should have ensured they didn’t survive childhood. Yet against all odds, most of those carefree “vehicle chasers” lived to tell their tale.

Toshi can only deduce that an angel must have been watching over them through those wild and wonderful years of climbing trees, scarfing down fruits, playing rough, and mindlessly pursuing the “fragrance of the gods.” As he reminisces about the breathtaking natural beauty and unbridled freedom of those bygone childhood days, Toshi rrecognisesthat his remote Naga village may have been materially “backward,” but it bestowed upon him and his friends an unmatchable gift – the gift of living life naturally, at one with their lush surroundings, unfettered by societal norms and rejoicing in life’s simple pleasures.

Textual questions and answers

Choose the correct option

1. What is ‘monkey mail’?

Answer: c. Village children passing messages to each other.

2. Why was having a short cut to the main road from the village advantageous?

Answer: d. The children could get from the village to the passing vehicle faster.

3. Why had Toshi never heard of Kohima?

Answer: d. It was rare that anyone went to Kohima or came from there to the village.

4. There we grew up more like civilized apes… What is the literary device used here?

Answer: b. Simile

5. I can only say that there was an Angel’ taking care of us. What does this sentence tell us about Toshi?

Answer: c. He believes in God.

Read the lines and answer

1. They were driven by giant ape-like men with red faces.

a. Who are the men Toshi is talking about?
b. Why were they driving through Toshi’s village?
c. Why were their faces red?

Answer: a. The men Toshi is talking about were American soldiers who passed by his village during the war.

b. They were driving through Toshi’s village because they were soldiers and fighting in a war.

c. According to the author, their faces were red either because people at that time roamed around half-naked and thus the soldiers were blushing or perhaps they got sunburns.

2. During such exploits, finding a patch of oil or fuel which had fallen through a leak in the vehicle was like hitting the jackpot!

a. Why was finding a patch of oil on the ground like winning the jackpot?
b. Why did the finder try to hide the oil?
c. What do you think of Toshi and his friends’ practice of sniffing fuel?

Answer: a. Finding a patch of oil on the ground was like winning a jackpot because it was seen as a source of ‘fragrance of the gods’ for the weeks to come which they loved to sniff.

b. The finder tried to hide the oil as it was revered as a prized possession and must be protected.

c. I think Toshi and his friends’ practice of sniffing fuel started as a form of curiosity because of the rarity of fuel and grew to become a form of addiction that they had no clue about.

Answer these questions briefly.

1. Why does Toshi call his village ‘remote’ and ‘backward’?

Answer: Toshi called his village ‘remote’ and ‘backward’ as according to him his village was far away from any civilization and jungles blanketed the entire region. They grew up more like civilized apes than human children spending more time in the wild outdoors than at homes. Further, when the Americans were trying to build a rocket and go to the moon, they were busy swinging from branch to branch, up in the trees, that too without any safety equipment.

2. What is the ‘fragrance of the gods’? Why were children in the village so eager to catch a whiff of it?

Answer: To the children, the exhaust of the vehicles that would pass their villages was known as ‘fragrance of the gods’.

The children were eager to catch a whiff of it because their village was so remote that a vehicle passing by the village was a rare occasion, and that naturally created curiosity among the children. So they would chase the vehicles and try to absorb themselves in the remnants of the vehicles, which were the exhaust. For them, the exhaust was something new, precious, and rare. The children had also perhaps gotten addicted to the exhaust, and thus they were so eager to get a whiff of it.

3. I can only say that there was an ‘Angel’ taking care of us. Why are Toshi and his friends lucky to be alive?

Answer: Toshi and his friends are lucky to be alive considering the food they ate, the malnourished bodies they possessed, the dirt they lived in, the animal-like habits and lifestyle they had, the games they played, and the risks they took were simply overwhelming! Influenza, tetanus, dysentery, hepatitis, or accidents could have wiped them out, but they didn’t. That’s why Toshi remarked that an ‘Angel’ was taking care of them as they were still alive despite all the odds.

Answer the questions

1. Toshi compares his childhood to the happenings at an ape enclosure in a zoo. What does he mean by this? What literary device is he using here?

Answer: Toshi compares his childhood to the happenings at an ape enclosure in a zoo to draw a picture of the surroundings he grew up in. Though the comparison may appear a bit exaggerated, he is still able to paint a vivid picture with this. By comparing his childhood to the happenings at an ape enclosure in a zoo, he means that they spent their childhood in the wilderness, taking risks, exploring the forest, climbing trees, swinging from branches, eating wild fruits and nuts, and monkeying around unlike other children of their age.

The literary device that he is using here is a simile.

2. I am a child of the fifties. What decade were you born in? What are some of the major events that took place then that have shaped your life?

Answer: I was born in 2000s. Some major events that took place during that time period and shaped my life include:

  • The global financial crisis of 2007–2008 had significant impacts on the economy and financial markets around the world.
  • The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, which have had a major impact on the way people communicate and share information.
  • The proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices, which have transformed the way people access information and connect with each other..

Think and answer

1. Toshi loved the beauty of his village and the freedom that the village life gave him. But at the same time he was also aware of its drawbacks. Do you think he presents his views in a fair and balanced way in the memoir? Explain how.

Answer: Yes, Toshi presents his views in a fair and balanced manner. He vividly describes the beauty and freedom of village life, highlighting the joy and adventure he and his friends experienced in their natural surroundings. At the same time, he does not shy away from discussing the drawbacks, such as the village’s remoteness, lack of modern conveniences, and the challenges posed by living in a less developed area. This balanced view allows readers to appreciate the beauty and challenges of his childhood environment.

