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Swaran Singh came back to India after twenty years for a short visit. He found that his mother had aged and his younger brother, Charan, who was a rakish  bachelor when he had left, was now a pot-bellied father of three kids! There was so much to catch-up, he exclaimed, as he hugged his dear, dear brother tightly.

The next day, Swaran, Charan and their mother were sitting together in her room, talking, joking, laughing and basking in the warmth of maternal, fraternal and filial love. Charan’s eldest child, seventeen-year old Raju walked in.

“Papa,” he said with a
drooping face, “I am sorry.”

“Why beta?” The boy’s surprised father and grandmother asked.

Raju did not look up. Charan pulled him closer and gently asked him once again.


“Papa, hadn’t you once told me that expecting gains from our loved ones violates the sanctity of love?” He seemed on the verge of crying.

“Why do you ask beta?”

Raju was ashamed. He spoke slowly. “Papa, I thought that I could ask Swaran uncle to get me a motorcycle. Uncle, I am sorry, I didn’t mean it. I really didn’t. I am sorry papa.”

Everyone was touched.

“I am proud of you, my son,” Charan said. “It was only a peccadillo. Don’t worry so much about it. Now smile and go and teach Deepu and Soni.”

Swaran was impressed. In today’s world of turpitude, where did one see such honest boys? “I will buy you a motorcycle beta,” he promised within himself. “You deserve it.”

“See!” Charan remarked when Raju left. “On the one hand is Raju, and on the other, Deepu and Soni. They are a disappointment! They never heed my words.”

That evening, Swaran saw Deepu sitting in the garden with a book and walked to him. When they started talking, he found that Deepu was quite an intelligent young man with articulate thoughts. He wondered why Charan was disappointed by him. Quite happy at the discovery that his younger nephew was not ‘a disappointment’, that he too could bring laurels to the family, he patted Deepu’s head and said affectionately, “Take guidance from your elder brother, my son, learn from him. If you can be even half like him, you would be a great man.”


“Uncle, please not you too!” Deepu exclaimed. “I do not want to be like him! I hate him. Don’t you see? I don’t understand why everyone fails to see through his wiles. He is faking it, for heaven’s sake! He acts and talks as if he is a god sent on earth because he knows it will impress everybody. Uncle, you too seem to be taken in by his sanctimony.


Because yesterday, he was bragging before me that he had made sure you would buy him a motorcycle. Mama and papa and daadi are already puppets in his hands. He gets them to do anything that he wants, and the funny thing is, they do not even realize they are being manipulated! Soni and I suffer because we do not like doing such tricks. He has subtly turned everybody against us. Mama,papa, daadi,  they all believe that we are both good-for-nothing time wasters and who better to reform us than Raju? When we tell him we don’t need his lectures, he embroiders our words on his own and gives the most damaging report to them, which further corrodes their impression of us. 

Uncle you don’t know how miserable Soni and I are. We cannot even protest because it’s always Raju’s word against ours. You don’t know how we pray for that Raju be sent away somewhere from where he cannot return for at least 10 years!”

The words of both the boys seemed genuine to Swaran but one was clearly lying. Who? Swaran was flummoxed.

Latin Humus Earth

We are called humans because we belong to the humus (the earth), as opposed to the gods and demons, who live either in the skies or under the ground. The Bible followed the same logic. In Hebrew (the language in which the first Biblical records were written), ground is called adamah. So, the first man was called Adam. The word aadmi that we use so often is also derived from adamah and has reached us via Arabic.


Everybody is a human, but only he can be called humane who has the feelings that befit a man.

The Latin word homo means man (the homo found in homosexual is a different one. It is a Greek prefix which means ‘same’.)


Sanctuary: (n) a sacred place; a safe place.

Origin: L sanctus, holy

  • The underside of his bed was little Rafi’s sanctuary which sheltered him from all the ugly quarrels between his parents.
  • A wild-life sanctuary is called so because it offers a safe haven to the wild animals.
    Haven: (n) a place of shelter and safety.

Sacrosanct: (adj) extremely sacred, inviolable.

Origin: sacer, holy + sanctus, holy => ‘very, very holy’

  • Treating the deadline as sacrosanct is the only way of achieving it.
  • The followers of every religion regard their holy books as sacrosanct.

Rakish: (adj) smart, dashing, stylish, sporty; marked by a devil-may-care attitude.

Bask: (v) to enjoy the warmth or sunshine.

Origin: Old English bath+ -ask, suffix => ‘to bathe oneself ’.

Fraternal: (adj) brotherly.

Origin: L frater, brother.

  • In fact, the L frater, the English brother and the Sanskrit bhrata are all Indo-European cousins (the ‘f ’ sound of Latin= ‘ph’ in Greek=‘bh’ in Sanskrit= ‘b’ in English).
  • Sanskrit bhratra-> biraadri; Latin frater -> fraternity. Both biraadri and fraternity mean ‘brotherhood.’

Fratricide: (n) killing one’s brother.

Origin: L frater+ -cide, to kill

  • Mahabharta is the story of the fratricidal war between the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
  • The old lady lamented that the Indo-Pak war was fratricidal. She said: “They are the sons of the same soil, can’t they see that?”

