(Continued from Backlash I)
“Your wife has been fooling around with your father? That is awful!”
“That is not even the whole story. My dad has been friends with Daisy’s parents like forever. If this story comes out, two families will be shattered.”
“You met Daisy through your dad?”
“Not exactly. Daisy and I have known each other since we were children. Her parents have been friends of my parents since before I was born. We grew up in the same town. We went to the same church and the same school. We served in the same youth ministry. We have been friends since childhood, but our relationship started becoming romantic when we were in our mid-teens, about fifteen and sixteen. We kissed and secretly made out a few times before joining university.
We went to the same University, Moi, and that is when we officially started dating. In other words, that is when we felt confident enough to announce that we were dating. We made love for the first time in my hostel room in Eldoret. We were lovers throughout our time in college but our parents never knew that. The two sets of parents thought that Daisy and I were a model Christian couple, abiding by the Biblical teachings of abstaining till marriage. After college I decided to become a pastor…”
“Let me get this straight. You wanted to be a pastor even though you had been living in sin in campus? And I am asking this in good faith because I am as sinful as they come, no pun intended.”
“With the benefit of hindsight, I think that it is actually because of my sinful lifestyle in campus that I decided to become a pastor. I grew up in church, but in campus I drifted away. I felt that becoming a pastor would draw me closer to God. The pastor of the church I grew up in supported the idea, and I was given the job of a youth pastor. It is a large church, and the income was decent, so I married Daisy because I knew I could support a family. That was six years ago. My wife decided to become a housewife, although she volunteers at the church. Since I was doubling up work and Bible school, we decided not to have children immediately. At 25, we were both young anyway.
At some point I cannot pinpoint, Daisy started getting cold towards me in private, although in public we still appeared to be a couple deeply in love. I thought that she was just frustrated about my crazy schedule, and that things would stabilize once I graduated from Bible School. But that did not happen. If anything, the situation became worse. My wife and I have not had sex for about three years now, and in the two years before that, it used to happen about once in two months.
Everything made sense when I discovered that she was cheating. I finally realised that the coldness had nothing to do with me or my schedule; it was because she had another man in her life.”
“So at what point did you decide to kill yourself?”
“I am not sure. I have spent the last six months with suppressed rage, hating both my father and my wife. I had fleeting moments when I thought about suicide. I thought that if I was out of the picture then the situation would resolve itself and my mother would not suffer the humiliation of the world knowing that she was being cheated on with her daughter-in-law. She herself wouldn’t even know it. I never seriously thought about taking my own life though. But then two days ago Daisy made all these false allegations against me, and worse, everyone including my mother believed her. Suddenly the rage and frustration I had accumulated in six months came to the fore, and I think that is what pushed me over the edge. If it weren’t for you, I would be dead by now.”
“Your story is a sad one, but it is not enough for you to kill yourself. Some of us have been through worse, but we are still out here, trying to make ends meet.”
“What happened to you?”
Jerusha sighs deeply.
“It is a long story. My dad died when I was nine years. He was a nice man, and he loved me, my sister and my mother dearly. When he died, my mother fell apart. She could not fend for us, so she married this other man with the hope that he would provide for us. But the man was a ruthless beast who used to drink himself to a stupor and then come home to insult and beat all the three of us.
Then he started raping us.
He used to force himself on all the three of us: my mother, my sister and me. He threatened to kill my sister and I if we told anyone what he was doing to us. When I was thirteen, he raped and beat up my sister so badly that she started bleeding profusely. She died the following day at the age of fifteen. By this time, my mother had started drinking so that she could ignore all that was taking place. I ran away from home and got hired as a housemaid. But then one day the man of the house came home during the day and raped me.
I ran away again.
Luckily, I got another job as a cleaner/tea girl in a medical clinic. But one morning the doctor who owned the clinic came and found me cleaning and raped me. There was no one else in the clinic because it was still early. That night I cried and asked God what I had ever done to deserve the kind of life I got. That is when I decided that since men had decided to forcefully take away my body, I could as well give it to them at a fee. I thought the money would make me feel better. But giving away my body for money to strangers makes me feel so empty. But I have no other skill, and I have no intention of working for people who will eventually rape me anyway.
