Entry By Andrew Worthy


Tiwa was awakened by a creak from the door; she was only half asleep. She lifted her back off the bed and looked in the direction of the sound. 
There at the the door, stood a figure; its face concealed by the darkness that covered the room. The figure took slow, gentle steps as it walked into the room, towards the bed where Tiwa laid. 
She quickly picked up her torch and turned on the flashlight, pointing it in the direction of the figure. 
"Tiwa! Turn it off." The voice of a man. 
The bastard! Tiwa thought. 
Defiantly, she left the flashlight on. 
"Tiwa, turn it off," came the voice again, this time a bit louder. 
This time, she obeyed. 
"Lie down," the man ordered. 
But she didn't. She sat still on the bed, unwilling to break her gaze from him. 
"Tiwa, lie down, quickly." 
"No!" Tiwa blurted. 
There a pause. 
The room was overtaken by a sudden quietness; a quietness that was very brief but was so deep that it seemed to last for eternity… a quietness so loud that Tiwa could hear the beat of his heart deep in her ears... or was it her own heartbeat? The heartbeat of confidence and courage. 
"What did you just say?" 
"Uncle, I said, no! I'm tired." 
Another moment of silence followed. Even though the room was clothed with darkness, Tiwa could see the expression on her uncle's face through her mind’s eye. She could see the shock etched in his brows. 
It was the first time Tiwa dared defy her uncle's order; the first time since the first time. The first time since a long time. 
Tiwa had moved from the village to the city to stay with her uncle two years ago. This was as a result of her mother's inability to continue to fend for her and her two younger siblings, after the demise of her father, some months before. Her uncle - her father's step brother - had decided to intervene by offering to take care of Tiwa’s education, as well as provide her with other basic amenities - food, clothes, shelter. It was a sweet relief for Tiwa's mother. Tiwa too was very much excited... going to school in the city was a dream come through. 
The first few weeks she had spent at her uncle's house had been peaceful and enjoyable to a great extent... even though her uncle's wife sometimes overburdened her with house chores, she never grumbled or complained, as she had been raised by her parents to be a hardworking girl. 
However, Tiwa's castle of joy and comfort had come crumbling into sand one time when her uncle's wife had made a trip to see her mother - that was the moment when her uncle had done the unthinkable. He had called Tiwa into his room, asked her to sit on the bed and begun to run his hands around her body. 
"Uncle, what are you doing?" she had asked. 
Shhhh! he had placed his right index across his lips - a gesture ordering her to be quiet. 
"Oya, lie down," he had instructed her. 
Of course she didn't give in... at the initial. But after he had threatened to beat her up and send her back to the village, or even kill her, she obliged.  
That was when she understood the true meaning of pain. Every thrust he sent into her body, painted a wound on the canvas of her heart. The man whom her mother had entrusted her into his care had taken advantage of that trust, to find bodily pleasure in her. Her uncle, her own blood, had stripped her of her virginity and pride, right on his matrimonial bed. She had drowned in tears afterwards, but she couldn't tell anyone about it; she was too afraid. 
Then it happened again, the next day, the after, and the day after that... it went on and on... whenever her uncle's wife wasn't at home, he would find his way into her room and dump the contents of his corrupted mind into her body. She had contemplated absconding, but to where? She didn't know the way back to the village, and if even she did, she didn't have any money for fare. Severally, she had wondered what he found attractive about her, considering how much of a beautiful woman his wife was. 
After the night that her uncle had deflowered her, Tiwa had never put up any resistance to him... until on this night. 
She was tired, angry and fed up. 
"Are you stupid?" her uncle inquired. 
"No sir, I'm not stupid. I'm just tired." 
She wore the countenance of a soldier heading to the warfront. She wasn't going to let him have his way this time and he had to respect that. 
What happened next was... it was too quick; she didn't see it coming - her uncle angrily and abruptly sent a punch to her face. The blow was so heavy, that it sent her whole body back to the bed. By the time Tiwa realized what had happened, a stream of blood had already come running down her left nostril. All of the confidence and boldness that she had felt minutes before, had suddenly sailed out of the window with the wind. Her heart was then taken over by a steam of panic; her heart began to pound at the speed of light. She tried to lift herself off the bed but her uncle had already grabbed her by the arm and shoved her to one side of the bed. She tried breaking free from his hold but his arms were pretty much strong. He grabbed her nightdress and tore it with a single pull... 
*** 
Tiwa stared at her reflection in the mirror. She saw a helpless fifteen-year-old girl who had been continuously victimized by the bastard she called her uncle; a girl with no tear remaining in her tear glands, and no sound remaining in her voice. There was neither an outstretched hand willing to catch her, nor an embrace waiting to wrap her in. 
Three days after her uncle's last assault, she still had scars on her face - an inflammed patch beneath her right eye, a scratch across her left temple and a cut, deep into her lower lip. They seemed like badges of honour for the battle she fought against her uncle; a battle she lost even though she fought with all of her strength. She felt neglected and unloved... more importantly, she felt the need to fight for her freedom. 
To fight, not in defence, but in attack! 
She had been brooding on an idea in her mind, and on this morning, the plan had finally hatched. 
She would make her uncle pay for all he had ever done wrong to her. She would make him rot in hell. 
*** 
Ifeoma walked into her office, said a prayer and sat down. She was clothed in a blue longsleeved shirt and suit pants. Her office was very much like every typical office - it possessed a desk, a chair on one side of the desk, two chairs on the other side, a cabinet at one corner of the room, and a couch, a few metres away from the entrance door. The floor of the room was made from shiny marble and almost every other furniture, apart from the chairs, were made from glass. 
Ifeoma liked having a few minutes of meditation before starting work each day. 
