My Nightmare with Men

This is a true story. Names and places have been altered to protect the identity of the narrator. More than once she paused and almost broke down while narrating the story. I tip my hat to her for powering through and sharing it with us. I hope it serves as a teacher and a mirror to the readers here.

Kenneth

I was fourteen when I first shared a bed with a man and it was not by choice. My mom was going to Nairobi and I took her to Narok town to board a matatu. After she left, I felt my pockets and realized I had lost my fare back to the village along with my cousin’s phone. I went to the boda guys and begged them to take me home, where my dad would pay them, but they all refused. I stood there, out of my wits, until a Good Samaritan volunteered to help. He looked early twenties and too put together to be a boda guy. He paid my fare and gave me five hundred bob, then wrote his number on a piece of paper and asked me to call him.

When I got home I told my cousin, Yvonne, that I had lost my fare and her phone but had met a kind soul called Kenneth who helped me and gave me his number. She looked at me with excited eyes and insisted that we call him. This was the first of many steps she took to try to seduce him.

We called Kenneth and he arranged a date. I was scared stiff because it was my first date. Yvonne, being the gift that kept on giving, volunteered to take me to the date for emotional support.

Kenneth turned out to be alright. Yvonne had been restless about losing her phone—less than a week later, Kenneth replaced it. This fanned the flames she had for Kenneth even more and she insisted on tagging along for a second date, for emotional support.

This time round, Kenneth came with a friend whom he introduced as his work colleague. It was an attempt to match him with Yvonne so she could give us some space. When we got back home, Yvonne told me not to talk to Kenneth anymore claiming he was a player. He would call asking for me and she would not tell me.

After some time, Yvonne asked me to take her to Narok town. When we got there, we met Kenneth’s colleague. It was around 4:00 pm and they decided to go to a nearby pub. I used to have a curfew of 6:00 pm so I protested the whole time, telling them that my dad would punish me if I went home late. They insisted that the only way they would take me home was if I drank two bottles of Smirnoff. I resisted for a bit then took up the challenge. I had never taken alcohol before then and there I was, downing two 275ml bottles of vodka.

After that, my joints felt like liquid. I couldn’t stand. I forgot myself and I couldn’t even remember when we left the club but the sun had long gone down. I zoned in and out of consciousness. One moment we were in the colleague’s car and the next, Yvonne was telling me that we had arrived home but she needed to check if my dad was holding a cane.

My dad was very strict then. I was opening school the next day so I knew his fury was burning hot. Yvonne said that if he had a cane, I would go with the colleague, sleep in town and she would bring my shopping the next morning and I would head to school. She got out of the car and a few minutes later, she came back, hysterical. “Your dad has ten canes. You can’t go to the house.”

I did not debate with her. I was still going in and out of consciousness. I went with the colleague. One moment we were on the road; the next, he was carrying me up some stairs. And then we were in bed and he was forcing himself on me. I remember telling him I was in pain. I remember telling him to stop. But he told me I was just uncultured and naïve and that it couldn’t be painful. This went on throughout the night.

Before the sun came up, he left and told me he was going to his wife.

That morning, I felt filthy. I got up, looked for a phone and called Yvonne. She brought my shopping and uniform and I went to school without telling her what had happened. In school, I was restless. Was the colleague sick and was I pregnant? The worst of it was that I couldn’t even go to the school dispensary because of the stigma. Our teachers used to come to class and ask, ”How many of you are virgins?” and I would be among the students with their hands raised high but inside I was breaking.

I coped by putting all my energy into my studies. I was in the top ten across the streams, with exceptional grades in math and the sciences. Kenneth was still pursuing me. He had come by our village and I had given him my sister’s number. He called my sister. He wanted to be visiting me in school. He wanted to take care of me and to marry me after I finished form four.

The moment he told my sister he wanted to come for my visiting day, Yvonne wanted to come too. My sister told me that when Kenneth came, Yvonne was all over him to the point where he gave my sister some money to give to me and just left.

After that, I decided to keep off men. Kenneth would call my sister and I wouldn’t respond. He would come to the village to look for me and I would hide. We would sometimes bump into each other when I was with my mom and I would behave as though I did not know him.

He stopped coming around and reaching out to me altogether. Ten years later, I told him what his colleague did to me. The first thing he asked was, “Was Yvonne your cousin?” I said yes. “She didn’t behave like your cousin. She told me that you cheated on me with my work colleague to try to get me to lose interest in you and focus on her.”

Andrew

I finished high school with an A (minus) to my name and enrolled at Egerton University for a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. At this time I was talking to a guy called Andrew on Facebook who happened to go to the same campus I went to. He helped me through orientation and we often hung out together, so we became close friends. He wanted to be my boyfriend but at the time I was seeing this other guy called Joseph from Daystar University.

