Today I want to digress from the polite memoirs of lives well lived and lives not so well lived. I want to go all emotional and share the life of a rape victim and her society. It is written in first persona but that does not mean that it is me.However, if you find any misconceptions, I am ready to be corrected or criticized and if you are familiar with the story and would love to enlighten me more- or have your own story you would love me to listen to- feel free to contact (inbox) me on twitter-@rynsidai or facebook- Rachel Jaber.
NB: THE NARRATOR OF THIS STORY WILL NOT BE REVEALED FOR REASONS WE ARE ALL GOING TO UNDERSTAND AFTER WE READ…..WHEN YOU READ PLEASE PASS IT AROUND TO YOUR FRIENDS LIKE I DID…
“March 1996 and July 1998 are dates permanently stamped on my mind…rather, on my life. I was ten and twelve respectively.
March 25th 1996 started like any other day for a not so normal ten year old girl. (You see, I had more responsibility than many ten year old girls. I had school to attend and chores that today would amount to child labor. Each evening after school I had to fetch firewood, wash utensils and my uniform, clean the house and do my assignments….sometimes, I had to cook too. School ended at five pm and it took me exactly forty five minutes of marathon running to get home. By the time I was through with my assigned daily chores, nothing would describe what I felt….exhausted is underrated….and still I had to do my assignments. Reading was not an option and even if it was, there was no electricity and my aunt (my mum was out of the country on assignments through most of my childhood and thus I had to live at my maternal home with uncles and aunties and my grandparents) claimed that I was being too expensive by using paraffin and candles that my mum bought for the purpose of my study.
March 25 1996 I woke up feeling a bit too unwell. My grandpa, being the Hitler that he was, insisted that I go to school and that I would go to hospital during the weekend (the fact that it was Monday not withstanding). And off to school I went.
The teachers, knowing me as a hyperactive girl and the most pro-active head girl the school had ever had, realized that the spark had been lost somewhere for that day. And they sent me home… (How I wish I stayed at school!!!) At home, aunty told me to do my daily chores before sleeping (and you guessed right, there was no going to hospital).
And the omen struck!
Alone, in the forest, I worked for an hour trying to gather as much fire wood as I could so that my cousins would take a day off from at least one of their duties since I already had a full day. Being a tomboy and having been taught how to fight by both my mum and my grandpa at an early age, I thought that I would be able to defend myself from a lot of things…apart from my grandpa. Little did I know that the world had much greater and darker forces than my grandpa…and my naivety cost me my life.
One hour into my duty, I realized that I had company. Someone had been watching me all along but it was the expression in his eyes that made scared stiff…still I did not scream- not that it would have helped anyway. Like the brave girl mum had taught me to and the fighter grandpa had created in me, I defied the instincts to flight. I stood my ground: he was not about to have easy prey; sick, dead or otherwise!
After thirty minutes of struggle, he won…. He undressed me…with every layer of clothing That went off, a piece of my dignity went along. With every piece of clothing that he took off went my self-esteem and with it the outgoing extrovert leader that I was before that moment… he took away what am supposed to give freely and willingly: the ability to love, to hold and to cherish along with my hymen… and he left me feeling spent and wasted… oh! And he gave me my first reality check lesson: no one gives a shit about you after they fuck you….willing or not, literally and metaphorically!!!
Having been brought up in a religion that teaches sex as a taboo and a sin, and a household where sex was a non-existent phenomenon, I did not know what to do or who to tell. I washed myself from a nearby stream and decided to move on like nothing really happened despite the pain and the embarrassment I felt. And I started what has been a painfully long and slow journey of regaining what I had lost; self-esteem, self-respect, self-confidence, trust on humanity and a reason to live…..but I still trusted in God.
I become quiet. Withdrawn. Indifferent. The world had little to offer me beyond books. I did not care about anyone and nobody seemed to care about me except my mother who was rarely at “home”. Yet, life had not given me enough!