Filial: (adj) of, relating to, or befitting a son or daughter.

Origin: L filius, son

  • Filial duties are the duties of a child towards his parents; filial respect is the respect a child must show to his parents.
  • Sravan Kumar, the young man who died by accident while serving his blind parents, is a paragon of filial devotion.

Another word from the root filius is ‘affiliate’.


Affiliate: (v) to adopt as a member or branch; to become closely associated.

Origin: L ad-, towards + filius => ‘towards being a son’ => ‘to adopt’

  • The school affiliated itself to the CBSE. The CBSE acts like a mother organization to which many small, independent child organizations attach themselves.
  • Sanskrit is affiliated with the Indo-European family of languages.

Droop: (v) bend or fall downwards; lose heart.

Origin: Droop is related with ‘drop’. Droop means to drop down.

  • The little girl said many angry words to the flower she had grown in her balcony. The poor flower drooped.

Sanctity: (n) sacredness, purity.

Origin: L sanctus, holy

See the sentence for ‘desecration.’

Verge: (n) edge, brink, borderline.; (v) to be on the edge of

  • His determination to succeed verged on madness.

Brink: the upper edge of a sharp slope; any edge.

  • The nation is on the brink of a financial crisis.

Turpitude: (n) sin

  • The woman had a lively discussion with her much younger sister on whether a live-in relationship was turpitude or not.
  • A doctor, who makes his patients undergo needless surgeries and tests just so that he can mint money, is guilty of moral turpitude.

Heed: (v) pay attention to.

Heedful: (adj) paying attention; Heedless: (adj) not attentive, without regard.

  • Heedless of the angry glares of the whole audience, she kept talking on the phone while the play was going on.

Articulate: (adj) clear and distinct. (v) to make clear, to speak clearly and distinctly

Origin: From ‘article’. An article is an individual thing or object. Articulate means ‘to divide something big into many smaller, distinct articles’.

  • An articulate speaker is one who can express himself clearly. He breaks down his complex idea into smaller points and then talks about one point at a time. He uses language with ease and facility. Thus, he is able to get his idea across.
  • She couldn’t articulate her emotions. This means, she couldn’t express them in clear words.

Inarticulate: (adj) not clear; unable to speak clearly.

  • An inarticulate speaker cannot express himself clearly. He is either not fluent in the language or has a speech defect or does not know how to present his idea in a way that the audience will understand.
  • Inarticulate pain is unexpressed pain. ‘Inarticulate with pain’ means ‘so much in pain that he could not even speak.’

Wile: (n) a trick meant to fool or trap; (adj): wily, means ‘full of tricks on how to fool others’.

Sanctimony: (n) making a false show of righteousness or religious devotion. The man who does this paakhand is called sanctimonious.

Origin: L. sanctus, holy+ -mony, a state => ‘a state of being holy’. So, the word initially meant ‘holiness’. Slowly, however, it started being used for ‘pretended holiness.’

  • Meeta Ganguli was making a film on the plight of the widows living in the temples of Vrindavan. However, a group of Hindu fundamentalists came to know and they vandalized her sets, saying that they would not allow her to make a film that affronted the Hindu culture. When journalists asked her for her response, she said: “These people are sanctimonious. They allow all the wrong things to happen in their ‘Hindu culture’ but cannot bear if anyone talks about those things; discussion becomes an insult to their culture. I will not be intimidated by such two-faced people.”

Vandalize: (v) to damage public or private property in order to show anger or frustration, or to harm someone.

A person who vandalizes is called a vandal. So, we can say that:

Deepa Ganguli refused to be intimidated by the vandals.

Brag: (v) boast.

Braggart: (n) a man who brags.

Braggadocio: (n) bragging; a man who brags.

  • Some people read books to enjoy them; others, to brag about them.
  • Braggarts are often insecure people. They desperately try to convince others that they do amount to something.
  • Braggadocio is often a sign of insecurity. Braggadocios desperately try to convince others that they do amount to something.

Subtle: (adj) very thin or delicate; so delicate that it is hard to detect or understand; that which can be understood by only a very sharp mind; sharp-minded.

  • The words ‘collect’ and ‘gather’ are often used interchangeably but there is a subtle difference in their meanings. ‘Collect’ may imply a careful selection based on some property or rule but ‘gather’ means only accumulation.
  • The writer wore a white kurta with subtle embellishments.
  • The king was killed by a subtle poison. The royal apothecary had given him a ring to wear at all times, saying that it would keep all diseases away. That ring was poisoned on the interior. The poison slowly passed into the king’s body. He died a week later.

Apothecary: (n) one who prepares and sells medicines, pharmacist. 


Another form of the word subtle is subtile.

Subtile: subtle

Embroider: (v) to decorate cloth with needlework; to exaggerate or add fictitious details.

Flummox: (v) make totally confused.

Demon: (n) devil. The related adjective form is demonaic.

  • The demonic teacher struck terror in the young children—they called him Raavan—and they could never forget the swiftness and force with which he delivered a slap.
  • In Hindi movies, the villain is usually the guy with a demonic laughter.

Humane: (adj) kind-hearted, sympathetic.

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