Azuka Ebede: Light after dark (30 Days, 30 Voices)

Love, however, found Leri in the form of words. She wrote and wrote until the ink in her pen ran dry.

Let me tell you a story of a girl named Leri, a girl who was defined by the circumstances of her life.

For the most part of Leri’s teenage years, she was a ticking bomb waiting to explode. No one ever wanted to be around her because they never knew when she would ‘go off’. But Leri wasn’t always like this. In fact, growing up  she was a happy child who loved to play and have fun.

Her perfectly crafted childish world however came crashing down just as she was beginning the teenage phase of her life; her mother left. Leri had heard stories and watched movies about parents being divorced or separated but she never thought it would happen to her.

For days and even weeks after her mother left, Leri would look out the window when any car came in or sometimes, she would energetically run to the door when somebody knocked, hoping with everything in her that her mother was back. But as Leri was later to find out, mummy never came back home. Her departure marked the beginning of a painful and tortuous relationship between herself and the world.

For the first time, she saw transferred aggression from her father rear its ugly head and Leri was the unsuspecting victim. Slaps, beatings, insults became her daily companion and she had bruises on her body to continually remind her of her misery.

Soon enough Leri began to develop a split personality. At home, she was a suppressed and caged prisoner but outside the confines of her home, she felt somewhat free. Going to school was the highlight of her miserable life but school didn’t remain a refuge for too long as Leri didn’t realize her heart had also been bruised. So while her body bruises healed, the bruises in her heart etched deeper.

Leri began to hate her life. She blamed herself for her mother’s departure. Time and time again she begged for her mother to return, but all her pleas fell on deaf ears. ‘How can she claim to love when she left me here’, Leri often wondered. It therefore did not come as a surprise that the concept of love was dead to her. She could not trust anyone. Whenever she made a new friend, something always told her they friend would leave, just like her mother did. Best friends soon became best enemies because of her insecurities. Relationships were harder still. Leri just couldn’t express the emotions to sustain one; the four letter word L.O.V.E. When anyone said the word ‘I love you’, her heart shouted back, ‘liar!’ A part of her wanted to be better but Leri remained in the comfort of what she was used to; after all, life had made her this way.

Love however found Leri in the form of words. She wrote and wrote until the ink in her pen ran dry. She wrote about the pain she felt, about the suicide thoughts that passed through her head, about what she wanted her life to be like. One time she wrote an emotional letter addressed to herself. It was indeed a therapeutic exercise for Leri. It felt like a burden had been lifted off her shoulders as she poured her heart out into that letter. Although the beating and bruises never stopped, Leri used her mind and her pen to paint a better world for herself.

The turning point for Leri came when she found God. He was the light after dark. As she scourged the pages of the Holy Book, Leri found someone that loved her unconditionally, despite everything she had been through. He asked her to cast all her burdens on Him and trust that he would turn her life around. Leri took a leap of faith and released her heart to Him. It was a long a painful journey, but Leri soon began to feel the bruises in her heart heal. She felt truly free, not because the circumstances in her home had changed but because she decided to let go of all the pain, hurtful words and cruelty. She refused to remain a victim of circumstance. She began to live and as may be expected, the angry teenager disappeared.

Not many have this happy ending like Leri. Many, at the start of life’s woes, lose hope and worse still, some give up entirely. Life is not perfect. Bad things will happen; in fact God tells us that in this life, we would face trials and tribulations but our hope rests in the fact the He has overcome the world. So no matter what life throws at you, never let yourself be a victim of circumstance. Look forward to a brighter tomorrow.


Azuka Ebede views this big world through rose-coloured spectacles.


30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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