Joseph was a year older than me and he seemed genuinely concerned about me. He asked me how I lost my virginity. I didn’t want to talk about it because it usually made me cry, but like anything you don’t want to talk about in a relationship, it took center stage and refused to go away, so I told him. He sighed and told me that I was raped. This whole time I had been blaming myself because I got drunk. Subconsciously, I also blamed my cousin, Yvonne, because after the incident, I never spoke to her again.

Joseph had his quirks but we made it work. He had my Facebook password. Sometimes I would come from class and find that we had been talking. He would send me a message: “Hi babe.”

Then log in with my account and reply to himself: “Hey baby.”

Besides that, he was good to me up until he got an internship at a media company and the relationship became one-sided. I was trying more than he was. He would tell me how girls at his work place wore heels and how big their breasts were and I would feel inadequate and overcompensate for it by doing more than I should have.

He dumped me on the eve of Valentine’s Day. We had planned to meet in Nairobi for Valentine’s. We had been planning for it since January. He was not good with saving so we had decided that he would be sending the Valentine’s money and I would be saving it. He would send me anything from two hundred to five hundred bob every now and then until I had ten thousand bob in my M-Shwari.

Around the 12th of February, I told my dad I had a conference in Nairobi that I needed to attend. He gave me fare and pocket money and I headed to Nairobi. I stayed at my sister’s place and went to see Joseph on the 13th. He told me to send him the money I had been saving for Valentines and I did. We went to a random pub and out of nowhere he became moody.

“Since I’m treating you tomorrow, you treat me today,” he demanded.

I bought him a mzinga with the pocket money my dad had given me. We were seated next to each other and he texted me: “Let me take you to the stage.”

By the time I was getting home, I had been dumped. He did it through a Facebook status.

At this time I thought of dating Andrew but he started dating my friend to make me jealous. This one time he came to my room and asked me to take him somewhere. We found his four friends seated with my friend and he scooped her up into the air and they started giggling. Later, he asked if I felt jealous. I didn’t find fault with him dating my friend but all the romantic feelings I had for him fizzled and I saw him only as a friend from that moment onwards.

We still partied together and shared jokes and laughter. There was a time when I went to school and I didn’t have a hostel; Andrew hosted me in the house he had rented outside the school and nothing happened. In my second year, I lost interest in partying and drifted away from his group of friends but we still remained good friends. We would talk whenever we bumped into each other. Six years down the road, he would take advantage of this friendship and scar me for life.

Henry

In my second year I started seeing this IT student called Henry from the University of Nairobi. I had gone to see a friend there and we bumped into each other. He started chasing me and texting me all the time and I decided to give him a chance. He was a handsome, light skinned boy. When he came to visit me in Nakuru, everybody in school told me he resembled Konshens, the singer.

“Wah, Brenda.” The guys gaped.

“Heh, Brenda. Anakaa tu player,” the ladies chimed.

He looked too good to be true but what impressed me about him was how well he knew me. For the first time in my life, someone knew me inside and out. What I did, what I liked, he would even tell me my next step before I made it.

He was very smart. He could sit with you for five minutes, read what you were thinking and predict what your next move would be. We would be seated in a restaurant and he would tell me what the people behind us were talking about or what they had talked about. Every time we met a friend or a relative he would mirror them, so everyone liked him.

As is expected of campus students, he was usually broke. There was a time he came to Nakuru and said he wanted to go and watch the game. He was new to the town and four boys brought him back at 1:00 am, drunk as a sponge. After that, he made a few of them his spies and he would often come back to my hostel happy and say, “I’m glad you don’t cheat on me.”

I started doing things for him that I didn’t want to do though at the time I thought I was doing them for us. I would get my HELB and give the whole amount to him. We would spend it on partying and the rest on his school fees. Anytime I went to his place I would buy everything thinking we were doing things as a couple.

I didn’t realize that he was manipulating me until I stumbled on this show on the Discovery Channel about this guy who was controlling his girlfriend to a point where he was abusing her and threatening to kill her. I watched it and felt as if I was looking in the mirror. I started researching on psychopath tendencies and Henry had all the traits that were listed.

In third year, I came to Nairobi for my internship. We would sit down for a date and he would start breaking down how I used my phone. “You use 60% of your time on your phone to play games, 10% on text messaging and 24% on social media.” And I would look at him with a mix of awe and confusion.

This one time, one of my friends joined us. I started introducing them because they had never met. “Henry, meet Sarah.”

And then he said, “Sara Ongosi?”

“How did you know her second name?” I asked, dumbfounded.

“Ah, never mind,” he said, nonchalant. Sarah raised an eyebrow, probably wondering if all we did was talk about her.

