We enjoyed each other’s company and often jogged and played chess and darts together. He was an engineer. My mother, an epidemiologist, worked for the Ministry of Health. She had travelled to Eldoret the previous day, where there was a disease outbreak.
My younger sister was in school for holiday tuition while my older brother, then a student, was at Moi University. My older sister was married. I was in Form Four at Chogoria Girls’ Secondary School and was home for the holidays.
That morning, my father had ordered the house boy to visit his family, pointing out that there was not much to be done. My father and I went about our usual daily routine and even jogged in the afternoon. We had supper at 8pm, then played chess and darts until 10pm, when he excused himself, saying that he wanted to sleep early. Shortly afterwards, I went to my room and changed into my nightdress, then continued to play darts on my laptop.
Much later, it was about 2am, I saw the doorknob turn. The door opened and my father came in, wearing only his underwear. I quickly grabbed a gown and wrapped it around myself. I threw another one at him and told him to cover himself, which he did. I thought that he had come to find out why I had not yet slept.
He sat next to me on the bed, took away my laptop, and covered my mouth with a cloth. Then he raped me. He was too strong, I could not fight back. Then he left.
I sat on my bed in disbelief. I was bleeding and in pain. I had never been intimate with anyone in any way. All I could do was cry. I did not know whom to turn to. My father had violated me. I felt betrayed. I tried to get off the bed but could hardly move. But I had to.
Eventually, I decided to find out whether he was still inside the house. In my state of mind, I figured that he was the only one who could help me since my mother was not around. On opening his bedroom door, the first thing I saw was blood on the floor, lots of it. He had stabbed himself, and next to him was a suicide note addressed to my mother. It read: “I fell in love with your daughter. I had sex with her. Darling, I don’t know how to face you”.
In my shock and confusion, I did not inform anyone, and only waited for my mother to come home.
When she saw the suicide note, she broke into tears. When she finally composed herself, she told me to keep what had happened between the two of us. She did not want other people to know because we were, as she put it, “Christians”.
She took me to hospital, where I was admitted for two months. My mother visited me almost every day. When I learnt that I was pregnant, I almost died. I wanted to have an abortion, but my mother would hear none of it, not even when the doctors pointed out that I had the choice to terminate the pregnancy if I wanted to.
After discharge, I went back home, but I might as well have remained in hospital. My older brother and sister accused me of having an affair with my father and tried to turn my mother against me, but in spite of the turmoil she was going through, she never stopped supporting me.
I reported back to school in October, about a month late, to do my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations. My pregnancy was not obvious, so no one knew about it.
Soon after my father’s death, my mother started to fall ill and was in and out of hospital. On the day that she died, she had gone to hospital since her blood pressure had shot up. She died at home that evening, on February 20, 2008. I was six months pregnant at the time.
When the KCSE results were announced later that month, I had scored an A, but was not happy or excited in any way. My life had come to an end when my father raped me. I felt that I had nothing to look forward to. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.
My older brother and sister started blaming me for the deaths of our parents. They told everyone who cared to know that I had been having an affair with my father. Eventually, I could no longer live with the ridicule, stares, and finger-pointing. I left home for Nairobi, where I got a job as a house girl in Eastleigh. My employer could see that I was pregnant but hired me anyway and offered to pay me Sh1,800 a month, which I accepted.
I would later learn that my brother sold all our parents’ property — the house, the car, and the shambas. He gave our youngest sister only Sh200,000 for her education and shared the rest with our older sister. I did not get a single cent.
I continued working until my body could take no more. When I sought refuge in my sister’s house, she threw me out. That night I slept on her doorstep, cold and hungry. Fortunately, her neighbour sympathised with me and welcomed me to stay with her for as long as I wanted.
A few days later, my custodian’s mother, Ms Mercy Kanji, visited. When she heard my story, she invited me to live with her after I gave birth. Indeed, miracles do happen.
In April 2008, I gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
They both looked like me, but I hated them so much that I did not breastfeed them for the first two months.
Each day I prayed that I would wake up and find them dead.
Each day I prayed that I would wake up and find them dead.
I only began to feel some affection for them when they were about five months old. I looked at them one day and saw them for the innocent children they were.
