top of page
For 2024 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
Class 10
Class 12

Mijbil-the Otter: Easy Translation | CBQs | NCERT Solution | Board Exam 2024

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

CBQs | NCERT Solution | Mijbil-the Otter |


Lesson Architecture


  • Theme

  • Summary

  • Text Translation

  • NCERT Solution

  • Competency Based Questions

Theme:


The Value of a Pet:

The story revolves around the author's deep emotional connection with his pet otter, Mijbil. What begins as an experiment turns into a profound bond between the author and the otter. It highlights the strong and symbiotic relationship that can develop between a pet and its owner, showcasing the author's commitment to Mijbil's well-being and happiness.


Treatment of Wild Animals :


The text raises questions about the ethical treatment of wild animals as pets. Maxwell's decision to keep an otter, a wild animal, as a pet, leads to situations where he must confine or restrain the otter, such as putting it on a leash or in a small box. This raises ethical concerns about whether it's fair to subject a wild animal to such treatment for the sake of human companionship. The incident where Mijbil injures himself in the box highlights the challenges and potential cruelty involved in keeping wild animals as pets.


These themes underscore the complex and sometimes problematic aspects of human-animal relationships, particularly when wild animals are involved. The story provides insights into the emotional connection between humans and their pets while also prompting readers to consider the ethical treatment of animals in captivity.






Summary

  • "Mijbil the Otter" by Gavin Maxwell is a memoir recounting the author's decision to keep an otter as a pet during his journey to Southern Iraq in 1956. Initially, the idea is treated as an "experiment" to observe how the otter adapts to a new environment.


  • Maxwell's friend, with whom he travels to Iraq, suggests acquiring an otter from the Tigris marshes, a region where otters are native and often tamed by the Arabs. After a delay in receiving his mail from Europe, Maxwell finally receives a surprise delivery of a squirming sack containing an otter, arranged by his friend. Maxwell names the otter Mijbil.


  • From the very beginning, Maxwell is captivated by Mijbil's charm, and their bond deepens. Maxwell describes Mijbil as a small, mud-covered "medievally-conceived dragon." Over time, he cleans the otter and discovers an enduring love for this captivating creature. Notably, Maxwell's otter is later identified as a new, previously unknown breed and is named "Latrogale perspicillata maxwelli" by the London Zoological Society.


  • Mijbil quickly adapts to life as a pet, walking without a leash and responding to his name. He displays a playful nature, juggling marbles with his paws and enjoying water immensely, splashing around in the bathtub.


  • Maxwell faces challenges when trying to take Mijbil back to London. They encounter difficulties with airlines and must place Mijbil in a small box for the flight. During the flight, Mijbil escapes the box, creating chaos onboard. Eventually, Mijbil is safely returned to Maxwell.


  • In London, Maxwell and Mijbil spend time together, with Mijbil engaging in playful activities. The sight of Mijbil confuses many Londoners, who struggle to identify him as an otter due to his uniqueness. One worker even thinks Mijbil is not an earthly being.


  • The text explores themes of the value of a pet, highlighting the deep emotional connection between the author and his otter, and raises questions about the treatment of wild animals as pets, as the otter's confinement and transport raise ethical concerns. Maxwell's story showcases the complexity of human-animal relationships, emphasizing the joy and challenges of keeping a wild animal as a beloved companion.

 

Translation of the Original Text in Easy English

 

Part I

Text ( Para 1 | Page 104)


EARLY in the New Year of 1956 I travelled to Southern Iraq. By then it had crossed my mind that I should like to keep an otter instead of a dog, and that Camusfearna, ringed by water a stone’s throw from its door, would be an eminently suitable spot for this experiment.


Translation

In the beginning of the year 1956, I went to Southern Iraq. At that time, I had a thought that I wanted to have an otter as a pet instead of a dog. I believed that Camusfearna, surrounded by water very close to its entrance, would be a perfect place for this idea to come true.


