Dr. Ashok T. Krishnan’s clinic usually sounded more like an ancient Chinese torture chamber than a child specialist’s clinic. This was because the tiny children who were his patients left out a variety of blood –curdling yells and ear-splitting sobs.
‘It’s all because my patients were making so much noise and crying so loudly, ‘ he apologized to his wife one evening, ‘that Somu couldn’t hear me properly. He rang me in the clinic to ask whether we could keep zigzag with us when he leaves for Alaska. And now Somu thinks I said “yes”, even though I clearly said “no”! I know you are busy getting your painting ready for your exhibition next w…’
Asha Nehemiah's story "Zigzag" revolves around doctor Krishnan's family and a multilingual bird named 'Zigzag.' Dr. Krishnan was a child specialist who ran a clinic that sounded more like an ancient Chinese torture chamber than a children's clinic. The 'Chinese torture chamber' is a windowless, underground room lighted only by a few candles where people are subjected to severe torture.
The phrase 'bloodcurdling yells' does not actually talk about blood coagulation. The term 'bloodcurdling yells' refers to the screams of the children in Dr. Krishnan's clinic who cry out of extreme fear or pain, which might be due to injections or fear of medicine. And the phrase 'ear-splitting sobs' is an exaggeration of how the children's cries are perceived by others. The author used these phrases to describe the sound velocity, implying that it was extremely loud.
In the introduction section, the narrator gives a brief description of the noises at Dr. Krishnan's clinic for a reason. That's why the noise at Dr. Krishnan's clinic led to Dr. Somu's misunderstanding. We will see what that confusion was and who Somu was.
Mrs. Krishnan had received an apology from Dr. Krishnan one evening. Dr. Somu, one of Dr. Krishnan's friends, was set to leave for Alaska (Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the United States). And so, he called Dr. Krishnan during work time to seek his assistance in keeping his pet Zigzag at home until he returned from Alaska. Dr. Krishnan knew it wouldn't be possible to look after Zigzag as Mrs. Krishnan was preoccupied with her painting for a show in a week's time, so he politely refused. However, Dr. Somu misunderstood his reply as 'yes,' and prepared to send his pet to Krishnan's family, which was why Dr. Krishnan apologised to his wife.
Meaning of difficult words:
|Blood-curdling sound||A scream or noise that arouses fear|
|Yell||To shout very loudly when you are furious or in pain.|
|Chamber||Refers to a room or a place official residence|
|Apologize||To say sorry for something|
|Sob||Crying and weeping with inhaling deeply|
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2018). Term 1 English Standard-10. Zigzag - Asha Nehemiah (pp. 50-55). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.