My voice thinned out as I spoke. It was high-pitched and tender. It was a lady’s voice, yet I was everything a man would be; physically. My shoulders had remained strong and broad. I had a few strings of beards that sprouted from my chin in a proud way. I respected them. I was accustomed to wearing thin squeezing trousers that ensured my manhood pushed hard. It was thus confusing to my hearers whenever a smooth, soft female voice dashed unashamedly from my vocals.
My body figure produced what millennials call “size-8”. My thighs seemingly kept adding fat. My buttocks also betrayed me. They were a heavy pile of fats that hung loosely; behind. They swung up and down uncontrollably often rhythmically. Men parted my back several times lustfully, confusing me for a lady. I suffered in my heart. I was always bitter. I hated my nature. Yet, I had had the same brokenness for 19 years. But today, I was bowing out. I had promised to have the last laugh.
I was 7 years old when I was first bitterly introduced to my weird nature. It was during those untamed childish fights. I had picked a quarrel with Tommy. I had borrowed a rubber from one of my classmates. It soon found itself near my mouth. I chewed a small part like I always did with all my pens and pencils. Tommy had reacted rudely. He assembled a team of 4 boys to fight me.
Tommy and I were neighbours. Our mothers were best friends. They attended the same church, went to Chamas together and even shopped together. We always followed behind meekly. Tommy and I never really clicked. We simply never liked each other. However, Tommy had an irresistibly beautiful sister called Tamara. She was beguilingly brown and tall. Her hair poured on mockingly. It was too dark, too attractive…I particularly loved her charming personality. She often rested her hand on my shoulders forcing shivers all over my body. I pretended to be strong. I would always rush to Tamara’s home, head straight to the kitchen for a canned soda before joining her in whatever she did or wherever she was. I was delighted. I was satisfied.
We could play hide and seek or simply watch cartoons. We were close. It is during one of these merry meetings that we decided to make our “relationship” official at least through a kiss. Our lips came closer and closer… they pushed against each other. Movies had promised magic. None was forthcoming…we were in that position for about 8 seconds without breathing; just waiting. We stared into each other’s eyes bewildered and I guess the moment was ruined.
Tommy had walked in on us unexpectedly. He saw what was happening and waited for just a few seconds, perhaps trying to understand what was going on. Then, out of nowhere, he rent a desperate and plaintive cry that awakened the senses of everyone who was in the house. The wolf cry called the immediate attention of the hearers. They came running upstairs, to Tamara’s room. They were almost sure that it was a rape case, murder, theft with violence or a gun-shot they might have missed. Their first suspects were hitmen or assassins and not their own neighbor, Sanchez Odongo [Not his real name].
Tommy cried bitterly as he explained how I had tried to rape his sister. He cried too much to be consoled by a single person. He seemed hurt and betrayed. I was banished from visiting Tamara or ever playing with her. Tamara laughed sarcastically at his brother. Unknown to many, she was the only girlfriend I have ever had in life.
When my mum arrived almost 32 minutes later, she beat me up as she tried to calm Tommy. Tommy hadn’t stopped his drama. His hatred towards me started growing strongly.
…. back to the fight…. There was a fight earlier, I know you remember…
Tommy and his friends gathered around me in fury. They were ready to finish me off for chewing his rubber. It is Tommy who pushed me first. I pushed him back…with more force. He kicked. I kicked back. When he punched, I punched back…and back, and back. I was sobbing as I hit him severally. He finally stood a few metres away, clinching at his stomach.
Tommy opened his mouth to speak and cried out, “I will tell everybody that you have a boy’s thing and a girl’s thing at your private parts. My mum said you are cursed!”
He had let the secret out. The crowd of students that had gathered roared in laughter. They were unable to hold themselves back. They pointed at me jokingly. They teased me. They called me a “wizard” perhaps unable to pronounce pseudo-hermaphrodite.
Tommy didn’t know the implications of his statement. He sent me to a jail term that would last as long as I lived. That one statement changed my life forever. I would never be the same again.
My mother never spoke to Tommy’s family members again. It has been 19 years since anyone greeted or even looked at any of the family members, twice. In the week I continued staying in that school, after the fight, Tamara’s eyes often met mine. I would clearly tell that she felt sorry for me. I always saw a cloud of tears form in her eyes. She pitied me. She sympathized with me. I had lost all my friends after that fight. No one wanted to associate with a “wizard”. It is the headmistress who suggested that I move to another school.
