Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, extras, MCQs, and pdf of the story The Homecoming by Rabindranath Tagore which is part of ICSE Class 9 English (Treasure Chest) syllabus. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
Phatik Chakravorthi was a fourteen-year-old Bengali boy who had lost his father at a young age. Growing up, he was often lazy, wild, and disobedient, in stark contrast to his younger brother, Makhan, who was quiet, kind-hearted, and loved to read. Phatik’s mischievous nature often led him into trouble. One day, he and his friends devised a plan to push a wooden log, intended for a boat’s mast, into the river. When Makhan objected and sat on the log in protest, the boys, under Phatik’s leadership, rolled the log into the river, causing Makhan to fall into the water. This act not only led to a confrontation at home but also resulted in Phatik hitting his brother and accidentally pushing their mother.
Not long after this incident, Phatik’s uncle, Bishamber, visited from Calcutta. With his mother’s permission, he took Phatik with him to the city with the intention of providing him with a better education. However, life in Calcutta was far from smooth for Phatik. Bishamber’s wife wasn’t pleased with this new addition to the family, and the transitioning Phatik, who was neither a child nor a man, struggled to find his place.
School in Calcutta added to Phatik’s misery. He felt out of place, unable to connect with the teachers or students. The vibrant landscapes of his native village, filled with meadows, mountains, and rivers, occupied his thoughts, and he couldn’t find the same joy in the bustling city. His poor performance at school attracted ridicule from his peers and even his cousins. One particular day, after losing a book and facing insults from both his schoolmates and aunt, Phatik decided he had had enough and tried to run away.
However, his escape was short-lived. He got caught in a heavy rainstorm, leading to a severe case of malarial cold. The concerned uncle reported his disappearance, and the police eventually found and returned him. Phatik, overwhelmed by the continuous criticism, broke down and expressed his desire to go home, repeatedly asking when the holidays would arrive so he could leave.
As his condition worsened due to the fever, Phatik’s movements became erratic and worried. Seeing his critical state, a message was sent to his village to inform his mother. By the time she reached Calcutta, Phatik was delirious and nearing his end. Mistaking his mother’s presence as a potential punishment, he begged her not to hurt him. His final words were, “Mother, the holidays have come.”
About the author
Born on May 7, 1861, in Bengal to an affluent family, Rabindranath Tagore emerged as a luminous figure in the literary world. Not just a poet, Tagore also distinguished himself as a prominent novelist and short-story writer. His multifaceted brilliance often found him involved in the Indian National Movement, although he contributed in a unique, non-sentimental manner. Mahatma Gandhi, a pivotal figure in India’s fight for independence, shared a close bond with Tagore.
In 1915, the British Government knighted Tagore, but he renounced this title within a few years to protest British policies in India. While he first gained recognition as a writer in Bengal, translations of his works soon introduced him to a wider audience in the West. Among his renowned works are ‘Gitanjali’, ‘Raja’, ‘Dakghar’ (The Post Office), and ‘Gora’.
Tagore’s short stories splendidly capture the essence of rural Bengal. Through his evocative descriptions, readers are transported to the countryside, gaining insights into the lives of its inhabitants. In recognition of his literary prowess, especially for ‘Gitanjali’, Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913
Text-Based Multiple Choice Questions
(i) The log lying near the river was to be used for_________
Answer: (c) making a mast for a boat
(ii) Who came and sat on the log when the boys were about to push it?
Answer: (b) Makhan
(iii) Who stepped on shore when a boat came up on the landing?
Answer: (c) Bishamber
(iv) Phatik’s mother had lost her husband while her brother was still in__________
Answer: (b) Bombay doing his business
(v) Phatik’s mother was happy to get rid of him because__________
Answer: (d) all of the above
(vi) Phatik’s aunt was displeased with his arrival because_________
Answer: (d) she had three sons quite enough to manage.
