The Race by Nisha Punjab

About the Author

Nisha Punjabi is a freelance writer based in Lucknow, India. She holds degrees in English Literature and Economics. From 2004 to 2005, she worked as a freelancer for the Lucknow Times, a daily magazine published by The Times of India. The learner is introduced to Nisha Punjabi as an aspiring Indian lady writer.

About The Text

Many teachers and parents continue to believe that strong grades in academics indicate a learner’s quality. However, some brilliant personalities have made history in a variety of fields despite their low grades and test scores during their high school/college years. Numerous examples exist of such sports figures who have attained global prominence.

Though it is frequently undertaken for recreational purposes, sport is a physically demanding activity that involves physical exertion, proper skill, sheer hard work, and a strong desire to win. It contributes to an individual’s overall growth. It instils discipline and tolerance, as well as a healthy competitive spirit. Tarun, the protagonist of the storey ‘The Race,’ aspires to be a strong runner despite his academic underachievement. With his determination and perseverance, he develops into a model sportsman. The plot is described in straightforward words while preserving the competition’s intrigue. The storey is set in a real-world setting. Additionally, it shows the importance of support and encouragement for an individual’s achievement.

Background of The Race

In 2001, the Children’s Book Trust of India, New Delhi, held a storey writing competition for children’s book authors in the sports genre, and the winning entries were published under the title 15 Sports Stories. Nisha Punjabi’s storey ‘The Race’ is one of them. The collection’s stories are all geared toward inspiring children to play the game in the spirit of the game.

Summary of The Race

Tarun has a dismal academic record. His parents were dissatisfied with him because he never earned a good grade. He was likewise untalented in other areas, such as singing, dancing, and painting. His elder brother, on the other hand, excelled academically and was pursuing a degree in engineering from a reputable college. Tarun viewed himself as the family’s black sheep.

It was not that Tarun was a ‘useless’ child. He possessed the strength of a world-class athlete. He was a great runner, capable of running for hours at a time. He was aware of his strengths and hence aimed to be the world’s fastest runner. However, he was aware of his limitations. He was aware that he need someone who could provide him with extensive training, but this was not possible due to the cost of the training being above his family’s means.

When Tarun’s terminal examination result was announced, his father was enraged with him for failing. His friends mocked him as well. He was so sad that he decided to go to the park and run for an hour. He was absolutely weary after an hour of running. He sat on a bench, attempting to re-establish normal breathing. On the same bench, an elderly gentleman had been observing him running. He was Ram Narayan, a sixty-year-old man who had won an Olympic medal in the 400-meter sprint in the 1960s. He recognised a potential runner in him and provided intense training on the condition that he would win the Children’s Day race at the Nehru Stadium.

Tarun began his practise with considerable zeal. He would run 10 miles in the morning and then time himself in the evening. He practised for five days before receiving his participation card. On November 14, he was ecstatic. He arrived at the stadium and encountered Mr. Ram Narayan. He was a little nervous, but then he noticed his mother cheering him on from the crowd. His self-confidence began to grow. The race began with Tarun leading the way, however Tarun failed to see a shallow path on the track and slipped. He sat up and resumed his run. However, as fortune would have it, he slipped once again. Tears began to stream down his face. He had the distinct impression that he would lose the race. He heard his mother and Ram Narayan encouraging him to run at that same moment. He sat up and resumed his run. This time, he crossed the finish line, but he was the final competitor to do so.

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He was enraged. Ram Narayan approached him and expressed his joy at having won the toughest race of his life. He said that he would begin his training the next day. Tarun was ecstatic. His excitement was boundless. Tarun could hardly believe what he was hearing. Again, tears welled up in his eyes. His mother wrapped her arms around him and assured him that he was the best kid in the world.

Character Sketch of Tarun

Tarun, a mediocre student, is constantly criticised for his bad marks and tardiness by his parents. The realisation that he is lacking in every area saps his confidence. However, he is driven by an obsessive desire to be a fast runner. He runs as an outlet for his vexing emotions. On one such occasion, he meets seasoned athlete and coach Ram Narayan, who recognises his running ability and promises to teach him on the condition that he wins the Children’s Day race. Despite his daily practise, he not only fails the race but also finishes last. Nonetheless, Ram Narayan agrees to train him as a reward for his fortitude and perseverance.

Questions and Answers

The Race Textual Questions and Answers

Question 1. Who do you like more, Tarun or his brother? Why?
Answer: I like Tarun more than his brother because he had a great determination and will power. He won the race not only because of his great strength of running, but also because of his will power to win.

Question 2. Why did Tarun think that he was the black sheep of the family?
Answer: Tarun thought he was the black sheep in the family because he was not good at studies. He was not a good singer, dancer, painter or even an actor.

Question 3. What were the obstacles before Tarun in pursuing his dream? Give some suggestions to solve these.
Answer: He had two obstacles. One was the opposition from his parents who wanted him to concentrate on his studies. The other was his family had no money to send him for intensive and expert training. He could have asked his teachers to help him to solve his problems.

Question 4. “It was a day he wanted to wipe out from his memory….” Why?
Answer: Tarun no longer wanted to remember the day he failed in his terminal examinations because his father had got angry with him and he had become a butt of ridicule among his friends too.

Question 5. What made Ram Narayan say “Life is full of ups and downs”?
Answer: Ram Narayan probably wished to pacify Tarun who was depressed and thought of encouraging him by this general statement about life.

