The Last Stone Carver
From the workshop, the chipping sound of the chisel reached his ears. He listened. Had his ears deceived him? No, He could hear it again – the strong blow of the hammer on top of the chisel.
Gopal! He was back! Gopal had returned. He would help him. They would finish the statue! He stumbled to his feet, crossed the small room and reached the door.
“Gopal!” He was about to shout when the words froze on his lips. “No!” he wanted to cry out “ Stop! Stop the work!.”
But he couldn’t move. Shock had immobilised him. He stood staring at the back of the young stone carver working on the face of the statue, on the eyebrows, arching over a pair of fine eyes.
But it wasn’t his son sitting cross-legged before the biggest statue he had ever carved. It was Salim, his servant.
The old man watched stunned. The first wave of shock, fear and anger passed to give way to a feeling of great relief and happiness.
“Hai Ram,” the old man whispered “Hai Ram” and tottered over to the boy. Dropping his hand on his shoulder he said softly, “ Salim.”
The startled boy turned and looked up at his master. He rose to his feet clumsily, the hammer and chisel still in his hands.
“Salim,” the old man searched for words. “I...I...I...only wanted to help,” whispered the boy, “I...I’ll learn, if you teach me Masterjee! I have practised secretly for almost two years in the quarry.
“Please tell me! For many years, I wanted to become a sculptor like you yet I fought the feeling. But it proved too strong. I know there is nothing in this world I would like to do more, there is nothing in life that I could do better. I want to become a stonecarver. Will you please teach me, Masterjee?”
The old man pulled the boy’s head against his shoulder and whispered, “There’s nothing I can teach you my son beta. Go ahead. You have it in your hands and in your heart. I know you will be one of the country’s finest stonecarvers.”
Sigrun Srivastav is an Indian author of German origin. She is a multi-faceted artist, a writer, a sculptor and an illustrator. As a writer she has written over 25 books for chidren of all ages.
stumbled - lost balance
immobilized - stopped from moving
tottered over - moved unsteadily way
startled - surprised
Read Section – III (para 1 and 4) and answer the following questions.
1. Who listened to the chipping sound of the chisel? The old man
2. Who was working with the hammer and chisel? Salim
1. Who was staring? The old man was staring.
2. Who was the young stone carver? Salim was the young stone carver.
3. What was he working on? He was working on the face of the statue, on the eyebrows.
Additional questions :
1. What did the old man hear from the workshop?
The old man heard the chipping sound of the chisel from the workshop.
2. What did the old man think when he heard the chipping sound of the chisel?
The old man thought that his son Gopal had returned home.
3. What did the old man do when he heard the chipping sound of the chisel?
On hearing the chipping sound of the chisel the old man stumbled to his feet. He crossed the small room and reached the door.
4. Why couldn’t the old man move?
The old man couldn't move because shock had immobilised him.
5. Who was working on the face of the statue?
Salim, the servant was working on the face of the statue.
6. How did the old man feel at first?
At first the old man was filled with shock, fear and anger.
7. What happened when his fear and anger disappeared?
The old man had a feeling of great relief and happiness.
8. What did Salim say to the old man?
Salim said that he only wanted to help him. He added that he had been practising for two years in a quarry.
9. What was the ambition of Salim?
For many years Salim wanted to become a sculptor like the old man.
10. What did the old man say to Salim in the end?
The old man said that Salim had the skill in his hands and heart. He added that Salim would become one of the country's finest stone carvers.
1. Describe the feelings of the old man when he heard the chipping sound of the chisel.
When he heard the chipping sound of the chisel the old man could not believe his ears. At first he thought that his son Gopal had come back. He was about to shout. But the words froze on his lips. He became immobilised with shock. He saw that it was his servant Salim. The old man was filled with shock, fear and anger. Then his fear and anger disappeared. He was filled with great relief and happiness.
2. What did the old man do when he saw Salim working on the face of the statue?
At first the old man was filled with shock, fear and anger. Soon he was filled with great relief and happiness. He laid his hand on Salim's shoulders. Now Salim expressed his desire to become a sculptor like the old man. The old man said that Salim had the skill in his hands and heart. He said that Salim would become one of the country's best stone carvers.