Sadness. Deep-seated sadness; often haunting. It is the kind of sadness that benumbs your senses to the extent that the body repulses food, gets weak and tired all the time. In this kind of mystery, you are often left alone. Yes, you might smile, even though it is a forced extension of cheek muscles…but, you wish someone notices your troubles. The inside shouts for help, yet no sound comes out. Then, life gets bitter. You forget the taste of happiness. Suicide lingers in your mind. You start deliberating between poison and a speedy bullet. Then, you decide to narrate your story for documentation, on what ailed you…you just want a memoir. You want a story left behind to explain why you had to take this tough last decision.
I was 4 years old. My life was just fantastic. I wouldn’t have wanted to exchange it with anyone else. I had the best dolls, the best clothes and the best shoes. I even got a new pink bicycle for my birthday. Twice. All I needed to do was say,” I want” and to this, the response would have quickly come,” take” or “we will get you”. I come from a rich family. I was the only girl in a family of four.
The nature of work my parents did demanded more of their time; leaving them with a few hours often for eating and sleeping. My father is still a very accomplished academician in Kenya. He was crowned a professor of Mathematics before I was 3 years old. My mum was also a doctor working with UNEP. I barely saw my parents during the week. If I really wanted to talk to them, I had to wait till around 10pm or sometimes 11pm when they usually came home. Even then, they would be too tired to carry us, laugh with us, play with us or ask how we were fairing.
“My parents were always fighting. There was zero peace… I felt sorry for my mum many times because of the domestic abuse she suffered. She probably didn’t see how withdrawn I had become… Dad always came home in the wee hours of the morning super drank… I remember I’d smell the alcohol on the corridor outside their room… So they never ever got to know what happened to me during those days…”
Once or twice, they risked and spared a few minutes to have a meal with us, and only, on a weekend.
I missed my mom as any kid could…but, she just wouldn’t make time for me or my siblings. It is during this period that my parents got a house help or house manager as the millennials put it. This man looked dark and too tall. He passed as one of the ugliest people I had ever seen. He had a very strong body smell that lingered on regardless of the number of times he took a shower…when he was forced to shower. He struggled to communicate in English. For some reason, he preferred yellow or green t-shirts and baggy trousers. He tightened his trousers using a rope from an old rag. As a kid, I never paid attention to what he normally did. We had been instructed that he was responsible for giving us food. We would either call him uncle or Thomas.
Kids have taste buds. I was not an exception. I kept complaining about too much salt in food. I hated his ugali. It was too hard to be chewed by normal milk teeth. Ooh, he also insisted on watching Asian Movies when we wanted to watch cartoons. It was the most annoying thing.
One day after he had stayed with us for some time, I woke up at around 7pm and felt a very sharp pain around my groins…The pain was more in my vagina. I felt like something was chewing me in the inside. When I told the fool we called Thomas or uncle, he ignored me for a while. He gave me a few tablets which I guess were pain killers and told me to urinate. According to him, there was a lot of urine “inside”. I stayed awake to tell my mother that I was sick, when she was away, but somehow, I slept before she came back.
The pain appeared again and again, immediately I woke up… after eating and sleeping. I was feeling hurt around my private parts. So, I would touch myself often.
It is rather funny that I could sleep each time I ate. When I woke up, I would be all clean and washed. It did not occur to me that I was being violated. It is until much later that Thomas started forcing himself on me, openly. He would hold me tightly and violate me. I cried a lot because it hurt so much.
I wanted to tell someone but, I just couldn’t. So, I started keeping to myself. I became moody. I felt dirty.
My parents complained that I had become a nuisance. A difficult child. A crying baby.
When the houseboy left our home, I was about 8 years old. It is during this time that I secretly wrote in a piece of paper that one day, I would kill Thomas. I had made up my mind to be a murderer. As days passed by, I thought of ways of finding him. There are days when I imagined of going for a machete or a gun. I planned the attack severally. Even today, I dream of cutting him little by little, piece by piece as I drink coffee or apple juice.
However, in his absence I started regaining my confidence. I was a little rejuvenated.
A few weeks afterwards, two of my cousins who had been living in Langata visited us. According to my father, they would stay for that weekend before going back to their home. But, 3 weeks later, they were still staying with us. When they started going to school from our home, I knew that they would be with us for a very longtime. I came to learn that their parents had divorced.
My cousins were very beautiful. They were about 18 and 19 years old. They were both chocolate and heavy bottomed, just enough to strike a reasonable balance. Their body figures matched well with their clothes. Since we walked together around the estate, I wouldn’t help but notice that young men fought to even shake their hands. Some would camp outside the gate with an anticipation of speaking to them. They all failed terribly. My cousins never liked men. They were not interested. They just never wanted.
In our room, there were 3 beds for each of us. But, for some strange reason my cousins preferred to share a bed. I sometimes heard them whispering strangely. Their beds moved as though they were fighting, I ignored. One particular night, they forced themselves into my bed. It was raining. It was also very cold. So, I happily welcomed them to my bed. I was sandwiched. About 10 minutes later, I felt their hands pushing into my pyjamas, I hesitated. I listened. It was in that moment, that I suddenly felt cold fingers going up my vagina.
I was 8 years when “fingers” were first used to violate me.
I struggled. I fought them but, they overpowered me. They would touch themselves roughly before turning to me. They were used to “hardcore masturbating” for they seemed to push their hands into their vaginas with great force. I wonder why they would use the same fingers to touch me. I risked contracting a deadly disease. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. Each day, I saw them using the same hands to eat, licking soups off their hands in joy. They were criminals.
In the morning of the first encounter, they threatened to strangle me to death if I ever said anything to anyone. Their bloodshot eyes showered some strange determination. I didn’t say anything that day. I still regret. It is as if I had opened a leeway for them to violate me. Their fingers hurt me for more than one year.
When I went to boarding school much later, I was a little comforted that I had left a tormented homestead. However, in four one, I had strange pains around my stomach. The nurse, who happened to be a friend of my mum, refused to give me any medication. She never bothered to treat me but instead called my mother to school.
In the presence of my mum, she blatantly said, “your daughter has been having sex with boys. She has a pelvic inflammatory disease!”
My mother almost swallowed me alive. She was too annoyed to even talk to me. I wanted to open up but, she blamed me for fornication. Even though, I was taken to another hospital, I knew that she had forced herself just because I was not yet 18 years old. Otherwise, she would have gladly walked away from my life.
One of my fallopian tubes was damaged. The doctor had to cut it. I was also put under medication and ended up staying in the hospital for 2 months.
However, I considered all that nothing as compared to the strange emptiness I felt.
I hated men. I hated relationships. I spit at love and refused to associate with it. I repulsed any kind of approaches from men.
Even as I narrate this story for publishing, I turned 41 years old on Monday 18th March; but I am still not married. I am only trying to have a stable relationship. This is the first time I have ever opened up concerning my violation.
“It was sexual abuse; I don’t know if that’s rape… it took away my innocence, my sense of personal security. I can never believe that anyone can take care of me. It took away my trust for men, 41yrs later I’m still unmarried and struggle with believing that I can actually be loved… it made me have a very low self-esteem, others always seem better than me and maybe to some extent deserve better.
It made me resent my parents to some extent… but one good thing it did was that it sent me to the Cross of Jesus Christ where I draw daily strength and encouragement knowing that one day, I’ll be a fulfilled wife and mother. I have such great hope that I can also be a source of strength and encouragement to others who have walked this journey before or are walking it now…”
If there is any way, you can offer emotional support, please do…God bless you.