Once upon a Time Summary

Once upon a Time” is a thought-provoking story that prompts readers to reflect on the delicate balance between security and human connection. It serves as a reminder that while precautions are necessary, nurturing genuine relationships and fostering trust are essential for a fulfilling and harmonious life. Read More Class 12th English Summaries.

Once upon a Time Summary

Once upon a Time Introduction:

This poem has been written by a Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara. In this poem the poet satirises (criticises) the hypocrisy and artificial behaviour of the modern man. He presents two contrasted pictures of human behaviour. In the past human beings were true, sincere and friendly in their relations with others. But now the situation is entirely different Outwardly man appears to be cordial and friendly, but in reality, it is a pose entirely. At heart, he is selfish and cunning. The poet himself has seen a change in his own behaviour with growing years. He sees innocence and purity in the nature of his son. He wants his son to help him get back his basic nature.

Once upon a Time Summary in English

The poet tells his son that there was a time when human beings were true and free from any kind of artificiality. When they laughed, they laughed from the heart. Even their eyes shone with the light of joy. But now, they laugh only to show to others that they are laughing. So, their laughter shows only their teeth. It is not an expression of real joy. Their eyes also remain cold and feelingless, as if looking not at the man in front of them, but at his shadow.

In the past, human beings were sincere in their relationship with others. When they shook hands with somebody, it showed the warmth of their feelings. But now that sincerity does not exist in human relationships. When they shake hands, it is a mere formality. While they are shaking hands one tries to pick the pocket of the other with his left hand. Thus, a handshake is no more an expression of warm feelings.

The modern man poses to be a good and happy host in front of his guests. When his friends and relatives visit him, he pretends to be happy over their coming. He entertains them and asks them to feel at home. He does so once or twice only. When the same guest visits him for the third time, the doors are closed for him.

The poet tells his son that seeing this kind of behaviour around him, he too, has changed. He has now learnt to change his face, his expressions and behaviour like his dresses. Now he can pose well. He wears different face expressions for different places and occasions. He knows what kind of face he should wear at home, in the office, in the street, as a host and as a guest in a cocktail party. His smile changes according to the situation and the type of persons he is with.

The poet says that he has now learnt all kinds of artificial behaviour. He can laugh without being happy at heart. He shakes hands with others without any warmth of feelings. Now he can say goodbye to his guests when at heart he is happy to be rid of them. When he is not glad to see a person, he can tell him that he is glad to meet him. Similarly, when he is bored in conversation with someone, he can say that it was nice talking to him. Thus, he has become an expert in hypocrisy.

Summary of Once upon a Time

The poet is not happy with all this. He tells his son that he heartily wants to regain his old self. He wants to be true and sincere as he was in his childhood. Then he used to be like his son simple, sincere and straightforward. He wants to forget all those things which have caused a change in his nature.

Above everything else, he wants to learn real laughter once again. Now when he sees his laughter in the mirror, he sees only his teeth. They look like the poisonous and dangerous fangs of a snake. No real joy is reflected in that laughter. So he requests his son to show him how to laugh sincerely. He wants to laugh and smile as he used to when he was innocent and true at heart like his son.
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