Reading with insight
Question 1. Narrate ‘The Tale of Melon City’ in your own word.
Answer : The poem ‘‘The Tale of Melon City’ by Vikram Seth is a tale of a ‘‘whimsical and moody king’’.
Question 2. What impression would you form of a state where the king was ‘just and placid’?
Answer : The poem is a satire. It satirises how a ‘just and placid’ king rules the state and passes it on to a melon. The king lives in a world of his own. He lacks the will and the discretion to rule his kingdom. He is incapable of taking independent decisions.
This kind of whimsical and fickle minded king can bring the entire state to a halt. Everyone should be ready to meet the unexpected. When the low arch bangs the crown, the king gets angry and blames chief of the builders and sentences him to death. Then, the blame game starts. The king being a just and placid king keeps changing his decision till the onus falls on him and he is hanged. Ultimately, the king has to pay to a very heavy price for being just.
Question 3. How, according to you, can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?
Answer : Peace and liberty are the two strong factors for a state to flourish. The rules of the state should be judicious and sensitive to the needs of its people. A strong ruler must be intelligent enough to make his people understand the difference between liberty and anarchy.
An intelligent and powerful king can bring peace and liberty in the real sense. Ironically, in the poem ‘‘The Tale of Melon City’, the king is just and placid but the outcome was that the state passes on to a melon.
Question 4. Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony.
Answer : ‘The Tale of Melon City’ is full of irony and humour. There is a ‘just and placid’ king who in the end, becomes the victim of his own sense of justice. He is ‘placid’ but flares up on small issues and passes death sentence.
The king, who is supposed to rule, gets ruled by others – chief of builders, masons, architect, wise man, and so on and so forth. After the death of the king, the state is ruled by a melon. It is humorous to the extent of being ridiculous. But underneath lies a message – when people are disillusioned and without direction, it hardly matters to them who their king is – a human being or a melon.