Things snowballed from there. I would be in town and he would appear out of nowhere. “Baby, I want to take you for lunch, let’s go.” And I would stand there, wondering how he found me.

I would be waiting for him in town, calling him but getting no answer, and I would stand there, frustrated, only to turn and find him right behind me. “Always be aware of your surroundings,” he would say. “I have been here for ten minutes.”

I would go shopping at Toi Market and he would appear out of nowhere. “Oh, what a coincidence. I’m looking for something around here too.”

I felt as if I was going mad.

I texted my friend. “Sarah, I think Henry is a psycho and he is stalking me.”

I stopped picking his calls but he kept calling. I was interning in Westlands at the time. I would walk to CBD to avoid traffic and take a matatu from town. This one day I was dressed in a maroon dress, walking towards the stage. He kept calling. When he realized I wasn’t going to pick, he texted.

“You look so good in maroon.”

I decided to meet him because it was becoming futile to run away from someone who knew where I was at all times. When I met him, he told me the truth.

“Brenda, so Sarah ndio umeamua kuambia kila kitu, eh?” He paused. “You remember that day we met her and I said her second name?”

“Ehe?”

“How do you think I knew her name? Because I hacked your phone and I have been reading your texts from 2012. So just know that I know everything about you.” He said it as if it was a threat.

I looked at him with large eyes but he was unfazed.

“So you’re saying I’m a psychopath, eh? I never knew I was but I looked it up and I actually am, so be careful.” 

From that moment on, I feared for my life.

‘How do you dump a psychopath?’ I punched into Google search.

‘Disappear or be very boring when you’re with him,’ the results came back.

I switched from my smartphone to a Kabambe. I used it for three months. After that, he started following me to work. This one time I was at work, serving clients. I finished with one and said, “Next.” Then another. The third time I said, “Next,” there he was, his Konshens-looking face staring right into mine. I wanted to scream. I was just an intern on the sixth floor in a tiny room and he found me.

I asked to see his phone. He gave it to me and I went to his browser. His latest Google search was, ‘Lethal injections’.  He had taught me how to be emotionless. This whole time I was scrolling through the disturbing things on his phone and looking at him while smiling.

I was planning to get out of Nairobi to visit my friend who was doing her internship in Nakuru and to release some of the pressure I was feeling. She was my best friend, my roommate in campus. She was also friends with Henry. I told her to cut all communication with him because he was a psychopath and I was running away from him. My whole life had become scary. I had become paranoid. I would be walking on the road and start running for no reason.

“I have blocked and deleted him everywhere. Come to Nakuru for a break so that you can at least breath,” she texted, only for me to scroll through Henry’s text messages and find that she had told him that I was going to visit her in Nakuru.

I decided not to go to Nakuru. I was mad at her for a time. “I wish she had just listened to me,” I kept muttering under my breath but in hindsight, Henry was the type of guy who could charm you into telling him everything. I was a victim of his charm too; every time I tried to dump him, he would break my defenses and I would end up forgiving him and trying to make us work.

The building I worked in had different gates so every time I clocked out I used a different gate. After a while, I bumped into him again. “Baby, I missed you so much,” he said, with his hands stretched out for a hug as if I had not been silent on him this whole time. I ended up playing along, acting excited and giving him a hug.

My internship eventually ended and I went back to Nakuru. I moved from my hostel and rented a house outside the school. I was paranoid for about four months. I would either stay at home or in class. I would take matatus far from the stage and use vichochoro to get to class or to my rented house. Without a way for Henry to contact me, the relationship fizzled and the flame died.

Yvonne

I graduated from campus with first class honors in civil engineering and set my sights on the city under the sun. I called my sisters and asked if they could host me. We are five girls in our family and though all my sisters were in Nairobi, none wanted to host me. The only person who agreed was my cousin who was Yvonne’s brother. Until then I had not forgiven her but I found solace in knowing that she was not around. She had gone to Qatar for work.

Her brother was about three years older than me. He was studying but he was also a hustler. He could put food on the table and make rent for his bedsitter. When I got there, he had another male cousin in the house. We were so cramped in that small space but I took it in stride. It was all temporary until I got a job, which I thought would be soon.

His other cousin did not like me. He had completed campus a year before me and he was always on the couch playing PlayStation or watching movies. I was hustling for a job and I would wake up every morning to go to town and send CVs. I would do promotions during the weekend and use the money I got to send even more CVs. The cousin did not like this and he would make cutting remarks every chance he got.

“Oh, watu wengine wanadhani kuenda town ndio kupata job.”

Anytime I talked to him he would talk back rudely. While he was mean to me, the breadwinner of the house was trying to fuck me. He would find me seated on the couch and touch me suggestively. I would be asleep in bed and find his hands deep in my panties.

