Read the passage and answer the questions that follow

It was clever of Wigwe to have thought of that interview. But it was also a thing he ought not to have done. In a way it was beneath him and he knew he had earned Ihuoma’s contempt. But a father’s primary duty to his son was to get him as good a wife as the neighbourhood could boast of. If in the attempt he made a few people unhappy, that was hard luck.

Ekwueme now had no reasons for insisting on marrying Ihuoma. She had rejected him in front of his father – although he was convinced that she would willingly marry him under normal circumstances. The piece of meat he sent her was meant to convey to her the fact that he fully grasped the situation and had no ill feeling whatsoever against her and if anything she had by her discretion and show of decorum installed herself more firmly in his mind.

But it was clear that Ihuoma was now beyond him. The more Ekwueme thought about this the more depressed he grew. He dreaded going for negotiations over Aruhole. He had to. No one had ever turned down a childhood engagement. The whole village would side with his father and pour scorn on him. The high esteem in which the elders held him reminded him of a story about the tortoise whose trap had caught an impossible fairy in the form of an animal. If he took the animal away he was to die. If he set it free he was still to die.

The next Eke found Wigwe, Umam, Wakiri and Ekwueme marching in single file towards Omigwe. Wakiri carried the single calabash of wine needed for the opening talks. Ekwueme brought up the rear. He was chewing a blade of grass and occasionally amused himself by watching Wakiri’s knock kneed legs.

‘Go on, what are you turning round for? Ekwueme demanded’.

‘To make sure you’re coming’.

‘I am not a baby.’

‘It is not reserved for babies only’.

“You-re right, it is for babies and goats”.

‘Wakiri, I simply haven’t got the breath, for you this morning. Let me be, please.’

‘Wakiri stopped and barred Ekwueme’s way.’

‘You don’t look happy, Ekwe what is it?’

Wakiri searched his friend’s face.

‘One can’t be happy all the time,” Ekwe replied evasively.

‘But surely you ought to be happy today’.

‘I know I should.’

‘You should indeed. If you showed up with that face at Omigwe, it would be terrible.

Why, it is just as if you have been taking to some raw yams. Ekwueme laughed and the blade of grass fell off his mouth.

(Adapted from: The Concubine; by Elechi Amadi)


2.1 What is the passage about?

2.2(i) What is the relationship between Ihuoma and Aruhole?

(ii) How does the story of the tortoise help us understand the passage?

2.3 Ekwueme has to go to Omigwe. Why?

2.4 Give the meaning of the following words and phrases as used in the passage.

(a) pour scorn

(b) turned down

(c) the rear

(d) evasively

2.5 Give your view about childhood engagement.