I am not sure how many times it has happened to me. The first incident I remember clearly was when I was about 12 years old. At around 9pm, my mum sent me to the shop across the road to pick up some milk. This was nothing new to me. So, I left the house and went to the shop.
To understand this next part you have to visualize with me. From the main road, there was the main gate that allowed you into a tiny compound that was mostly used for hanging lines. It was also very dark at night as it had no lighting. After that tiny stretch, you would get to the second small gate than now led to the homes. My aunt’s home was closest to the gate.
On my way back, I went through the first gate into the tiny compound and noticed someone following me. At first, I thought it was just one of my relatives coming back home. I turned to notice a man in police uniform towering over me. He pushed me to the fence with his hand on my mouth. The fear paralyzed me and I just stared at him. He was smiling at me as if we were having fun. Hell, I didn’t even know who he was. Before he could do anything, someone in my aunt’s house turned on the light outside the door which spooked him. He ran back towards the road and I was left there for a minute just wondering what had happened.
I walked to the house with my head down. Feigned a headache and went to bed immediately. I never told anyone what happened until later on in life. My mum still has no idea and this incident made me feel some type of way towards policemen.
Has something tragic ever happened to you that you find a way to suppress the memory? That is what this one was. I had suppressed this memory until about a month ago. After a friend recanted his first incident with depression, which just so happened to be me breaking down at an event, I tried to trace back my depression.
An old high school friend asked me to join her for a trip to Nakuru where her family resided. Excited for the trip because my family was going through a lot at the time, I was happy to take a break. I packed a bag and on the agreed meeting time, I was in town. I waited for her to come through but she was nowhere to be seen. Tried calling her a couple of times. Nothing. I was going to go back home, when I got a text discouraging me from that. Things were bad. I was in the CBD late in the night with nowhere to go. I called a friend and asked if I could crash at theirs as I sorted myself out.
On the second night there, a day before I had to leave for the coast, it happened. My friend had a housemate who was also a mutual friend. This mutual friend went out drinking that night only to start sending me suggestive messages. We had never been close so this was just weird and unsolicited. He came back late in the night and tried to have sex with me, when I said no, he forced himself on me. All I remember after this was sitting outside the door crying literally waiting for morning. As if that was not enough, as I prepared myself to leave, he was mocking me while making conversation the friend who offered me their place.
I never spoke about this. I blocked it and him out of my mind.
You thought I was done? There’s more! In early 2015, I decided to take someone to Ololua for a nature trail picnic. It was a good Sunday afternoon until that evening rolled around. I went to Odeon to pick a matatu home and my date for the day went to watch a football match at the bar. I ended up sitting between the driver and the window seat at the front. It is a very uncomfortable seat.
The driver seemed drunk and that had me worried. When we got near my stage, I prompted the driver to shukisha. Nothing out of the ordinary. He didn’t seem to pay me any mind, so I told him a second time and that is when everything went left. The driver stretched his hand and placed it on my boobs. When I pushed it away he started calling me a prostitute. I asked him to stop at my stage and he said there was no stage there. He started insulting me, placing his hands on my boobs again claiming I needed to be taught a lesson.
The saddest bit was the fact that the man to my left, found it funny. He literally encouraged the driver saying “umeangukia kazuri” and laughing at me as I was trying to get the driver to stop. Luckily, someone at the back of the matatu was alighting 2 stages over and the matatu had to stop. I reached out for the door and had to jump over the man by the door and jump off as the driver tried to still drive off while hurling insults my way. Despite feeling violated, I was just glad to be out of that matatu.
The year is still 2015. A friend invited me to his place for a writers’ forum. I was at Odeon trying to get a matatu when a man grabbed my ass. I turned in shock and the first words out of my mouth were “are you serious? What’s wrong with you?” He was clearly drunk and looked like one of those guys who help fill up the matatus. He looked right at me and smiled as if he had just done me a favor. With tears balancing on my eyes, I made the decision to walk away. He followed me and did it a second time. I turned and there he was, still smiling. “Why are you touching me? Don’t touch me.”
At this point some drivers sitting nearby saw and one asked what was wrong. I explained what had happened and he straight up said, “Huyo achana na yeye anakuanga hivyo. Muache tu” (That’s just him. Let him be.) I got into a matatu and this guy was still following me. Opened one of the windows and popping his head in, he started saying women are cows and he was a man so he could do whatever he wanted. He tried to open the window next to me but lucky it didn’t move. This man stuck his tongue out, and then said, “Wewe ni ng’ombe, ukona bahati ni mchana”.
I texted a close friend and told him what had happened and the first thing he asked was “what were you wearing?” Not are you okay? Where are you? No. He wanted to know what it was I was wearing that made a stranger decide I was a cow he could grab and possibly rape me if it was dark. I must have done something.
I don’t think there’s more to say here. Yes, I am as fine as fine can be.