(vii) A lad of fourteen becomes_________
Answer: (b) painfully self conscious
(viii) With chiding and scolding a boy of fourteen becomes_________
Answer: (c) like a stray dog that has lost its master
(ix) Suffocated in Calcutta houses and walls Phatik kept remembering_______
Answer: (d) all of the above
(x) One day at school Phatik lost his_______
Answer: (c) lesson book
Phatik Chakravorthi was ringleader among the boys of the village. A new mischief got into his head. There was a heavy log lying on the mud-flat of the river waiting to be shaped into a mast for a boat. He decided that they should all work together to shift the log by main force from its place and roll it away. The owner of the log would be angry and surprised, and they would all enjoy the fun. Every one seconded the proposal, and it was carried unanimously.
(i) What new mischief got into Phatik’s head?
Answer: The new mischief that got into Phatik’s head was to shift a heavy log from the riverbank by force as a prank, which would anger and surprise the log’s owner.
(ii) For what was the log lying on the mud-flat of the river?
Answer: The log lying on the mud-flat of the river was waiting to be shaped into a mast for a boat.
(iii) What did Phatik decide?
Answer: Phatik decided that all the boys should work together to shift the heavy log from its place and roll it away as a prank.
(iv) What would the boys enjoy?
Answer: The boys would enjoy the fun of angering and surprising the log’s owner with their mischievous prank.
(v) Who posed an obstacle in carrying out of the plan? How?
Answer: Makhan, Phatik’s younger brother, posed an obstacle by sitting on the log, refusing to move.
Phatik wiped his face, and sat down on the edge of a sunken barge on the river bank, and began to chew a piece of grass. A boat came up to the landing, and a middle-aged man, with grey hair and dark moustache, stepped on shore. He saw the boy sitting there doing nothing, and asked him where the Chakravortis lived. Phatik went on chewing the grass, and said: “Over there,” but it was quite impossible to tell where he pointed. The stranger asked him again. He swung his legs to and fro on the side of the barge, and said; “Go and find out,” and continued to chew the grass as before.
(i) What had happened a little earlier for which Phatik had to wipe his face?
Answer: Just before this, Phatik had gotten into a fight with his brother Makhan and had presumably gotten hit or scratched in the face, which is why he had to wipe his face.
(ii) Who was this middle aged man who stepped on shore?
Answer: This middle aged man was Bishamber, Phatik’s uncle.
(iii) What did the ‘man’ ask the boy? What reply did the boy give? What was wrong with the answer?
Answer: The man asked Phatik where the Chakravortis lived. Phatik vaguely replied “Over there” while chewing grass, but his answer was unhelpful.
(iv) What can you say about Phatik’s rude behaviour with the stranger?
Answer: Phatik’s rude behavior shows his immaturity and lack of respect for adults. He is unhelpful on purpose and continues chewing grass indifferently.
(v) Who came soon after this incident? How did he take Phatik home?
Answer: Soon after this incident, a servant from Phatik’s house came. He took Phatik up roughly, and carried him, kicking and struggling in impotent rage.
It was just at this critical juncture that the grey-haired stranger arrived. He asked what the matter was. Phatik looked sheepish and ashamed.
But when his mother stepped back and looked at the stranger, her anger was changed to surprise. For she recognised her brother, and cried: “Why, Dada! Where have you come from? “As she said these words, she bowed to the ground and touched his feet. Her brother had gone away soon after she had married, and he had started business in Bombay. His sister had lost her husband while he was in Bombay. Bishamber had now come back to Calcutta, and had at once made enquiries about his sister. He had then hastened to see her as soon as he found out where she was.
(i) Who is the grey-haired stranger referred to here?
Answer: The grey-haired stranger referred to here is Bishamber, Phatik’s uncle.
(ii) Why was Phatik’s mother angry?
Answer: Phatik’s mother was angry because she thought Phatik had been hitting his brother Makhan again.
(iii) How did she welcome ‘the stranger’?
Answer: She welcomed the stranger (Bishamber) by recognizing him as her brother, crying out in surprise, bowing to the ground and touching his feet.
(iv) Which tragic incident had taken place in the absence of the stranger?
Answer: The tragic incident that had taken place in Bishamber’s absence was that Phatik’s mother had lost her husband.
(v) What shows that Bishamber was a caring brother?
