At first, it seemed so hard, impossible- difficult to do that which I had to; that which would touch lives forever. It was a herculean task for me as it required a lot of courage, but, I had already determined in my heart to do it and I had already given my words to certain people. I am a woman of my word, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint them. So, I got up from my bed half-scared, half-confident and walk sluggishly to the bathroom to have my bath.
 Just before I entered the bathroom, I heard my phone ringing; I smiled because I already knew who was calling. I checked the screen of my phone and my thoughts were quite correct. I picked the call and the first thing I heard was “Good morning, my love”. I don’t think I could ever get tired of hearing that every morning. My fiancĂ©, Jide calls me every morning and we talk for ten to twenty minutes. After fifteen minutes, we end the call and I feel so happy to have someone like Jide, someone that loves me for who I am. He called to reassure me of his support, to encourage me and to inform me that he would come pick me in the next thirty minutes. On hearing these words, I felt better and I swiftly went to the bathroom.
After bathing, I hurriedly dressed up, and checked myself in the mirror for any adjustments. Just then, I heard the horn of Jide’s car, I carried my purse which contained my necessary items – powder, lip gloss, my stick-it notes which contained points for my speech, a black pen, a hand towel and some money. I locked the door and went outside to meet Jide who had already gotten down from the car. He was looking exceptionally handsome today as he rocked a blue and black checkered shirt, coupled with black jeans and a pair of sneakers. To top it all, he had dark shades on. He smiled as I walked towards him and I smiled back, he hugged me and opened the car door for me like the gentleman he was. As he entered the car, he turned to me and said “Sweetheart, you look even more beautiful today”. I blushed like a little school girl and I thanked him. He started the car, and off we went to Jade Majekodunmi Memorial Secondary School.
 In the car, Jide helped me to rehearse for my speech and he calmed me once again with his words. At some point, I totally forgot about the speech because Jide took my mind off it with his dry jokes. At last, we got to our destination and we both alighted from the car. I scanned the surroundings- typical secondary school environment, students everywhere doing one thing or the other; I looked up and said to myself “Adunni, this is it, you can do this”. We were ushered into the school auditorium by a female student who was obviously a prefect due to the fact that she had a badge pinned to her school uniform. With smiles, she welcomed us and she led us to our seats. Soon enough, the vice principal of the school, a kind middle-aged man, came to welcome me and I introduced Jide to him. He thanked me for keeping my word, and he also added that the students were enthusiastic about the programme.
The programme kicked off after some minutes with the opening prayer taken by one of the teachers. Next, I was called to the high table alongside the principal, vice principal and the heads of departments of the school. With a quick glance at my fiancĂ©, I stood up and confidently made my way to the table. After the welcome address, I already knew my time had come. With lots of applause, the moderator called me up to the podium to deliver my talk. I breathed deeply for a second then I stood up and made my way to the stage to do that which I had to. As I stood on the stage, I looked around and my eyes once again scanned my immediate environment. I saw expectations in the eyes of the students, I saw potentials, I saw the future and I saw bright stars that should shine forever and not be tampered with. I started off with a smile and a “Good morning, everyone”. My greeting was met with good responses and smiles; that boosted my confidence and I felt more at ease. My eyes also met that of Jide and I felt them encouraging me and urging me to tell my story.
I started narrating my story of how I was held in slavery with the chains of words. My speech went thus “I know when you hear the word slavery, your mind goes to being held in a place with iron chains and being tortured. I put it to you today that one can also be tortured with words and enslaved.” I explained to them that I was the only child of my mother, who got pregnant with me at a young age. I never knew my father and so it was me and my mother. She never really cared for me and was always blaming me for all her troubles. She would drop me with her mother, my grandmother. This continued until my grandmother died and she would leave me alone in the house; at this point, I was already seven.
No day passed without my mother telling me I was a failure, a mistake and that I couldn’t do anything right in life. From a young age, I didn’t really have any friends. I wasn’t really a bright student but I managed to enter secondary school. I always felt weak, because my mother’s words always echoed in my head. From being an average student, I dropped to being one of the last three in the class. I told them how I joined a gang because they told me they would make me feel strong, and how I used to drink or smoke anytime I remembered my mother’s words. To cut the long story short, I was pulled out of my mental slavery by my school counsellor who helped me to understand that I had potentials and I could be anything I wished to be. It was a tough process but I recovered with time and I broke free. I moved out of my mother’s house into a hostel which was gotten for me by my school counsellor.
I continued by saying “Words don’t define who you are or who you’ll be. You make your own destiny. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior with their words because you’re special and you’re a success”. I concluded by dishing out advice on how to be emotionally strong and withstand destructive words, then I rounded off my speech “I am Alade Adunni, and this is my story”. Everyone stood up with applause and I went back to my seat with joy in my heart. Question and Answer section was next, and then the programme ended with the closing prayer. I shook hands with all the staff on the high table; I also thanked all of them for the opportunity to share my story.
I left the school with Jide who couldn’t stop praising me and telling me how marvellous I was. Looking at the beautiful clouds outside, I felt very glad that I was able to help the students in my own little way and to build them up for whatever the future held for them. At last, I had shared my story.

O-REY