Lalajee by Jim Corbett

About the Author

Jim Corbett is a Anglo-Indian author. In the British Indian Amy, he held the rank of colonel. He was invited to hunt man-eating tigers and leopards in the Garhwal and Kumaon districts of Uttarakhand. Later in life, he became an advocate for Indian wildlife. In Uttarakhand, he established a National Reserve for the critically endangered Bengal tiger. In 1957, the park was renamed Jim Corbett National Park in his honour.

Corbett was a writer of short stories. He spent twenty years in Uttar Pradesh’s Kumaon area. He is the author of several works, including Man-Eaters of Kumaon, The Man-Eaters of Rudraprayag, and The Temple Tiger. They recount his confrontations with the tiger. He spent the remainder of his life in Kenya following the Second World War.

Summary & Analysis of Lalajee


The short storey ‘Lalajee’ opens with the arrival of a passenger train from Samaria Ghat to a location known as ‘Mokemeh Ghat’. It is told in the first person. The narrator observes a man exiting a broad-gauge passenger train. The appearance of that man is described in depth. He is quite frail, with eyes that have sunk far into their sockets. He only wears patched clothing; it was formerly white. He is carrying a tiny parcel that is tied with a bright handkerchief. His walking manner demonstrates that he is terribly sick.

The sick man makes his way towards the Ganges bank with his frail steps. He lowers himself to wash his face. He then spreads the sheet along the Ganges riverbank. The narrator recognises that this sick man is adamant about not continuing his journey on the same train. He opens his eyes and notices the storyteller standing nearby.

The narrator is informed by the sick man that he does not wish to travel by train due to his terminal illness. He comes to spend his final moments near the sacred Ganges. He is conscious of his physical limitations. The narrator, too, is aware that cholera is an epidemic in many locations during this summer season and that the sick man may have been infected. From his terribly sick state, he affirms that he is solely suffering from Cholera. The narrator learns from the sick man that he has no friends in this location. As a result, this narrator is gracious enough to transport him to his home, which is located two hundred yards from the Ganges.

Prior to the invention of electric fans, people used Punkahs in their homes, which were propelled forward by pulling a cord through a pulley. The coolie must continuously pull the string in order to circulate the air in the room. He has a large number of punkah coolies working in his home. He has provided them with separate houses in order to keep them close to his residence. The house of the punkah’ coolie is currently vacant. As a result, he transports this sick man to this dwelling. This residence is distinct from the servants’ quarters. The servants prefer not to reside near a Cholera patient. Due to the epidemic’s nature, they may also become fatalists. As a result, he is forced to remain at the punkah coolie’s house, which is located a considerable distance from the servants’ quarters.

The storyteller had spent eleven years at Mokameh Ghat. He has employed a sizable labour force. They resided in close proximity to him or in surrounding communities. The narrator has observed numerous Cholera patients throughout his ten-year stay. Seeing their pitiful state, the narrator wishes that if he ever contracts his terrible ailment, a Good Samaritan, or a good man, would take pity on him and shoot him in the head or give him an overdose of opium. He would rather die than suffer from Cholera.

The narrator provides statistics on the number of individuals who die each year from cholera. In India, people die of Cholera primarily due to dread of disease, not the disease itself. Visitors to India have a strong belief in fate. They think that a man cannot die before reaching his predetermined age. It is plainly implied that people die primarily as a result of their fear of disease, not from the disease itself.

The sick man is suffering from cholera, which has taken a severe toll on him. The narrator is convinced that his faith and treatment will be sufficient to ensure his survival. He is accompanied by three additional cholera cases. He convinces the sick man that he will be healed of his illness. He instils confidence in the sick man’s psyche. This sick man regained his health and strength as a result of his treatment and inspired confidence. The completely restored man relates his storey only at the conclusion of the week.

Lala is the name given to the man who succumbs to the sickness Cholera. He ran a thriving grain business. He partnered with the stranger and after a few years of thriving business, this stranger-turned-partner abandoned him. Lala returned after his lengthy journey to find his shop deserted and his partner gone.