Text ( Para 2 | Page 104)


When I casually mentioned this to a friend, he as casually replied that I had better get one in the Tigris marshes, for there they were as common as mosquitoes, and were often tamed by the Arabs. We were going to Basra to the Consulate-General to collect and answer our mail from Europe. At the Consulate-General we found that my friend’s mail had arrived but that mine had not.

Translation

When I mentioned this idea to a friend, he casually suggested that I should find an otter in the Tigris marshes because they were as common as mosquitoes there, and the local Arabs often tamed them. We were headed to Basra to visit the Consulate-General to pick up and respond to our mail from Europe. However, upon our arrival at the Consulate-General, we discovered that my friend's mail had arrived, but mine had not.




Text ( Para 3 | Page 104)

I cabled to England, and when, three days later, nothing had happened, I tried to telephone. The call had to be booked twenty-four hours in advance. On the first day the line was out of order; on the second the exchange was closed for a religious holiday. On the third day there was another breakdown. My friend left, and I arranged to meet him in a week’s time. Five days later, my mail arrived.


Translation

I sent a cable to England, but when three days passed with no response, I attempted to make a telephone call. However, I had to book the call 24 hours in advance. Unfortunately, on the first day, the phone line was not working, and on the second day, the telephone exchange was closed for a religious holiday. On the third day, there was yet another problem with the telephone system. Frustrated, my friend decided to leave, and we planned to meet again in a week. Finally, after five days, my mail arrived.


Text ( Para 4 | Page 104)

I carried it to my bedroom to read, and there, squatting on the floor, were two Arabs; beside them lay a sack that squirmed from time to time. They handed me a note from my friend: “Here is your otter...”

Translation

I took the mail to my bedroom to read it, and to my surprise, I found two Arabs sitting on the floor. Next to them was a sack that seemed to be moving. They gave me a note from my friend that said, "Here is your otter..."




Part II


Text ( Para 1| Page 104)


With the opening of that sack began a phase of my life that has not yet ended, and may, for all I know, not end before I do. It is, in effect, a thraldom to otters, an otter fixation, that I have since found to be shared by most other people, who have ever owned one.


Translation

Opening that sack marked the beginning of a chapter in my life that is still ongoing, and it might continue until the end of my days. In essence, it's an obsession with otters, a fascination that I've come to realize is shared by most other people who have ever had an otter as a pet.


Text ( Para 2 | Page 104-105)

The creature that emerged from this sack on to the spacious tiled floor of the Consulate bedroom resembled most of all a very small, medievallyconceived, dragon. From the head to the tip of tail he was coated with symmetrical pointed scales of mud armour, between whose tips was visible a soft velvet fur like that of a chocolate-brown mole. He shook himself, and I half expected a cloud of dust, but in fact it was not for another month that I managed to remove the last of the mud and see the otter, as it were, in his true colours.


Translation

The animal that came out of the sack and onto the big, tiled floor in the Consulate bedroom looked like a tiny dragon that you might read about in old stories. From its head to the end of its tail, it had a pattern of pointed scales covered in mud, and in between those scales, there was a soft, velvety fur that resembled the fur of a chocolate-brown mole. It shook itself, and I thought there would be a cloud of dust, but it took me about a month to clean off all the mud and finally see the otter in its true colors.



Text ( Para 3 | Page 105)


Mijbil, as I called the otter, was, in fact, of a race previously unknown to science, and was at length christened by zoologists Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli, or Maxwell’s otter. For the first twentyfour hours Mijbil was neither hostile nor friendly; he was simply aloof and indifferent, choosing to sleep on the floor as far from my bed as possible. The second night Mijbil came on to my bed in the small hours and remained asleep in the crook of my knees until the servant brought tea in the morning, and during the day he began to lose his apathy and take a keen, much too keen, interest in his surroundings. I made a body-belt for him and took him on a lead to the bathroom, where for half an hour he went wild with joy in the water, plunging and rolling in it, shooting up and down the length of the bathtub underwater, and making enough slosh and splash for a hippo. This, I was to learn, is a characteristic of otters; every drop of water must be, so to speak, extended and spread about the place; a bowl must at once be overturned, or, if it will not be overturned, be sat in and sploshed in until it overflows. Water must be kept on the move and made to do things; when static it is wasted and provoking.


