Theory:

(Scene 6: At Gopal's house)
Narrator: A few days later---
 
Gopal's wife: Why is your face half-shaven?
Gopal: I'm dressing up to buy a fish.
 
Gopal's wife: What's the matter with you? Why are you smearing yourself with ash?
Gopal: I told you I'm dressing up to buy a Hilsa-fish.
 
Gopal's wife: Listen to me! Please you can't possibly go out in those disgraceful rags! What are you up to?
Gopal: How many times must I tell you, woman? I'm out to buy a huge Hilsa-fish.
 
Gopal's wife (thinking to herself): It's happened to him! He's gone mad!
Explanation:
 
The next scene takes place at Gopal's house. After a few days, when Gopal was at his home, he looks at the mirror and smears his face with some ash (a kind of powder formed after burning some substances like wood and coconut shells). At that time, Gopal's wife arrived there, and she was shocked to see Gopal's half-shaven face. The ash applied on one side of the face gave the impression that it was half-shaven. So Gopal's wife asked the question, "Why is your face half-shaven?"

Gopal answered her that he was getting ready to buy a big Hilsa-fish. Gopal's wife told him not to go out in the torn dress. But he never bothered her words. So she believed that he had gone mad and couldn't understand why he was acting so strangely. Gopal answered all of her questions as "I told you I'm dressing up to buy a Hilsa-fish." However, she was not satisfied with his answers. People might think Gopal had gone insane. So she asked him where he was going after seeing him in damaged clothing. But Gopal's answer was silly and unconvincing. He said, "How many times must I tell you, woman? I'm out to buy a huge Hilsa-fish."

Finally, Gopal's wife thought to herself that Gopal had gone completely mad because he had no patience in listening to her words. He was blabbering the same thing as he was about to go out and buy a Hilsa. The reason behind her statement, "He's gone mad!" was that people usually go to the market dressed neatly. But Gopal was smearing his face with ash powder and wearing a torn dress and telling that he was going to the bazaar to buy a Hilsa. She can easily predict how people would respond if he behaves in this manner. Gopal's wife had no idea that Gopal's disguise was a part of the king's task. She was not aware of the fact that everybody was talking about the Hilsa-fish. So Gopal's wife never paid any attention to the fact that Gopal was going to buy a Hilsa-fish, even though he kept stressing on the same point. So she was worried a lot about him.
 
Meanings of the difficult words:
 
S.No
Words
Meanings
1
Smearing Coat or mark something messily or carelessly with a greasy or sticky substance
2
Disgraceful ragsTo bring shame upon wearing a torn or disrespectful dress
3
InsaneAn action or quality characterized or caused by madness
4
Pleading The action of making an emotional or earnest appeal to someone
5
Unconcerned Showing a lack of interest in something or someone
6
Disguise Give someone or oneself a different appearance in order to conceal one's identity
7
Blabbering Talk foolishly, excessively or repeating something
8
UnconvincingFailing to make someone believe that something is true or valid
Reference:
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). Honeycomb. Gopal and the Hilsa-fish(pp. 36-47). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.