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Read the following passage carefully.
I guess you can say I fled. Once, I desperately needed a break. So, I applied for leave and in no time was on my way to my brother’s home, 360 kilometres away.
I have had rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 12. I can only sit on flat surfaces. My bed, my portable commode and my wheelchair, all have to be specially made. Each time I go on a long trip, I have to take the whole entourage along. Since the stairs in my brother’s house were too steep for the wheelchair, my sister-in-law took me to look at two other places where I could stay a student’s dormitory and a place at the back of my brother’s house, next to an apple orchard.
From a distance, the trees began to tease me with glistening spots of tempting red. As I wheeled closer, I realised that they were laden with fruit. Each cluster had 20 to 30 big apples. Yet the railings, fencing the orchard, were rusty. Except for the apples, the whole place looked quite dead.
My brother had three children: two boys, ten-year-old Hakon and seven-year-old Thomas, and a three-year-old daughter whom we affectionately called Meiya, meaning little girl. As soon as the boys came back from school, I’d put my books and manuscripts away in the drawer. Hakon would get my wheelchair ready and push me out on an exploration. Four kids from the neighbourhood would tagalong uninvited. The contingent of seven three to eleven-year-olds, hung around me all day.
“There are plenty of apples in the orchard. It’s such a pity nobody is picking them”, I told the children. Every child is at once an angel and a devil. The youngsters immediately understood me. They yelled. “Let’s check it out”. We were off. The orchard stood quietly in the sunlight. The apples were red and enticing. Our gaze was fixed on them. Without losing a moment, the small thieves rushed at the fruits, but the bigger and riper ones were higher up and out of reach. I promptly told the children to fetch a broken table and a piece of wire from the rubbish dump. Then, I showed them how to fashion the wire into a hook. Two of the taller kids stood on the table, one pulling and the second picking the fruits. The others passed them down busily enjoying themselves.
The small thieves admired my ingenuity, ‘Auntie, you are really great’. They ran around everywhere in excitement. They screamed and yelled. In the midst of the commotion, the children’s father suddenly appeared out of nowhere and caught us unawares. The small thieves fled, leaving me, the gang chief neatly cornered. “So, you have turned into a petty thief’, my brother joked. “What if you are arrested?” “Arrested? Me? Do I look like a thief to you?” I sat up in my wheelchair and, feigning innocence, said, “Am 1 capable of such an act, considering my physical condition?” Laughing, my brother pushed me home. I was not really after the apples. What I was trying to steal was that quality called childhood.
1. Answer the following questions briefly.
(i) Why did the narrator apply for leave?
(ii) Why did he carry his portable commode with him?
(iii) Each time he went on a long trip he ……………………………….. (Complete the statement)
(iv) The contingent of seven children from 3 to 11 years old ……………… (Complete the statement)
2. Fill in the blanks with one word only.
My brother (i)………… that I had turned myself into a petty (ii) …………. He asked me what would have happened if I had been (iii)…………… I only sat up in my wheelchair (iv) …………. innocence.
3. Find a word in the passage that means the following.
(i) A room for several people to sleep
(ii) Movement and excitement
1.(i) The narrator applied for leave as he badly needed a break.
(ii) He carried his portable commode with him as he could only sit on the flat surface.
(iii) had to take the whole entourage along with him
(iv) hung around him all day
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