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Lala was unprepared for this grave state. He might spend the money he has on personal bills exclusively. He owes him no credit. His wife died as a result of the robbery. He was employed by the merchant with whom he had transacted business. He worked as a man for ten years, earning seven rupees a month to support himself and his son. He was travelling from Muzaffarpur to Gaya to attend to his master’s business. As he became gravely ill with cholera, he knelt on the banks of the sacred Ganges to die.

Lalajee spends about a month with him. Then he asks permission to continue his journey to Gaya from him. He desires to seek alternative job. When the narrator begs him to become a trader again, he responds that he wishes to do so but requires five hundred rupees. He was speechless when the narrator handed him five one-hundred rupee notes. He continued to glance at his notes until the train’s bell rung. “Within one year, your slave will return this money to you,” he assures.

The narrator has given the lion’s share of his savings to Lalajee. He was convinced that the impoverished people of India would never forget the kindness. He observed a man dressed entirely in white standing on his veranda waiting to greet him one day. He is unaware till he talks. Lalajee appears as he has set a time restriction for himself. He explains his trading transactions while seated alongside his chair on the floor.

Lalajee has steadily grown his business. His son attends a reputable school. He marries once more, this time to the daughter of a wealthy trader from Patna. Within twelve months, everything in his life changed. He repays the five hundred rupees with interest. However, the narrator declines to accept the interest, stating that it is not customary for us to accept interest from friends.

Before he leaves this spot, Lalajee informs him of his desire to assist him in times of need, as he has heard the narrator was once down to a single chapati and a small amount of dal. He states that if such a time ever occurs in your life, “your slave will lay everything he owns at your feet.”

Even after eleven years, the narrator continues to receive a large basket of the best mangoes from Lalajee’s garden each year. He desired to be the merchant once more in his life following his partner’s robbery. As he resumes his job, he expresses gratitude to the Notes narrator for reminding him each year of nature’s love and assistance.

Theme of Lalajee

Life is characterised by ups and downs. Lalajee was an affluent merchant. He abruptly becomes a loser. He also loses his wife. He is obligated to work for the merchant with whom he has conducted business. Additionally, he is infected with the lethal disease Cholera. He becomes aware of his near-death state. Hope is provided by the narrator. He assists him in regaining his health. He has contributed his personal savings to this Lalajee, which he uses to establish and grow his firm. He also reclaims his financial standing.

One should never give up hope. Even if one encounters adversities on a consistent basis throughout one’s life, one should not lose hope. He should recognise that God is enhancing his life. His confidence is what enables him to regain his health. He continues his life with this assurance. It is as a result of his hope that he returns as a prosperous trader, a man in good health, and a man with his own family. Because of his hope, everything becomes feasible.

One should have an inclination toward assistance. As with the narrator, one must come forward to assist the man in regaining his health, despite the fact that he is afflicted by an epidemic disease. As with the narrator, one should come forward to offer financial support using the money he has been saving for years.

One should not believe the stranger, making him a partner in his firm and entrusting him with complete control of his fortune. Given that man’s natural nature is to succumb to temptation, it is improper for the man who tempts.

Additionally, one should express thankfulness. It is entirely humane to repay assistance rendered. It is expected to repay any money lent to it by others.

Working With The Text

Answer these questions:

Q. 1. Name the disease Lalajee was suffering from.
Answer: Lalajee was suffering from cholera. The doctor checked and identified that there is no hope for him to get cured. 

Q. 2. Why could the author not spare time to nurse Lalajee?
Answer: The author was unable to nurse Lalajee since he was already caring for three cholera patients and could not rely on his servants for assistance.

Q. 3. What did the author make clear to Lalajee?
Answer: The author made it abundantly clear to Lalajee that he had not brought him (Lalajee) into his compound to die, but to heal him.

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Q. 4. What was Lalajee’ s Profession?
Answer: Lalajee was a merchant. He was the owner of a thriving grain business.

Q. 5. Why was Lalajee no longer a merchant?
Answer: Lalajee made a blunder by choosing an unknown man to be his business partner. During a business trip, Lalajee’s partner stole all he had in his shop, which is why Lalajee was no longer a merchant at the time he encountered the author.

Q. 6. Why was it difficult for him to start a business once again?
Answer: It was difficult for Lalajee to restart his business since he believed that no one could trust him and that no worker could work for him for only seven rupees per month, and he only had five hundred rupees in his possession.

