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Twisted in a Positive Way

Twisted in a Positive Way, September 2015
by Chikamso C. Efobi

Self Published
Featuring: Adaugo
238 pages
ISBN: 0993354203
EAN: 9780993354205
Kindle: B014WXR5PI
Paperback / e-Book
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"An inspirational coming of age tale set in Nigeria"

Fresh Fiction Review

Twisted in a Positive Way
Chikamso C. Efobi

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted January 19, 2016

Women's Fiction Contemporary | Multicultural Inspirational | Inspirational

I love reading stories of women who overcome difficulties and gender expectations to make a better life. I also enjoy learning about different countries and cultures. Combining the two in this modern fairytale seems like a perfect match. Adaugo is a girl growing up in Lagos, the forward- looking, wealthy capital of Nigeria, where various religions live side-by-side and oil money merges with telecoms firms. Adaugo begins to live a Christian girl's normal life, then her world becomes TWISTED IN A POSITIVE WAY when her ambition to make something of herself grows.

We first meet Adaugo as a schoolgirl hoping to pass exams that will let her get into secondary school early. Her mother is keen for her to make progress, as her own parents refused to let her study law in case it would scare away prospective husbands. This combination of positive attitude and cultural restriction continues throughout the book. This is a well-off family, with good schools and the respect of their community. Yet the man sees himself as the breadwinner, though his wife also works. Some of these tales are amusing, but perhaps not if you were living through them.

Boarding school brings the sad lesson that some so-called friends are only sponging off the kind-hearted Adaugo, and we continue to watch her progress through university and the world of work, where her ambitions are put temporarily on hold. When she wants to do more study, the gender gap will once again force the brave woman into painful choices and life lessons.

A lovely touch is that Adaugo feels the contact of her inner voice, a spiritual guide which might be her subconscious personified. Through this voice she puts words to the newfound wisdom she gains and solidifies her determination. Maybe this is what Cinderella really meant by a fairy godmother.

Chikamso C. Efobi grew up in Lagos and now lives in England, after graduating with a Masters in Information Systems Management from De Montfort University Leicester. She writes motivational and personal development blogs. What we are told about the work of women in banking will shock you. This is an educational and enjoyable read.

Learn more about Twisted in a Positive Way


Spanning decades in the heart of Mushin, Lagos Nigeria, this coming-of- age tale of a charming heroine unfolds delicately and is based on the story of a young girl, Adaugo who faces difficult odds. The loss of a loved one and navigating cultural expectations and gender roles are major themes in this personal narrative documenting the growth and learning of a young girl with big dreams.

As Adaugo listens to the still small voice within her, her growth from a young girl in boarding school to a precocious brave woman is studded with precious gems of divine insight.

Her journey is one that any person, young or old will learn from as it illustrates the beauty and triumph of dreaming big and never giving up.


May 1994

It may not have been an extraordinary sight to most, seeing a 9-year-old in Primary 4 stepping out of an examination hall. However, Adaugo was no ordinary 9-year- old, and writing her common entrance exams in Primary 4 was no ordinary occurrence, at least not where Ms. S.T. Shoniyi, headmistress of Excel Primary School was concerned.

A student of Excel Primary School, Adaugo had fallen under the umbrella of a new rule instated by Ms. Shoniyi. The headmistress banned pupils who were “under-aged” from writing the National Common Entrance exam. Under this rule, Adaugo would have had to wait until Primary 6 to sit for the exam. Sitting for and passing the National Common Entrance exam is a prerequisite for attending junior secondary school.

Ngozi and Obiora, Adaugo’s parents, were skeptical about this rule though, especially since pupils who had graduated in years prior to Adaugo’s set had sat for the exams in Primary 5 without issue. Mama Obinna, a family friend, had even reported that her son was enjoying junior secondary school and was doing very, very well and he had sat for his common entrance exams in Primary 5!

Adaugo’s parents tried to make sense of Ms. Shoniyi’s rule, even going so far as to postulate that it was her future income stream she was protecting by requiring students to wait until Primary 6 for their exam. In the end, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason for such a rule, and Adaugo’s parents decided to take matters into their own hands, rules or not. In an act of blatant defiance, Adaugo was enrolled in a different state run primary school, one where she would be allowed to sit for her exam in Primary 4. They rationalized that Adaugo could use the exam as a mock trial of sorts, one which would give her opportunity to practice the exam and get a feel for it so that she would know precisely what to expect when she took it again in Primary 5.

