I am the One You Left Behind

She was born into a world that tore women apart

Heard them say them ladies are weak

The noise in between understanding her body and growing up

Barely gave her time to breath


It was “you must be this because you wear skirts’

to “this is your place as a girl” to

” give sex to a man whenever he asks for it” to

“be nice”


Nobody cared for the death of her dreams

She was not meant to be seen


Yet each time it was her turn to cross the street

Somebody saw it feet to grab her hand,

Spank her ass

and whistle

whistle as if she were nothing more than stray dog

patting her ass, commanding unwelcome attention

She was asked to smile, appreciate the ‘compliment’

she was only visible when they wanted


Mama was too powerless to say anything

But ” don’t play with boys, they’ll hurt you”

nothing about daddy’s home matches with her back

the kicks and snares that did not make very good music

only screams and nightmares.


Why were these men still the ones making laws?

paying for sex and saying what food they wanted?


Why did her body still want them so bad?


Wasn’t there another way out

to live away from the burden of being a woman?

Whose body still felt like a foreigner’s?

Because strangers decided what must do

and what she shouldn’t do with it/

Because men in government passed laws on her body, her rights, her choices, her life/

Because it seemed like everyone had a say, everyone but her.


Her cycles of blood muted for a while

She remembered the curse that neighbourhood

boy spit into her depths

with his blind angry rod

that fateful evening after school

Rape is ugly! But for some reason, she felt ugly

she couldn’t separate herself from that act that had been so savagely done to her

she felt defiled. They called her defiled.


Her belly came of age with time

She feared the scorn of her family

ran away from home

the distant church felt like a childhood friend

who had no interest in rekindling yester memories of laughter

and merry Sunday mornings

She was defiled, undeserving of their empathy and understanding

She recalled that old uncomfortable feeling

feeling like a stray dog


Something brewed inside her

Resentment, confusion and a child


One night on the news

they said mothers are dying in hospital

giving birth to their babies

the babies they hoped to live for

oh-to be a woman- it is full of contradictions

when an act that should brew deep pleasure

brews pain, resentment and shame

and from that act,

a process that should beget life

begets death instead.

They die giving life..contradictions galore!


She was not ready to die

17 was so low on life’s scale

sex was already her worst dream

and reporting was an unwelcome thought

her life had stagnated, his went on undeterred

Like he had done nothing to cause earthquakes


The doctor at the hospital said abortion was illegal

he didn’t want to go to prison

“they only do it for women at risk of death”

or something like that…

she couldn’t remember

everything was a blur

couldn’t he see she was at risk of dearth?

couldn’t he see she could not fathom the thought of going on?


But she didn’t want to be a mother, she couldn’t be a mother

she wasn’t ready

she hadn’t even known herself

what was it going to be like carrying a child yet she was one/


Should she go to the crook in the ghetto

to get rid of the fruit in her womb?

Maybe she wouldn’t come back, ;like her friend Awino

or Wanjiku, who has never been the same since

I guess it meant it was time to leave

….this world

this rowdy, grinding, biased, unforgiving world


Two days after she was reported missing

they found a suicide note in her school bag

with the name of the neighborhood boy

and the last line that read

‘I am the one you left behind’


Faith Wafula is Nafula is a fierce advocate for gender equality and human rights,  passionate about Pan-Africanism and social justice. She is currently the Vice Chair for Policy and Advocacy at the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Nafula Wafula

Nafula Wafula is a fierce advocate for gender equality and human rights, passionate about Pan-Africanism and social justice. She is currently the Vice Chair for Policy and Advocacy at the Commonwealth Youth Council.

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