He is walking towards me and staring at me at the same time . I hate being stared at, especially when I am walking.It makes me uneasy. It also makes me fidget a lot. I am not shy though, I just don’t like being stared at. His face looks familiar, I can’t place where I have seen it before. It is one of those common faces that you quickly dismiss from your memory bank. I stare back. I thought he would stop staring but he doesn’t.I lower my gaze. He still stares .Now this is something. I want to tell him to stop, but I can’t . He approaches me . I shift my gaze and for a funny reason I find myself looking at his lips. They are dry, just like my father’s.
Death, it’s an unhappy occurrence. For me it set me free. Death wiped away my tears, death made me happy. You might be confused. I have totally jumped from one topic to another. Don’t worry , you’ll get to understand why as whatever this is builds up. let me reverse a bit to some years back.
I was born on the back seat of a Red Peugeot 404 saloon car. Funny enough, I was conceived on the hood of this same Peugeot. It is also where I lost my virginity. It has quite a history this red Peugeot . It was owned by my father. He inherited it from his old man who had bought it from a mzungu fleeing the country in the sixties . It used to be the envy of the village. It was my grandpas greatest investment and it earned him a warm heart. It stole my grandmas heart. Quite some red Peugeot history , right. Unfortunately the warm heart didn’t last long, it grew cold some time after my father was born. My grandma left my grandpa. Reason, my grandpa was an alcoholic who battered her and couldn’t keep his manhood in one place.This was unheard of at that time (a wife leaving her husband), but it really woke the women in the village.
My grandpas ego was bruised by this breakup. He was the first man in the village to be left by his wife. This made him make an ultimatum. As long as he was alive, She would never see his son again. True to his word , she never saw his son till he died. Gonorrhea had him. She had missed 15 years of her child’s life. At the end of it , there was no child to go back to. Instead the kid had grown to a man. A man who courted and entranced my mum into marriage, but not before making her pregnant. Theirs was a wild passion that died quite fast.
My father was a brute and an alcoholic just like his dad. It was hard living with him. I was always scared. I never found peace whenever he was home. I would lock myself up whenever I heard the sound of the red Peugeot backing into the drive way. He wasn’t like that at first. I would not call him loving . Maybe responsible . He used to be an average father who did the average things. Paid rent , bought food and watched WWE all weekend. He never acknowledged my presence before. My birth had killed the passions between him and my mum. For some reason they had drifted apart and he mightily blamed me for that. So he never once took notice of me as a kid. I always longed for his approval. I wanted him to carry me, to love me. I wanted him to take me for walks just like other dads did. He never did that . Then he lost his job. He got retrenched , it was that age of computers when man labor was replaced by computers. He looked for other jobs . He never got one. If life was hard before this,it became worse after the retrenchment.
He took to drowning his sorrows in the bottle. His relationship with the bottle is your classical drunk story. The bottle made him it’s slave. He drank from Friday to Friday. If parte after parte had been coined then , it would have been his slogan. He drank his savings till they ran dry. Then as any classical drunk story would go, he started selling things just to maintain his drinking habits. He started with his dads parcel of land, then his ring, then my mums ring, then the TV. This went on till we had nothing apart from the house. My mother tried talking to him but all this talk would result to fights. Both parties would get out of this fights really bruised, not only physically but emotionally too. We had hit rock bottom as a family. There was no shred of happiness around the house. It was no longer a home but a wrestling ring with the heavy weight champion ,the brute in the red corner and the light weight tittle contender , my mum in the blue corner . I dreaded going to that place after school. School was my escape.
Things got better though. My mum got a job at some private hospital. She worked night shifts cleaning the place. She hadn’t finished her nursing degree due to the baby bump that was to be me. So it was really hard for her to get a job. She had been contented living as a housewife. Her contentment ended when he lost his job. This new job meant that there was less fights in the house since both parties saw less of each other. It also meant I had to stay with my father during the night.
It was easy at first. I used to be alone. My mum would cook early in the day and I just had to warm the food at night. I would eat , do my homework , listen to the radio ,then sleep. It was lonely but I preferred it to the earlier amateur version of WWE that used to take place in the house. Then he , my father,started noticing me . I really don’t know why he did. I was still a kid. He started bringing me these little presents. I remember the purple doll fondly. It was huge and so soft. I used to hug it to sleep. I loved it , really loved it. I even gave it a name, Pellberry. I don’t remember where the name came from but it stuck. I used to play pretend. At some point Pellberry was my kid and I cared for it. I fed it ,washed it, clothed it and even sang it to sleep. Life was good. I did not feel lonely any more. Then he started coming home early. He would ask me questions about school. My grades, my teachers, my classmates especially the boys. I told him all about it. I told him about my love for math, why I hated Swahili and PE and about Dan, the boy I wanted to be friends with. Life was better .
