A Shadow by R. K. Narayan


“A Shadow” tells the story of Sambu, a young boy who lives in a village with his mother. He eagerly awaits the screening of a film starring his late father. It’s a touching and emotional story in which Sambu demands to see his father’s performance on the big screen. He wants to see his father moving and dancing on the screen, as if he is alive. As a result, he desires to watch the film on a daily basis.

The Film: “Kumari”

The picture scene is very similar to Sambu’s home. Kumari, the fourteen-year-old daughter in the film, does not want to marry and instead wishes to continue her studies. The father asks the girl questions about her schoolwork and is pleased when she answers correctly. Her father asks her arithmetic, which she correctly answers. His father is overjoyed. Sambu recalls making a mistake when his father asked him to solve an arithmetic problem.

Sambu’s Joy

In fact, Sambu is overjoyed, as if his father has resurrected. Sambu is attempting to feel the presence of his deceased father through his performance in the film “Kumari.” His father’s shadow brings him joy. He senses the presence of his father.

His Mother’s Memories

He repeatedly asks his mother to see the picture. However, she explains that she could not stand seeing her husband move and speak on the screen again. Sambu explains to her that seeing his father on the screen is preferable to seeing him in a photograph. As a result, his mother agrees to watch the movie with Sambu. Finally, he takes his mother to the last performance. When she sees Sambu’s father reading the newspaper in the film, she remembers the last breath her husband took while reading the newspaper at home. This memory triggers her emotions, and she passes out. Sambu takes her back home when he sees her because he loves his mother more than he loves his father. Sambu, as a small child, was unable to comprehend his mother’s emotions, despite the fact that he adores her.

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The story depicts the joy and pain felt by a young boy and his mother when they see the dead man of the house moving and dancing on the screen. In this story, we see the emotions, feelings, innocence, and sentiments of a child who is deprived of his father’s love.

Textbook Questions

Working with the Text

(A) Answer the following questions:

Q. 1. Sambu was eager but his mother reluctant to see the film. Why?

Ans. Sambu was eager to see his father come back to life in the film, but his mother was reluctant because she couldn’t bear the thought of her six-month-dead husband moving, talking, and singing. Her husband was very important to her.

Q. 2. Who wrote the story, and how much was he, paid for it?

Ans. The story was written by Sambu’s father, who also acted in it, and he was paid with ten thousand rupees for each of his roles.

Q. 3. What was the story about?

Ans. The story was about a young girl named Kumari who refused to marry at fourteen but instead wanted to study at a university and earn a living on her own. She was cast away by her stern father but eventually forgiven.

Q. 4. When the film ended the first day, what did Sambu realize?

Ans. The first day, when the movie was over, Sambu turned around and looked at the aperture in the projection room as if his father had gone through it.

Q. 5. When Sambu’s mother asked him if he would like to go and see the picture again the next day, what was Sambu’s response?

Ans. Sambu was pleased, and he expressed his happiness to his mother by stating that he wanted to watch the film as long as it was still playing in theatre.

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Q. 6. How long did Sambu live in his father’s company?

Ans. Sambu spent three hours per day in his father’s company for a week or more and felt depressed at the end of each show.

Q. 7. When did Sambu’s mother agree to see the picture?

Ans. Sambu was successful in his efforts to convince his mother to go see the picture on the last day for the night presentation. They were changing the picture the next day.

Q. 8. What was the unbearable scene for Sambu’s mother?

Ans. Sambu’s mother found the scene in which Sambu’s father reclined in a chair while reading a newspaper unbearable. This was the scene that brought back memories of her husband sitting in his canvas chair and how she lost her temper on the day of his death.

Q. 9. How did Sambu help his mother go home and what did he feel?

Ans. Sambu went and got a jutka for his mother and helped her get in it. His heart grew heavy, and he burst into tears. Both his mother’s breakdown and the fact that they were changing the picture of his father the next day made him feel like that was the last time he would see him.

(B) Write True or False in the box provided against each statement:

(I). Sambu’s father, a writer, and actor was dead.    
A. True

(ii). Sambu’s friend hated Tamil pictures but still saw the picture.        
A. False

(iii). Kumari was Sambu’s sister.         
A. False

(iv). Sambu lived in his father’s company three hours a day as long as the picture was on screen.            
A. True

(v). Sambu’s mother was reluctant in the beginning to see the picture but Sambu persuaded her to see the last show.               
A. True

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(vi). The newspaper scene was unbearable for Sambu’s mother.           
A. True

(vii). The lights were put on in a women’s class when Sambu’s mother fainted there during the show.      
A. True

(viii). Sambu’s mother did not see the picture after she fainted and was taken home by Sambu.          
A. True

(ix). Sambu was affected both by his mother’s breakdown and by the parting from his father in the end.    
A. True

Language Work

Match the phrases from ‘A’ with their meanings in ‘B’:


A Shadow

Grammar Work

Change the narration of the following:

1. Direct: She said, “Where are you going?”

Indirect: She asked where I was going.

2. Direct: I said to Brijis, “When will your college reopen?”

Indirect: I asked Brijis when his college would reopen.

3. Direct: The teacher said to us, “Can you tell me why girls outshine boys?”

Indirect: The teacher asked us if we could tell him why girls outshine boys.

4. Direct: The teacher said to Aslam, “Why were you not present at this place yesterday?”

Indirect: The teacher asked/enquired Aslam why he was not present at that place the previous day.

5. Direct: The teacher said, “ Why are you making a noise?”

Indirect: The teacher asked why we were making a noise.

6. Indirect: I asked him where he was going.

Direct: I said to him, “Where are you going?”

7. Indirect: The teacher asked the newcomer which school he had attended last.

Direct: The teacher said to the newcomer, “Which school have you attended last?”

8. Indirect: You asked her if she could play carrom.

Direct: You said to her, “Can you play carrom?”

9. Indirect: I asked them if they knew him.

Direct: I said to them, “Do you know him?”

10. Indirect: She asked you why you were late.

Direct: She said, “Why are you late?”

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