SAVED BY A STRANGER

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Terry Wacuka was the life of the party; no party went down without her nod. She was full of life and this came out in the way she danced, moved and even spoke. Every action of her body; done with vigor and passion appeared to be pushing her soul to the world. She was a sight to behold in the many parties that she attended, everyone watched her as she swung this and that, her hips moving to the rhythm of the music.
Terry was a second year Bio chemistry student at Laikipia University; she was from a well off family which meant that she was well provided for. She rocked the coolest and latest in designer wear, had cool friend; by university standards she had the epitome of a perfect life. Every girl admired her and boys drooled all over her, powerless to her charm and entice. The combination of money, men, fame and alcohol however gave her admiration and contempt in equal measure, like the yin and yang; none overpowering the other, and she seemed to like it this way. It made her life interesting.
Life was pretty good, up until that Friday night, she was out at some party outside campus, it was a friend’s birthday party and in her nature, she couldn’t resist an invite to a party. The small room was full to capacity, with the party spewing into the narrow alleys. Clouds of bhang hung in the air and everyone was in a good mood. She drunk into the night, clutching on to a bottle of vodka by the rim, she sang and danced wildly. She was the last to leave, eyes lazy and head dizzy, she tried exiting the room; holding on to anything, a bed, a chair or anyone; She was very drunk. The last thing that she remembers was a guy carrying her by his arm.
Terry woke up the next morning at 3.30am to find herself lodged between two men. She had no underwear and both her crotch and anal cavity were sore. She stumbled out the door and shot off into the darkness of the morning. She walked barefoot for fifteen minutes; panic stricken, she had not bothered to look for her shoes. She did not yet understand what had happened to her. It would take time to come to terms with being a rape victim.
She spent the better part of that morning in the shower; crying and scrubbing the invisible shades of sin away. It was on a Saturday and her roommate was away at home, she locked herself in, drew the curtains and wept her tear glands dry. She was also nursing a massive hangover. It was around 10.00am when she decided to check her phone and everything took a further nosedive. Details of the previous night’s escapades were plastered all over Facebook with friends and school mates taking turns at letting her have a piece of their own mind. That was the last time she ever attended any party at school. She changed in a day.
In a day, her world had turned dark, cold and lonely; she was slowly coming to terms with what had happened. She felt anxious and the sight of a man made her breathing increase. She ate little, slept for long and had prolonged periods of sadness. She felt used at having to loose her virginity to strangers; strangers that had defiled almost all her body openings. She was slowly imploding to her own emotions, emotions which would reveal the extent of the pockets of grief which had taken refuge in her heart. Grief soon turned to open wounds without healing, periodic moments of self-pity had turned into suicidal thoughts. The grief had served as incubation for depression.
Terry did not bother talking to anyone, how was she to explain what had happened to her? They would probably judge her and possibly hate her more. The shame of telling another being of the pain she felt when she went for both short and long call was enough a deterrent for her.
She now spent her days obsessing and day dreaming of a better life, away from school. It would be a second chance at life. She at times wished the ground would open up and swallow her, or maybe sleep for ever, maybe get into a comma; anything to get rid of the thoughts and the whisper of a question, “ was it her fault ?” she felt that she was to blame for going out so often and drinking too much. The name calling faded with time but the past has a way of clawing its way into the future and it had had clawed its way into her head and she wondered if the two men had raped her body and mind too. She thought the thoughts would stop after a visit to a VCT to put her fear of HIV to rest, but even after confirmation that she was HIV negative, the thoughts persisted.
For so long she had thought that nothing said by man would stick, but it did. It clung to her skin from head to toe, that she could no longer feel nor see anything. She felt dirty, and the dirt scaled and ate its way to her heart. Rape was all that she thought about; it was in front, next, above and even inside her. Her social life had taken a sudden nose dive; her friends did not want to be involved with a basket case. In a bid to get away from everything, she had taken to taking long walks.
On this particular Thursday, she had planned on visiting Thompsons falls; it was a 50 shilling matatu ride from Laikipia and a further 20 minute walk from Nyahururu town. The walk was pretty boring, she seemed deep in thought. There were no tourists and she had the fall all to herself, to cry and plead to God for mercy, for a sign of hope from the heavens.
The view was amazing, but she seemed so pored on her phone to notice the birds, the trees, the mist and the sounds of nature. In a sudden fit of anger, she decided to end it all, the pain was too much, and she was writing a whatsapp suicide note to her friends and family. Some sections were full of love and some were full of anger. She took time to appreciate her family and to admonish the manner in which her close friends had been treating her for the last few months. She then hit enter and it sunk into her that there was no backing down, this was to be her destiny.
She inched closer to the edge, took deep breaths and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she noticed the outline of a man walking slowly towards her, stopping a few paces behind her. She turned slightly to find it was a man in his mid-seventies, he had a slightly wrinkled face, but all the more, he had a warm air that came with him. “Are you okay child?” he asked. She didn’t bother making a reply. In bitter remorse, she chose not to speak back to this man that was so arrogant as to interrupt her final moments. The old man kept on talking about his family, children, his previous job, taking time to make sure the message sunk; that it was not worth it, that life was a gift and that we all have people who care about us.
Her daemons were losing ground to the old man, and she hated it, she inched closer to the edge, so close that her shoes kicked a few pebbles over the edge. She stared into the fall, massive clouds of fog rose from the bottom intoxicating her soul and for a minute, she let down her guard and cried. Bitter tears that ran down her dark skin and fell into the fall and for an instance, the fall seemed to understand her pain.
She was about to jump over the edge when an arm held her by the waist and pulled her back, the old man had joined her behind the barricade. He spun her around and hug her, they remained in this hugging position for quite some time and both cried into each other, perfect strangers that were so entwined in emotion. The old man made a point of driving her back to school. She didn’t bother asking for his name or address. In the heat of the emotions it didn’t cross her mind to give him a thank you. She simply got off his old Toyota pickup truck and vanished into the school.
She never told anyone of the ordeal and nobody got to know of it, as it turned out, her phones data connection had been off and her suicide notes were never sent. That was the last she saw of the man. She is still the school slut and has no friends. She constantly lapses into suicidal tendencies but the old man’s words always give her something to hold on to, he is her savior.
-Antony Mwangi.

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