Vikram Seth
Born – Born 20 June 1952,
Kolkata, India.
Famous as a novelist, poet,
travelogue writer, contributor to children’s literature and biography writer.
Famous writings  –
a)      The Golden Gate (1986)
b)     The Frog and the Nightingale (1994)
c)      A suitable Boy (1993) and
d)       Beastly Tales (1991)
Awards –
Padma Shri (2007)
Prabasi Bharatiya Samman
Commonwealth writers Prize
 Crossword Book award (1999) etc.

            Skillfully woven, ‘The Tale of a Melon City’ caters
ludicrous activities. From Alpha to omega of the poem we feel ourselves
transported to the land of the bird brains. The just and placid king’s chase to
find the culprit shows whimsical nature of the king. We are fully prepared for
the nonsense happenings when we see, the king’s assay to punish the arch.
Nincompoops ere the ministers and the king himself when we see the hang of the
king. The process to choose the next king highlights and satires indirectly the
foolishness of incompetent people. At the end a melon’s being king giggles us
to the core but leaves us thoughtful even for subject of the country are happy
for a melon, an object which could give them “Laissez Faire”.
‘The Tale of Melon City’ is
taken from “Mappings” which was first published in 1981.
This poem deals in rhyming
couplets of ‘AA’
Some poetic devices in use –
a)  Alliteration
            – ‘an arch’
            – ‘so since ‘
            – ‘ his head’ etc.
b) Repetition
            – “ long live the king !”
            – “ The chief of builders”
c) Inversion –
            – “so old (and therefore wise) was
            – “Truly, the arch it was that
d) Onomatopoeia
            – “ Muttering”
            – “Quivering “

Page – 76
1.         Narrate ‘The Tale of
Melon City’ in your own words
Ans:     The just and placed king once had a desire of building an arch
across the thoroughfare to edify the spectators. Workmen with great agility
constructed the arch. With an effervescent heart he tried to pass through the
arch. But his crown struck the arch and the king lost his crown. Furious at the
disgrace he ordered the chief of the builder’s hang. But the chief of the
builders blamed the workmen for this. The workmen proclaimed the mason to be
guilty for the wrong brick size. The mason even brushed off the blame blaming
the architect. The architect put king in dilemma as the last correction was of
the king’s. The king  called for the
wisest man to decide the guild. The old man ridiculously blamed the arch. But
the arch was not punished as the arch touched the king’s head. But the king
assumed the nerve of the public. As the public wanted a hang the king ordered
for a hang without any guilt. This proved boomerang for him. He was eventually
hanged. His mutton head ministers decided to choose the next kings an awkward
way i.e. whoever would first cross the gate, would choose the king. It so
happened that a mad entered and he chose a melon as the king. And from then a
melon ruled and the common people enjoyed complete freedom as the king melon
endowed them “Laissez Faire”.
2.         What impression would
you form of a state where king was just and placid?
Ans:     It seems that the state which is ruled by the king is the abode
of fools. The king is flaky and capricious. The king considers himself as the
one for whom the subjects are to be ruled like the ignorant. His desire of an
arch is promptly fulfilled by the subject. But he seems to be whimsical when he
chased them to punish. As if he is the law and his wish is command, he dictates
the death sentence. His ministers are like claques who flatter the king and
keep their self interest in sound state. The common masses are illiterate and
crazy. They are to enjoy a hang and they can go rebel if they are deprived of it.
They are boorish and do not care who is being hung, even if the person is  the king. They do not care whether they are
ruled by a king. What they care is their self interest. They want their self
freedom, the facility to do any business and irenic life.

3.         How according to you,
can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?
Ans:     Peace and liberty will be the outcome of a few key factors in
running a state.
A transparent and
responsible administration free from partiality and corruption will perpetuate
peace. A well proven administrative system where there are no unlawful
activities and where service to people is of most priority and delivered with
ease; where grievance will be at lower stake and people will maintain trust on
state and will work collaboratively, are what to be the priority. First
priority must be to educate every child so that future rulers are wise, strong,
and capable to heighten the civilized sensibility. A state must be free from
all negative dogmas. Superstitions, blind religious hatred, favouring
particular creed and caste must be matters of trash bin. A state must be run by
democratic process where there is no scope for tyranny and autocracy.
4.         Suggest a few instances
in the poem which highlight humour and irony.
Ans:     “The tale of melon city” is best understood for its irony and
            Humour – The king decides to make an arch across the
thoroughfare to edify the spectators. He creates a humorous scene when he
dashes with the arch and loses his crown.
-The king is of the mind of
punishing the guilty that made the faulty arch. His chasing one after another
and their excuses and blaming the king indirectly presents a ludicrous show.
-When the wisest man is
called, his conclusion of pointing the arch to be the culprit and their assay
to hang it, giggles us.
-we cannot but grin when we
find the king to be the fittest person for the hang.
-The process of choosing the
new king and melon as the king creates utmost humour in us.

-The king who desired for a
hang to punish the guilty, gets hanged for the public wanted a hang.
-The wise man was selected
because he was old and he could not see anything and points the arch to be the
guilty and should be hanged without any precision.
-The ministers chose a king
on basis of a fool’s choice. i.e. a melon. And all accepted without bothering
whether the king was human or not.