MEANT TO FLY You watch the woman who has come for her therapy sessions roam round your office not saying anything. You would let her come to your office anytime she wanted to let off steam. You knew that she was holding so much in and it was no good to her mental health. The only thing she ever said to you was “hi, i need to let off steam”. She would roam round your office for a short while then look at her wristwatch and say “I have to go now thanks” Then you would tell her you are available anytime she wanted to talk. You would then stand up halfway from behind your desk to be sure she had not made any serious marks on your carpet with her shoes. “Paulina you seem angrier than usual” You say studying her. “ I am angry” she says then pauses. You knew she was angry, she had told you she was angry and that was why you took her money and let her come to your office when she needed to “ Oh so angry!. Sometimes I don’t even know why. Maybe because I am caged, no should I say trapped? Yes trapped, caged works too. Trapped everywhere, trapped at work, trapped at home and trapped in this type of society by useless beliefs” You are visibly shocked because this is the longest statement she has ever made to you. She stops to look at you then goes back to walking around the not so big office. You begin to wish you had bought the room with the larger space but you did not think that it was necessary because of your job. So you bought the smaller spaced room and hung paintings that you felt would make people feel at home. “You know I saw this thing about this Arab woman that was taken to jail for calling her boss out on his sexual harassment towards her. Can you imagine?!” she screams “Can you fucking imagine?” You are not a big fan of the “F” word but you know it is not the time to make corrections. “Oh God the things I wish I could do to that boss of a man. For all the times he has touched my body parts and how when I try to say no, he goes” She stops moving around and stares at you “If you want to keep your job, shhhh” she says calmly as if mimicking the man. “And while he’s saying this, his sweaty palms are searching for some part of my body to seek solace. The anger that seeps through my veins is something else. In that instant I want to slam him on the wall and cause him pain, real pain!” she screams and you shake a little. “And you know the funny thing? I am good. I am good at what I do and I don’t need any pervert of a boss’s interest in me to get a job or keep it but you know what?” she asks turning to you. You nod for her to go on “Those useless co workers think that I used my body to get the fucking job!” she bends down as she says this between her teeth. Then she takes deep breaths and stands up, arms at akimbo then a deep breath. “I don’t even want to get started on that bald headed man of a husband. Do you know I didn’t want to get married? I don’t even still want to be married. My mother was on my neck, dragging me to every programme for singles, calling pastors to pray for me. My village members were talking about me! Everyone was saying I should be married! I got tired, I got frustrated, I got weak, it was like they were all pushing me into a corner so I grabbed the closest available man and walked down the aisle with him. I regret it, every day of my life” she was calmer now and tears were rolling down her cheeks. You want to take her hand and tell her she would be fine. She stumbles to the chair opposite you and begins to sob “It’s like every time I think I can breath, everytime I think I can come out of this cage i’m trapped in because Seth I was meant to fly” she says turning to look at him with bloodshot eyes “when I think I can finally make use of these God given wings” She says touching her back like there is something there “it’s like they fold it or clip it or something” she begins to sob again. “Do you know I have body guards following me every single place I go, watching my every move and reporting to that baldhead” she says then laughs a little. She stops and stares at you then erupts into a loud laughter. “Oh my God, this life i’m living is not mine” she says laughing in between words. “No friends, no visitors, no leaving the house, no opinion in the house, pushing me instead of saying excuse, barking at me every chance he gets and as if that’s not enough, everyone thinks i’m barren. They think i’m useless, they don’t think i’m a woman. Seth I’ve been doing so well and everyone has been on my side and I don’t even know anymore. I had other plans for my life but Seth I’m angry at the things I can’t do. I want to help all these young girls and women that are being raped and abused and beaten and they can say nothing. I want to deal with all the men putting them through this. I want to give this huge amount of money I make to people who actually need it” She stands and folds her arms “Where do I start?” You want to tell her to sit down when a drop of tear falls on her cheek. You take in a deep breath and finally say something “You can start by saving yourself, you said you’re good that means you can get another job and you can end that marriage. You didn’t want it, you have other plans for your life, so until you set things right with yourself Paulina you can’t move forward” “You mean I can’t fly” “Yes. What’s this fascination with flying anyway?” She laughs a little, shrugs her shoulders and wipes her eyes. “I think I’m a bird, like how God made reference to them when he was trying to tell us not to worry. How free they are. I’d tell myself I’m a bird and that means I can do and go wherever I want, say whatever I want” she says “But these past years, I’ve been feeling like someone clipped my wings and put me in a cage” You understand because nobody wanted you to be a therapist. They said you would not make money and it was a woman’s job. Your parent’s made you study law which you did but only lasted the first year. You had not felt like you were making use of your wings. It was like you were walking around and they were stuck like you. ***** I am Seth’s client Paulina Awurum. I am writing in this journal for whoever his next client is, because I pray and I hope you get the peace you are searching for. I feel like Seth opened up this cage I’ve been trapped in or he gave me the courage to open the cage because it was really me holding myself down. The key to flying was really easy but I was scared and now I’m not. I’m finally making use of the remote control of my life, of my wings. I’m getting a divorce and my parents think I’m a disgrace and that’s okay because I’m not. It’s my life and I want to live my life with and in peace. My village members would not listen to my opinions when I travel to the village for Christmas because if I can’t keep my husband, if I can’t remain in a marriage that brings me pain everyday then I’m a bad influence to other women. Even during meetings held in Lagos, they would treat me like an outcast and that’s okay because my life is at peace. I signed up for a charity programme and joined this Law firm that helps women going through different types of abuse. After I finalize my divorce, I would take Seth out to eat and laugh for the first time in a long while, with a friend who understands. Then I would walk out of whichever place we eat at, thank him, bade him goodbye and fly like the bird that I am. These days I’m staying with my younger sister and her friend because my parents would not let me stay with them. I go for long runs with them and laugh over little things. As I get used to this new turn my life has taken, even though I am walking or eating or talking or laughing or helping people or running, it feels like I am really flying. No more clipped wings. I would use these wings to fly and decide my fate with Joshua the man in charge of the charity organisation I volunteered at.