It got worse. Yvonne came back from Qatar to stay with us in the bedsitter and I could not take it anymore. After all those years, I was still very bitter. I got stressed to the point where I called my psychopath ex-boyfriend, Henry. This was the first time I was contacting him in a year. I hesitated at first but I decided I needed the break. I needed to feel good again. 

I went to see him the following day. I stayed in his bedsitter in Juja for three days. He was still charming. While I was there, he asked me to attend a birthday party with him. He got drunk and started saying that I was his wife. I realized I couldn’t stay with him after everything I had done to stay away from him. The following morning, I woke up and told him I wanted to go. He grabbed my arm and his fingers dug into my flesh.

“You can’t run away from me again, Brenda,” he boomed.

“Yes, I can,” I said, scared stiff. I yanked myself from his grasp, my flight instinct overwhelming his strength, and I started running. I got into a matatu and after some time, alighted and took another matatu so that he would not be able to follow me. After that, I never saw him again.

I went to the village and stayed there for about two months. When I came back to Nairobi, I decided that I was not going back to my cousin’s. Henry’s place was out of the question. I went to my sister’s house and asked her if I could stay for a few days because there was a conference I was preparing to give a talk. It was a big conference—the International Conference on Civil and Architectural Engineering. It brings together people from all over the world, including employers in the sector, so I knew I had a good chance of landing a job. I had gotten the opportunity because when I was in campus I had participated in a competition for civil engineering students and gotten first place. My sister agreed.

When she left for work, I went to my cousin’s and sneaked my things to her house. Within a week, I had moved in without her knowledge and I thought, Let her chase me away if she wants to but I am not going to deal with Yvonne nor my psycho ex.

I gave the talk and that was how I met my employer. I moved from my sister’s house soon after because living there had gotten tough. She had a narcissistic husband who did not want me there. They had issues in their marriage and he attributed some of those issues to me being in his house. I had not been confirmed and my internship paid me ten thousand bob, but things got so rough that I moved out with the little money I was earning and rented a bedsitter in Kahawa.

Paul

After I moved from my sister’s house, I started seeing Paul. He was in his early thirties. When I started working, he was a client. I was at the front office and we would talk. I gave him my number and that’s how we began dating. He would take me to Java for dinner every evening and after that he would give me four thousand bob for Uber.

We would spend Monday to Friday evenings at Java from 6:00 pm till late. I would go to his workplace on Saturdays and on Sundays we would go to an Airbnb or my place. The only place where I didn’t go was his house. He told me he was staying with his brother because he didn’t see the point of renting a whole other house for himself when his brother was an MP with a big house.

He started telling me to move in with him and have his child. He talked about trips to Dubai and buying me a car. For someone who had just moved out on an internship income of ten thousand bob, that was music to my ears. But I decided the relationship was too young for me to make such big choices. Besides, I did not like the idea of a man providing for my every need so I bided my time.

I used to pray and ask God to tell me if he was the one. This one morning I prayed then got to work and logged onto Facebook, and there was his face in my friend’s suggestions. I raised an eyebrow because he had told me he was not on social media. I clicked on his profile page and there was an entire family that resembled him to a T. Two kids and a wife.

I wondered how he was married with kids when we spent everyday together.

I told him I knew the truth and he distanced himself and I did the same. My policy was always that I couldn’t date a married man, so I let go of that relationship and focused on my job. I was confirmed the next month and my pay was increased. I moved out of my Kahawa bedsitter to a better house and I forgot about Paul.

Andrew

I still talked to Andrew every so often. He would comment on my photos on Facebook and I would comment on his. He had moved to Nairobi and he had maintained his group of friends—three other guys whom I also knew.

I used to chat with them and we even went to a burial of a friend’s dad together. Two months after the burial, Andrew asked me if I wanted to meet. They were having an evening house party in Athi River and he asked me if I could go. I was planning to meet my sister who lived around there. I told him I couldn’t go that night but I would pass by.

I went to my sister’s and woke up the next day, which was a Sunday. I was supposed to pass by Andrew’s then leave for my place because I was going to work the following morning. I left my sister’s place at around 3:00 pm.

Andrews’s house was big. It had its own compound. It had an upstairs. It was maybe a five or six bedroom house. When I walked through the door, I found Andrew and two mutual friends drinking and having fun. There was also a girl lying on the couch. She was awake but she was not talking. I said hi to her but she seemed moody so I left her alone thinking she had an attitude.

One of the guys got up and served me soda, which was strange because in all the time I had known these guys, they had never given me any special treatment, not once.

After some time, the girl said she wanted to leave. I thought she was a friend or a girlfriend to one of them but they were all debating about who would take her to the stage.

“Oh, you take her.”

“No, you take her.”

