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No Longer At Ease

Chinua Achebe

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 4, page 2

page 1 of 2

The boat arrives in Lagos. At Customs, Obi is told his Radiogram will have a duty-fee. The clerk, however, says that he will lower the price of the duty, but he may not give Obi a receipt. Obi is offended by the bribe and rejects it. Nevertheless, he ends his episode with the Customs clerk by saying: "Dear old Nigeria…. "

The Umuofian Progressive Union (Lagos branch) is not meeting him at the docks. Obi explains that if the boat had been a mail boat everyone would have been there to greet him since it is that people in Lagos always go to meet the mail boats. The Umuofian Progressive Union does, however, have a reception for Obi. It is a large gathering held on a Saturday in honor of Obi's return after having studied in England. His fellow Umuofians are very proud of having someone from their village that studied in England and the president gives a long, and spirited speech about Obi and about knowledge. He does so in a full and formal English, which the members of the Union like very much.

At the reception, Obi makes several "mistakes." First, he arrives in a short- sleeved shirt because of the heat. Everyone else is dressed properly. Second, when he speaks to the people, after the president, he uses a simpler and less formal English, unlike the admired and complex English of the president.

After the reception, Obi's friend Joseph takes him to dinner at a restaurant where there are a few Africans and many Europeans. When they arrive at the restaurant, Obi is told that it may be owned by a Syrian; this statement is later proven wrong when the owner appears. The owner is an old Englishwoman, who is loud and unsteady. Obi asks if there is Nigerian food, and Joseph is surprised that Obi wants to eat pounded yams and bitter leaf soup. Obi says, out loud and in English, that he is tired of "boiled potatoes."

Obi is somewhat bothered that his friend Joseph has not told him to stay with him (as he had done previously before going to England). Instead, Obi is staying at a hotel in which he was placed by the Umuofia Progressive Union. Joseph says, during their dinner, without Obi having actually mentioned any of this, that he has only one room … Obi, however, tells Joseph that all of that is nonsense and that he is leaving the hotel to stay with Joseph anyway. Joseph is happy about this, even though he tells Obi that people will think poorly of the situation—people will look down upon a college graduate who has just returned from England sharing a room in his neighborhood.

Before they leave the restaurant, they go into the lounge area. Joseph wants to order beer, but Obi refuses. From the window of the lounge Obi and Joseph could see the Minister of State, Sam Okoli, exiting his car, and Clara is with him. It shocks Obi to see her with the Minister of State.

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