This passage is adapted from Daniyal Mueenuddin, “Nawabdin Electrician.” ©2009 by Daniyal Mueenuddin.
Another man might have thrown up his
hands—but not Nawabdin. His twelve daughters
acted as a spur to his genius, and he looked with
satisfaction in the mirror each morning at the face of
5 a warrior going out to do battle. Nawab of course
knew that he must proliferate his sources of
revenue—the salary he received from K. K. Harouni
for tending the tube wells would not even begin to
suffice. He set up a little one-room flour mill, run off
10 a condemned electric motor—condemned by him.
He tried his hand at fish-farming in a little pond at
the edge of his master’s fields. He bought broken
radios, fixed them, and resold them. He did not
demur even when asked to fix watches, though that
15 enterprise did spectacularly badly, and in fact earned
him more kicks than kudos, for no watch he took
apart ever kept time again.
K. K. Harouni rarely went to his farms, but lived
mostly in Lahore. Whenever the old man visited,
20 Nawab would place himself night and day at the door
leading from the servants’ sitting area into the walled
grove of ancient banyan trees where the old
farmhouse stood. Grizzled, his peculiar aviator
glasses bent and smudged, Nawab tended the
25 household machinery, the air conditioners, water
heaters, refrigerators, and water pumps, like an
engineer tending the boilers on a foundering steamer
in an Atlantic gale. By his superhuman efforts he
almost managed to maintain K. K. Harouni in the
30 same mechanical cocoon, cooled and bathed and
lighted and fed, that the landowner enjoyed in
Harouni of course became familiar with this
ubiquitous man, who not only accompanied him on
35 his tours of inspection, but morning and night could
be found standing on the master bed rewiring the
light fixture or in the bathroom poking at the water
heater. Finally, one evening at teatime, gauging the
psychological moment, Nawab asked if he might say
40 a word. The landowner, who was cheerfully filing his
nails in front of a crackling rosewood fire, told him
to go ahead.
“Sir, as you know, your lands stretch from here to
the Indus, and on these lands are fully seventeen tube
45 wells, and to tend these seventeen tube wells there is
but one man, me, your servant. In your service I have
earned these gray hairs”—here he bowed his head to
show the gray—“and now I cannot fulfill my duties
as I should. Enough, sir, enough. I beg you, forgive
50 me my weakness. Better a darkened house and proud
hunger within than disgrace in the light of day.
Release me, I ask you, I beg you.”
The old man, well accustomed to these sorts of
speeches, though not usually this florid, filed away at
55 his nails and waited for the breeze to stop.
“What’s the matter, Nawabdin?”
“Matter, sir? O what could be the matter in your
service. I’ve eaten your salt for all my years. But sir,
on the bicycle now, with my old legs, and with the
60 many injuries I’ve received when heavy machinery
fell on me—I cannot any longer bicycle about like a
bridegroom from farm to farm, as I could when I
first had the good fortune to enter your employment.
I beg you, sir, let me go.”
65 “And what’s the solution?” asked Harouni, seeing
that they had come to the crux. He didn’t particularly
care one way or the other, except that it touched on
his comfort—a matter of great interest to him.
“Well, sir, if I had a motorcycle, then I could
70 somehow limp along, at least until I train up some
The crops that year had been good, Harouni felt
expansive in front of the fire, and so, much to the
disgust of the farm managers, Nawab received a
75 brand-new motorcycle, a Honda 70. He even
managed to extract an allowance for gasoline.
The motorcycle increased his status, gave him
weight, so that people began calling him “Uncle,” and
asking his opinion on world affairs, about which he
80 knew absolutely nothing. He could now range
further, doing a much wider business. Best of all,
now he could spend every night with his wife, who
had begged to live not on the farm but near her
family in Firoza, where also they could educate at
85 least the two eldest daughters. A long straight road
ran from the canal headworks near Firoza all the way
to the Indus, through the heart of the K. K. Harouni
lands. Nawab would fly down this road on his new
machine, with bags and cloths hanging from every
90 knob and brace, so that the bike, when he hit a bump,
seemed to be flapping numerous small vestigial
wings; and with his grinning face, as he rolled up to
whichever tube well needed servicing, with his ears
almost blown off, he shone with the speed of his
The main purpose of the first paragraph is to
Choice C is the best answer. In the first paragraph the reader is introduced to Nawab, a father of twelve daughters who feels compelled to make more money to care for his family: “he must proliferate his sources of revenue” (lines 6-7). The remainder of the paragraph focuses on the way Nawab attempts to “proliferate” those income sources by identifying some of the moneymaking schemes Nawab undertakes, including setting up a flour mill and a fish farm and attempting to fix both radios and watches.
Choice A is incorrect because even if the first paragraph does indicate that Nawab is willing to work hard to take care of his family, it does not specifically address how he interacts with his daughters emotionally. Choice B is incorrect because the first paragraph describes some of Nawab’s activities but not the specifics of his schedule. Choice D is incorrect because the first paragraph introduces Harouni as Nawab’s employer but does not describe his lifestyle.
As used in line 16, “kicks” most nearly means
Choice B is the best answer. The passage states that Nawab earned “more kicks than kudos” (line 16) for his failed attempts at fixing watches. In the context of not doing a job well, this means Nawab was not given compliments (“kudos”) for his efforts but complaints (“kicks”) about them.