Translation

Mijbil, the name I gave to the otter, turned out to be a previously unknown species to scientists, and zoologists later named it Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli, or Maxwell's otter. In the first twenty-four hours, Mijbil didn't show much friendliness or hostility; he was rather distant and indifferent. He chose to sleep on the floor as far away from my bed as possible. However, on the second night, he hopped onto my bed in the early morning and slept in the curve of my knees until the servant brought tea in the morning.


During the day, he began to lose his indifference and became very curious about his surroundings. I made a belt for him and took him on a leash to the bathroom. There, he went wild with joy in the water for about half an hour. He was diving and rolling in the water, swimming up and down the length of the bathtub underwater, and making a lot of splashing. This behavior, I later found out, is typical of otters. They seem to enjoy spreading water everywhere; they must tip over a bowl or sit in it and splash around until it overflows. Water should always be in motion, and when it's still, it seems like a waste and quite frustrating.


Text ( Para 4 | Page 106)


Two days later, Mijbil escaped from my bedroom as I entered it, and I turned to see his tail disappearing round the bend of the corridor that led to the bathroom. By the time I got there he was up on the end of the bathtub and fumbling at the chromium taps with his paws. I watched, amazed; in less than a minute he had turned the tap far enough to produce a trickle of water, and after a moment or two achieved the full flow. (He had been lucky to turn the tap the right way; on later occasions he would sometimes screw it up still tighter, chittering with irritation and disappointment at the tap’s failure to cooperate.)


Translation

Two days later, as I entered my bedroom, Mijbil managed to escape and darted away. I saw his tail disappearing around the corner of the corridor that led to the bathroom. When I reached the bathroom, I found him perched at the end of the bathtub, trying to work the chrome taps with his paws. I was utterly amazed. In less than a minute, he had managed to turn the tap enough to produce a small stream of water, and after a brief moment, he had it running at full flow. He was fortunate to turn the tap the right way that time, but in later attempts, he would sometimes tighten it even more, making frustrated noises when the tap didn't cooperate as he wanted.



Text ( Para 5 | Page 106)


Very soon Mij would follow me without a lead and come to me when I called his name. He spent most of his time in play. He spent hours shuffling a rubber ball round the room like a four-footed soccer player using all four feet to dribble the ball, and he could also throw it, with a powerful flick of the neck, to a surprising height and distance. But the real play of an otter is when he lies on his back and juggles with small objects between his paws. Marbles were Mij’s favourite toys for this pastime: he would lie on his back rolling two or more of them up and down his wide, flat belly without ever dropping one to the floor.


Translation

Before long, Mijbil didn't need a leash to follow me, and he would come to me when I called his name. He spent most of his time playing. He loved shuffling a rubber ball around the room, just like a soccer player, using all four of his feet to dribble it. He could also throw it high and far with a quick flick of his neck. However, an otter's real game is when they lie on their back and juggle small objects between their paws. Mijbil's favorite toys for this pastime were marbles. He would lie on his back, rolling two or more marbles up and down his wide, flat belly without dropping a single one to the floor.

Part III

Text ( Para 1| Page 107)

The days passed peacefully at Basra, but I dreaded the prospect of transporting Mij to England, and to Camusfearna. The British airline to London would not fly animals, so I booked a flight to Paris on another airline, and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mij should be packed into a box not more than eighteen inches square, to be carried on the floor at my feet. I had a box made, and an hour before we started, I put Mij into the box so that he would become accustomed to it, and left for a hurried meal.