At the age of twelve, the same man called again and this time not alone! I saw him at our local shopping center one day and immediately initiated what had to become three months of running…(With my grandpa having passed on and with a lot of family disagreements and me being on my final year at the primary level, my mom had put me under the custody of her best friend who, like her, was rarely at home as she travelled a lot across east Africa. When she was not around, I was a lone wolf that had to fend for itself). He became like a ghost I had to run away from, a shadow that never left my path. Once I told mum’s friend about him and she thought I was hallucinating. I withdrew and fought my own battle best way I knew how…. I kept running. He kept chasing after me. With no way to communicate to my mother, without a friend I could wholly rely on and no adult to listen to me, I run out of the will to keep struggling and out of the strength to run anymore. And I run out of hide outs.
He pounced. Unexpectedly. With a lot of company.
I do not know for how many hours they raped me. I do not know how many they were (I can only remember the first four; the ones I saw, who teased me, who dared me to fight for myself… and the phrase “don’t kill or incapacitate her…I still need her”). For years, I have asked God what I had done wrong to deserve such a harsh punishment. For years without end, I cried tears of pain, of dejection, humiliation, anger, hatred. For years, I lived a life of bitterness filled with wrath and venom…and for those years, I prayed earnestly that god would take away my pain…but I got a slap on the face when a mother’s union official called me a slut within a church building. (Mothers union is a women association within the Anglican Church). As I learnt later, everybody had noticed my change of walking style, my severe withdrawal which later lapsed into depression and my company with a college boy (Morris was a neighbor who had become friendly to me after the rape. He was the first to notice those men who never left even after they raped me and took, albeit secretly, to being my guardian angel) and had concluded that am both a dreg peddler and a slut.
….still I believed in God….DEEPLY….
Later that year, despite my negative experiences and bad image in my society, I broke the K.C.P.E. certificate record of the year. This brought much unwanted attention my way. Like a ghost, the man rapist was always at the far corner of the crowd; maybe watching me “celebrating” naively with the ice cube fear that he had injected in me. This time, however, he knew that he was overpowered… Morris was a UON (University of Nairobi) student and I was a bright star known all over the country with a mother who could give creeps to the Chief Inspector General of Police (mum had by then realized I was no longer the girl I used to be and retired early to try solve a misery she knew nothing about). He knew his game was over, but I did not. He withdrew, maybe forever, and I kept looking over my shoulders, being overly cautious and getting creeps every time a stranger talked to me (I still do). Maybe he will be back, maybe he won’t. Only time will tell.
I defied my culture: I was not circumcised at the age of twelve, I was not married off at the age of sixteen, I continued with my education in a male dominated field… and the people I should call mine disinherited me ….but for the first time, I stood up for myself and choose my life….I choose my destiny. Today, I am doing my second degree at Kenyatta University, I am a proud mother to a beautiful baby girl and am a proud daughter of a mother who believed in, supported and cared for me, who chose me over a highly coveted top job and who did her best to win in a battle she had lost (of having me as a daughter).
Today, I have moved on, but I have learnt several things. I have learnt that no man wants to be associated with a rape victim. No man wants to love you anymore after they learn of a past you cannot be blamed for or a life you never chose. I have learnt that the society brands and tags you with names you will never erase and associates you with gangs you know nothing about. The religion that preaches love, understanding and mercy shuns you or subjects you to mistreatments with outright physical abuse in the name of deliverance. Your family disowns and disrespects you forever (unless you get rich somewhere along the way).
THAT IS THE FATE OF A RAPE VICTIM.
One thing I would tell the world, we are humans just like you. We have feelings though at times they might be marred by our past and our fears. We want to be, to belong, to be appreciated, loved and respected. Just like any other girl and boy out there. If you find out your friend is a rape victim, the best you can do is to love her for who she is, respect her for who she has learnt to become, treasure her for what she has survived and overcome and for outdoing an ordeal more cold and painful than death itself.
For you who never went through it, do not take that for granted. You, your child, wife, mother, sister brother or best friend (sodomy amounts to rape) may go through it before you die no matter how much precaution you take. Learn first and fast by doing to him or her who has gone through it and survived what you would like done to you if it were to happen.”
LETS ALL UNITE TO PROTECT OURSELFS AND OUR LOVED ONES FROM SEXUAL MONSTERS AND TO LOVE THOSE WHO WERE UNFORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT…….
Thank you for reading and welcome back again….