When as a teenager I’d be asked what I feared most about being a mother, I’d tell them the idea of giving birth. It was that simple. I knew nothing of it then but I had managed to grapple some foggy tit bits of info that suggested it wasn’t pain free. Flashback to my earlier toddling and childing years where my mom got away with that collosal comic charade of saying that babies were bought. From supermarkets. Like bread. And that if you didn’t get the one you most fancied, or if the one you most fancied behaved badly (like intentionally or unintentionally disrupting coital missionary arrangements between you and your spouse), you could take it back at a non refundable fee.
That worked for a short while till my science teacher thought it Solomon-wise to introduce topics like the Male and Female reproductive systems? Fallopian tubes and supersonic, tadpole resembling, slimy things called sperms? And actually going ahead to explain that when a man and woman engaged their private parts in activities not recommended for children like us, babies are born? And that if we tried that at home, we’d end up with fleas feasting off our private parts and leprosy like symptoms would be on us like white on rice? Who wants anything feeding off their private parts? I mean, in that way? At that point, everything I had in me went with the wind. Every ounce of innocence and trust I held in humanity and its evolution. Kapish. Or so I thought. And then I grew up.
Fast forward to 2016 and about a decade and a half later. If anyone asks me what my greatest fear in being a mother is, I’d tell them being one. That simple. I have shrivelled, cowered behind my phone’s keyboard, gone to pee non existent urine, fart non existent air, checked non existent messages before I finally mustered about 0.00001 kilo joules of strength to write this part. I’ve being typing one sentence and backspacing at least two for the past hour.
Here’s the thing. We have had about two cases in the past two months about under aged children being taken advantage of, sexually. They were not brought to our attention by the media as breaking news. No. They were advertised. The perpetrators came forth and beastily thumped their chests of their achievements in laying those girls, allowing our brains to take on a disturbing gory mental tour. They personally fed into our imagination, talked into our frontal lobes, made us see how much fun they seemingly had. As a nation, we were furiously outraged, grossed out, we made social media hashtags and noise in similar sittings, we demanded justice for the young girls. We stood together, held hands and said no to paedophiles. Just for that day. Then we moved on to other more fascinating trending topics like Ezekiel Mutua, laughing our asses out whilst distributing memes on WhatsApp groups. It’s life, right? Right. But that IS NOT life for those girls, who’re out there somewhere. They ARE somewhere out there. And the men free on bond out there as well. I’ll give you 5 seconds to let that sink in.
Still with me? Good. These girls are nursing injuries. Who knows what the men did to them. How they did what they did. In what massiveness? The vagina of an 11-12year old, is roughly as tiny as your door’s keyhole. Maybe smaller. Barely visible. The penile hardness of a grown ass man is just as hard as your metal tap, maybe thrice as huge. To successfully penetrate that, you need to pound and not just hard. Extra hard. This is a girl whose pelvic bones are still weak and fragile and reek of infancy. Whose vertebrae cannot fully support the weight of a 60-70 kg man, sweating on top of her like an obese pig.
She was probably going home from school, thinking about that Social Studies test that she flunked, or remembering the wreck back at home. Or how hungry they’ll sleep again. Or how hard the father will thrash the mother. Or which style she’ll be plaited over the school holidays. Or where the father will take them after church on Sunday. Typical Kenyan setting. Typical child. All those things were taken away from her, as soon as those men had their way with them.
Their mothers have cried tears surmountable to none, I assure you. Wailed, tore their clothes in pain, held their heads in disbelief, and their abdomens in weakness. They groaned for their violated children and their crumbled future. They saw them as damaged goods and made women too early. They cried because they imagined and only saw the physical aftermath of the harm caused. Nobody will see or care about the mental aftermath, believe me.
The sleepless nights full of nightmares. The post traumatic stress. The anxiety when she gets out of the house and idlers smoking pot or chewing khat catcalling her. Anytime she bends to wipe the floor or pick the broom and someone rushes past her, accidentally touching her waist, or her hip. Or anywhere near her body. The way she’ll jerk and jump, flooding back all the memories, sending her into fits of tears. No one sees what will be expected of her as a young woman who has graduated college and wants absolutely nothing to do with a relationship.
Many men will come her way, entice her with little love messages, bars of chocolates, bouquets of white roses, telling her she’s the only bean in their githeris, ask for her to open her heart to them, but she won’t be able to. They will tell her things John Legend tells us in his music. Things like I’ll love parts of you that you hate. Things like I’ll love you for who you are, I don’t care about your past. Things like let me love you until you’re healed. They’ll tell her impossible things. The key to her emotional heart was snatched away from her after that terrible heart-quake that took place when she was 11 years old, and thrown away deep into an erupting volcano burying the pit of lions that Daniel was thrown into. She can not get it back. She will not be able to love herself any more than she hates her own vomit. She still feels the filth in those man’s hands as they groped her buttocks, tore her skirt and forced in their fingers into her vagina. She can still smell his sweat, hear his moans against her ear lobes, feel the movements as if it was just yesterday. She sees him in every man she meets.
Then society being so damn good at what it does, will judge her for being ‘too uptight’ and her inability ‘to get into a marriage’ and say mean bullshit ass things like ‘it takes a strong woman to get and stay married’ or things like ‘your mom did not teach you how to behave that’s why you’re unmarried’. Some demented arseholes (please do not forgive my French), blessed with half baked, pea sized brains, will go into their Facebooks, waste the office Wi-Fi, posting things like ‘young children are raped because they come from single parenthoods’ or ‘they are raped because they dress too exposingly’ or ‘what do you expect a man to do when you walk off exposing your thighs like that’ ‘ or ‘if I buy you two cans of guaranas, you better wear your underwear on your head”. Let’s not go there today.
Yes. I’m afraid of being a mother. Bringing a child into this cruel world full of idiots, paedophiles, self absorbed narcissists and a society that’d rather kill than protect. I am afraid because if I don’t fight for my own child no one will fight for him/her. I’m afraid that if I’m gone, my children will be left to the snares of a crooked life staring down at them like ravenous crocodiles. I’m afraid that I’ll teach them love, generosity, peace, goodness of hearts and how to cohabitate but something else more powerful than the government will come to take all that away and turn them into grains of useless ashes. I’m afraid that if my child is in danger, someone somewhere will twist that and tell them it was their fault they got into that danger in the first place, regardless. I’m afraid that there’s more fear than love to bring forth a tiny helpless human into it. I’m afraid and my heart’s too frail to handle the cruelty that awaits my child. THAT’S why. Do not tell me it’s survival for the fittest because I’m barely strong for myself, I do not want to imagine how weak I’ll be for my child.
Humanity is dead, wrap your head around that for a minute or two.
**This article first appeared on BABJI’S BLOG.