Until they all agreed to take her. When they came back, one of the guys started touching me suggestively. It took me aback because my culture with these guys had always been to joke and laugh. I thought it was a joke but then the second one started touching me too and Andrew soon joined. By this time, the soda I had been given had made me nauseated but I still knew what was happening around me. I got up and ran outside to the back of the house, wondering why they had been all over me, wondering why I felt like my life was in danger—something I had never felt before in their company.

They started looking for me and I could hear voices calling my name. “Brenda! Brenda! Brenda!” My sister had given me coffee bags to sell for her and I had left them in the house. I decided to go and pick the coffee bags and then leave. It was a decision that would haunt me for the rest of my life. If only I had not gone back. If only.

When I got to the house, I found them at the door. The moment I appeared, they grabbed me. “Leave me alone. I need to go.” I fought in vain. They held me on my back on the cold tiles. One guy held my hands and the other my legs. I was in a free, flowing dress. The one holding my legs pulled them up and yanked off my panties. I could hear them talking.

“Enda kwanza.”

“Ah-ah, wewe enda kwanza.”

Like I was a game for their amusement. Andrew was the first one to go.

“Ni wewe next.”

“Kuja umshikilie sasa.”

“Sawa, ni wewe next.”

The two went once. Andrew went twice.

After they were done, they left me on the cold tiles and went back to playing their video games. I was on the floor for a while. They say you shouldn’t wash yourself after rape but I felt filthy. Like I had fallen into the deepest bowels of a pit latrine. I thought of calling my sister. I wondered how this would shift the dynamics of our friendship with Andrew. I thought of reporting him but he was well off and in this country, things always tip in favor of the rich and powerful, and here I was, just a girl alone in the world.

While I was deep in thought, one of the guys came and told me to go and wash myself. I got up and went to the bathroom, my tears mixing with the water from the shower. The guy came back.

“Unalia nini, Brenda?”

“Why did you guys do this to me?”

“Usijali, si ati tutakuview different. Wewe bado ni friend yetu.”

One of my girlfriends was his best friend.

“Would you have done that to Abby?” I asked him.

“No, no, no. I wouldn’t do that to her.”

“Why did you do it to me then?”

“Wewe usijali,” he said and left.

After the shower, I dressed and they followed me to the stage. It was around 10:00 pm. I got to my house and Andrew called. I told him I was thinking of reporting them and that I needed to go to the hospital to get checked.

“Usiende. Don’t make this a big deal,” he said pleadingly.

“I feel filthy. I feel like trash. Why did you do this to me?”

“I’m sorry, si ati nakudharau sasa. You are still my friend. Usifanye kitu stupid, I can take you to hospital.”

I hung up thinking, You can’t take me to hospital for a mess you caused. I will go alone. The next day I went to work and I couldn’t do my job, I left and went to Kenyatta National Hospital. I tested for HIV first even though the results are only conclusive after three months. My results were negative and I was directed to the AIDS center. I met two counselors and I told them my story. They asked if I wanted to take a legal step. I shook my head. I felt it would hurt more if I went to court and Andrew defeated me.

After that, they directed me to the PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) queue. The line was long and winding. It resembled something out of a voting center. I got a two-week dosage. The side effects from the drugs were very strong. I felt dizzy, weak and I lost my appetite. It was as if I became sick. They are the strongest drugs I have taken to date. I used to take them at night so by morning the side effects would have somewhat ebbed and I would be able to go to work.

You’re supposed to take the drugs for thirty days so I went back for another dosage of two weeks. I remember bumping into one of my friends who worked at KEMRI near the AIDS center gate. I remember saying hello and going in the opposite direction and only coming back after she had left.

The queue was long. I arrived at 8am and left at noon. Most of the people there were positive. Very beautiful women and handsome men whom you wouldn’t suspect were sick were in that queue.

There were kids too, and a pastor who was telling people not to lose hope. But the more he preached, the more I lost hope. I felt horrible. I wasn’t even sure the drugs would work, even though there is a 95% chance they will work if you take them within 72hours. At the same time, the guy who was giving me the drugs was trying to chat me up. And I wondered what was wrong with men in this world. I’m here queuing for HIV drugs and you’re winking at me and inviting me to your bed. Are you sane?

After I finished the drugs, I waited thirty days and then went back to get checked with my heart in my throat. The results were negative. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Frank

I got depressed. I did the same thing I had done in high school: I silenced everything and became a workaholic. I would work till late in the night. I would make chapatis and cook beef stew on weekends and then go to my job in the evening and work overnight. My colleagues started to get worried.

“Brenda, you will be forty and working.”

“Brenda, you need to go on dates.”

All the while, I would see women in relationships and feel bad for them. “Oh, girl, you don’t know what that man will do to you.”