Translation

The days in Basra were calm, but I was worried about the idea of taking Mijbil to England and Camusfearna. The British airline didn't allow animals on their flights, so I booked a flight to Paris on a different airline and then another one to London from there. However, this airline required Mijbil to be placed in a box that couldn't be larger than eighteen inches square, and it had to be kept on the floor near my feet. So, I had a box made for him, and about an hour before our departure, I placed Mijbil inside the box to help him get used to it. Then, I quickly left for a meal.


Text ( Para 2 | Page 107)


When I returned, there was an appalling spectacle. There was complete silence from the box, but from its airholes and chinks around the lid, blood had trickled and dried. I whipped off the lock and tore open the lid, and Mij, exhausted and bloodspattered, whimpered and caught at my leg. He had torn the lining of the box to shreds; when I removed the last of it so that there were no cutting edges left, it was just ten minutes until the time of the flight, and the airport was five miles distant. I put the miserable Mij back into the box, holding down the lid with my hand.


Translation


As I returned , there was a scary sight. There was complete silenct from the box. Blood trickled and dried from the airholes and chinks around the lid of the box. I quickly removed the lock and opened the lid of the box. Inside, I found Mijbil exhausted and covered in blood, whimpering and reaching out for my leg. Mijbil had shredded the lining of the box to pieces. I removed the last of it so that there were no sharp edges left. At this point, we had only ten minutes left until the flight, and the airport was five miles away. I placed the distressed Mijbil back into the box, keeping the lid down with my hand.


Text ( Para 3 | Page 107)


I sat in the back of the car with the box beside me as the driver tore through the streets of Basra like a ricochetting bullet. The aircraft was waiting to take off; I was rushed through to it by infuriated officials. Luckily, the seat booked for me was at the extreme front. I covered the floor around my feet with newspapers, rang for the air hostess, and gave her a parcel of fish (for Mij) to keep in a cool place. I took her into my confidence about the events of the last half hour. I have retained the most profound admiration for that air hostess; she was the very queen of her kind. She suggested that I might prefer to have my pet on my knee, and I could have kissed her hand in the depth of my gratitude. But, not knowing otters, I was quite unprepared for what followed.


Translation

I sat in the back of the car with the box next to me as the driver sped through the streets of Basra like a ricocheting bullet. The aircraft was ready to take off, and I was rushed to it by very angry officials. Fortunately, my seat was at the very front of the plane. I covered the floor area around my feet with newspapers, called for the air hostess, and handed her a package of fish (for Mijbil) to keep in a cool place. I confided in her about the events of the last half hour. I held the utmost respect for that air hostess; she was the best of her kind. She suggested that I might want to have my pet on my lap, and I was so grateful that I felt like kissing her hand. However, not being familiar with otters, I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen.


Text ( Para 4 | Page 108)

Mij was out of the box in a flash. He disappeared at high speed down the aircraft. There were squawks and shrieks, and a woman stood up on her seat screaming out, “A rat! A rat!” I caught sight of Mij’s tail disappearing beneath the legs of a portly whiteturbaned Indian. Diving for it, I missed, but found my face covered in curry. “Perhaps,” said the air hostess with the most charming smile, “it would be better if you resumed your seat, and I will find the animal and bring it to you.”


Translation


Mijbil quickly escaped from the box. He shot out in a blur, darting down the length of the aircraft. There were loud cries and screams, and a woman on her seat yelled, "A rat! A rat!" I saw Mijbil's tail disappearing under the legs of a rotund Indian gentleman wearing a white turban. I made an attempt to catch him but missed, and instead, I ended up with my face covered in curry.


The air hostess, with a delightful smile, said, "Perhaps it would be better if you returned to your seat, and I will locate the animal and bring it to you."


Text ( Para 5 | Page 108)

I returned to my seat. I was craning my neck trying to follow the hunt when suddenly I heard from my feet a distressed chitter of recognition and welcome, and Mij bounded on to my knee and began to nuzzle my face and my neck.