I had inquired before, from my mum, why I was having two “things”. I pointed out that so and so was not like that, for by then, I had started understanding sexuality. She wouldn’t answer. She simply hugged me and stayed there for minutes. I could feel her tears wet my back. I hated seeing my mother cry. I decided not to ask her again after one of those emotional sobs. I never ever brought the matter up again. I carried the weight in my heart. However, it always weighed me down.
My father always avoided me. He would ensure that he came home and left before I got to see him. Whenever I met him in the house, he could always lock himself with my mum for hours, refusing to come out even though I tried to knock as hard as possible. I came to understand later why they insisted on locking the door. I am not proud of this particular speculative reason.
My father had two wives. He had married my mum “to try and have a baby boy”. His other wife had “insisted” on giving birth to only ladies. He was a father of five beautiful ladies, but he never cared; he wanted a baby boy. He had got so much pressure from his family and peers, who had inquired of his abilities to “produce” a baby boy. As any African man would be inclined to do, he seduced my mum and after a few months of staying together, she became pregnant.
He had protected her like gold or diamond if you like (which of the two is more expensive?). He even fed her. He did almost all house chores willingly even when she fought him to stop. He bent down each morning and when he stood, the house was cleanly swept and the bed was well spread. He wouldn’t dare leave the house before polishing utensils and preparing breakfast and lunch for her. He was a self-imprisoned slave. He was the most anxious man when she finally went to the hospital to give birth. He waited outside the delivery room impatiently. He wouldn’t stand or sit. Those who saw him; pitied his blood pressure. When the nurses finally called him in, he walked straight to the [young me] and investigated the gender. At first, he jumped with an inexpressible joy when he saw my little tiny male genitalia. He had laughed mightily and declared himself a king.
But when he looked again…his smile shrank. He was watered down to see what seemed like a female genitalia. He looked again, and again. He was now confused. He inquired from the nurses. The nurses were unable to explain to him that I was a pseudo-hermaphrodite. They had seen his anger rise. He shook his head bitterly and walked out. They heard him say, “I am cursed.”
My father believed that some unique magician had endeavored to torment him. I am told that he left the next day for Kitui for he had been advised by naysayers that, if any solution would be found for his sorrows, Kitui was the place to search for it [no offence to people from Kitui or the region itself]. He had been instructed to see Mutua Wendeta [not his real name] alias “Majimaji”. It was a common belief that the best witchdoctors hailed from that region. However, the fame of Majimaji had surpassed all. The witchdoctors had made people eat grass, walk naked and return stolen goods. It is Majimaji who invented a strange potion to deal specifically with adultery. It had managed to make unfaithful lovers stick together during the act. Not once or twice…his work was well known in the land of the dead and the living. Satan knew him personally.
My father was the unlucky one. No answer came out of his meeting with Majimaji in spite of losing almost Kshs. 28,600 which by then was a sum to be feared. He packed his clothes and crossed the border in search of “more powerful” witchdoctors. When he came back. He sprinkled some ash on the door post and on the bed. He mixed some for my mother and forced her to drink. He had been informed that my mother was not a human being. According to his Tanzanian informer, who had apparently consulted the devil and gotten the right answers…she was an evil spirit of his aunt who had died when he was still young. She had come back, taking the body of my mum, to torment his family. My mum gobbled the mixture in tears. She never died. She has never died. But she had to endure 2 days of excessive, irregular, fatal, violent diarrhoea.
When my grandmother heard that there was a new born baby in the family, she was the most excited. My father had intelligently left out the part of me having both genitalia when he broke the news to the extended family. He had safely tried to calm down the pressure of not having a baby boy. Thus, he declared that he had finally been blessed to have a “man”, an heir, to “guard” the name of the family.
A feast was prepared to celebrate the good news. We had to travel to the village. Careful instructions had been given by my father not to let anyone check my gender, under any circumstance. My mum had also agreed to keep it a secret. She promised not to leave me out of sight. But, when we got to the village, the old rude mamas who have little or no respect for daughters-in law snatched me from her weak hands. Her futile efforts gave in to the insistency of the old folks. They held me happily in the air as they danced. One by one, they took turns in holding me. Each pronounced a blessing. The music roared, the earth trembling under the dance of villagers, food filled stomachs and booze sprinkled down the throats of both men and women as easy as drinking water. Children were left with the softer unripe alcohol famously called busaa. In Kisii, it is called ributi (the “b” is softly spoken).
