The Letter


  1. What were the qualities that made Ali a good shikari?

Ans : Ali had been a clever shikari. He could smell the animal at great distance. Where a hare was invisible to dog Ali could see the ear of the hare and in the next moment it was in his bag. Similarly if an earth brown partridge was almost invisible it was as good as in his bag.

  1. Ali was a familiar figure at the post office, yet no one noticed his absence. What do you think could have been the reason?

Ans : Staff of the post office very well knew who Ali was. They made fun of him whenever they felt bored. They never treated his as a grieved father. When Ali was no more nobody had sympathy to know him but everyone was curious about his absence. He was just a laughing stock at the post office.

  1. Do you think the postmaster was justified in calling Ali ‘a pest’? What was Ali’s reaction to this accusation?

Ans : The post master was in a hurry to go to country while he was distracted by Ali. The post master had already come to know about Ali through his staff. Everyone in the post office knew Ali since he had been coming to post office for the last five years. So having background prepared the post master out of irritation called Ali a ‘pest’. The postmaster was justified since he had never felt the pangs of separation from a child. Ali was totally depressed, crestfallen, humiliated but still optimistic about receiving a letter from his daughter

  1. Why did the postmaster want to deliver the letter personally to Ali?

Ans : The postmaster had now realised the pangs of separation from one’s child, when his own daughter did not respond. He felt guilty maltreating and humiliating Ali. So to compensate for his behaviour, he wished to handover Miriam’s letter personally to Ali.

  1. Draw a comparison between Ali and the postmaster as fathers.

Ans : Both the postmaster and Ali were fathers devoted to their daughters. Both of them felt the pangs of separation but the postmaster took lot of time to understand this. Ali’s life had taken a turn due to his daughter, so had the postmaster’s. Eventually they ended up feeling the same kind of emotions.

  1. How did the postmaster and Laxmi Das compensate for their ill-treatment of Ali?

Ans : Both the Postmaster and Laxmi Das felt embarrassed when they had Miriam’s letter in their hand.The postmaster had felt guilty of humiliating and maltreating Ali, so this was his only way of compensation.

  1. “The newly-wakened father’s heart in him was reproaching him for having failed to understand Ali’s anxiety.” What was the reason of this ‘awakening’?

Ans : The cause of this “awakening” was his own anxiety about his daughter who was ill. His daughter was ill in another town and he had no information about her health. This made him understand Ali’s feelings, his pain and his anguish :

  1. Why did Cochman Ali give up his favourite sport?

Ans : Coachman Ali had been a famous Shikari and a crackshot in his yester-years. After his daughter, Miriam, got married and left him, Ali understood the real meaning of love and separation. So he gave up hunting, his favourite sport.

  1. How did post master’s attitude towards Ali eventually change? 

Ans : Ali had become fixture at the post office. All the clerks as well as the Post-master were irritated with Ali’s perseverance and tenacity. The post master even insulted him and called him a pest. But now when he himself was worried for his daughter, he realised Ali’s misery. He regretted his behaviour and went to lay Miriam’s letter on Ali’s grave.