“Wangari! Nyambu! Amkeni twende!” She said after she quickly swang the girls’ bedroom door. It was 8am.
The curtains in that room longed to be drawn. They must have be having a sun burn from blocking sun rays since first light. Sleep was slowly leaving the room like a scent that was diffusing. The dreams of the night were cut short like a program interrupted by a commercial advert.
(Read the previous episode here.)
The two pretty souls stretched lazily in effort to jump start their bodies to activeness. There was the rubbing of eyes, perhaps done to fasten the introduction to the reality of a new day. There was yawning, an involuntary exercise that their biological systems do to ensure their air ways are cleared and expanded – or whatever the hell yawning is for.
The reality of the day that they knew about was that they were not going to be spending an undetermined duration in their house, or say, in their father’s house. Speaking of which, that fact slowly sipped in accompanied forcefully by the memory bits of the events of the previous night. It was full of shouts and heavy uttering spiced with vulgar and abominations not suitable for persons under the age of 18. It was a docket of drama that saw flowers acidified for nothing and a poor door kicked for nothing. That was their father for them.
The reality of that day that Wangari and every other member of the cast in her life’s movie – didn’t know was that it was a day that would see her soul scarred for life. That day would inspire the chapters of her life’s biggest secret.
For Wangari, leaving that house was a big reprieve. It was about time she was in an environment that didn’t have the scent of her mum all over under the roof. An environment that didn’t have the sight of her dad either. They had packed their bags on the previous night. 40mins was enough to have them take a bath, dress up and station their bags at the door.
They walked into the sitting room and found their old man seated on the couch, elbows on the knees. Sobriety was the new master for him. But it came with its fair share of pain and embarrassment. Ever seen someone who has embarrassment written all over his face mjango? No? Well, now you can see him through these words.
Embarrassment on ones face looks like a sack packed with excess potatoes. You can add a journey to Marikiti on the back of a cart to that. No offence to mjangos who work in Marikiti though.
Words betrayed him because his ego had been shrinked to the size of a rat’s manhood. He couldn’t do anything about his daughters being taken away from his care. The whole in-law family had a stern finger pointed at him for his irresponsibility and outrageous actions to his wife who is their daughter. The wife’s family always had an upper hand in their marriage.
Guilt grew like a tumour in his gut as he watched his own daughters resent him. Otherwise called blue ticking! They walked past him and headed straight to the dinning table that had their breakfast set. The kind of breakfast they have only when mama is around. Anything lesser than that is not good for a girl child’s growth.
It had been prepared with a mother’s touch although, not their mother.
She walked out of the kitchen with a cup in hand.
“Auntie Sylvia, hii chai ni moto,” Said little Nyambu.
“I was coming to cool it for you sweetheart.”
“Ronald! Sean! Tamara! Kujeni msalimie akina Wangari,” Aunt Sylvia.
Her kids, those she mentioned, came to welcome us, their cousins. It had been nearly 45 minutes since we left our place for Kikuyu where Aunt Sylvia and her family lived.
Ronald, the first born, not a boy with many words just helped with the bags and minded his own business that was airing on Str8 up from time to time. It’s what you’d expect of a form two boy I guess.
Sean and Tamara, class seven and class two respectively were the ones who were elated to receive us since we are agemates. It was going to be one hell of a loud house. Stories kicked off quick with Sean. He was telling me about how class seven was. It was relevant to me since in the next year, I would be in class seven. We bond so well that I wished he lived at our place or better, I lived at their place.
Nyambu and Tamara on the other hand had a tea party to hold which started off by Tamara bragging about her new toys. Nyambu had only carried one doll as instructed by Aunt Sylvia. “Utashare toys za Tamara ukifika. Hakuna mtu wa kukubebea hizo toys zote.”
We went out to play after lunch. At least it was just what I needed to escape from the events of the previous days. From skipping ropes, to brikicho to bata and my favourite, rounders. We played rounders which has its similarities with cricket towards evening. That was the ripe time for bigger boys and girls like Ronald to leave their houses.
I used to hear ‘huyu ni manzi ya huyu’ and ‘huyu chali alicheza ule manzi.’ Never in my class six mind had I ever thought of anything to do with boys whatsoever. Seasons and times however showed me that the high school boys had me in their plans. I was fresh meat for them having appeared in that estate for what seemed to them like the first time.
The game commenced. Teams were divided first. I didn’t really realise it then that the boys calling the shots in the game were rolling the dice on me to be in their teams. So a girl I remember called Daisy stood up for me and said I should choose a team for myself. I chose where I could get closure among all the new faces. I chose Ronald’s team. He was sort of overly excited.
Younger ones like Sean and I were the runners. At some point, Ronald chose to be a runner. I stuck close to him because he was more skilled. He however couldn’t run for long because he would start wheezing as he breathed. We found ourselves laughing together from time to time.
When 7pm was clocking in, house helps, elderly and younger siblings, mums and dads start to call out their own back to the house. Other kids would take their guardians in a wild goose chase before they got to the house. We only needed to be told by Nyambu and Tamara that Aunt Sylvia was making chapos for supper. Just like that, we humbly left the fun outside and matched to the house.