My father had finally been initiated to the rank of “men”. He was given a seat among the village men with a thin long wooden tube extended to a pot that sat strategically in the middle of the circle they had formed. The men sucked their liquor in style as they laughed and teased each other.
The happiness should have continued had I not urinated. The warm urine penetrated through the left side of the diaper. After being shoved left right and center by the happy women, the diaper might have been loose. Like most women, my grandmother cared for children. She undressed me to free me from the hot urine. Seconds afterwards, there was a loud cry that tore the air and called everyone to attention. In a matter of seconds, children, women, men, grandfathers and even strangers passing through the homestead gathered around her inquisitively. I was lying on the grass where she had carelessly put me. She continued wailing as she looked at me. When the eyes of the crowd followed hers, they also saw what she had seen. In a matter of seconds, the entire congregation was wailing. The village had been cursed. They wanted the child killed for having two sex organs!
My mother doesn’t recall when and how my father left the village. She only remembers meeting him back in Nairobi, soaked in sorrow and worry. He seemed desperate, confused and disappointed.
When everyone cried and cursed me, my dear mother walked to my side and knelt before me. She trickled me and I laughed innocently. She smiled warmly. She dressed me without caring about the fuming crowd. She carried her bag and left the home quietly. It has been 19 years. She is yet to go back.
Although my father stayed on, he was too discouraged to even hold me in his arms. He hated me. He wanted to kill me. He confessed of trying twice to strangle me but somehow my mother walked in on him. When he tried poison, the cat knocked the milk over accidentally. I often wish he had succeeded. Then, I wouldn’t have to wait for 19 years to do such a simple task. Otherwise, he would have saved me from the misery I had to endure. I blame him for not being courageous enough to invent better ways of taking away my life. I would have rested with the innocent; numbered among those who never experienced the cruelty of human beings who consider themselves “better, upright, super.”
I caused much trouble to their wedding. My parents argued and fought daily, often for things they wouldn’t point a finger at. It was very difficult for my mother during those dark days. It is within this period that my father’s first wife gave birth to a baby boy. When he heard the news, he simply walked out. I am told that it was a Wednesday afternoon; around 2:30 pm. The sun was hot. The wind waved the trees left and right, caringly. Even the birds found solace in the shed of those trees. That day, my father was wearing a white shirt and a brown pair of khaki trousers he had gotten from Gikomba market. My mother had washed it, dried it and ironed it…when he wore it, no one would have noticed that it was Mutumba that had cost just Kshs.150. He had black leather loafers on. His pair of specks hang loosely on his nose. It is the last image my mother remembers of him as a husband. He has never shown up. That also has been over 19 years ago.
When life became unbearable for me in the school I attended with Tommy and Tamara, my mother took me to a boarding school in Kajiado. It was one of the best schools in the country, with modern structures and a flexible learning environment. However, the standard 8 boys who had been sexually starved seemed to notice my feminine posture, looks and figure. Their admiration was written all over their faces. The imbeciles wouldn’t hide their lust.
Unlike my former school, I would not always go home and cry to my mother. Here, I had no one to protect me from the bullies or to help me overcome my stress. By then, I was constantly reminded by my brain that I had two different sexual organs. I was sinking into depression. This state had been motivated by the boys who often roughed me up and harassed me sexually. They jokingly tapped my behinds. They also touched my tender face suggestively.
Our dormitories were an open space with about 3 beds in a single room. I was shocked on my first day to realize that some of the boys left their beds and hopped into other beds. I would form their images though it was dark. I would see people fighting in beds and giggling. I particularly remember Steve, a standard 8 boy who invited himself everyday into the bed of one of his classmates, Juma as soon as the lights were switched off. These two boys tore each other openly. Homosexuality was a booming game in that dormitory. Many boys had also made advances to me but each time, I walked straight to the boarding master and reported them for disturbing me. I dared not say exactly what they wanted. They were mostly warned. But they feared that if they tried again, I would have told on them. I knew I wouldn’t.
Since the facilities were modern; the bathrooms and washrooms afforded me the privacy I really needed. I would shower when nobody did. I avoided urinating during break time when everyone thronged into the washrooms. I had to sacrifice my comfort. I seemed odd but, I managed to survive for a long time. I vividly remember one particular day, the 3rd November 2009. It was a Sunday. I had jogged and headed straight for a shower. I had finished taking my shower and I was drying my head when I came face to face with a boy who was famously known as “Jonte”. He was staring at my lower part lustfully; yearning and wanting. His lust overpowered his urge to look away. It is until I pushed him angrily that he regained his composure and walked away without saying a single word.