Translation

I went back to my seat and was straining to see what was happening as the search for Mijbil continued. Then, unexpectedly, I heard a worried, chittering sound of recognition and delight coming from my feet. Mijbil jumped onto my lap, nuzzling my face and neck to greet me.


Part IV

Text ( Para 1| Page 109)


Mij and I remained in London for nearly a month. He would play for hours with a selection of toys, ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit, and a terrapin shell that I had brought back from his native marshes. With the ping-pong ball he invented a game of his own which could keep him engrossed for up to half an hour at a time. A suitcase that I had taken to Iraq had become damaged on the journey home, so that the lid, when closed, remained at a slope from one end to the other. Mij discovered that if he placed the ball on the high end it would run down the length of the suitcase. He would dash around to the other end to ambush its arrival, hide from it, crouching, to spring up and take it by surprise, grab it and trot off with it to the high end once more.


Translation

Mijbil and I spent nearly a month in London. He loved playing with various toys, including ping-pong balls, marbles, rubber fruit, and even a terrapin shell I had brought from his homeland, the marshes. He had a unique game he invented with the ping-pong ball that could keep him entertained for up to half an hour. I had a suitcase that got damaged during my journey home from Iraq, so the lid of the suitcase remained sloped from one end to the other when closed. Mijbil figured out that if he placed the ball on the higher end, it would roll down the length of the suitcase. He would quickly dash to the other end to surprise the ball when it reached there, hide, crouching and ready to spring up and catch it by surprise. Then, he would grab it and carry it back to the higher end to start the game again.


Text ( Para 2| Page 109)

Outside the house I exercised him on a lead, precisely as if he had been a dog. Mij quickly developed certain compulsive habits on these walks in the London streets, like the rituals of children who on their way to and from school must place their feet squarely on the centre of each paving block; must touch every seventh upright of the iron railings, or pass to the outside of every second lamp post. Opposite to my flat was a single-storied primary school, along whose frontage ran a low wall some two feet high. On his way home, but never on his way out, Mij would tug me to this wall, jump on to it, and gallop the full length of its thirty yards, to the hopeless distraction both of pupils and of staff within.


Translation

I used to take Mijbil outside on a leash, just like you would with a dog. During our walks in the streets of London, Mijbil developed some interesting habits. It was similar to the way children have rituals on their way to and from school, like making sure to step in the middle of each paving block or touching every seventh part of the iron railings or passing on the outside of every second lamp post.


Opposite to my flat was a single-story primary school with a low wall about two feet high along the front. On our way back home, but not when we were going out, Mijbil would pull me towards this wall. He would then jump onto it and run the full length of about thirty yards. This often caused quite a commotion among the students and the school staff, to their great distraction.


Text ( Para 3| Page 110)


It is not, I suppose, in any way strange that the average Londoner should not recognise an otter, but the variety of guesses as to what kind of animal this might be came as a surprise to me. Otters belong to a comparatively small group of animals called Mustellines, shared by the badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink and others. I faced a continuous barrage of conjectural questions that sprayed all the Mustellines but the otter; more random guesses hit on ‘a baby seal’ and ‘a squirrel.’ ‘Is that a walrus, mister?’ reduced me to giggles, and outside a dog show I heard ‘a hippo’. A beaver, a bear cub, a leopard — one, apparently, that had changed its spots — and a ‘brontosaur’; Mij was anything but an otter.


Translation

It might not be unusual for the average Londoner to not recognize an otter, but I was surprised by the wide range of guesses people had about what kind of animal Mijbil might be. Otters are part of a relatively small group of animals called Mustellines, which includes creatures like the badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink, and others. I constantly faced a barrage of questions from people who were guessing all the Mustellines except the otter. Some random guesses included "a baby seal" and "a squirrel." There were even humorous suggestions like "a walrus, mister?" that made me laugh, and someone outside a dog show thought Mijbil was "a hippo." People suggested a beaver, a bear cub, a leopard that had somehow changed its spots, and even a "brontosaur." Mijbil was clearly a mystery to most, anything but an otter.


