Precis / Summary Writing Exercise 24

General rules:

  • The precis should ideally have one third the number of words in the passage.
  • All important facts of the original passage must be there in the précis.
  • Use vocabulary and expressions in the précis to convey the sense of the main passage.

Passage

Nikos was an ordinary man. Nothing particularly good ever happened to him; nothing particularly bad ever happened to him. He went through life accepting the mixture of good things and bad things that happen to everyone. He never looked for any explanation or reason about why things happened just the way they did.

One thing, however, that Nikos absolutely did not believe in was superstition. He had no time for superstition, no time at all. Nikos thought himself to be a very rational man, a man who did not believe that his good luck or bad luck was in any way changed by black cats, walking under ladders, spilling salt or opening umbrellas inside the house.

Nikos spent much of his time in the small taverna near where he lived. In the taverna he sat drinking coffee and talking to his friends. Sometimes his friends played dice or cards. Sometimes they played for money. Some of them made bets on horse races or football matches. But Nikos never did. He didn’t know much about sport, so he didn’t think he could predict the winners. And he absolutely didn’t believe in chance or luck or superstition, like a lot of his friends did.

One morning Nikos woke up and walked into the bathroom. He started to shave, as he did every morning, but as he was shaving he noticed that the mirror on the bathroom wall wasn’t quite straight. He tried to move it to one side to make it straighter, but as soon as he touched it, the mirror fell off the wall and hit the floor with a huge crash. It broke into a thousand pieces. Nikos knew that some people thought this was unlucky. ‘Seven years’ bad luck,’ they said, when a mirror broke. But Nikos wasn’t superstitious. Nikos wasn’t superstitious at all. He didn’t care. He thought superstition was nonsense. He picked up the pieces of the mirror, put them in the bin and finished shaving without a mirror.

After that he went into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich to take to work for his lunch. He cut two pieces of bread and put some cheese on them. Then he thought he needed some salt. When he picked up the salt jar, it fell from his hand and broke on the floor. Salt was everywhere. Some people, he knew, thought that this was also supposed to bring bad luck. But Nikos didn’t care. He didn’t believe in superstitions.

He left the house and went to work. On his way to work he saw a black cat running away from him. He didn’t care. He wasn’t superstitious. Some builders were working on a house on his street. There was a ladder across the pavement. Nikos thought about walking around the ladder, but he didn’t care; he wasn’t superstitious and didn’t believe in superstitions, so he walked right underneath the ladder.

Even though Nikos wasn’t superstitious, he thought that something bad was certain to happen to him today. He had broken a mirror, spilled some salt, walked under a ladder and seen a black cat running away from him. He told everybody at work what had happened. ‘Something bad will happen to you today!’ they all said. But nothing bad happened to him.

That evening, as usual, he went to the taverna. He told all his friends in the taverna that he had broken a mirror, spilled the salt, seen a black cat running away from him and then walked under a ladder. All his friends in the taverna moved away from him. ‘Something bad will happen to him,’ they all said, ‘and we don’t want to be near him when it happens!’

But nothing bad happened to Nikos all evening. He sat there as normal, and everything was normal. Nikos was waiting for something bad to happen to him. But it didn’t.

‘Nikos, come and play cards with us!’ joked one of his friends. ‘I’m sure to win!’ Nikos didn’t usually play cards, but tonight he decided to. His friend put a large amount of money on the table. His friend thought Nikos was going to lose. Nikos thought he was going to lose.

But it didn’t happen like that. [704 words. Word limit for précis = 237 words]


Precis:

Nikos was a simple man who accepted life as it happened. He seldom wanted to know why good and bad things happened t him. Being a rationalist, he loathed superstitious practices, and treated superstition as nonsense.

Nikos spent his leisure hours in the village tavern where his friends played cards, dice and many such games often involving money. Nikos generally remained aloof from these activities, where as his friends believed in luck while playing with stakes.

One morning, his bathroom mirror fell off his hands and broke to pieces reminding him that bad luck had cast its spell on him after a 7-year break. He remained unaffected. Later, he spilled salt in the kitchen –another bad omen! The same day he willfully walked under a ladder and even scared off a black cart from his way. All these acts portend calamities. A fear gripped Nikos as he awaited some mishap.

In the tavern, he boasted about his willful acts that invite peril. Fearful of suffering any collateral damage, his friends kept him at arm’s length. A friend jokingly invited Nikos to play cards assuming that his bad luck would spell his defeat. Nikos, as usual, laughed off the possible ill luck, and quite daringly picked up the gauntlet and joined the game. He wanted to experience the calamity going to befall him. But, Nikos remained undefeated. [226 words]

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