I am sure you have previously heard stories from grown-up women like me speaking about rape. Mostly we lie. Make it sound like we fell on our backs and our knees trembled in fear the second it happened. Nobody ever speaks about the fight we put up before these marauders let themselves unceremoniously into our thighs. Truth is I remember being scared stiff barely able to hear my voice above the sound of my heartbeat. Mostly I remember the aftermath of the whole unpleasant ordeal, my heart contracting with indefinable fear, and I lay there motionless, looking at everything but nothing. I remember hiding in my bed with my head deep under the sheets, and it was then that I heard her speak in an interview on the television. That voice, assertive and sure taking my fear, unit at a time and turning it into a fighting spirit. She was a rape victim and had survived the worst. She was a prominent American figure, and she spoke so fiercely, and for the first time, I shed tears, not in weakness or in memory of his spiteful breath panting on and on at the nape of my neck. They were tears of jubilation, tears of conviction that made the memories fade, tears of strength. I now knew that I did not have to hide, I now knew that a rape victim could speak out and have people listen to her.
While it is said that a beautiful day begins in the morning, I can recollect that regrettable fateful day starting like any other day. It was graduation, and with our smiles, the class of 2015 tagged along with their gladness with feelings of accomplishment and raw expectations. The joy of a graceful end to four tiresome years. The Vice-Chancellor declared us graduates at the graduation square, and we threw our hats in the air ready to be productive citizens of the nation. To cement the memory of this day, I took all kinds of photos with family and fellow graduates before we excused ourselves for a final class BBQ party in the evening.
Adelle Onyango says that, to understand rape, a person must think of the victim as their kin, as their sister, wife, daughter or girlfriend. Imagine her being held down on a dusty table against her will screaming and writhing in pain as an unwelcome dry penis plunges into her, taking away eternally, bits of her sanity and peace without permission. After imagining all that, you will still fail to feel the disappointment and frustration when the fight and the adrenaline finally die down, and she lies there hoping that he gets done fast so that she can move on and repair her shredded self. It was at this moment that I recall him asking me in an unusual voice from his heavy breathing. A voice sunken into a metallic triumph whisper, doesn’t this feel good? A line I could never bring myself to forget, doesn’t this feel good? He wanted to know how exactly it felt to get raped.
I have thought about this man every day ever since first it was in fear and total anguish, but slowly it was due to curiosity. Whether he felt the oddest satisfaction from feeling superior from what he did to me. I knew that he would do it again and even if it was not to me, then to someone else. He had done it before, and he was going to do it again. Like a lioness on a hunt, I hid behind the long Savannah grass and watched his social media updates. He has a one-year-old daughter as his profile picture now, and a collage of him and his mother as his cover photo. He has powerful women in his life and all over his Instagram as well, never forgetting their birthdays and their importance to his life. He surrounds himself with virtuous love for women while in secret he mauls over the dignity of other less important women like worthless garbage. Like the lioness, silence and restraint are the most important virtues in a hunt.
I cannot remember eating any actual BBQ, but I remember the alcohol punch in plastic party cups that we toasted with. I was not drunk while he feasted on me brusquely, but still, bits of this regrettable moment still escape my mind. I remember the dusty table squeaking with weight and an erring air of desertion. I remember the colour of the floor, grey and potholed in a space that had shrunk to a cold, pale discomfort like a janitor’s room in school on the weekend. I remember the taste of a cocktail of my blood and tears in my mouth; I remember the pool of blood from my busted lip collecting before my eyes. Mostly I remember the odour. A stench I came to realise later that it was a mixture of sex and sweat. This smell has remained with me all along making me incapable of enjoying any sexual experience since. It is a petrifying memory tinged with bitterness and regret that stings my wounds like a lemon splash on the cornea.
One day, I will find him from his apparent location tags on his posts, and I will demand answers to my questions. Most of all, I will want to know why he never provided me with the alternative to protect myself from diseases he might have carried or pregnancy. I doubt he will have a response that will satisfy me, but I will move on to my second question, the reason he could not give me the opportunity of choice. The reason he could not woo me to his bed with his tongue instead of his muscles. Whether he has a fetish of getting off on circumstances that make others feel insignificant. Then I just want to study him, how he behaves, how he treats his daughter, whether he warns her of men like himself and whether his mother feels proud of him.
He cost me a lot, and another lie we tell is that it eventually gets over. It fades, but it never ends. When he raped me, he also took away my virginity. Every other man, I have tried to date since has ended up in shambles all because of my sexual preference which is simple; no sex. Few men are willing to tag along without sex which has made me date men with as little sexual desire as possible, and like hunting a unicorn, it has been a chase of the wind. On several accounts, I have considered celibacy, but like every other person, when it rains, I imagine a warm cuddle of a loved one. I imagine a kiss of trust and partnership. My imagination, however, fails when it gets to sex. No, I do not want to go back there. I do not want it to feel good because if it does, then he would have been right, it feels good.
This is the first time I am telling this story, after three years, it is when I finally feel that I can speak about it. After he was done he pulled up his pants and gave me one last look then walked out. I lay there for what seemed like hours until much later when the party was over, one of my girlfriends run into the same room and thinking I was drunk and wasted, helped me get up and walk home. She was also drunk because she never saw the tears and the blood. Not even she has heard this story before. I was not going to make myself a victim amongst my friends, that much was very clear in my head. So, night after night in my own company I cried and slowly plunged into depression until one day as my TV played on I heard Oprah Winfrey’s interview from 1991 about the day she was raped. She was vivid and graphic in her explanation. She spoke with a certainty that went beyond my ears and into my heart. I was finally ready to stand up and write my story afresh.
At the heart of every sad story, there is a lesson. A few strong people strive to purge themselves and others from atrocity, strife and misery. Paulo Coelho in his book, The Devil and Miss Prym, says that confronted with temptation, we will always fail. Given the right circumstances, every human being on this earth would be willing to commit evil. We can be heroes of our own stories provided we have the courage to try. Misery and life are correlated and always intertwined. We need to repair ourselves and inspire each other for a better future. A deep dark secret lies at the core of every human being making out intentions some of the tomes unpredictable and unreasonable. There is an equal fold of good and bad in people and we are presented with a choice the road to follow.
I am never going to forgive the sexual culprit who took so much from me or reach a terminus to the bitterness I have held on for so long. I am never going to forget that scary month doing pregnancy tests three times a week, scared that he left his evil seed in me. I am never going to forget the continuous VCT visits and the fright with which I waited for the HIV tests. The despair, dread and damnation of that period in my life.
My journey onwards will not be petals or unicorns. My choice is vengeance and blood.
Based on real events and real people.
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