Text ( Para 4| Page 110)


But the question for which I awarded the highest score came from a labourer digging a hole in the street. I was still far from him when he laid down his tool, put his hands on his hips, and began to stare. As I drew nearer I saw his expression of surprise and affront, as though he would have me know that he was not one upon whom to play jokes. I came abreast of him; he spat, glared, and then growled out, “Here, Mister — what is that supposed to be?”


Translation

However, the most noteworthy question came from a laborer who was digging a hole in the street. I was still some distance away when he stopped working, placed his hands on his hips, and began to stare at me. As I got closer, I could see the look of astonishment and offense on his face, as if he wanted me to understand that he was not someone to be fooled with. I walked past him, and he spat, glared at me, and then grumbled, "Hey, Mister, what in the world is that supposed to be?"


 

NCERT Solution


Oral Comprehension Check ( Page 106)


1. What ‘experiment’ did Maxwell think Camusfearna would be suitable for?


Ans: Maxwell thought that Camusfearna would be suitable for an "experiment" involving keeping an otter as a pet instead of a dog. He wanted to observe how the otter would adapt to living in a new environment close to water.


2. Why does he go to Basra? How long does he wait there, and why?


Ans: Gavin Maxwell goes to Basra to collect and respond to his mail from Europe. He waits in Basra for about five days because there was a delay in receiving his mail, and he wanted to wait for it to arrive before proceeding with his journey. During this time, he stays behind in Basra while his friend departs.


3. How does he get the otter? Does he like it? Pick out the words that tell you this.


Ans: Gavin Maxwell gets the otter when two Arabs unexpectedly bring it to him in a sack. He describes his initial reaction to the otter as being "enthralled" and mentions that he discovered it was an enduring love. The words "enthralled" and "enduring love" convey his liking for the otter.


4. Why was the otter named ‘Maxwell’s otter’?


The otter was named "Maxwell's otter" because it was of a previously unknown species to science, and zoologists subsequently christened it as Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli. This name includes "maxwelli" in honor of Gavin Maxwell, who was the one who had the otter as a pet and brought it to the attention of zoologists.


5. Tick the right answer.

In the beginning, the otter was

• aloof and indifferent

• friendly

• hostile


In the beginning, the otter was aloof and indifferent.


6. What happened when Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom? What did it do two days after that?


When Maxwell took Mijbil to the bathroom, the otter went wild with joy in the water. It splashed around in the bathtub, rolled in the water, and created a lot of splashes.


Two days later, Mijbil managed to escape to the bathroom and attempted to operate the taps. He successfully turned the tap to produce a trickle of water and then achieved the full flow of water. However, Maxwell notes that Mijbil was lucky to turn the tap the right way on that occasion, as he would sometimes turn it in the wrong direction, causing frustration and disappointment.



Oral Comprehension Check (Page 108-109)

1. How was Mij to be transported to England?


Mijbil was to be transported to England by air. However, the British airline to London did not allow animals, so Gavin Maxwell had to book a flight to Paris on another airline, and from there to London. The airline insisted that Mijbil be placed in a box not more than eighteen inches square, which would be kept on the floor at Maxwell's feet during the flight.


2. What did Mij do to the box?


Mijbil, the otter, managed to tear the lining of the box to shreds, causing damage to it. This happened while he was inside the box, and he became blood-spattered and exhausted in the process. Maxwell had to make adjustments to the box to ensure there were no sharp edges left, and then he placed Mijbil back into the box before their flight.


3. Why did Maxwell put the otter back in the box? How do you think he felt when he did this?


Maxwell put the otter, Mijbil, back in the box because they were about to take a flight, and the airline required the otter to be transported in the box, not more than eighteen inches square, and kept on the floor at Maxwell's feet. This was a necessary condition set by the airline for allowing the otter to travel.