Question 6. Do you think Tarun’s meeting with Ram Narayan would change his life? Explain
Answer: I do think Ram Narayan’s meeting would change Tarun’s life because Ram Narayan told him that he was one of the best runners he had ever seen. Tarun replied in a light manner that he was unemployed and so he could not afford the expenses of a training school. He also wondered how he could joke in such circumstances.

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Question 7.
Complete the conversation.
a) Who is your coach?
Answer: Tarun said to Ram Narayan, “I have no professional training.”

b) Oh! no professional training yet, I will train you if ….(b)…..
Sir, I will do it.
Ram Narayan replied, “Oh! no professional training yet. I will train you if you win the race on Children’s Day at the Nehru Stadium.”

Ram Narayan agreed to train Tarun on condition that Tarun should participate and win the race conducted at the Nehru Stadium on Children`s Day.

Question 8. What made Ram Narayan say that it was his job to get Tarun entry in the race?
Answer: When Tarun announced his willingness to participate and win the race, Ram Narayan thought that it was his duty in return to get him entry into the race  because he had seen how well Tarun was running. He told Tarun that he was one of the best runners he had ever seen.

Question 9. How did Tarun prepare for the race?
Answer: Tarun prepared for the race by training hard. Every day he would get up at four in the morning and run up to 10 miles. In the evening he would time himself according to the 1000-meter distance prescribed by the competition.


Tarun got up at four in the morning and practised zealously every day, running upto ten miles. In the evenings, he would time himself according to the 1000 metre distance prescribed by the competition.

Question 10. “He also wanted someone to back him up and so he told everything to his mother.” Do you think this kind of sharing will help him face his problems better? Why?
Answer: I certainly think sharing his problems will help him to face his problems better. When we share our problems with someone who loves us he/she will support us and help us in finding solutions.

Question 11. Why did Tarun really want to win the race?
Answer: Tarun wanted to show his father that he was not really. the black sheep of the family and that he could be good at something.

Question 12. “Tarun felt very proud of himself.” What made him proud?
Answer: Tarun felt very proud of himself because he saw that he was ahead of everybody else in the race.

Question 13. If you were Tarun, would you finish the race or give it up? Why?
Answer: If I were Tarun, I would not give it up. Ups and downs are part of life. We learned to walk after falling many times and then got up and walked again.

Question 14. Do you think the presence of his mother and Ram Narayan helped Tarun in finishing the race? Give reasons.
Answer: Yes, it did. The presence of his mother and Ram Narayan did help Tarun in finishing the race. When we do something in the presence of those we love, we want to do our best.

Question 15. “You have won the toughest race, the race of your life.” What did Ram Narayan mean by this?
Answer : Ram Narayan meant that Tarun has been trying hard to do his best in the race in spite of falling thrice by getting up again and again to complete the race. He also hoped that Tarun might face the problems of his life too in the same way, with determination and will power. Such persons would meet with success in life. Tarun was one such real-life hero.

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Long Answer Type Questions (Text Book Questions)

Q. 1. The story ‘The Race’ gives us valuable lessons about life. Do you agree ?
Ans. Yes, the story ‘The Race’ teaches us valuable lessons about life. The first lesson taught by this story is never to give up in bad times. It teaches us that life is not a bed of roses. One has to face many obstacles in the path of life, but one must go on and never accept defeat. He must follow the path of trial and error and keep on moving ahead till he succeeds.

The story teaches us one more thing that everyone is gifted with something. If one is not good at academics, life should not stop there. That person might excel in some other field. So we should not judge a book by its cover. We should realise the potential of everyone and give him chance to outshine in that world.

Q. 2. Does the support of family and friends play an important role in one’s success ? Justify your answer with reference to the story.
Ans. Yes, the support of family and friends plays an important role in one’s success. We all know that man is a social being. He can’t survive in this world leading a lonely life. He must have someone in whom he can confide or share his joys and sorrows.

Tarun was one such boy who was considered the black sheep of the family. That’s’ why he always felt sad and lonely. His parents wanted him to concentrate more on his studies whereas he was a mediocre student. On the other hand, he was a good runner and wanted to be the fastest runner in the world. Ram Narayan, an Olympic medalist, noticed the potential of this boy and decided to train him on the condition that he would win the race at the Nehru Stadium on the Children’s Day. Tarun didn’t want to let down the hopes of his parents and his would be trainer. Thrice he fell down, but each time he got up and ran with all his strength. But he lost the race. Despite this, his mother and Ram Narayan, both were happy at the undeterred spirit which he had shown.

It was the cheering up of his mother and Ram Narayan that made him get up after falling down. The fear of losing gave way to confidence. That’s’ why the support of family and friends plays an important role in one’s success.

Q. 3. Tarun received a louder applause than the winner though he lost the race. If you were in the stands watching the race, would you applaud him ? Substantiate.
Ans. If I were in the stands watching the race, I would also have applauded Tarun, like the crowd present there. Though Tarun had lost the race, yet he had won the race of life. Life is not a battle only to be won. Life is a struggle. It is full of ups and downs. Victory and defeat are the two faces of a race whether it is in the play ground or the race of life. Tarun had an undeterred spirit and indomitable courage. He did not lose his confidence. Each time, after falling down, he got up and ran with all his might. He didn’t give in the middle of the race. He didn’t stop in between. He crossed the finishing line though he was the last one to do so. Thus, we can conclude that Tarun deserved the applaud which he got from the crowd.

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