Creative Writing – 132 – Comprehension Exercise

Creative Writing – 132

Comprehension Exercise

Comprehension and the art of articulation

It would take a long time, Asfaw Yemiru reckoned, to walk the 75 miles from his village in Bulga to Addis Ababa. The family had last gone by donkey, so that he and his 11 brothers could be made deacons in the cathedral. That trip had taken two days. He was going barefoot now, and he was only nine.

He had 50 cents in his pocket, and had not told his parents he was leaving. But the village offered him nothing except priest-school, where he would learn to read religious books and, very probably, become a Coptic priest like his father. Addis jumped with possibilities, so away he went.

It was not quite as good as he imagined. He found work as a bearer, toting loads on a pole over his small shoulder. But much of the time, like the other swarming street children, he begged and slept in the churchyard of St George’s cathedral. His lucky break came when, one day, a rich Turkish lady dropped cheeses from her basket and he raced to pick them up. She took him on as her general skivvy and, between fetching water and chopping wood, he could go to proper primary school.

That made the difference. Life opened up. He sailed through all his tests, and won a scholarship to the General Wingate boarding school. At first, being a street child, his place was given to a rich boy. But he presented himself to the headmaster, barefoot, dusty and wrapped in a blanket, and recited the English words he had carefully rehearsed: “My name is Asfaw Yemiru. I am here to learn.” Immediately, the head took to him.


1. How long did it take to cover the distance by foot from his village Bulga to Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia)?
2. Why his parents had come to Bulga? How did they cover the distance?
3. Why did Asfaw Yemiru not like to stay in his village? Why did the capital Addis Ababa beckon Asfaw Yemiru?
4. Did he feel a bit disappointed on reaching Addis Ababa? How did he sustain himself there?
5. How did he find his lucky break? Why did Afsaw feel happy in his new role?
6. How life changed thereafter?
7. How did Afsaw manage to win back his seat in the hostel?


1. The 75-mile-long road trek had taken Asfaw two complete days to finish.

2. His parents were desperate to have a steady income for their large family of 11 children. Coming to Bulga could get them a job as a deacon in the village cathedral. This alure made them undertake the arduous journey on camel back.

3. Asfaw saw little scope for his future in his village. The only school there taught basic language skill that enabled students to read religious books. If he stayed back to study this curriculum, he could, at best, become a Coptic priest. Asfaw had set his sights high in life. He assumed Addis Ababa offered greater scope for a better life. aSo, he made up his mind to leave.

4. Arrival in the capital turned out to be a disappointment for the lone traveller from Bulga. He had to do many odd jobs to earn just enough to stave off hunger. Life was really hard as he joined many more urchins to seek night shelter in the church yard of St. George’s Cathedral.

5. Asfaw’s destitution and hunger ended when, one day, a kindly Turkish lady dropped some cheese that Asfaw rushed to grab. The lady saw the boy’s desperation and took him under her care. Asfaw was asked to do errands for her, fetch water and cut wood. However, it not only ensured proper food and shelter for him, but also he could join a primary school. Asfaw was elated.

6. Joining a school was like a dream come true for Asfaw. He excelled in his studies topping the class regularly. His stellar performance won him a scholarship to study in the General Wingate Boarding School. This break opened up a vast vista for the young boy.

7. His seat in the school was given to a rich kid due to obvious reasons. Asfaw, undeterred by the setback, Asfaw, dusty and in tattered dress, summoned enough courage to see the principal. There, he asserted, “My name is Asfaw Yemiru. I have come here to learn.” The principal was very impressed. He restored Asfaw’s seat.

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