Growing up, we were lucky to have a car, the Peugeot. Sad thing is that I was never allowed into it till my dad started noticing me. He started taking me for rides. I loved them . We would go to the lake and watch the fishermen weave their fishnets . I used to be captivated by it. Then he would buy me ice cream, vanilla, my favorite. I was contented. Life had never been this easy and smooth. I was finally starting to look up to him as a dad and not a father. I was even looking forward to the sound of the red Peugeot. Not everything is always rosy.
The first time he did it , he was drunk. He had come home late. The sound of the red Peugeot woke me up. I wasn’t alarmed. Things were better between us. I even got up and went to warm him some food. That is how caring I had been. I went to the kitchen and lit the cooking gas. He staggered in. He was reeking of alcohol, cheap liquor. I didn’t mind, he was my father soon to be dad and I wanted to love him for who he was. ‘Maybe some day I’ll be able to change this habit. Get him to rehab and make him quit. Then we’ll leave happily ever after as one family’, I mused. It was a long shot but I hoped it will work out. It never did.
I was bending over the gas cooker when he came and grabbed me by the waist. I was startled. He had never been touchy with me . Then he lifted me up. I was light and he had strong arms. This is what I had dreamt of as a kid , but now it seemed sinister. I asked him to let me down. He did. Not on the ground though, he placed me on the kitchen sink . He then started saying these things that really confused me. He said I was his baby girl. That he loved me and he wanted to protect me against the world, against Dan. I was placid . I did not know how to react. There I was face to face with my father , who is telling me these things that I really wanted to be told as a kid. I wanted to be noticed, but now that I was , I didn’t want it anymore cause it felt queer. He brought me in for a bear hug. I didn’t want to. It was weird. The smell of burning food was my saving grace.
I asked to be excused. He didn’t budge. He stood looking at me furiously. The once happy father soon to be called dad had turned to brute mood. He was no longer smiling. He was pissed. Why? His claim is that I didn’t want to hug him. Come on, that was a pretty shrewd excuse. I heard it before I felt it. I found myself toppling in the sink like some dirty used plate. He had slapped me . I had never been slapped before. The furthest my teachers went was pinching my ears for missing PE and flanking Swahili. The pain was monstrous. The buzzing, it’s as if my father had started a bee hive on top of my head. Then he started to cry. This was scary. I had never seen him cry. He apologized. I didn’t buy it, I got up from the sink and ran to my room.
I told my mum. They fought. I cried . He went away for a week and came back , unlike him, quite sober. He had a gift. A dress. It was tiny and red just like the Peugeot. I loved it. It fit me right. I couldn’t wait to wear it. I forgave him. My heart then was pure , tender and quite forgiving. He said he would take me for a trip to make up for the ‘tiny’ thing that he did. I was elated. I couldn’t wait for the trip.
It came. I wore my red dress. I looked lovely. My mum was too tired to tag along. It was just me and him, just as I had envisioned before. We set off , I did not know where we were going. I never bothered to ask. I wanted to be surprised. I was surprised all right. But not in the way I had expected. It started with the car breaking down on some lonely road. Lonely since I never saw any car driving past . That should have been a red flag but it didn’t hit me. I was a kid remember, barely twelve. He got out to try figure out what the problem was. He came back defeated. I asked what we were to do and he said wait. Wait for help . We waited. I fell asleep on the back seat. Only to be woken up by his rough hands touching my thighs. I didn’t like it. I tried shoving his hands, but he brought it back, reassuring me that he was just massaging me. He went deeper. My heartbeat rose. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t . I seemed not to have a voice. He unbuckled his belt and brought it out. The source of my tragic pain. I screamed. But there was nobody around . He did it . Not once , or twice or thrice. I lost count since I passed out.
I came to . I was seated in the back seat. My dress was stained , bits of blood. I couldn’t move. My head ached. I was tired. He was driving, he noticed my movement. He stopped the car, walked to the back seat and tried to cradle me. I fought back. He was strong. He gripped me hard. Then he opened his mouth. His lips were dry. He made the threat, the threat that hung over my life and weighed me down until I killed him.
Thank you for reading to this point. It has been a long wait for this second phase, I hope it was worthwhile. Special thanks to Wanza for the pictures. PS: The pictures are from an exhibition that happened in UoN main campus some time in November. It was sponsored by Arigotou GNRC and UNFPA. The main aim of the exhibition was to sensitize the public on the worrying rising trend of online child exploitation. If you get time you could check out their pages and find all the stats on this vice and how you can chip in to change it. If you have been affected then this is a good place to seek help too.
It is the end of the year and of the decade , thank you for reading my blog this year. The series continues next year. Happy new year🥳🥳