The kids had already taken a bath. Sean was up next and I followed after. Everyone was in the sitting room except for Ronald when I was going to bath. Apparently, their house had two bedrooms. One for my aunt and uncle and the other obviously, for the rest of us. The house help didn’t live far so she used to come and go.
I organized what I needed for my bathing session slowly. Not long after, he left.
He was the last one to come for dinner since he bathed last. Unlike our place, they didn’t have a dining table. So we just sat nicely on the couches as food was served from the coffee table. All eyes were glued to Machachari on Citizen TV.
Just so you know, Aunt Sylvia makes the best chapos on earth. It was a welcome to their home and a half. They look like those chapos you see on baking flour adverts. In fact, eating them makes you feel like you’re an actor in one of those adverts.
So everyone was acting well, except for one, in my opinion. My eyes slid across the room at some point and stopped at him for a reason. He was enjoying the chapos alright. In fact, he had a greater appetite than all of us. He came in last and overtook the number of chapos each one of us had eaten at the time. The high school in him and form 2 for that matter – knew that meals like those are the ones that haunt someone during prep time. That time when you were unlucky to just get one serving spoon of githeri for supper instead of two or three because of the newly introduced serving by tables system. And so it has undergone a quicker metabolism in your digestive system than normal. Those are the times you commemorate meals like the chapati and stew made of minced meat, minji and waru. And he? He was making the most of it. But he seemed to make the most out of it with the sight of something else I didn’t really get at the time.
As the family custom is, after supper, we had a short fellowship together. Raise a hand if that was or still is the custom in your family.
My uncle told his kids that Nyambu and I would be staying with them for a while. So they should make us feel like their own. Aunt Sylvia’s time to speak was for no other reason but matters matron. She asked Sean whether it would be fine to spare his bed for me and he gets to share a bed with his elder brother, Ronald. Like the Sean I know, he was cool with it. Tamara and Nyambu was an open and close case. They would share Tamara’s bed.
I could hear the wind blow periodically outside. Like the way it would when it’s about to rain. The window pane that must have been loose kept clapping by the movement of the wind. Perhaps it was natures way of putting a rhythm to the silent night.
There should have been some moonlight on that night. But the impending rain bearing clouds had taken over the sky. I would later wish that the moon was present to watch over me. Maybe it would have shouted in my defence. Maybe it would have been the light that would shine and ashame the imminent darkness being conspired against me. Against my poor soul that had done nothing wrong to anyone. That had never even swang a hand to hurt a fly. That had nothing else but innocence and budding dreams. Maybe the moon would have been the witness, the only witness in my case that was not far from being filed.
Sleep was the visitor in that bed that night. He was the ordinary visitor that I expected. He must have forgetten to shut the gate on his way in because well, unlike other days, he wasn’t going to be the only visitor.
I drifted into sleep. I was just admiring the streets of wonderland when I felt and heard the bed creaking.
The first creak.
The second creak.
Then the third creak. Like someone else had just hopped onto bed.
And more silence.
My semiconscious mind dismissed it and I drifted further into sleep.
I can’t tell how long I slept, but it felt like I had slept for some hours. I was woken up by hand movements slithering on my body. First from my back through to my tummy. Back and forth. I was still coming to terms with what was happening. My shock levels were rising first at an alarming rate but my panic control kept me still to assess what that was.
It stopped and started again and this time, the hand movement went beyond my tummy and back. Panic control my foot! I was scared to the grave. It had gone to inappropriate touching!
I remember how scared I was. I didn’t know what to do or say. I couldn’t move a muscle. I was just shocked and confused. I wanted it to stop! I wanted whoever he was to have sanity downloaded miraculously to his peanut sized brain!
Oh? How do I know who ‘he’ is? Well, ‘he’ kept on breathing with a wheezing sound! So I know it’s him!
My life has never been the same ever since. I grew up to be a very shy, anti social and reserved girl. I was afraid of boys and men from that day. Not a day passes without remembering how mind wrecking and scary that was. Everyday I would curse using his name for what he did to me.
Mum! Mum where were you when all these was happening? Had you not left us, I am darn sure this wouldn’t have happened to me. Yes you came back not long after to take us back home after you and dad sorted things out. But you have no clue about what your absence paved way for in my life.
You should have told me to be careful with boys. You should have told me not to wear the tights that I now know – was what he couldn’t stop ogling at over supper.
When I went to high school and at some point, I thought I was a lesbian, but I’m not. Even I sometimes couldn’t understand how anything to do with boys didn’t enticed me. It didn’t trigger the teenage girl in me.
I got into my first real relationship after high school. I was so defensive. I didn’t consider anyone else but me. It ended up being super toxic and so I broke it up. A few months later, I was in another one and the cycle continued.
I didn’t realize I was so damaged until I talked to my psychology lecturer. He noticed just how angry topics about men made me. I hated them. I’ve even ever got violent with guys. I’ve verbally and physically abused some friends I have all without knowing I was letting out the anger that the eleven year old girl in me went through.
I thank God I realized before it was too late and got help.
This is Wangari’s message to you mjango: My message is to everyone who has undergone any type of abuse or traumatic event. We can overcome it no matter what and it doesn’t define who we are. And please speak up, someone out here cares to listen.
“Wangari! Nyambu! Amkeni twende!” She said after she quickly swang the girls’ bedroom door. It was 8am.