Answer: It shows Bishamber was a caring brother because as soon as he came back to Calcutta, he made inquiries about his sister and hastened to see her as soon as he found out where she was.
When they reached Calcutta, Phatik made the acquaintance of his aunt for the first time. She was by no means pleased with this unnecessary addition to her family. She found her own three boys quite enough to manage without taking any one else. And to bring a village lad of fourteen into their midst was terribly upsetting. Bishamber should really have thought twice before committing such an indiscretion.
(i) Who are ‘they’ referred to in the first line? From where had they come?
Answer: ‘They’ referred to in the first line are Phatik and his uncle Bishamber. They had come from Phatik’s village.
(ii) How did Phatik’s aunt react to his arrival?
Answer: Phatik’s aunt reacted with displeasure to his arrival, considering him an unnecessary addition to the family.
(iii) Why was his aunt unhappy with his addition in the family?
Answer: She was unhappy because she already had three boys of her own to manage and did not want to take on anyone else.
(iv) According to Phatik’s aunt what should Bishamber have done?
Answer: According to the aunt, Bishamber should have thought twice before committing the indiscretion of bringing Phatik into their midst.
(v) What impression do you form of Phatik’s aunt from the above passage?
Answer: The passage gives the impression that Phatik’s aunt was selfish, unwelcoming, and insensitive to take in her nephew. She saw Phatik only as a burden.
In this world of human affairs, there is no worse nuisance than a boy at the age of fourteen. He is neither ornamental nor useful. It is impossible to shower affection on him as on a little boy; and he is always getting in the way. If he talks with a childish lisp he is called a baby, and if he answers in a grown-up way he is called impertinent. In fact any talk at all from him is resented. Then he is at the unattractive, growing age. He grows out of his clothes with indecent haste; his voice grows hoarse and breaks and quavers; his face grows suddenly angular and unsightly. It is easy to excuse the shortcomings of early childhood, but it is hard to tolerate even unavoidable lapses in a boy of fourteen. The lad himself becomes painfully self-conscious. When he talks with elderly people he is either unduly forward, or else so unduly shy that he appears ashamed of his very existence.
(i) According to Tagore what is the biggest nuisance in the world of human affairs? Why is it so?
Answer: According to Tagore, the biggest nuisance in the world of human affairs is a boy at the age of fourteen. This is because he is neither ornamental nor useful, gets in the way, and it is hard to shower affection or tolerate him.
(ii) Why is the boy of fourteen criticized when he talks like a grown up person?
Answer: When a boy of fourteen talks like a grown up person, he is criticized for being impertinent.
(iii) What are we told about physical growth of a boy at the age of fourteen?
Answer: We are told that physically a boy grows very rapidly at fourteen – he grows out of his clothes quickly, his voice changes and becomes hoarse/unsteady, and his face grows angular and unsightly.
(iv) The shortcomings of a child can be excused but not of a boy of fourteen. Why?
Answer: The shortcomings of a young child can be excused but not of a fourteen-year-old boy because he is expected to behave more maturely and responsibly at that age.
(v) What does a young lad’s heart crave for most at this age?
Answer: At this age a young lad’s heart craves most for recognition and love/affection from others.
For a boy of fourteen his own home is the only Paradise. To live in a strange house with strange people is little short of torture, while the height of bliss is to receive the kind looks of women, and never to be slighted by them.
It was anguish to Phatik to be the unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house, despised by this elderly woman, and slighted, on every occasion. If she ever asked him to do anything for her, he would be so overjoyed that he would overdo it; and then she would tell him not to be so stupid, but to get on with his lessons
(i) What happens if a boy of fourteen is continuously scolded
Answer: If a boy of fourteen is continuously scolded, he becomes like a stray dog that has lost his master.
(ii) What is the height of bliss for a boy of fourteen?
Answer: For a boy of fourteen, the height of bliss is to receive the kind looks and affection of women, and never to be slighted by them.
(iii) How did Phatik feel in his uncle’s house?
Answer: Phatik felt anguished to be an unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house, despised and slighted by her on every occasion.
(iv) How did Phatik react whenever his aunt asked him to do something?