This plan made perfect sense to Ngozi. There was no way she was going to allow her daughter to waste one more year in “that school,” as she always put it. Her first daughter was almost always at the top of her class, and clearly she was ready for secondary school. Delaying that progress was nothing but a waste of everyone’s time.

Adaugo didn’t see the situation exactly the same way as her doting mother. She quite liked being the best in her class, and it was flattering to be the class monitor (a position reserved for either the most brilliant pupil, or the oldest and toughest looking pupil). She didn’t complain about the new exam rule, not the way her mother did, because being at the top of her class was something she had grown accustomed to, and being the class monitor had its perks. For example, she could write all the names of her enemies on a list, and each would then receive about six strokes of the cane. She didn’t write names lightly, truly it was reserved for her enemies – those bigger, older boys who defied her authority by continuing to make noise when the teacher stepped out of the classroom. On some days when the boys got really, really angry at the flogging they received from their teacher, Miss Banke, they would chase her. She in turn would run to Papa Chikata the security guard, waiting at his station until the boys got tired of waiting for her to emerge or until she was picked up from school. On some days, she got lucky and extreme patience wasn’t required: Papa Chikata would chase the boys away for her, and Adaugo would stick out her tongue at them all as they scattered.

Undoubtedly, Adaugo was a lively child as much as she was bright. She questioned what was, what wasn’t, and why things were or weren’t the way she saw them. She feared no one, yet she respected all. If it was her mother who encouraged her to excel in school, it was her father Obiora, a clearing and forwarding agent, who taught and encouraged her to ask questions and speak her mind. As is often the case with parents, a moment arrives when they wonder what they have done, what kind of inquisitive monster they have created, and Obiora was no exception. Sometimes he would grow weary of Adaugo’s numerous questions, especially when she continued to stream them in his direction when her father was in the middle of some other task, like tucking in her and her younger sisters, Ifeoma (younger, but only by eleven months) and Obioma (younger also, but by three years and three months).

The bed time routine included a story usually, read to the three girls by their father. More often than not, whatever bed time story Obiora chose to read was interrupted repeatedly so that he could intervene in arguments between Adaugo and Ifeoma. They argued about what story should or should not be read, while Obioma quietly sucked her thumb and watched her two older sisters bicker and argue. Her displeasure with the scene was registered with a sharp, tearful cry when the argument became too loud, too animated, or was simply taking too long to resolve. In these instances, Obioma’s cries usually resulted in a near immediate stop to the argument, with the energy of the two squabbling sisters being redirected towards stopping Obioma’s crying.

With their patient father doing all he could to peaceably put his three daughters to bed in one room, the girls’ one-year-old baby brother, Ugonna, was being rocked to sleep by their mother in another room. Theirs was a busy home, a three bedroom flat in Mushin, a part of Lagos, Nigeria, an area known for being riddled with violence and criminal activity. It was not unusual to hear the sound of someone’s tearful wail after being dispossessed of their valuables by armed robbers who operated at night. One of their neighbours was recently a victim.

As she rocked Ugonna to sleep, Ngozi, a trained food nutritionist, elevated her feet which were swollen from pregnancy. As Ugonna drifted off to sleep in one arm, she pulled out her dog-eared law textbook and studied for one or two hours before finally retiring for the night. Ngozi had always wanted to be a lawyer, but had postponed her dream in order to follow her parents’ advice. It was the 1970s then, and her parents cautioned that a powerful career path, like law, would prevent Ngozi from marrying “on time,” whatever that meant. Instead, she had settled for a career in nutrition, but only after making a promise to herself that one day she would become a lawyer. Now, some twenty years later, Ngozi was still studying to become a lawyer, even while she helped to guide Adaugo through her own education by creating opportunities for her to sit for the common entrance exam as early as possible.

