Rape. Child Abuse. Molestation .They aare sensitive issues that no one wants to talk about. They’ve been around for so long, but sadly, society would rather they be swept under the carpet. They are issues discussed in hushed voices behind closed doors in our African societies. The victims are left with no one to talk to. The stigma surrounding these issues makes them shun away , they are treated as outcasts. They are ashamed for something that’s totally not their fault. We need to talk about these issues. We need to write about them.
The first time he touched her, she didn’t know what to do. She was petrified. What was a mere 9 year old to do? The man slid his hand down her pants. He was whispering something she couldn’t quite decipher. She could hear her heart beating loudly. Louder than the drums of the Akorino church on Sunday. Was this how the West African tom-tom drums their teacher spoke of sounded? Her throat was dry, her mouth agape. She wanted to scream but no sound was forthcoming.
He slipped his index finger into her private area . It was a strange feeling. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was slightly painful, but that was all there was to it.
Her mind raced; a concoction of anger, confusion and acrimony. Why was this man doing this to her? Why did her aunt let him share her bed? Did Aunty have a hand in this?
The man was Uncle John’s brother. He had just gotten a job in Changamwe and he had no place to stay. Uncle had invited him to stay with them in their 2 bedroom flat. “He will share Linda’s room. It’s only for a short while” Uncle had said with finality that day after supper. “She’s just a child. There’s no harm”
How she wished now that his words were true. Yes, she was just a child. But even in her childish brain, this was not right. It screamed all shades of wrong. But she lay still. Afraid. What would Uncle and Aunty say? They’d probably think she was spinning tales again. Besides, Aunty’s “nyahunyo” beatings were worse than this. Memories of her last encounter with the whip flashed through her mind making her shudder. She’d rather stomach the vile act however sickening it felt. At least this wouldn’t leave dark scars on her back and thighs. And so she lay there, like murder criminal awaiting his turn in the gas chamber. What was the point of struggling?
That was to be the first of many nights. 3 whole months. She dreaded nightfall. Darkness meant bed time. And bed time had turned into a horror story for her. She hated the man. How could he go on with his life as if nothing had happened? She stared spitefully at him every morning over breakfast, scanning to find at least a morsel of remorse on his face; some shame. Sadly there was none. He was a monster. She wished death upon him. She hated Uncle and Aunty. This was pure suffering. She’d rather have followed her mother to the grave.“I don’t know what I ever did to this girl. She’s so sulky all the time. Ungrateful little child. I tell her something and she just looks back at me with those huge white eyes.Mtoto kichwa ngumu sana. Atanipea pressure” She’d hear Aunty complain about her to Mama Dee form next door.
She had changed. She was no longer the happy-go-lucky child that she used to be. All she did was sit and brood over a book. She almost always had a book in her hand. The books were her means of escape. Aunty was an English teacher, she’d always bring lots of story books home for her. At least that was the only good things she was grateful to her for.
The pent-up bitterness inside was slowly eating her up; like waves eroding the river bank. At 19, she was fiery mess of low self-esteem coupled with self-hate and anger She blamed fate. But most of all, she begin blaming herself as she grew up. She blamed herself for lying still instead of struggling. She blamed herself for lacking the courage to scream; to speak up against the sorry excuse of the man who had touched her. And most of all, she hated herself for her leniency to the man. “At least he only touched me, he’d have raped her but he didn’t. It could have been worse?” why was she making excuses for her molester? He didn’t deserve her kindness.