The pressure grew. My dad started asking when I would give him a grandchild. My sisters tried setting me up with dates. At work, one of my bosses bought me roses on Valentine’s. As I was carrying the roses home, my sister called and requested me to buy some crayons for her daughter. I was looking for a bookshop and some guy volunteered to show me one, and that’s how I met Frank, my baby daddy.

He asked me out on a date and I thought, Fine, everybody is asking me to date so let me try this one. Frank was in his late twenties. He looked like a young Idris Elba. Tall, dark and handsome. His muscles were sculpted as if he lived in the gym and it happened that he was a personal trainer.

One date led to another. He was taking things at lightning speed and he was not the kind of man that could be denied. Besides, it was not every day that I had Idris Elba in my arms. We had sex after the third date. We went to the movies then back to my place and I think that was the time I got pregnant.

He told me he never took alcohol. We would go out and he would take soda. He was always smelling of smoke. There was something off about him that I couldn’t put my finger on. I would ask what he was smoking and he would say that he was not smoking, he was just around people who smoked and the smell rubbed off on him.

Around this time I also realized there was another girl and that they had been dating for two years. The girl called me crying, “Leave Frank alone. He’s mine.” She was crying and following him to his workplace. This whole time he was telling her to move on because he had done the same.

There was a time I called the girl to my house to make her feel better. She was a young girl in her fourth year in campus. She could have easily been me and after the things I had gone through with men, the last thing I wanted was to be mean to women. I remember giving her tissue to wipe her tears and comforting her with hugs. “Don’t worry, men do these things to us,” I told her.

She begged me to leave Frank because she was so in love with him and I told her that I would leave him but I was not feeling like myself and I had a feeling I was pregnant with his child. She told me to get tested and that if I was pregnant, she would leave him for me. I went and got tested and my fears were confirmed. I was pregnant with Frank’s child.

When I got the results, I called him and told him to come to my place because we needed to talk. When he came, I showed him the test kit. He looked at me for a while and he started smiling.

He impregnated me knowingly. From the time we met he would make comments like:

“Si one day you will carry my baby?”

“Si one day you will be pregnant for me?”

“Not now,” I would tell him.

“One day, one day you will. I think I have met the girl that I want to be my baby’s mother.”

He started supporting me and bringing me fruits and yogurt. Five weeks later, we went for my first checkup. He took me to the hospital and paid the consultation fee. He left but told me to tell him what the doctor would say. The doctor recommended a scan for four thousand bob. I paid. The doctor recommended another test and I paid another four thousand bob.

After that, I had to go to the clinic every month. From the tests the doctors had done, they realized that there might be complications and that they might have to terminate the pregnancy. This whole time I did not want to be pregnant. But again, I did not believe in abortions so my hands were tied. I did not trust this guy but then again he was trying to show support so I thought we could try and make it work.

I had another appointment and I needed six thousand bob. My salary was not that good yet. I called Frank and told him I needed help. He said that he would not give me the full amount; that we would be splitting the bill down in the middle from then on. I was livid. I had paid more for the previous checkup without asking him to split things down the middle. After one or two bills, he told me that women in the village gave birth all the time without the hospitals, and his financial support faded altogether.

When I was four months pregnant my dad and mom came to Nairobi to see us and they requested to see him. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer and it was slowly consuming him. He wanted to see my baby’s father before his time came and it seemed sooner with every sunrise.

The day Frank was to meet my parents, he disappeared. I called him and he did not pick. I wanted to cancel. I didn’t want him to meet my parents anymore but my sisters insisted.

“No, dad and mom have travelled for this. Just let them meet him.”

Around midnight, he called and told me he regretted leaving his ex for me and that I was not good enough for him. I cried so much that night. In the morning he called to apologize and told me it was the alcohol.

“So you drink?” I asked.

“No, just this one time because I was tense about meeting your parents.”

The weekend after that he blacked out. Then the next one and the next one after that.

This whole time he was not supporting me. I would tell him we needed to buy baby clothes and he would tell me that we couldn’t plan for someone who was not yet here. I realized that I was in this alone and I started putting money aside for the child. He would come every other day to my house and find that I had bought things for the baby. I did not want to initiate a break up. I was stressed and depressed. I would take leave from work just to sleep and cry.

When I was just about to deliver, Frank didn’t go to work for almost a week and he lost his job at the gym where he worked. I went to visit him in his Umoja bedsitter and found him looking filthy and doing drugs. This was a guy who had told me that he did not even drink, and now here he was, doing hard drugs.

He started hallucinating. He would come to my house and find that I had drilled a nail on the wall and he would ask, “Who drilled that nail?”

“I did it.” I would say, unbelieving.

“How can you drill a nail when you’re pregnant? No, there was a man here. Drill it again so I see it for myself.”

And I would do it.