Of course there are monsters who come and have sex with me and then refuse to pay. Some even beat me up when I demand my payment. But I have a daughter to take care of and this is the only skill I know.”
“Who is the father of your daughter?”
“I have no idea. I am on a contraceptive, and I always insist on my clients using protection. But sometimes a client refuses and takes me by force. When that happens, I take the post exposure drugs to shield myself from HIV. I don’t bother with the emergency pill because I am on a contraceptive. I guess the contraceptive failed, but I can’t remember who the man responsible was. On average I get three men who refuse to take contraceptives in a month, and by the time I discovered I was pregnant I was two months in. That was three years ago.”
“I am so sorry for all that, Jerusha.”
“It is okay. I actually see the birth of my daughter as a blessing. Her birth strengthened my resolve. Since she was born I purposed to do everything to ensure that she has a voice to fight for herself. I am determined to educate her to the highest level she can reach, even if it means continuing to sell my body for her sake. She will not have to marry an abusive man for upkeep like my mother did. Neither will she get treated as sub-human by employers because she lacks education like I did. Or have to sell her body to educate her children. I am determined to make sure that my daughter will live a better life than mine.”
Philip stares at the floor. When he raises is head, tears are rolling down his eyes.
“Hearing your story makes mine sound so petty.”
“It is not petty. You were betrayed by those you loved and believed in. It shook the foundations of who you are. It happened to me when I was raped by my step-father while my mother drunk herself to a stupor. It leaves you feeling empty and useless. I understand.”
“Where is your mother now?”
“She is dead. Liver cirrhosis took her.”
“I am sorry.”
Jerusha smiles at him sadly.
“I also considered suicide many times before my daughter was born, although I never took a step like buying pills or a rope. It is something that I fleetingly thought about without seriously considering it. Maybe one day I would have reached the end of the road like you did. But when my daughter was born, I got something to live for and I haven’t thought about suicide for years. You need to pull yourself together and overcome this challenge that you are facing.”
“The most immediate challenge I am facing has nothing to do with my wife or my father. Okay maybe it has something to do with Daisy, but indirectly.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know, Jerusha, I did not plan to get out of this place alive. And like I told you, my wife cleaned out my account. In other words, I don’t have the money to pay for this hotel room.”
“I will pay for the room, don’t you worry.”
“It is not cheap, Jerusha. For this one night I owe twenty five thousand shillings. And that does not include the expensive wine that I took last night.”
“I may be a commercial sex worker, but I do actually have a life like everyone else. I do have a bank account and some savings in there. I will take care of the hotel bill and the breakfast that we will take when the sun comes up. What you should worry about is the rest of your life. But that too can wait. Let’s get some sleep.”
Philip wakes up at 8am feeling much better. He is still feeling tired, but the headache and the nausea are gone. The medicine worked like charm. When he wakes up he finds Jerusha seated at the small desk reading a novel. She is dressed decently in a dress that goes all the way to her ankles and completely covers her cleavage. She could pass for a very conservative Christian evangelist.
“Good morning,” she says pleasantly. “How are you feeling?”
“Perfect. What is that medicine that you gave me?”
“A secret remedy for hangover, but one that is also very addictive. So I will not tell you what it is or where to get it.”
“It is not addictive to you?”
“I don’t need it. I don’t drink anymore so I don’t suffer from hangovers.”
Philip remembers that she had been taking soft drinks at the club.
“You went out?”
“Yeah. I went out to get us some clothes. The things we were wearing last night were not fit enough for this place.”
Apparently, Jerusha sneaked out while he was asleep and got him a tuxedo, a shirt, a bow tie, a pair of black leather shoes, a pair of socks and a pair of boxers. She has also purchased a dress for herself-the dress that she is wearing. She has already showered.
Philip showers and dresses in the bathroom. He and Jerusha walk down to the restaurant. He pulls the seat for Jerusha. He is just about to sit down when he freezes mid-air.
“What is it?” Jerusha asks.
“The woman seated at the corner in a red top; the one looking at me and taking a photo of us? That is my wife Daisy.”
Image by Pexels from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/man-heartache-chest-pain-hurt-pain-1846050/
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