Adaugo emerged from the examination hall. It had been a big day for her, a momentous experience. As excited as she was to learn the outcome of her exams, she was more excited to be able to finally visit her sister in the hospital. Two weeks prior, Ifeoma had fallen ill. Yesterday, she had successfully undergone surgery to correct an intestinal obstruction, a condition which was quite rare in Nigeria but easily treatable with a simple surgical procedure. After the surgery, Adaugo was relieved to learn the procedure was a success, and especially relieved to hear from the doctors that Ifeoma could begin receiving visitors the next evening. Ifeoma would be very tired of course, and her visitors must be very quiet.

Surgery or not, Adaugo could not wait to pull her sister’s hair and for them to fall right back into quarrelling, which would feel normal after Ifeoma’s weeks of illness. She had missed her sister during Ifeoma’s time in the hospital, and was dismayed to learn that Ifeoma was still in some pain and wouldn’t be fun to play with again for quite some time. Still, she looked forward to the visit after her exams were done.

Standing outside the exam centre, Adaugo waited for her father’s company driver, Uncle Peter, and felt somewhat uneasy. Quickly she dismissed this uneasiness as post- exam jitters and resolved to continue waiting patiently and quietly. In short order, her father’s blue Peugeot 504 saloon car pulled into view and Adaugo noticed that, not surprisingly, Uncle Peter looked as grumpy as ever. She greeted him and received the usual muttered, non- committal response in return, though he did manage to remember to ask how her exams went.

“I think I will pass,” she said.

Uncle Peter glanced at her through the driver’s front mirror and gave her a smile, a sight she had seldom seen, and she thought it odd. Puzzled, she fastened her seat belt and reclined in her seat, waiting for the usual car sickness to strike. At Hare Krishna hill in Oshodi, another less than glamorous area of Lagos, she caught Uncle Peter’s gaze once again. He stared at her through the mirror and she smiled back at him, though she continued pondering the reason for such frequent glances. Finally, curiosity got the better of her, and she posed a question to Uncle Peter, hoping it would begin to uncover some answers behind his strange behaviour.

“Uncle Peter? Please, do you know when Ifeoma will be discharged from the hospital?”

“Soon, very soon,” said Uncle Peter.

Smiling, though no closer to understanding Uncle Peter’s glances, and exhausted from her exams, Adaugo fell asleep quickly in the backseat. After what seemed like only a few moments, she felt the car come to a stop and knew that they must have finally arrived at home and she could tell Mum and Dad all about her first common entrance exams.

She climbed up the four flights of stairs, and her excitement changed abruptly again to unease. It hit her suddenly, and the closer she got to the door of the family’s flat the more intense the feeling became. Again she shook it off and, arriving at the door, reached up to press the doorbell.

The door was opened by Obiageri, the house help, who immediately and excitedly whispered, “Ifeoma is dead!”

Thinking the house help’s exclamation some cruel joke, Adaugo admonished Obiageri and sharply warned her never to try such a joke again, and walked into her home. However, as she drew closer to the sitting room, Adaugo could not help but wonder if Obiageri’s outburst might actually be possible. She called out to her parents then: “Mummy, Daddy, where is everybody?”

When no one answered her call, her curiosity grew to annoyance. Why is no one coming to ask how my exams went?

She carried on, walking through the flat and calling for her family, but with each step and each unanswered call it seemed as though the world was beginning to slow down. And then she saw her pregnant mum, sprawled out on the floor, completely given over to her tears. In that moment, she noticed a number of strange faces in the room as well, and she couldn’t understand what was happening. Her head was spinning, her confusion grew, and then, her dad emerged from his room.

“Is it true?” Adaugo asked him. “Daddy, is it true?”

“Is what true?” her father replied.

“Is Ifeoma…dead?”

“Who told you this?”

“Obiageri. Obiageri told me. Please, please, tell me. Is it? Is it true?”

His one word reply was unnecessary by that point as her mother’s tears and the strangers surrounding them told her all she needed to know, but a tearful and weak voice mustered one anyway. “Yes,” Obiora replied to his young daughter. “Yes.”

Adaugo felt the world spin, faster and faster and faster it spun, pitching her into black silence. Through the deep silence that suddenly surrounded her, she could hear a distant sound of people scrambling around her as her body hit the floor, and her yellow lunch box dropped from her hand.

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