Jonte never revealed my secret, otherwise everyone would have gladly talked about it. He became too friendly. He would jump into our class almost four times a day without any apparent reason. He made sure that he greeted me on all occasions. I responded back out of fear of not making him angry. I was worried he would expose me.
It was around our K.C.S. E examinations. Everyone was getting busy. I was glad that I was almost leaving school, to go home and rest, away from the world. I had managed to maintain high grades even though I never paid much attention to my studies. I was always thinking of this and that. I was always depressed. I only captured one or two in a lesson. I think most of the exams were easier because I was naturally intelligent.
It is during one of those days that some boys roughed me up. They started beating me up without any apparent reason. I knew I hadn’t crossed anyone’s line. However, I was happy when Jonte suddenly appeared and tackled the 6 boys acrobatically. They surrendered. I was happy with Jonte. He became my friend; instantly. We ate lunch together. I was recruited into his football team and became a goal keeper. I was not disturbed during supper by the older boys. In fact, as we served, he always insisted that he was not in the mood of eating his chicken and forced me to have it. When any boy, seated next to us asked for a piece, Jonte almost fought him. After supper, we both had to change into warmer clothes and since we were in different dormitories, we had to separate.
One day, I changed quickly and passed by Jonte’s dormitory. I wanted to walk towards class with him. Our classes were 10 minutes away from the dormitories. I had just entered his dormitory when I found him conversing excitedly with the boys who had roughed me up earlier. They were imitating how they had fought each other. I walked away disappointed. I connected the dotes. I understood that he had planned the entire drama. I suddenly knew what he wanted. But he would have to kill me first.
Coincidentally, that night, he sneaked into my dormitory and forced himself into my bed. I fought him with all my energy. By the time other students gathered, we were on the floor struggling, wanting to kill each other. I was charged like an angry bull. Then, I remembered my fight with Tommy. I figured that Jonte could also let out my secret. My energy got activated. I still don’t know how I managed to raise him high in the air. I pushed him towards the wall. It is his head that came into contact with the wall first. The impact was heard throughout the dormitory. Before anyone stopped me, I approached his staggering figure, catapulted my blow back enough and released it at a very high speed. I had initially aimed at his forehead but, he might have moved a little. The blow caught him right at the nose. He yelled as though he was demon-possessed and fell back like a log of tree. He never did his K.C.S.E exams that year.
I was escorted by armed policemen just to do my K.C.S.E exams. They had to pick me each morning from my cell where I ended up staying for 21 days. The case never saw the light of the day for obvious reasons; most people in Kenya use this quick method to settle matters. It is a disease that has ravaged every sector. An incurable cancer that has invested our country. Whoever referred to Kenya as a “a man-eat-man society” was accurate in his observation. One can easily get away with anything as long as he or she has the right amount of money or has a relative in the office of interest. The latter worked perfectly for me.
A few months later, my mother got a job with an international company and so we left for Michigan where she would be based. In the United States, I studied Economics. I managed to study and work.
No one cared how I looked or walked. Therefore, for an entire 5 years, I was not reminded of my state. I had also booked an appointment with a psychiatrist every Tuesday at 2:05pm for one hour and was making good progress.
We came back about 3 months ago. I got a job at one of the international Banks in Nairobi town. And then, my colleagues started making fun of me. The memories were rekindled.
They started talking behind my back. What hurt me most is when one of my female workmates asked me, “when will you marry or get married?”
Again, everyone laughed mightily. The bad memories came back fierce than before. I was enraged. I fumed in anger.
I didn’t respond. I wouldn’t. I walked slowly to our small kitchen and picked a knife. I dug it deep into her stomach twice and left her falling to the ground as I walked away, with the knife in my hand. Six policemen picked me up at night and took me to Nairobi Central Police Station. I was locked up in an old dirty cell that might have never been washed since it was first built. We were almost 60 in that tiny room. There was only one ventilation near the roof. It struggled to bring in fresh air to calm the stench of unwashed bodies, vomit and human feaces. It was mocking when anyone decided to relieve himself. The old green bucket that always stayed in one particular corner was the only toilet we knew of…It was usually full by noon. We all sat on the cold edge of the bucket and dropped our feaces. There were some who released their farts loudly. Inmates would shout, “wewe bwana! Wacha ujinga! Maliza! Funga matako!”
My mother’s lawyer managed to convince the court to let me free on bond. I had stayed in the devilish environment for 14 days.
End of part 1.