Answer: Whenever his aunt asked Phatik to do something, he would be so overjoyed that he would overdo it.
(v) How is a boy of fourteen a big nuisance?
Answer: A boy of fourteen is a big nuisance because he is seen as neither ornamental nor useful, gets in the way, and it is hard to shower affection or tolerate his behavior. He is at an awkward growing age and can seem immature.
There was no more backward boy in the whole school than Phatik. He gaped and remained silent when the teacher asked him a question, and like an overladen ass patiently suffered all the blows that came down on his back. When other boys were out at play, he stood wistfully by the window and gazed at the roofs of the distant houses. And if by chance he espied children playing on the open terrace of any roof, his heart would ache with longing.
One day he summoned up all his courage, and asked his uncle: “Uncle, when can I go home?”
(i) How did Phatik fare at school?
Answer: Phatik fared very poorly at school. He was the most backward boy in the whole school.
(ii) How did he endure the punishment?
Answer: He endured punishment patiently and silently, like an overladen donkey suffers blows on its back.
(iii) “… he stood wistfully by the window and gazed at the roofs of the distant houses” What light does this line throw a Phatik’s state of mind?
Answer: This line shows that Phatik felt lonely, wistful and longing for home as he gazed at the distant houses while other boys played.
(iv) “Looking at the children playing on the open terrace filled his heart with a longing”. Which longing is being referred to here?
Answer: It refers to Phatik’s longing to be able to play freely and be carefree like those children, as he was unhappy at school.
(v) What did Phatik ask his uncle one day? What was his uncle’s reply?
Answer: One day Phatik summoned courage and asked his uncle when he could go home. His uncle replied that Phatik would have to wait until the holidays come, which was not for a few more months.
Phatik heard her words, and sobbed out loud: “Uncle, I was just going home; but they dragged me back again.”
The fever rose very high, and all that night the boy was delirious. Bishamber brought in a doctor. Phatik opened his eyes flushed with fever, and looked up to the ceiling, and said vacantly: “Uncle, have the holidays come yet? May I go home?”
Bishamber wiped the tears from his own eyes, and took Phatik’s lean and burning hands in his own, and sat by him through the night. The boy began again to mutter. At last his voice became excited: “Mother,” he cried, “don’t beat me like that! Mother! I am telling the truth!”
(i) What had the aunt said that Phatik heard and began to weep?
Answer: Phatik’s aunt had said “What a heap of trouble this boy has given us. Hadn’t you better send him home?” which Phatik heard and began sobbing loudly.
(ii) Who are ‘they’ referred to in the second line? Why did they bring Phatik home?
Answer: ‘They’ refers to the police/constables who had found Phatik after he went missing and brought him home, wet and sick with fever.
(iii) Tears came into Bishamber’s eyes. Why?
Answer: Tears came into Bishamber’s eyes because he felt sad and sympathetic seeing Phatik so sick with high fever.
(iv) Bishamber sat by Phatik through the night. What light does this throw on this character?
Answer: Bishamber’s sitting by Phatik through the night shows he truly cared for the boy and wanted to provide comfort/support despite Phatik being a burden.
(v) Why does Phatik begin to mutter… “don’t beat me like that mother…”?
Answer: Phatik begins muttering pleas to his mother not to beat him because in his delirious state with high fever, he imagines his mother is beating him like she used to at home.
Additional Questions and Answers
1. What mischief did Phatik and the other village boys plan?
Answer: Phatik, as the ringleader of the village boys, devised a mischievous plan for them to work together and shift a heavy log from the mudflats by the river. He decided they should all push and roll the log forcefully from its resting place to surprise and anger the log’s owner.
2. Why did Makhan sit on the log and refuse to move?
Answer: Makhan, Phatik’s younger brother, came and defiantly sat on the log, stubbornly refusing to move. This was a deliberate attempt to spoil the other boys’ intended prank and prevent them from being able to move the log.
3. How did Phatik and the boys attempt to move Makhan off the log?
Answer: Angry at Makhan for foiling their plans, Phatik commanded the other boys to roll the log with Makhan still sitting on it. Their intention was to dislodge Makhan by forcefully rolling him and the heavy log together.
