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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
I remember coming back from school one day tired and stressed out. I went into the kitchen to see what was for lunch. I lifted the food cover and saw a few dull dishes. I stared at them and sighed. "Mum, why do you cook the same things week in and week out? I hate cabbage and I can't eat this!"

My mother shot me a look that could have wilted the cabbage if it were still uncooked. "Count your blessings, my dear. Be thankful that there's food on the table waiting for you when you come home from school. Don't you know that people in Ethiopia are starving?"

My mother was raised to believe that no matter how bad things were, someone, somewhere, was in worse shape. My grandmother adopted her when her superstitious parents believed a fortune teller who said that she would bring bad luck to the family. This was how she had come to accept the trauma of being given away as a child. She counted her blessings. Her adopted mother loved her. She had her own bed to sleep in and there was enough food.

I grew up in a neighborhood where there were many children. I was never lonely. However, when the mining industry collapsed, a lot of families had to move to other cities in search of jobs. I lost many friends that year. I cried when my best friend moved. My mother told me to count my blessings. My father still had his job and we did not have to go hungry. My mother became my friend for many lonely evenings. In fact, looking back, that was the time that I felt closest to her. My friend's departure was a blessing in disguise indeed.

Later, when I got married, I continued to hear her refrain about counting your blessings. When my mother-in-law came to stay with us, I added her to my burdens. Convinced that she was out to get me, I went around trying to be the perfect mother and wife while holding down a job. The more I cleaned and cooked, the more I resented her. Finally, I burst out to my mother and she told me to count my blessings. At that point, her advice infuriated me. How could I count my blessings when my life was in ruins? She pointed out that my mother-in-law's presence at home meant that I could go to work in peace, knowing that someone was around to mind the children and keep an eye on things. With the extra income comes more financial freedom. I could now afford to do things I was unable to do before she came into my life. It was true. When my children were sick, I could go to work knowing that she could be relied upon to see to their needs. Besides, she knew more about herbs and alternative medicine than I did. So, I learned to let her into my life and eventually surrendered my kitchen to her.

Another favorite piece of advice that my mother loved to impart was 'let go, and let God'. In school, I could not cope with examination pressures and whenever she saw me being so anxious, she would say, "Relax, my dear. Let go and let God." She told me to stop worrying and do whatever I could. I could never understand how my mother could be so much in control and calm. Perhaps it had something to do with her faith in God.

Once, I was so frustrated with my immediate boss, I took a few days of leave and visited her. She could tell I was in some sort of turmoil. After hearing my complaints about my impossible-to-please boss, she told me to look for possibilities instead of roadblocks. She was right. I was looking at all the negative things about my boss and feeling so resentful, I did not even bother to notice her good points.

After a week of rest and good soups, I went back to work, rejuvenated. I had a heart-to-heart talk with my boss and things got better as I felt less resentful. I began to watch for her positive traits. My more positive outlook made me more approachable and that reduced the tension between us. When she realised that I did not have any bad intentions, she relaxed and became a better boss.

Throughout my life, my mother's advice has been my anchor for many difficult situations that I have had to face. One thing for sure, you will be hearing the same advice echoing throughout my children's lives.

  1. From paragraph 1,
    (a) what did the writer do as soon as she came home from school ?
    (b) what does the word 'them' refer to ?
  2. From paragraph 4, explain why the writer considered her friend's departure as a blessing in disguise.
  3. From paragraph 5,
    (a) why did the writer resent her mother-in-law ?
    (b) name one thing the writer should be thankful for regarding her mother-in-law.
  4. From paragraph 7, explain the phrase 'to look for possibilities instead of roadblocks'
  5. From paragraph 9,
    (a) how had her mother's advice helped her throughout her life ?
    (b) what did she intend to do with the same advice ?
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  1. (a) She went into the kitchen to see what was for lunch.
    (b) 'Them' refers to the dishes.
  2. It was a blessing because she grew very close to her mother as a result of her loneliness.
  3. (a) She considered her mother-in-law a burden to her.
    (b) She could go to work in peace as her mother-in-law was around to look after the children.
  4. It means to see the positive side of things instead of the negative.
  5. (a) They helped her face many difficult situations.
    (b) She intended to pass it on to her children

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