Brave

mutua-matheka
image credit: Mutua Matheka

A brave girl with a brave story dropped me an email and I called her because it was a harrowing story. She has this sweet, crisp, clear girlish voice that tugs at your heart and makes you want to talk to her forever. I ask her if she wants to be public or anonymous and she says, “Ngai, I had not even thought of that.” I say public and she proceeds to say, “no, no, no, no.” In a bouncy tone. She tells me the life-altering experience happened to her when she was living in a bedsitter in a flat that had very few people, the chap who did it looked like a decent guy, clean and in a suit. She tells me sometimes she blames herselfher naivety for what happened and I tell her she shouldn’t blame herself because that was a predator hiding behind a good suit and a nice smile like a lot of predators do.

At the time she was studying food and nutrition at Nairobi University Kabete campus. She tells me she was under that program, that program that Kenyans look at with disdain. I ask which program and she says it’s hard to say then I go out on a limb and blurt out, the parallel program and she says yes that one. She did not have a taste for the course and she soon left it and she’s now pursuing interior design. I ask her what it’s about and she tells me they are usually with architects in the same class and she goes on to tell me she still doesn’t know if it’s what she really wants to do. And I tell her I had to finish campus and get a job before I knew exactly what I wanted to do and nothing is really a waste and she laughs a squeaky laugh and says, “Oh, I thought I was alone, because my sister always wanted to be a lawyer since she was a little girl and she’s now a lawyer.”

I ask her what about this writing thing and she tells me she’s not planning to write again. I tell her she has to write even if it’s in private because that itch is a pesky itch and it will always be creeping its cold fingers up her spine unless she does something about it. I ask her if she’s now better after the incident and she laughs and tells me the colour is seeping back in her life; she’s happy now, she’s even getting fat and her friends are complaining, saying she should go slow on the food. It’s evening and I like my interviews to feel more like conversations than interrogations so before I hang up I ask her what she’s cooking for her family (by the way she moved back home) she tells me skuma, rice and fry and I tell her to try and not give her entire family food poisoning and she laughs an infectious laugh.

Guys here is her brave story. I jumped in and did a few edits but besides that it was a solid piece of copy, I hope she works on her craft because her writing could become something.

I met him for the first time at the shops, a towering man in a good suit. He told me he had seen me around and walked me to my door and left. I didn’t think much of it and I continued living my life.

The next time he showed up, I was doing laundry. He told me he just wanted to drop by to see how I was doing and he left again and I thought it was odd but without knowing it I was starting to trust him.

The third time I let him in and we talked. He asked most of the questions, like what I was studying and what my future plans were but he evaded all my questions. He just said he was into businesses, he didn’t even tell me where he lived, I wanted to ask him for his number but I felt I would be overstepping, coming out as desperate so I stopped myself.

The fourth time he came, I immediately opened the door. He was wearing a fitting suit that clang beautifully on his well-crafted body. His chiseled frame suggested that he was someone who went to the gym or did some form of workout. He was wearing expensive looking shoes and an exquisite cologne, that cologne that knew me by now and drew me to him. That cologne that continues hugging you long after he lets go. That cologne that helps reinforce memories in your mind. That cologne that would be picturesque if it were visible.

My home at that time was a tiny bedsitter in a newly built desolate building somewhere in the outskirts of Nairobi’s CBD. It was perfect for a college girl who had never lived alone a day in her life. When I stood in the middle of the room and the bathroom door was open, I could see almost every nook and cranny of the house. I was so green at living alone, more so in that outlandish environment, that the culture shock I was experiencing was dizzying.

After ushering him in, I made drinks for both of us and let him sit on the bed and as I was accustomed to sitting on the floor I subconsciously sat on the carpet which judging from his facial expression did not sit well with him and that made me tense. We talked and made jokes for a while then out of nowhere he became a completely different person. His eyes slid over my bodyI wasn’t wearing much: a long T-shirt and shortshis face tightened and in one single swoop he picked me from the floor as if I were paper weight and threw me on the bedhis big dirty hand covering my mouth. I wanted to scream and kick and bite but my body had shut down and I lay there stiff as a log. “If you scream I will beat you up,” he barked in a tone that split like an axe then removed his hand from my mouth when he realized I wasn’t putting up a fight.

He undressed me partially; his fingers digging into my skin then got on top of me and parted my legs and that was the end of my virginity, my innocence, and my purity. It was an excruciating pain. It felt as if someone was hammering my genitals with thick long nails over and over again. I thought it would never end. And then with one final agonizing thrust he was done and he collapsed on top of me. I was numb and unfeeling, sucked dry of life. I tried to swallow the bitter taste in my mouth and it felt as if I had wads of cotton balls in my throat.

After regaining his strength, he looked at me with a smile, got off me, went to the bathroom and took tissue and came with it. He tilted my head so that I could see him wipe my blood off his manhood then wore his clothes slowly still gazing at me and left. After he left I remained curled in the same position for quite a while not knowing what to do and later made for the shower and stayed there for hours trying to wash him off me.

I tried to suppress the incident, my sister usually came around on weekends and I pretended nothing had happened. We went to church and I tried living a normal life but I was plunging into depression. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t eat and I started losing weightmy clothes refusing to fit me. Depression became my friend and we spent a lot of time together in darkness. No one would judge us here or look at us with sympathetic eyes thinking that we were infected with some incurable disease that was shrinking us into a stick. But then, because time is time, it healed.

Up to date there are three things about him that still unsettle me; that it’s a thing he does to women because the stories of abuse that go round are of close kin; uncles, cousins and brothers not strangers. His cologne and that smile of his, that smile that was dripping with satisfaction, pride and triumph after he violated me. I get pissed off every time I see a guy smiling like that, especially if he is cute and I have changed seats in a matatu more than once because I sat next to someone whose cologne reminded me of him.

When I look back there are things I would have wanted to do but didn’t because I was uninformed. I should not have bathed or cleaned my bed sheets. I should have taken anything that would have passed for evidence to the police and reported the incident. I should have gone to hospital before 72 hours lapsed for medicine to prevent pregnancy and STDswhere I would have been cleaned up while the facility acquired more evidence. I should have seek psychological help.

I didn’t go to hospital and it took me months to tell someone what happened. I built an armor around me and I didn’t let anyone in and I ended up doing a lot of bad things to try and suppress the sickening feelings that were coming in waves almost drowning me.

After some months I realized I needed to get tested and I did but it was a bad experience for me. I was alone shaking and in tears and the physician testing me thought I was a promiscuous girl and she kept asking very insensitive questions but the results came out negative and I wasn’t pregnant either and I heaved a sigh. The second and third time I got tested were more bearable but it got me thinking, what if I wasn’t so lucky? What if I became pregnant or worse had been infected with an STI? People need to be educated on what to do to prevent worsening these situations. Men as well, because they’re happening to them too, especially young men and because of fear they choose to suffer in silence when preventive measures can be taken to avoid depression, diseases and suicide.

Men also need to understand that it is not okay to abuse a woman. Women are not men’s play things to do with whatever they please, thinking they will get away with it. Those women are people’s daughters, sisters and wives and more importantly they’re human beings with dignity who deserve respect. Institutions also need to take us seriously because they often water down such incidents and end up making us look like the villain. The feeling of terror and violation; nobody deserves to walk with such a heavy burden on their head.

 

Editor credit: Shiku Ngigi


One more thing guys, if you know a place(s) where people who suffer such episodes can go to get help put it down on the comment section.

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