(Continued from Father Wounds II)
“Go to your room and get dressed, Teresa,” her aunt orders. Teresa runs to her bedroom without even bothering to pick her towel. She is humiliated. How could he? He always seemed like such a good man. Are there any good men? She dresses quickly and sits on the bed, waiting and listening to her feuding relatives.
From her room, she can hear a shouting match between her aunt and uncle. The door is slammed and she can hear a car’s engine starting. She is suddenly frightened. Is her aunt leaving her with her animal of a husband? How can she go to work and leave her like this?
Her door opens a few minutes later and she freezes. Her uncle will now have an easy time raping her in her room. But to her surprise and relief, it is her aunt who enters her room. She sits next to Teresa on the bed.
“I am sorry about what happened earlier,” her aunt says. “I never would have thought that my husband would be capable of such a thing.”
Teresa is surprised. She had started thinking that her aunt would accuse her of seducing her husband. She had heard many stories of women covering up the sins of their wayward husbands. Perhaps her aunt is different. After all, she had sounded so furious when she was arguing with her husband earlier.
But Teresa’s joy is short-lived.
“But you see Teresa,” her aunt continues, touching her lap. She sighs deeply before continuing. “Men are wired differently from us. They are visual beings. I am sure he forgot himself when he saw you with only a towel on,”
“Are you saying it is my fault?” Teresa asks, suddenly becoming more alert.
“No, no sweetheart. It was absolutely not your fault. What I am saying is that it wasn’t his fault either. He couldn’t help himself. Does that make sense?”
“No aunt, it doesn’t make sense. Most of my body was covered in a towel. And he is an adult human being who is supposed to control his emotions right? In today’s world, there are many women who are skimpily dressed. Are you saying it is okay for your husband to violate them just because he has seen a bit of their breasts or thighs?”
“Do not test my patience Teresa,” her tone is suddenly harsh. “The point is, I do not want a word of what happened here today to get out of these walls. You will not say a word to anybody. I do not want my husband’s name dragged into the mud. Am I getting myself understood?”
Teresa does not respond. She can feel tears stinging her eyes.
“I do not want to live here anymore, aunt,” she says finally.
“And where will you go?”
“A hostel. I would like to live in a hostel. I am sure I can find a nice hostel in Rongai,”
“And who will pay for it?”
Tears finally flow down Teresa’s cheeks. That simple question is the summary of her life. Poor and destitute. Her father is out of question. Her mother is a housewife whose expenditure is closely monitored by her husband. And the people who had seemed like her guardian angels have now turned to be monsters.
“I am sorry Teresa,” her aunt says, her face and tone softening. “I did not intend to sound mean. I will pay for it, just like I will continue paying for your education. You can spend the day today looking for a hostel and tell me in the evening if you find a room that you like. But please Teresa, do not mention what happened today to anyone. Is that okay?”
Teresa reluctantly nods.
(Four months later)
Life in the hostel is lonelier than she had imagined. At home she always had her mother Harriet. In school she had her friend Rita. She did not really have a friend while at her aunt’s place, but she always felt loved while there. That place felt like home. That is, until her uncle tried to rape her.
Now she feels alone. She is surprised because staying alone was her idea, so her aunt had rented a bedsitter for her. She is lonely, but she still does not have the energy of entertaining a roommate. Usually she would have made new friends. She made friends easily while in primary school and high school. But after her encounters with her father and uncle, she now keeps largely to herself. Many of the friendly faces who wanted to befriend her have long given up.
Okay, except one boy. His name is Brian. He is kind and makes her laugh, and therefore she considers him a friend. Brian wants to date her, but she doesn’t want anything to do with men. But she trusts him as a friend, so she has even told him about her experiences with her dad and uncle, and why she doesn’t feel ready to date him or anybody else.
He says he wants to marry her, a concept she finds laughable. First, she is barely 20, and marriage is the last thing on her mind. She has other things on her mind first. Like finishing her education, getting a job and becoming independent. She doesn’t like the fact that she depends on the goodwill of her aunt.
Second, the idea of marriage is repulsing to her. She saw her mother being beaten. And her uncle, who was her idea of a model husband, tried to rape her. She has sworn to herself that she will never find herself defending the transgressions of a man like her aunt.
Third, even if she were to entertain the idea of marriage, she wouldn’t get married to a man who takes alcohol. Having grown up with a drunkard of a father, she has come to associate alcohol with everything that was going wrong in their home.
Brian drinks, so in as much as she enjoys his company, she cannot marry him. She is aware that he probably doesn’t even want to marry her, and is probably just using the idea of marriage to get her to sleep with him. She grew up knowing that she wants to save her virginity to the man of her dreams, the man who will be her husband. But that dream has been disillusioned by her father and uncle. True, she is still a virgin because they fortunately did not have their way with her, but she no longer holds the dream of ever meeting Mr. Right.
She is confused about her sexuality. She doesn’t want to get married, but she doesn’t want to die a virgin either. And she certainly doesn’t want to give herself to just any man. She is no longer sure what she wants to do about her sex life, but she is certain that she wants it to happen on her terms. So it will happen when she is ready, and with a man of her own choosing. And that man is certainly not Brian.
But Brian is as unrelenting as he is subtle. He pressures her without making her feel pressured. He drops by every now and then with a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. Sometimes he even comes with other gifts such as shoes or jewelry. He usually pecks her cheeks then tells her how much he loves her and wants her to be his for life. But when she looks at him sharply, he quickly drops the subject.
One day he asks her to go out with him. She refuses, but he persuades her by promising not to talk about marriage.
“I just want us to go out and have some fun then come back,” he says. She agrees.
He takes her to a dingy bar in Rongai, a place that instantly makes her uncomfortable.
“You know I don’t take alcohol Brian. Why would you bring me to a bar?” she asks furiously.
“I am sorry, Tess. Don’t be angry. I don’t even know what I was thinking,” he replies smoothly.
“Let us go back then,”
“Okay, but first let me say hi to a few people then we leave immediately,”
Teresa agrees. He even persuades her to take a soda as she waits for him.
She wakes up in a strange bed, naked and with a strange feeling between her legs. She cannot recall how she got there.
“Good morning beautiful,” Brian says.
Slowly, the events of the previous day unfold in her mind. She remembers going to a bar with Brian and taking a soda. Her memory fades out from there.
“Brian what did you do to me?”
“I didn’t do anything sweetheart. We came here, you said you wanted to make love so we made love and slept,”
“Then how come I don’t remember all that? Why is it that the last thing I remember is taking a soda that you gave me? I am not stupid Brian, I know you drugged me and raped me. But why?”
Brian’s tone suddenly changes and he starts insulting her.
“Because you are a self-centered b****. Yes, I drugged you and had sex with you. What will you do about it? Tell your loving father? I spend money on you and you keep giving me that nonsense about not being ready to date yet you go prostituting to your father and uncle and God knows who else.”
That stings Teresa. She had told him how she was almost raped by her father and uncle because she trusted him as a friend. Without thinking, she shoots out of bed, still naked and slaps him. He gets furious and slaps her back and then forces her back to the bed and forces himself into her again. As she screams, he takes a pillow, covers her face with it until she starts to suffocate.
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