Five o’clock in the evening… The sun is nowhere to be seen. It is as if the guys who feed its fire with wood are also quarantined. The breeze is quiet and chilly. You’d think it is past seven pm.
I am sitting on an old bench outside some very old shanty. With me is T and a two other women. The thing is, we are all sitting a bit far from each other. Nobody wants to catch the virus. Once now and then, you will hear us laugh. The laughter in itself is not jovial.. It carries with it a wave of sadness.. Who would have thought we would laugh and be sad at the same time?
T is wearing her yellow hoodie with some green pants and some black rubbers.. She looks like she is alternating between looking like a ripe and unripe banana.. Next to her is Mother to N. In my culture we don’t address women with kids with their first name.. It is always ‘Mother to so and so’. She is in a heavy grey jumper.. I can’t see exactly what she has on the bottom because she is covered in a Maasai shawl.. We are her customers with T. She does sell boiled beans and chapati.We always want to change the place we buy from, but she isn’t pure evil. One day we will get stomach upsets and spend the night outside the loo, yet other days, her stuff is good. So all we do is buy and pray we don’t fall sick.
The other woman; She is a stranger. I haven’t met her before. She carries with her some air of sadness. It is as if there is nothing you can do to take that sadness away. That is all i notice. I only realize later that maybe i’d have noted what she had on to shield herself from the cold.
‘I no longer know what to say to her,’ she says.
‘To him, i want to cut that dick off.’..
We laugh. That laughter is just a sound: hollow and devoid of any joy.. I look at her. Really look.
‘Why is he still not in jail?’ I ask.
She doesn’t answer immediately and i think maybe she didn’t hear me. I want to repeat the question but T gives me the ‘shut up’ look. I bite my tongue.
‘You know,’she starts so softly that we think we imagined it. ‘I don’t know how to tell my family that my husband, the protector of my kids is defiling his own daughter. I don’t know what to tell the world. I don’t know how to tell myself that my husband is doing that to our first baby. Our own flesh and blood.’ A tear falls down her cheek and we are helpless. She looks so alone, yet we are right here with her.
‘What if we take you and start by telling the police. It is a step,’ Mother of N suggests.
‘My baby, will be tested, she will be questioned and maybe have to testify against her own father.. Yet she is only 9. Why can’t he act like a man?’ she questions.
None of us got answers to her questions. I can feel my legs freezing up and my hands are dead… Weirdly, tears haven’t frozen in my eyes. I can feel them threatening.
T looks like she is far away. It is like we lost a war that we didn’t even know we are fighting. Fathers are supposed to protect..
I remember my dad. I thought nobody was capable of doing anything to him.. I worshiped the very ground he walked on.. He looked out for us and extended it to cousins and neighbors kids. What happened to that breed of men?
It’s T looking at me. I touch my face and realize i was crying.
As we walk on the dusty paths of Kibiku, towards the police station, our hearts are heavy, our demeanor is defeated and our shoulders are slumped.
Everyone is lost in their own thoughts about a girl whose life will never be the same again. Who will fight to survive, trust and love.. Who will fight to heal.
My thoughts drift off to our fathers.. The fighters, the warriors, the providers, even in their graves, our protection totems.. I can feel my tears fall and my heart sink…. It is sad and i can feel my heart sigh ‘oh how the mighty have fallen’.. 😢😢😢