Choices A and D are incorrect because the passage clearly states that Nawab was not successful fixing watches, which earned him a negative response (“kicks,” or complaints). In this context it would be illogical to suggest that Nawab’s unsuccessful efforts at fixing watches would result in the sort of positive response implied by choice A (“thrills”) or choice D (“interests”). Choice C is incorrect because even though “jolts” might be unpleasant, they’re not the kind of negative response one would get instead of compliments.
The author uses the image of an engineer at sea (lines 23-28) most likely to
Choice D is the best answer. The passage states that Nawab works “like an engineer tending the boilers on a foundering steamer in an Atlantic gale” (lines 26-28) in his attempts to keep his employer comfortable. The author likely uses this image because it highlights the challenging nature of Nawab’s work—work that is described in the next sentence as requiring “superhuman efforts” (line 28).
Choices A, B, and C are incorrect because the author’s use of the image of an engineer working hard on a “foundering steamer” describes the effort Nawab is making in keeping his employer comfortable, not what Nawab might be dreaming about, anything to do with tube wells (which are not mentioned in the second paragraph), or that Nawab has had many different jobs in his life.
Which choice best supports the claim that Nawab performs his duties for Harouni well?
Choice A is the best answer because lines 28-32 show that Nawab is an efficient employee, stating that due to his “superhuman efforts,” Nawab is able to keep his employer comfortable, or in almost “the same mechanical cocoon . . . that the landowner enjoyed in Lahore.”
Choice B is incorrect because lines 40-42 describe the actions of Nawab’s employer only and do not address the employer’s feelings about Nawab’s work. Choice C is incorrect because lines 46-49 show Nawab characterizing himself as an old and ineffective employee, not one who performs his job well. Choice D is incorrect because line 58 addresses the fact Nawab had always lived in his employer’s household but not his effectiveness as an employee.
In the context of the conversation between Nawab and Harouni, Nawab’s comments in lines 43-52 (“Sir . . . beg you”) mainly serve to
Choice C is the best answer. The main purpose of Nawab’s comments in lines 43-52 is to highlight the labor and service he has provided for Harouni over the years. Nawab says “there is but one man, me, your servant” to take care of the tube wells on all Harouni’s vast lands and that the extensive work has resulted in Nawab earning gray hairs on his employer’s behalf.
Choice A is incorrect because even though lines 43-52 initially highlight the vastness of Harouni’s lands, those lines primarily focus on Nawab’s dedication and service to Harouni. Choice B is incorrect because lines 43-52 emphasize not that Nawab is competent and reliable but that Nawab feels he is no longer able to adequately fulfill his duties. Choice D is incorrect because in lines 43-52, Nawab doesn’t say he intends to quit his job, asking instead only for help doing it.
Nawab uses the word “bridegroom” (line 62) mainly to emphasize that he’s no longer
Choice D is the best answer. In lines 61-62, Nawab says to his employer that he “cannot any longer bicycle about like a bridegroom from farm to farm.” In this context, Nawab uses the word “bridegroom” to imply he is no longer a young man who can easily travel such great distances on his bike.
Choices A, B, and C are incorrect because in the context of Nawab not being able to bike so far, he uses the word “bridegroom” to imply that he is no longer young, not that he is no longer in love (choice A), naive (choice B), or busy (choice C).
It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that Harouni provides Nawab with a motorcycle mainly because
Choice B is the best answer. Harouni’s reaction to Nawab’s request for a new motorcycle can be found in lines 66-68, where the employer is said not to “particularly care one way or the other, except that it touched on his comfort—a matter of great interest to him.” For Harouni, in other words, the issue of Nawab getting a new motorcycle came down to what was best for Harouni, not what was best for Nawab.
Choice A is incorrect because in the passage Harouni is said not to be particularly impressed with how hard Nawab works; he cares about the issue of the motorcycle only in regard to its effect on his own comfort. Choice C is incorrect because Harouni is said to find Nawab’s speech not eloquent but “florid” (line 54), meaning flamboyant or ostentatious. Choice D is incorrect because Nawab does not threaten to quit his job but politely asks his employer to “let me go” (line 64).
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
Choice B is the best answer. The previous question asks why Harouni purchases his employee Nawab a new motorcycle, with the correct answer (that Harouni did so because it was in his own best interest) supported in lines 66-68: “He didn’t particularly care one way or the other, except that it touched on his comfort—a matter of great interest to him.”
Choices A, C, and D are incorrect because the lines cited do not support the answer to the previous question about why Harouni buys Nawab a new motorcycle. Instead, they simply identify the issue (choice A), note that Harouni also gave Nawab money for gas (choice C), and show how the motorcycle affects Nawab’s side businesses (choice D).
The passage states that the farm managers react to Nawab receiving a motorcycle with
Choice A is the best answer. The passage states that Nawab’s new motorcycle leads to the “disgust of the farm managers” (line 74). Choices B, C, and D are incorrect because the passage specifically says Nawab’s new motorcycle leads to the “disgust of the farm managers,” not their happiness (choice B), envy (choice C), or indifference (choice D).
According to the passage, what does Nawab consider to be the best result of getting the motorcycle?
Choice D is the best answer. The passage specifically states what Nawab considers the greatest part of his getting a new motorcycle: “Best of all, now he could spend every night with his wife” (lines 81-82).
Choices A, B, and C are incorrect because the passage explicitly states that Nawab believes the best thing about his new motorcycle is that he can “spend every night with his wife,” not that people start calling him “Uncle” (choice A), that he is able to expand his business (choice B), or that he is able to educate his daughters (choice C).