However, I would only breastfeed them when they cried.
Ms Kanji, a businesswoman in Namanga, employed me as her assistant. I would make photocopies, file forms and receipts, and any other job she gave me. She generously paid me Sh1,000 a day, part of which I saved. After five months, she gave me Sh30,000 to start a business.
Unfortunately, my daughter, who was born with a hole in her heart, died shortly afterwards. With Ms Kanji’s help, I buried her at Lang’ata Cemetery using part of the money she had loaned me. I invited my immediate family for the burial, but only my younger sister came. I was disappointed, but life had to go on.
Embracing the future
I decided to start selling black beans, with the money I’d saved up, and that which I’d received from Ms Kanji. I started with two sacks and six months later, I was able to buy 36 sacks from the profit I made. My guardian encouraged me to save and go to university, pointing out that I was intelligent and had a bright future ahead of me. I had been invited to study for a Bachelor of Science in Medicine at the University of Nairobi and was to report in September 2009.
My younger sister and I kept in touch, and when she completed high school in 2009, she came to Namanga to live with me at Ms Kanji’s home.
Later, in April 2009, I decided to get a place of my own in Nairobi since I was due to join university. I rented a one-room house at Moi Air Base in Eastleigh for Sh1,200 a month. I lived with my sister and son, but later employed a house help to look after my son when my sister joined Mt Kenya University to study for a Diploma in Clinical Medicine. I would not have been able to pay her school fees were it not for Ms Kanji’s help.
In September 2009, I reported at the University of Nairobi’s Medical School as a full-time student. My business was doing well and using part of my profits as well as a loan from the Higher Education Loans Board, I was able to pay my tuition fees. I employed someone to handle the business for me, but would travel to Meru town over the weekend to check on its progress.
My sister completed her diploma in 2010, around the time I met two American tourists, a mother and daughter, who were on holiday in Kenya. The three of us had visited the Joy Centre Children’s Home in Kayole. We got talking and on a whim, I shared my story with them.
My experience must have touched them because they offered my sister a scholarship to study for a Bachelor of Science in Medicine at Michigan Medical School. My sister travelled to the US in April 2012.
Unfortunately, Ms Kanji passed away in July that year. A piece of me died with her because she had been like a second mother to me. In her will, she left me one of her lorries, which has been a great boost to my cereals business — even in death, she is still looking out for me.
This year, death snatched away someone else dear to me; my younger sister, who had such a bight future ahead of her.
She died on April 5 in the US, where, as I mentioned, she’d gone to study. She had been admitted to hospital with high blood pressure — tests revealed blood clots in her brain, but even after two operations, she did not survive.
When I informed my immediate family about her death, they blamed me, pointing out that I was the one who had taken her to a foreign country. I travelled to the US on April 10, thanks to help from friends, and buried my sister in a paid-for public plot. I was unable to raise money to bring her body back home, something that pains me to this day.
I’m all he has
I have tried everything possible to reconcile with my immediate family, but none of them wants anything to do with me. It hurts terribly, but I have been through worse and I get stronger with each passing day.
It has not been easy, though. I once tried to commit suicide, but a friend who happened to visit that day stopped me from drinking the pesticide I had bought. He pointed out that if I took my life, my son would be left with no one.
I realised that this was true. He has no father, no grandfather, no grandmother, and the remaining relatives want nothing to do with him.
This is when I realised that I love my son. He does not know anything, and is not to blame for what happened. He only knows that I am “Mum” and that I am the only person he has. For this reason, I have decided to remain strong, to never break. I will rise above it all.
I am in my fourth year at University, and in two year’s time, I will be a doctor, an accomplishment that gives me great pride.
I am also in a relationship with someone I have known for a long time. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but I know I cannot continue living in the shadow of what happened. I want to be happy, I need to be happy. I, too, want a husband and more children. I need to continue living regardless of what happened.
My son is now five years old. I know that one day he will want to know who his father is and why he does not have uncles and aunts, like other children. How do you tell your child that although he is your son, he is also your brother?
This is a bridge that I will have to cross when I get to it..... Courtesy of Daily Nation