Q. 7. What surprise was in store for Lalajee before he left Mokameh Ghat?
Answer: Before Lalajee could leave Mokameh Ghat, he was surprised to find a ticket for Gaya as well as five one-hundred-rupee notes, which the author placed in his hand.

Q. 8. How did Lalajee react when he got the money and the ticket?
Answer: When Lalajee received the money and ticket, he kept his head on his (Author’s) feet and vowed to repay the money.

Q. 9. What promise did Lalajee make?
Answer: Lalajee promised to return his (Author’s) money within one year.

Q. 10. How did Lalajee pay back the author’s courtesy?

Answer: For the author’s esteem and assistance, Lalajee reciprocated by bringing him a large basket of the finest mangoes from his garden on an annual basis for the next eleven years.

SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS

1. What did Lalajee do on leaving the steamer? 
Answer:  Lalajee is sick. He moves towards the bank of the river Ganges. He stoops to wash his face.

2. What did the author conclude that Lalajee had no intention of catching the train?
Answer: Lalajee gets down from the steamer and spreads the sheet on the bank of the river Ganges.

3. Why did Jim Corbett take Lalajee to his house?
Answer: Lalajee is affected by Cholera. Jim Corbett takes him to take his house to cure him of that disease.

4. How does the author bring out the foul nature of cholera?
Answer: Jim Corbett gives him treatment. He instils confidence in the mind of the sick man. It helps to regain his health and strength.

5. What made lots of people die of cholera?
Answer: The fear of Cholera made lots of people die of Cholera. People die mainly of the fear of disease, not by the actual disease.

6. What did Lalajee’s survival depend on?
Answer: Lalajee’s survival depended on Jim Corbett’s treatment and helping attitude.

7. Why was Corbett not able to spend much time to nurse Lalajee?
Answer: Corbett was not able to spend much time nursing Lalajee because he has three more cholera patients with him.

8. Why could he not expect any help from his servants?
Answer: The servants do not like to live near the Cholera affected person. As it is an epidemic, they also may become fatalists.

9. ‘At the end of a week, he was able to give me his story.’ What was his story?
Answer: Lala was doing a successful grain business. His partnership with a stranger deserted him, as he ran away with Lala’s money. He began to work for ten rupees a month. On his business way to Gaya from Muzaffarpur, he became very ill of cholera, he got down to die on the banks of the sacred Ganges.

10. Why did not Lalajee think of being a merchant again?
Answer: Lalajee needed five hundred rupees for being a merchant again. So he felt he could not become a merchant.

11. What promise did Lalajee make before leaving Mokameh Ghat?
Answer: Lalajee made a promise before leaving Mokameh Ghat, “Within one year your slave will return you this money.”

12. What did Lalajee accomplish within a year of leaving Mokameh Ghat?
Answer: Lalajee has gradually made a progress in his business. His son studies in a good school. He marries again with the daughter of the rich merchant of Patna.

13. On his second visit to Mokameh Ghat, Lalajee made a promise. What was that?
Answer: Lalajee promises to help Corbett at the time of misery, as he has heard the narrator was reduced to one chapati and a little dal, once in his life. He promises to give everything to Corbett in such times of misery.

14. How did Lalajee show his gratitude to Corbett?
Answer: Lalajee shows his gratitude to Corbett, by sending Corbett,  a big basket of the best mangoes from his garden.

15. Why was Lalajee tongue-tied before his first departure from Corbett?
Answer: When Corbett hands Lalajee over five one-hundred rupee note, Lalajee was tongue-tied.

PARAGRAPH QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS

Q. 1. Describe the circumstances under which Corbett met Lalajee.
Answer: Corbett observes a man exiting the broad-gauge passenger train. The physical characteristics of that man are described in depth. He is quite frail, his eyes have receded into their sockets. He is dressed entirely in patched garments; he used to be white. He is carrying a tiny parcel that is tied with a brightly coloured handkerchief. It is obvious from his walking style that he is terribly sick. The sick man makes his way towards the Ganges riverbank with his faltering steps. He kneads his face in order to wash it. He then lays the sheet out along the Ganges riverbank. The narrator recognises that this sick man does not wish to continue on the same train. When he opens his eyes, he notices the narrator standing nearby.

