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
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
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 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.