4. How did Makhan respond after being rolled off the log?
Answer: After being forcibly rolled off the large log he had been sitting on, Makhan was furious at the rough treatment. He retaliated by viciously scratching Phatik’s face, beating him, and kicking him.
5. Who arrived in the village and asked Phatik where the Chakravortis lived?
Answer: A middle-aged stranger with distinctive grey hair and a dark moustache arrived by boat on the riverbank. He approached Phatik, who was sitting there sulking, and asked him for directions to find the house of the Chakravorti family.
6. Why was Phatik’s mother angry with him when he returned home?
Answer: When Phatik returned home, his mother immediately scolded him. Makhan had already gone home crying and complaining to their mother that Phatik had hit him. Based on Makhan’s account, she wrongly assumed Phatik was at fault.
7. Who was the grey-haired stranger that arrived at Phatik’s house?
Answer: The grey-haired stranger was Bishamber, Phatik’s paternal uncle. Bishamber was a merchant who had relocated to Bombay for business after Phatik was born. He had recently returned to Calcutta and came looking for his widowed sister and her family.
8. How did Phatik’s uncle Bishamber offer to help Phatik and his mother?
Answer: Recognizing Phatik was wild and frequently in trouble, Bishamber generously offered to take Phatik back with him to Calcutta. He said he would educate Phatik alongside his own children and relieve Phatik’s overwhelmed mother of the burden of raising him.
9. Why was Phatik eager to go to Calcutta with his uncle?
Answer: Phatik jumped at the chance to relocate to Calcutta with his uncle. He was an unruly boy who did not get along with his strict mother or meek brother. Bored in the small village, he saw moving to the big city with his doting uncle as a thrilling adventure and escape.
10. How did Phatik’s aunt feel about him coming to live with them?
Answer: Bishamber’s wife was Phatik’s aunt by marriage. She was very displeased by the sudden news that her husband had invited his troublesome nephew to come live indefinitely with their family in Calcutta. With three sons of her own, she felt burdened and irritated at the imposition.
11. Why is fourteen such an awkward age for a boy?
Answer: Fourteen is notoriously awkward because a boy is in transition between child and young man. His voice cracks, he grows rapidly and unevenly, and his interests and manners are half-childish, half-adult. He desperately wants more freedom and respect but adults still treat him like a child, causing much inner turmoil.
12. How did Phatik feel living in his aunt’s house in Calcutta?
Answer: In his aunt’s house, Phatik felt utterly miserable and longed deeply for his village home. His aunt clearly disliked having him there, barely tolerating his presence. Phatik felt slighted by the family and the home was stifling compared to his carefree life in the countryside.
13. What happened when Phatik lost his lesson book at school?
Answer: At school in Calcutta, Phatik performed poorly. When he lost his lesson book, he could not prepare for class at all. The teacher ruthlessly caned him every day for not knowing the work, though it was not his fault. Without his book, he was helpless.
14. Where did Phatik go when he went missing from his aunt’s house?
Answer: Miserable with his aunt, Phatik disappeared from the house one rainy night. He had run off in the downpour, trying desperately to find his way back home to his village. The police searched and found him miles away, soaked and disoriented.
15. What did Phatik mutter deliriously when he had a fever?
Answer: When found, Phatik was burning with fever, delirious from exposure. Tossed in fitful sickness, he muttered snippets of memories – calling plaintively for his mother and crying out not to be beaten. In his delusions, his thoughts were consumed with longing for home.
16. Who did Bishamber send for when Phatik was seriously ill?
Answer: Seeing Phatik was desperately ill and possibly dying, Bishamber sent urgent word for the boy’s mother to come right away. Though far, Phatik’s mother was finally summoned to her son’s sickbed when it seemed he might not recover.
17. What did Phatik say when his mother arrived at his bedside?
Answer: In his feverish state, Phatik seemed unaware his mother had come. But when she called out weeping over her darling boy, Phatik showed a flicker of recognition, turning his head slightly to weakly but happily murmur “Mother, the holidays have come.”