He started saying that there were guys following him and that they wanted to kill him. It was case after case and it drained my energy. I used to talk to his relatives on his phone. I called his sister the day I was going to be admitted. “Your brother is hallucinating and I don’t know the cause. I don’t know if he is mentally disturbed, I don’t know what is going on, you guys need to come for him.”

I was admitted at Nairobi Women’s Hospital. He came. He looked horrible. He had not bathed. He was not sleeping. He looked like something the cat dragged in. The only solace was that my parents finally got to meet him like they had wanted.

The day after I gave birth, he was in my ward giving the nurses a hard time.

“Please forgive him, he is sick,” I pleaded with the nurses on his behalf.

He refused to leave the ward and became a nuisance.

“Hauna maziwa, leta huyo mtoto. Pea huyu mama akona maziwa… Oh nataka kuruka chini.” The ward was on the third floor. “Nikitaka kufika pale chini haraka, heri niruke tu,” he continued.

I texted his mom and told her to send someone to take him away.

There was no one else in the ward. Only my sisters were coming and going. I got up and told the nurse to chase him away but not to tell him that it was me because the last thing I wanted was a tantrum from him in my honor. They got rid of him but he came early the following day. By then, his mom had sent his uncle who took him back to the village in Voi.

When he got there, he acted fine. Four days later, he came back to my place. The baby was three days old.

He acted fine but I felt so much resentment towards him. He’s an SDA and the next day was a Saturday. He woke up and said he was going to church. After, he called me and told me to call him an Uber from the church to my place because he did not have money. I called him the Uber. When he got to the house, he was carrying mwarubaini leaves.

He found my sister washing dishes in the kitchen. He went and took the salt dish and started pouring salt on the floor.

“Frank, what’s up with you?” my sister asked, frightened. He continued pouring the salt on the floor.

“Brenda, kuja uone Frank anafanya nini!” my sister screamed.

I entered the kitchen and asked him why he was doing this and all he did was look at me with gaping eyes. I sensed trouble and told my sister to take my baby outside.

After he was done pouring the salt, he started scattering the leaves in the living room. “Frank, what are you doing?” I kept asking. He pushed me out of the house, locked himself in and started dancing.

He locked himself in the house at 1:00 pm. “Frank, open the door for me,” I begged. An hour lapsed. 2:00 pm. Another one. 3:00 pm. Another. 4:00 pm. My sister left. I went and came back with the police. They knocked. He didn’t open. At 5:00 pm, my other sister who lives around Ngong Road came. My ATM card was in the house, along with my money and my baby’s clothes. The only thing I had was my phone. I called. He did not pick.

“Just give me a diaper so that I can change the baby,” I pleaded. “Just give me my ATM card so that I can get some money for food.”

I could see him through the window, walking around with my wallet and pouring its contents on the floor, all the while making funny faces and dancing.

I went with my sister to eat and then came back.

“Frank, open the door for me.”

It was now 9:00 pm. He still did not open.

We decided to go and sleep at my sister’s. His mom sent me five hundred bob and I bought diapers and wipes. I found that the baby had pooped so much that the poop had reached the neck. I cleaned off the poop, changed the diaper and wrapped the baby in a blanket. Then I washed the clothes and put them out to dry. We were sleeping at around 3:00 am.

The next day, Frank texted me, “Umenitoroka.” As if he had done nothing to trigger it. His sister came with a cousin and we went to get him. He opened the door and they took him for lunch. He acted okay the whole time so they brought him back to my place.

“You’re not leaving me with this guy. Please take him back,” I told them.

They insisted he was okay and I told them that I was going to leave because there was no way I was going to share a roof with someone who could harm me and the baby. I packed the baby’s belongings and a few of my clothes and went to stay with my sister.

Frank did not even spend a night at my house. He went crazy again. The watchman told me that he was jumping around the house and then left carrying a black suitcase—my campus suitcase which was full of my books.

I had mixed emotions. As much as he was annoying me, I still wanted him to be around as my baby’s father. I started calling him but he was not picking. Then he picked and I heard what sounded like the police.

“Kijana kuja hapa.”

I called his sister and we kept calling until an officer picked up the phone. Frank was at the Department of Defense (DOD) in Hurlingham. “Kama mnataka kijana wenyu akiwa hai, kujeni mumuchukue,” the officer roared.

I begged my sister to drive us there and she agreed. When we got there, I asked Frank what he was doing at the Department of Defense and he said he was there to report me. That I was among the people who were disturbing the peace in Kenya. With my suitcase full of books and all? I wondered. He then started jumping around, singing, as the officers recorded him and laughed.

After we picked him, I asked his sister not to leave us because I still needed to nurse the baby. I pleaded with her to stay with us until her parents, who were travelling that night, got to Nairobi and picked him, but she just left me with him.

