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If I Was a Tree - 1st PUC English Textbook Solutions

If I Was a Tree
Mudanakudu Chinnaswamy
 This poem has been written by Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy. In this poem he is speaking on behalf of the untouchables. He loves the life of a tree instead of being an untouchable because a tree is acceptable to society but an untouchable is not acceptable to society. Even in modern times an untouchable is disliked and kept out of society. If he becomes a tree, a bird may build its nest on the tree without thinking of the tree as untouchable. Sun light would not discriminate him as untouchable tree. An untouchable's shadow is considered unclean but a tree's shadow is not untouchable. Rain would have fallen on it without discrimination. A cow is  considered  very  sacred  but  it  would  come  and  touch  the  tree.  At  last,  the  dry  broken  wood  of  the  tree  may  be  used  for  the funeral of good people. Through this poem, the author condemns the blind belief called untouchability. 
 Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy has written on the evils of untouchability in this poem.  The feeling of anger and dejectedness is expressed through a young boy who feels that if he had been a tree, he could have birds build its nest without asking him which caste he was, sun would have embraced him and his friendship with the breeze and leaves would have been cool and pleasant.   The boy states that if he had been a tree, the rain would not turn its back because he was an untouchable and the mother earth would  not  have  run  to  take  bath  because  his  roots  were  touching  hers.  Through  this,  the  boy  states  the  attitude  of  the  people towards him and how hurt he was.   He also states that as a tree, he would allow the cows to scratch its skin against the rough surface of the bark and in turn he would get blessings from the thousand gods and goddess who were supposed to be residing in the cow’s stomach   The boy also yearns to be purified in some way or the other and states his wish that if he had been a tree, he would have been broken into pieces and would have been used for some holy rituals, or would have been used to burn a sinless person or would have been used to carry the body of the dead by touching the shoulders of four men.  He calls the four men as “good” because only those people are allowed to carry all the bodies of all the caste people.  
Comprehension: I  
1.      The speaker wants to be a tree because
Ans: - Trees are not treated as objects of defilement. 
2.      What wouldn’t the bird ask the tree?
Ans: - The bird wouldn’t ask what caste the tree belongs to before it builds its nest. 
3.      When does the sacred cow scrape her body onto the bark?
Ans: - Sacred cow scrapes her body onto the bark of the tree when it felt an itch, or whenever it get itched. 
4.      How does the speaker want to be purified?
Ans: - By burning in the holy fire the speaker wanted to be purified. 
5. The phrase ‘dog –eater’ refers to Untouchable. 
5.      What uses of the wood does the speaker see?
Ans:  -  The  wood  can  be  used  in  a  holy  fire  for  sacrifices  or  rituals.  It  also  becomes  the  bier  for  a  sinless  dead  body  on  the shoulders of four good men. 
Comprehension: II 
1.      Why would mother earth not flee according to the speaker?
2.      How do the life forces-sunlight and the cool breeze enforce nature’s idea of equality?
Ans: - The poem if I was a tree by Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy is a satire on social discrimination as it portrays how even a tree is treated better than a human being who belongs to the lower castes. Literally Dalit means oppressed or crushed. In earlier times, these people  were  made to live outside the villages and cities and their touch or even shadow  was considered polluting. These groups were not entitled to education or any position of status and authority. However, the sad reality is that it is still in practice in a lot of place around the country. 
The poet feels that if he was a tree he would not have to face discrimination at the hands of people. The poet says if he was tree then the bird wouldn’t ask for his cast before it built its nest on him, his shadow wouldn’t feel defiled (polluted) if the sunlight embraced him. He further thinks that his friendship with the breeze and leaves would be sweet and congenial (friendly, pleasing) 
The poet is trying to tell us that nature does not differentiate between upper and lower caste; it does not reserve its resources only for the upper castes. Forces like the rain, the wind, water serve all human beings in the same way. It is in the name of caste and creed that man differentiates and oppresses those who come from the lower castes.
The poet feels that the sacred cow would scrape her body on the tree’s bark whenever he feels the need to scratch its body and the three hundred thousand Gods sheltering inside her would touch him as well. 
Even if it is cut and made into pieces it may be used to light the holy fire or used as a bier for a sinless body being carried by four good men on the shoulders. 
How can someone be purified by a bath if their inner selves are polluted  with the idea of discriminating individuals? The poet feels  it  is  convenient  to  be  a  tree  that  is  beyond  the  boundaries  of  caste  rather  than  being  a  human  being  who  belong  to  the untouchable caste and suffer from caste politics.
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