18. How did Phatik’s mother react when she saw him ill in bed?
Answer: Phatik’s mother was stricken to see her once lively son looking so gaunt and ill. She was distraught, tossing about and crying loudly in anguish over her youngest child’s pitiful condition. Her heart ached to see him suffering so.
19. What was significant about Phatik saying “the holidays have come”?
Answer: Phatik’s words about the holidays coming were pivotal. Though seeming nonsense in his delirium, they actually revealed Phatik deeply associated going home to his village with the joy and freedom of school holidays. This highlighted his miserable homesickness.
20. How does the story portray the relationship between Phatik and his mother?
Answer: Though Phatik was unruly and his mother often scolded him, their bond ran deep. His delirious cries showed he longed for her care. And despite past frustrations, she rushed to nurture him once learning he was unwell, heartbroken to see him in distress. Their turmoil revealed a tight, if complex mother-son relationship.
1. What was Phatik’s role among the village boys?
A. The quietest B. The most aggressive C. The ringleader D. The most timid
2. Why did Makhan sit on the log?
A. To take a rest B. To foil the other boys’ plans C. He was daydreaming D. He wanted to help move the log
3. How did the boys try to move Makhan?
A. By gently persuading him B. By forcefully rolling the log C. By scolding him D. By seeking adult help
4. Who came looking for Phatik’s family?
A. A distant relative B. A police officer C. A family friend D. A lost traveler
5. Why was Phatik’s mother angry when he came home?
A. He was late for dinner B. He had torn his clothes C. Makhan said he hit him D. He failed a test
6. Who was the elderly visitor at Phatik’s house?
A. His grandfather B. A family friend C. His uncle D. A government worker
7. What did the uncle offer to do for Phatik?
A. Give him toys B. Teach him a trade C. Take him to Calcutta D. Help pay for school
8. Why was Phatik excited to go to Calcutta?
A. He loved the big city B. He wanted new clothes C. He could escape home D. He hoped to study more
9. How did Phatik’s aunt feel about his arrival?
A. Pleased to meet family B. Annoyed at the inconvenience C. Sympathetic toward him D. Indifferent to his presence
10. What typically happens to boys around age fourteen?
A. They become very studious. B. They are given more responsibilities. C. They go through awkward transitions. D. They become more obedient.
11. How did Phatik feel in his aunt’s home in Calcutta?
A. Warmly welcomed B. Excited by the bustle C. Right at home D. Outcast and unhappy
12. What happened when Phatik lost his school book?
A. He was praised for honesty B. He was given a new one C. He couldn’t do lessons D. Nothing – he shared books
13. Where did Phatik go when he disappeared from his aunt’s?
A. To play with friends B. Exploring the city C. Trying to go home D. Visiting his uncle’s office
14. What did sick Phatik mutter in his delirium?
A. Childhood memories B. School lessons C. Callings for his mother D. Nonsensical phrases
15. Who came when Phatik was extremely ill?
A. A doctor B. His aunt C. His mother D. His brother
16. What did Phatik say to his mother when she arrived?
A. That he was in pain B. Asking for water C. He wanted to go home D. “The holidays have come”
Additional Fill in the Blanks
1. Phatik was the _________ among the village boys.
2. Phatik and the boys planned to play a ________ by moving the log.
3. Makhan sat on the log to _________ the other boys.
4. The boys tried to move the log by _________ it.
5. A _________ stranger arrived asking for Phatik’s family.
6. Phatik’s mother was angry because _________ said Phatik hit him.
7. The elderly visitor was Phatik’s _________.
8. Phatik’s uncle offered to _________ Phatik to Calcutta.
9. Phatik wanted to go to Calcutta to _________ home.
10. Phatik’s _________ was annoyed that he came to stay.
11. At fourteen, a boy goes through _________ transitions.
12. In Calcutta, Phatik felt _________ in his aunt’s home.
13. Without his book, Phatik couldn’t _________ his lessons.
14. Phatik disappeared after _________ from his aunt’s home.
Answer: running away
15. When Phatik was ill, his _________ was summoned.
16. Phatik said “the holidays have come” when his _________ arrived.
17. Phatik mentioned “holidays” because he _________ home.
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