Given his deep affection for Mijbil, it's likely that Maxwell felt a sense of responsibility and concern for the otter's safety during the upcoming flight. He had to comply with the airline's rules, even though it may have been distressing to put Mijbil back into the box after the earlier incident where the otter had torn the lining and injured himself.


4. Why does Maxwell say the airhostess was “the very queen of her kind”?


Ans: Maxwell refers to the air hostess as "the very queen of her kind" because she displayed exceptional understanding, kindness, and empathy during a challenging and unexpected situation. When Mijbil, the otter, escaped from the box and caused a commotion on the plane, the air hostess not only remained calm but also suggested that Maxwell could have his pet on his knee, which was a thoughtful and accommodating gesture. Maxwell was likely deeply appreciative of her understanding and assistance during this chaotic moment, which is why he referred to her in such a complimentary manner.


5. What happened when the box was opened?


When the box was opened, Mijbil, the otter, quickly shot out of it. He escaped from the box and darted down the length of the aircraft. This sudden and unexpected action caused a commotion among the passengers, with squawks and shrieks. Mijbil's escape startled the passengers on the plane, and one woman even screamed, thinking he was a rat. It led to some chaos and confusion before Mijbil was eventually reunited with Maxwell.


Oral Comprehension Check (Page 110)

1. What game had Mij invented?


Mij, the otter, had invented a game involving a ping-pong ball. The game consisted of placing the ping-pong ball on a suitcase with a damaged lid. When the ball was set on the high end of the sloped lid, it would roll down the length of the suitcase. Mijbil would then rush to the other end of the suitcase to ambush the ball's arrival, hide from it while crouching, and then spring up to take the ball by surprise. He would grab the ball and carry it back to the high end of the suitcase to start the game again. This game kept him engrossed for up to half an hour at a time.


2. What are ‘compulsive habits’? What does Maxwell say are the compulsive habits of

(i) school children

(ii) Mij?


Ans: "Compulsive habits" are repetitive behaviours or rituals that a person or animal feels compelled to perform, often without a specific reason. These habits can be driven by a sense of need or a desire for order and can become ingrained in one's routine.


In the text, Maxwell describes the compulsive habits of both school children and Mijbil:


(i) School Children: Maxwell compares the compulsive habits of school children to the rituals they perform on their way to and from school. For example, he mentions that children may have habits like placing their feet squarely on the center of each paving block or touching every seventh upright of iron railings. These are repetitive actions that some children feel compelled to do as part of their routine.


(ii) Mijbil (Mij): Mijbil developed his own compulsive habits during walks in the London streets. Maxwell notes that he had specific rituals, such as tugging Maxwell toward a low wall outside a primary school. Mijbil would jump onto the wall and gallop the full length of it on his way back home, but he would not do this on his way out. This behavior, akin to the habits of school children, was Mijbil's version of compulsive behaviour.


3. What group of animals do otters belong to?


Otters belong to a group of animals known as "Mustellines." This group includes various species like the badger, mongoose, weasel, stoat, mink, and others. Mustellines are characterized by their shared family and physical traits, and otters are a part of this family.


4. What guesses did the Londoners make about what Mij was?


Ans: The Londoners made a variety of guesses about what Mijbil, the otter, might be. Some of the guesses included:


1. A baby seal

2. A squirrel

3. A walrus

4. A hippo

5. A beaver

6. A bear cub

7. A leopard (one that had changed its spots)

8. A "brontosaur"


These guesses reflect the confusion and lack of familiarity with otters among the Londoners, as otters are not commonly seen in urban areas.


Thinking About the Text ( P. 110)

1. What things does Mij do which tell you that he is an intelligent, friendly and fun-loving animal who needs love?


Ans: Mijbil's actions in the text demonstrate that he is an intelligent, friendly, and fun-loving animal who needs love:


1. Intelligence: Mijbil's ability to operate the taps in the bathroom, even if it took a few tries, indicates his intelligence. He quickly figured out how to turn the tap to get water, showing problem-solving skills.