When we got to the house, my sister went to bed and I was there alone with him. I was trying to placate him. Trying as much as possible not to get on his wrong side. I served him food. He ate a bit and then kicked the plate to the corner of the room. I cleaned up silently.

He started saying that he wanted to hold the baby. He picked the baby up and started jumping around the house. My heart was in my throat the whole time and I followed him around with my arms wide open just in case he dropped my child.

He eventually put the baby down and started breaking the glasses in the cabinet. He spoilt the TV aerial then went to the bedroom and chased my sister out of her own house.

“I only want to be here with Brenda and my baby,” he boomed.

He then took the baby again. He would deny me the baby and only give the baby back when the baby cried violently.

“Shika, umnyonyeshe,” he would command, then put his leg across mine so that I wouldn’t run.

At this time I was texting his mom, “Where are you? Please come quickly; things have gotten out of hand.” I was trying to hide the phone so that he would not see it. At some point, he saw the phone and left the house running. And I just sat there, stunned.

His parents got to Nairobi at around 6:00 am and started looking for him. They finally found him at 1:00 am in Central Police Station.

He was sedated and admitted into a mental hospital at the coast. That’s when I found out that he had been doing drugs all along. I also found out that he did not graduate campus because he did not complete some units because of his addiction. They were all very hard truths to take in.

He told me he was hallucinating because he was trying to stop doing the drugs in an effort to be a responsible dad but the withdrawal symptoms were too much for him. I believed him and forgave him. He will recover from withdrawal symptoms, I thought. And I made another decision to support him until he got back on his feet.

He stayed in the hospital for three weeks and then he was discharged. The drugs were pumped out of his system and he was given medicine to help with the recovery process. The whole treatment cost the family around 150,000 bob.

By this time, he had lost his bedsitter in Umoja. He begged to stay with me and I allowed him to move in. I told him I would support him on the condition that he completed his units, graduated and got a job. He agreed. He acted okay for about two months and then he started being odd again. He would sleep up to 3:00 pm. Wake up. Eat. Go to town. And then come back and immediately start brushing his teeth.

“Mbona hautafuti job?” I would ask him. I was paying for everything in the house, including the nanny, and it was frustrating me.

“I’m not a morning person. I’m a night person. Usiniharakishe,” he would say in such a defensive tone that it would scare me.

“If you can’t get a job, what if you do business?” I started floating the idea and he warmed up to it. He wanted to start his own fitness center. He told me that he already had the clients; all he needed was the equipment. I floated the idea of lending him money and he was excited.

I went and took a loan for him to the tune of 100,000 bob.

“Ah, I will even pay you this money in a month,” he said, life bubbling in his voice.

The moment I gave him the money, it started raining drugs in his life. He would try to hide it but it would leak like water through a broken sink. I would call the nanny to keep tabs on him and she would tell me he was still asleep. He would then wake up at the usual 3:00 pm. Eat. Go to town and come back at 10:00 pm smelling like a laboratory. To make things worse, three weeks after I gave him the money, my dad’s illness got the better of him and he finally lost the battle to cancer.

When I lost my dad, I didn’t feel Frank’s support at all. There was a time when I was in town looking for the clothes my baby would wear for the funeral and I asked him if we could go home together so he could keep me company because I was feeling very low. He told me there was somewhere he needed to be.

The day before the burial, his parents said they wouldn’t be able to make it to Narok but they would come the day before to pass their condolences. Frank was supposed to come for the burial, stay overnight and go back to Nairobi the next morning. When he came, I realized he was acting odd. His mom told me to beg him not to stay because they didn’t think he was okay. So I begged him not to come with us and instead go with his parents.

He did not go with his parents; he went straight to my place. The day after the burial, he called me in Narok and told me he was dying. I sent some people from church. He had broken everything in the house and he was trying to jump from the balcony. His parents sent the uncle to get him and he was taken to Mathari Mental Hospital. He stayed there for a week.

When I came back, I was still trying to cope with the loss of my dad and I was angry at Frank for going against his word and overdosing on drugs to the point of losing his head. That was my turning point and that’s when I decided to end everything. He left my house to go live with his sister, who later told me that he had gotten worse.

A week later, I moved to a house that he has never known till today. We talk but it’s strictly about the baby. A year ago, he wanted to see the baby and I told him we could only meet in town. We met. He still looked like something the cat dragged in.

I’m not at a critical point mentally. I have those moments when I get low about the things that have happened to me but most are the moments when I pick myself up and continue living. I would love to meet someone who will be my partner and a father to my baby but there are so many red flags with so many men and the last thing I want is to put up with the consequences that I have faced.

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If you would like to share your story, email me on talk@kisauti.com or DM me on Instagram. Adieu!

image credit: nick owuor

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