The Woman on Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond: Summary | Questions and Answers | Major English Class 11



The Woman on Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond: Summary | Questions and Answers | Major English Class 11
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The Woman on Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond: Summary | Questions and Answers | Major English Class 11

The Woman at Platform 8


Ruskin Bond (born May 19, 1934) is an Indian writer of British origin. He was born in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, and grew up in Jamnagar (Gujarat), Dehradun, and Shimla. When he was eight years old, his mother separated from his father and married another man.

When he was ten years old, his father died of malaria. Later, he was raised by his mother and stepfather, who lived in Dehradun.  He wrote one of his first short stories, "Untouchable," in 1951. He has written over a hundred short stories, essays, novels, and over thirty books for children. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1992 for his novel "Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra" in English. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014. Most of his works are influenced by life in the hill stations in the foothills of the Himalayas, where he spent his childhood.


The Woman at Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond

This realistic story, "The Woman on Platform 8," has been written by an Indian author of British descent named Ruskin Bond. Here in this story, we find a 12-year-old boy named Arun, who is the main narrator of this story. Arun is a student at a boarding school. All the story's events have been presented from his point of view. This story has presented an account of a day for the main narrator, Arun, at Ambala railway station, where he meets a strange and mysterious lady in a white saree who treats him like a mother. In this story, the author has built up a picture of a caring mother and gives the message that a mother figure is much more than a biological mother.

According to the narrator, one day he was waiting all alone for his train on platform No.8 of Ambala station. It was his second year at boarding school. He was going back to school after his vacation. His parents considered that he was old enough to travel alone. His train was about to arrive at midnight.

It was a long wait for him. So he spent his time watching whatever went on on the platform. He kept on spending his time strolling on the platform, reading books, or throwing biscuits at the stray dogs. Soon, he lost interest in his surroundings.

Then, he heard a woman’s soft voice behind him. She was a woman of over 30 with a pale face and dark, kind eyes in a white sari. She hadn't worn out her jewels. She asked him if he was alone. He told her that he was alone and waiting for his train, which would come around midnight. She invited him to go with her to the station dining room and have something to eat. He didn't refuse the invitation, as he felt it could be impolite to deny it. She asked a coolie to look after his suitcase and led him down the platform.

The woman ordered tea, samosas, and jalebis. Arun started taking an interest in her. After some time, he became friendly with the kind woman. She listened to everything that he said about himself. She seemed happy to watch him eat and talk. While returning from the dining room, they saw a boy jumping across a rail track, beside which an engine was coming. The woman became frightened and pained. She dug her fingers into his flesh. She calmed down only when the boy reached the other side of the track. Arun tried to comfort her. The woman smiled and pressed his hand gratefully. Then both come to the place where Arun’s suitcase is placed.

Arun's schoolmate, Satish, who was accompanying his mother, appeared on the platform. His mother asked Arun if the lady was his mother. Before he spoke a word, the woman came to his rescue and said that she was his mother. Satish’s mother warned him that one should be very careful of strangers. He disliked her tone and her command over him. He contradicted her, saying that he likes strangers. As she repeated her warning, Arun looked angrily at her and moved closer to the woman.

When the train arrived, Satish and Arun got into a compartment. Satish’s mother gave him some fruits, chocolate, and a cricket bat. She seemed full of advice again and asked both of them to be careful about strangers. Arun let the woman take his hand in hers. He could think of nothing. Arun at last kissed her cheeks. When the train moved slowly out of the station, Satish bid goodbye to his mother. Arun also did the same to the woman. He addressed the woman as'mother'. He continued gazing at her until she disappeared into the crowd.


The Woman at Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond


1. What was Arun doing all alone on platform No. 8?


Arun was waiting for his train on platform No. 8 at Ambala railway station. He was alone, returning to school after his vacation.

2. How did the bond between Arun and the stranger develop?


The bond between Arun and the stranger developed when the woman approached him on the platform. She invited him to the station dining room, shared food with him, and showed concern when they witnessed a potentially dangerous incident together. The woman's caring nature and Arun's loneliness contributed to the development of their bond.

3. How did Satish and Arun react to the advice of Satish's mother saying "Never talk to strangers"?


Satish's mother's advice made Arun uncomfortable, and he disliked her tone and commands. Satish seemed to follow his mother's advice, expressing caution about strangers. However, Arun rebelled against the warning and declared that he likes strangers. When Satish's mother repeated her caution, Arun moved closer to the woman.

4. How did Arun bid farewell to the stranger?


Arun bid farewell to the stranger by kissing her cheeks. As the train moved out of the station, he addressed the woman as 'mother' and continued gazing at her until she disappeared into the crowd.


1. "Are you all alone, my son?"

a) What do 'you' and 'my' refer to?


'You' refers to Arun, and 'my' refers to the stranger.

b) How did Arun react when he heard the voice of a stranger?


Arun reacted by acknowledging that he was alone and waiting for his train. He did not refuse when the stranger invited him to the station dining room, as he felt it could be impolite to deny the invitation.

2. "Yes, I am Arun's mother."

a) Who is the speaker?


The speaker is the stranger (the woman on platform 8).

b) What do you think is the reason behind the speaker saying so?


The reason behind the speaker saying so is to protect Arun when Satish's mother inquired about their relationship. The woman claimed to be Arun's mother to avoid suspicion.


1. What is the theme of the story?


The theme of the story revolves around the unexpected and nurturing bond that develops between a lonely boy, Arun, and a stranger at platform 8. It explores the idea that a motherly figure can extend beyond biological connections.

2. Draw the character sketch of the boy.


Arun is a 12-year-old student at a boarding school, waiting alone at Ambala railway station. He is depicted as lonely, observant, and initially disinterested in his surroundings. His character evolves as he forms a close bond with the mysterious woman, showcasing his need for companionship and a motherly figure.


The Woman at Platform 8 by Ruskin Bond

agitated (adj.): anxious

ambling (v): walking at a slow easy pace

apparently (adv.): clearly

browsing (V): examining casually

dismally (adv.): sadly

heaving (v): gasping with short quick breath

inferno (n): a place that is like hell

instinctive (adj.): inherent, natural

nuisance (n): annoyance

patronizing (adj.): showing superiority in a rude and insulting way

resentfully (adv.): angrily

serenity (n): calmness, the state of being peaceful

staggered (v): deeply shocked; astonished; amazed

sternly (adv.): in a severe manner; harshly

stray (adj.): separated from the group

thaw (v): soften (here)

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