Q. 2. Corbett had faith in the innate goodness of the poor in India. Was his faith justified? How?
Answer: Corbett’s belief in the kindness of India’s poor was vindicated by Lalajee’s actions. Lalajee chose to return to Corbett’s place after being cured by Corbett’s treatment and given confidence. He desired to revert to his previous profession of merchant. Corbett handed Lalajee the money he had been saving for years in order for him to rise in life. Lalajee stated that she will reimburse the funds within a year. He refunded Corbett’s money, as he had promised. As a result, the poor’s inherent goodness was validated.

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True and False

(B) Write True or False against each statement:

1. The narrator had been at Mokameh Ghat for ten years. True

2. People in India are not afraid of cholera. False

3. Lalajee was merchant basically. True

4. Lalajee was on his way from Gaya to Muzaffarpur. True

5. The train to Gaya left at 8.30 p.m. False

6. Lalajee was happy when the narrator did not accept his interest. False

7. Lalajee attained the ambition of becoming a merchant once again. True

Language Work

A) Substitute the following with one word:

a) The acts or instances of suspecting. Suspicions 

b) Attacking or affecting many persons simultaneously. Epidemic

c) To continue in existence after a passage of adversity. Accomplish, Survive

d) A rough and violent person. Brute

e) Ending of the stipulated time. Expire

A) Fill in the blanks with ‘-ing’ form of verb or infinitive (to + base form of the verb) given in brackets:

i) How old were you when you learned to drive? (drive)

ii) I don’t mind walking home. (walk)

iii) I can’t make decisions. I keep changing my mind. (change)

iv) She refused to help me. (help)

v) Children enjoy listening to stories. (listen)

vi) The thief denied stealing the watch. (steal)

vii) Students suggested going for a picnic. (go)

viii) Our teacher dislikes smoking. (smoke)

ix) My son likes playing cricket. (play)

x) If you don’t succeed, you should go trying. (try)

xi) I was very tired. I tried to keep my eyes open but I couldn’t. (keep)

xii) I can’t afford buying or to buy a car. (buy)

xiii) Hasn’t it stopped raining yet? (rain)

xiv) My friend wanted to become a doctor when he was young. (become)

Grammar Work

A) Change the following sentences into indirect speech:

1. Direct: She said to me, “Do not take much tea.”

Indirect: She advised me not to take a lot of tea.

2. Direct: The teacher said to the students, “Be punctual and do your work regularly.”

Indirect: The teacher ordered the students to be punctual and do their work regularly.

3.Direct: I said to him, “Wait here till I return.”

Indirect: I requested him to wait there till my return.

4. Direct: I said to my servant, “Post this letter.”

Indirect: I ordered my servant to post that letter.

5. Direct: The General said to the soldiers, “Attack the enemy.”

Indirect: The General commanded the soldiers to attack the enemy.

6. Direct: His father said to him, “Do not mix with bad boys.”

Indirect: His father forbade him to mix with bad boys.

7. Direct: He said to me, “Please lend me your bicycle.”

Indirect: He requested me to lend him my bicycle.

8. Direct: He said to the servant, “Lay the table.”

Indirect: He ordered the servant to lay the table.

9. Direct: The robber said to the traveller, “Hand over everything to me.”

Indirect: The robber threatened the traveller to hand over everything to him.

10. Direct: The teacher said to the students, “Work hard.”

Indirect: The teacher advised the students to work hard.

B) Change the following sentences into direct speech:

1. Indirect: He ordered his servant to go to the bazaar and bring fruits and vegetables.

Direct: He said to his servant, “Go to the bazaar and bring fruits and vegetables.”

2. Indirect: I requested him not to disturb the patient.

Direct: I said to him, “Do not disturb the patients.”

3. Indirect: The teacher advised us to trust in God and do the right.

Direct: The teacher said to us, “Trust in God and do the right.”

4. Indirect: My father forbade me to gamble.

Direct: My father said to me, “Do not gamble.”

5. Indirect: I requested him to lend me two hundred rupees.

Direct: I said to him, “Please lend me two hundred rupees.”

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