2. Girls simply had no place in such adventures though.

a. What does Toshi mean by ‘adventures’ here?

Answer: Toshi refers to the adventurous activities he and his friends engaged in, such as chasing vehicles, inhaling the exhaust fumes they considered the ‘fragrance of the gods,’ and navigating the natural landscape of their village. These activities were thrilling and risky, embodying a sense of adventure for them.

b. Why do you think girls had nothing to do with these adventures?

Answer: The absence of girls in these adventures could be attributed to societal norms and expectations of the time, which likely discouraged girls from participating in activities considered dangerous or unsuitable for them. Additionally, the narrative suggests that these adventures were perceived as masculine pursuits, which further explains why girls were not involved.

3. ‘Be natural live natural’ was our slogan. Do you think Toshi has a sense of humour? How does the line given above reflect his sense of humour?

Answer: Yes, Toshi demonstrates a sense of humour through his writing. The line ‘Be natural live natural’ serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the simplicity and unrefined aspects of their childhood. It humorously encapsulates their embrace of a wild and untamed lifestyle, marked by adventures in nature and a disregard for the trappings of modern civilization. This slogan, along with the candid recounting of their childhood exploits, showcases Toshi’s ability to reflect on his past from a light-hearted and humorous perspective.

Going Beyond

1. Toshi talks about having had a very ‘natural’ childhood. How has the increased use of technology changed children’s lives today?

Answer: The increased use of technology has significantly transformed children’s lives today, making them more inclined towards indoor activities such as video games, social media, and online learning, thus reducing their time spent outdoors and in natural play. It has also influenced their social interactions, learning habits, and overall development, introducing them to a world of information and global connectivity from a young age but potentially affecting their physical activity levels and direct human interactions.

2. A memoir is an account of one’s personal life and experiences. Toshi Langu has written a mini memoir about his childhood. Write your own mini memoir about your childhood focusing on some of your most cherished or painful memories.

Answer: I am Anami, a young girl from a village in the hills of Nagaland. My most cherished memories are of the times I spent in the forests and fields surrounding our village with my brother Imti and our dog Moko. We would run and play for hours, climbing trees, splashing in streams, and following animal tracks with curiosity.

The forests felt like a magical world full of mysteries to explore. Imti taught me which plants had edible berries, how to set simple traps for small creatures, and the ancient stories and legends of our Naga people. Being out in nature with him was pure freedom and joy.

One painful memory was when Moko didn’t return home from the forest one evening. We searched for days but eventually had to accept that he was gone, likely taken by a larger animal. I was heartbroken. Moko had been my loyal friend and companion since I was a baby. Imti tried to comfort me, but I felt such profound sadness at losing her.

Another difficult memory was the year the rains didn’t come as expected, and our crops withered in the fields. We went hungry for many weeks until the monsoon finally arrived. I remember my mother’s stoic face as she boiled the same watery vegetable broth day after day, trying to make it last as long as possible. I was always hungry and weak during that time.

Yet through all the struggles of village life, we had our close-knit community. I have fond memories of festive dances and storytelling around the fires, the whole village coming together in colour and ceremony. Those vibrant traditions, passed down through generations, made me feel rooted and part of something greater than myself. I cherish the ways of my Naga ancestors and will pass them on to my own children one day.

Extra MCQs

1. What did the children name the smell of the vehicle’s exhaust? 

A. Elixir of life B. Breath of fresh air C. Fragrance of the gods D. Scent of freedom 

Answer: C. Fragrance of the gods 

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14.  How did the children communicate the approach of a vehicle to others in the village? 

A. By using a loudspeaker B. By sending a person to inform each house C. Through ‘monkey mail’ D. By lighting a signal fire 

Answer: C. Through ‘monkey mail’

Extra questions and answers

1. Where was the village where the narrator grew up located?

Answer: The village where the narrator grew up was located in the lower regions of the Ao land called the Japukong Range.

2. What are the great ‘kari adventures’? Why do you think the girls never took part in them?

Answer: The great ‘kari adventure’ for the children wear to chase the passing by motor vehicles, which were rare occasions, and get a whiff of their exhaust. Whenever the children would hear the sound of an approaching motor vehicle, they would take a shortcut and reach the spot where they could catch the vehicle. The older boys frequently caught up with the vehicle but the smaller ones were still running down the short cut long after the vehicle had gone past. Those who reach the spot early, they would be jostling with each other for a vantage point and the moment the vehicle passed them, they would be running behind the vehicle while inhaling smoke emitted by the vehicle. For them, it was the ‘fragrance of the gods’. Having raced till the village or beyond with the vehicle, they would just drop flat on the ground with exhaustion and deoxygenation.

The girls had no place in such adventures because like any other patriarchal society girls were confined within the household chores most of the time.

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18. How did the narrator and their friends spend their childhood?

Answer: The narrator and their friends spent their childhood exploring the forest, climbing trees, swinging from branches, eating wild fruits and nuts, and monkeying around.

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13 thoughts on “The Fragrance of Gods: NBSE Class 10 alternative English chapter”

  1. Toshi and his friends are lucky to be alive considering the food they ate and the malnourished bodies they possessed, the dirt they lived in, the animal-like habits and lifestyle they had, the games they played and the risks they took were simply overwhelming! Influenza, tetanus, dysentery, hepatitis or accidents could have wiped them out but they didn’t. That’s why Toshi remarked that an ‘Angel’ was taking care of them as they were still alive despite all the odds.

      1. Weching chingkamhu

        Lol it seems you are the amateurs .. It’s just a link to the app ….Check last portion of the website 🙂

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