She placed her head against her desk. 
Images began to race from all directions towards the core of her brain. She took a quick trip down memory lane to sixteen years before, to the day that she stood at the altar and exchanged marital vows with the man who would later become her worst nightmare. 
Ifeoma had been cajoled into marrying Uche by her parents, especially her father - it was basically because of Uche's money. Ifeoma didn't love him, but she wanted to make her parents happy, and she thought that perhaps, she would fall in love with him while they were married. 
It was a choice she shouldn’t have made... two months later, she saw Uche for who he truly was - a drunk, a womaniser, a sadist... a beast. He derived lots of pleasure in inflicting pain on her. A year after their marriage, Ifeoma had gotten pregnant for him, but that didn't make him treat her with any less resentment. He had pushed her down the stairs and she had almost lost the pregnancy. 
She had shared her plight with everyone possible - her parents, his parents, his friends, church members and leaders... their responses were always almost the same - "just endure it", "marriage is for better, for worse", "remain in the marriage; God hates divorce". She had continued to endure the pain and suffering until she read a book about marriage and self-worth, and realised how her abusive marriage had taken every drop of self-worth she had. That was when she had decided to step on the breaks and pull out of the marriage journey. Many people kicked against the move, reminding her of how divorce is a sin. However, one thing she was sure of was that it wasn't God's desire for her to die at the hands of an abusive husband. 
Afterwards, she had saved some money, returned to school, earned a certificate in counseling psychology and used her skills and knowledge to help people who were suffering from various emotional and psychological issues. 
Ifeoma lifted her head from the desk and took a deep breath. Her eyes were caught by a book that laid on one side of her desk, treasures lie within you - it was the first book she had ever authored. It however wasn't doing very well in the market; five months after publication, she had been able to sell only four hundred copies. "I'd do better with my next book," she had always said to encourage herself. 
She had stretched her hand to pick the book up when she heard a knock on the door. 
"Come in," she yelled. 
Her sleepy-looking secretary opened the door and put half of her body into the room. 
"Ma, a girl is here to see you," the secretary said in her thin, soprano voice. "She said she has an appointment with you." 
"Let her in." 
The secretary vanished and Tiwa appeared in the room, wearing a long black dress - the kind a mourner would wear - and carrying a blue school bag. 
"Good morning ma." 
"Good morning. Please, sit down," Ifeoma said, motioning to the chairs opposite her. 
"Thank you," Tiwa replied as she set her bottom on one of the chairs. 
"How are you, Tiwa?" 
"I'm fine ma," Tiwa replied as she used her eyes to scan the office and appreciate its beauty. 
"You called me." 
"Yes ma." 
Tiwa had met Ifeoma a week before, during a girl-child-education campaign that Ifeoma had led at Tiwa’s school. 
"You said you want to talk to me about something. What's it?" 
Tiwa pulled the zip of her school bag to the side and pulled out a book from it.  
It was the same book that was on the table - treasures lie within you. 
"I read your book. A classmate of mine bought it as a gift for me." 
"Okay, that's nice," Ifeoma replied, not sure of where the conversation was heading to. 
"On page thirty-four," Tiwa continued, "you shared the story of how you were raped by your father when you were ten years old, and how you were able to get over the hurt." 
"That's correct." Ifeoma nodded. 
"Ma, I'm a victim of rape too." Tiwa raised her eyes to meet Ifeoma, expecting some sort of sympathetic expression. Ifeoma just gazed at Tiwa with a neutral countenance. "For the past two years, my uncle has been forcing me to have sex with him." She looked into Ifeoma's eyes again. She couldn't find any emotion there. "Before reading your book, I had planned to kill my uncle." 
This time, Ifeoma reacted. The subtle folds on her brow revealed shock. 
"I was tired of being abused frequently, and I wanted my uncle to pay for what he has been doing to me." 
"And how did you plan to achieve that?" 
"Rat poison." 
"Hmmm. Impressive." 
A brief moment of silence creped in. 
Ifeoma broke the silence. "Tiwa, I'm actually very glad that you're bold enough to share your experience. I want you to understand that you're not the only one going through this; there are many other young girls suffering such. So, you're not alone.  
Poisoning your uncle won't grant you freedom - you may be free physically, but you'd be captive mentally, because your conscience will haunt you. You can't fight evil with evil..." 
Ifeoma went on to tell Tiwa of how she had broken free from an abusive marriage by using a very simple implement - a pen. All she had to do was sign divorce documents; she didn't need to engage in any violent act. She told Tiwa stories of great people who were also in tough 
situations, but didn't hurt anyone inorder to escape from their pain; people who used subtle means to fight, spread influence and change the world for good. 
…people who used the pen. 
After about thirty minutes of endless talk, Ifeoma sighed and smiled to Tiwa… Tiwa smiled back. 
Tiwa left Ifeoma's office feeling elated and positive, and with a resolution to, just like Ifeoma, change her world with the pen. 
*** 
"... I sincerely want to appreciate everyone, particularly Mrs. Kalu Ifeoma, who opened my eyes to see how much effect a pen could have on the lives of people," Tiwa said into the microphone as she stood on the stage, holding a copy of her newly published book, exactly five years after she had walked into Ifeoma's office, as a broken little girl. 
"My life changed when I read her book, treasures lie within you, because, in that book, she shared her story; the story of how she rose from being a victim to a mentor. Today, I have penned my own story, to inspire young people like me, and to make them understand that a pen can do much more than a sword or a gun or any other device of war. I am changed because someone decided to use a pen instead of a sword; if we can all lay down our weapons, we can make the world a better place. Thank you." 
A mighty round of applause followed her speech as she walked off the stage.