2. Friendly: Mijbil initially appeared aloof and indifferent but quickly became friendly. He slept on Maxwell's bed, nuzzled him, and showed signs of affection. He recognized Maxwell and greeted him warmly after their separation on the airplane.


3. Fun-loving: Mijbil's love for playing with various objects, such as ping-pong balls, marbles, and rubber fruit, reveals his fun-loving nature. He invented his own game with the ping-pong ball, displaying a playful and creative personality.


4. Need for love: Mijbil's attachment to Maxwell and his excitement upon reuniting with him on the airplane underscore his need for love and companionship. He sought comfort and affection from his owner.


These actions collectively portray Mijbil as an intelligent, friendly, and playful otter that thrives on companionship and love.


2. What are some of the things we come to know about otters from this text?


From this text, we learn several things about otters:


1. Physical Characteristics: Otters are described as having a "soft velvet fur" and symmetrical pointed scales of mud armor on their bodies.


2. Love for Water: Otters have a strong affinity for water. They enjoy playing in it, splashing around, and can be quite enthusiastic about it.


3. Intelligence: Otters, as illustrated by Mijbil, can be intelligent and capable of learning how to operate certain mechanisms, such as taps.


4. Playful Nature: Otters are inherently playful animals. They enjoy playing with objects like balls and marbles, and they have a penchant for creating their own games.


5. Attachment to Humans: The text suggests that otters can form strong attachments to humans. Mijbil quickly developed a close bond with Gavin Maxwell and displayed affectionate behavior.


6. Curiosity: Otters, like Mijbil, can be curious about their surroundings and are eager to explore new environments.


7. Compulsive Habits: Otters, as demonstrated by Mijbil's behavior, may develop certain compulsive habits or rituals during their daily routines.


These details provide insights into the characteristics and behavior of otters as observed through the specific example of Mijbil, the otter featured in the text.


3. Why is Mij’s species now known to the world as Maxwell’s otter?


Ans: Mijbil's species is known to the world as "Maxwell's otter" because it was a previously unknown species to science. Zoologists later identified this distinct species, and in recognition of Gavin Maxwell, who had Mijbil as a pet and brought attention to this unique otter, they named it after him. The scientific name for this species is Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli, with "maxwelli" added to acknowledge Maxwell's role in the otter's discovery and identification.



Competency Based Questions (CBQs)

Q1. No animal likes to be confined. They remain healthy, strong and active only in their natural habitat. Explain the statement with reference to the Otter as described in the story.


Q2. Why do you think Mijbil was neither hostile nor friendly for the first twenty-four hours after he was brought home?


Q3. How can you say that Mijbil loved to be in water which was its natural habitat? Explain with reference to the story.


Q4. Mijbil caused a sensation in London. Expound with reference to the chapter “Mijbil the Otter”.


Q5. What was the greatest obstacle faced by the narrator in transporting Mijbil to Camusfearna?


Q6. Mijbil is an active animal who shows many emotions. Explain with instances from the text.


Long Answer-type Questions/6 Marks


Q1. From your reading of the story 'Mijbil-the Otter' describe how the writer portrays the otter and its relationship with humans.


Q2. Without the assistance of the airhostess, the narrator could not have transported Mijbil from Basra to London safely. Comment.


Q3. Peculiar behaviours are a characteristic of Otters. Discuss with respect to “Mijbil the Otter”.


Q4. Discuss the commitment the author has shown for keeping his pet- Mijbil in his house.



English Project

Q. What all do you have to do to keep the animal with you at home? (You can refer to the dos and don’ts given on page no. 102 of the textbook First Flight.) Make a project report keeping in mind the efforts the author made to keep Mijbil as his pet.


Recommended Reading
396 views

Related Posts

See All

Comments


English With A Difference (englishwithadifference.com).png

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

We have insatiable passion for Literature & Language and to empower English learners to build up a rock solid foundation. 

Let the lessons come to you.

Thanks for subscribing!

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
bottom of page