It has been five years since we last spoke. My last words to you were hurtful and spiteful and you know why. But I want you to know today that I have forgiven you. I no longer hold a grudge against you and my heart is at peace.
Let me start from the beginning.
When we met in campus in 2006, it was love at first sight. This tall knight came to greet me during the first week of school and my heart, as they say in romance novels, skipped a beat.
I was enchanted by your smile, your twinkling eyes and your deep, husky voice as you asked whether anyone had taken the seat next to me. I stared at you, then mumbled “No, it’s free.”
And you sat next to me. I can tell you for free that I have no idea what the lecturer talked about for the next three hours. I was surprised though, that you kept sitting next to me in the two classes we shared that semester.
Our friendship and an unprecedented romance blossomed from those initial interactions. Soon, we became inseparable. It was a good year, well, until you started pressuring me into sex and getting annoyed whenever I told you I wanted to wait. You slapped me over the sex issue, and you once beat me up and told me you were the man.
We closed school for the holidays and communication became strained. But I remember one day after receiving my first allowance from my internship, I bought Sh250 Safaricom credit to call you – that was a big deal back then as calls were quite expensive.
We talked during my lunch break and my heart did a happy dance. I was stupidly in love. After almost an hour, I had to go back to work and I promised to call later at night. But when I did, a girl picked up. I thought it was your sister so I called out her name.
But the lady responded in a harsh tone that she was your girlfriend.
She asked why I was constantly texting her boyfriend. And my heart sank. I hang up the phone. I called later and there was no response. A few days later when you called me, I asked you about her and we argued. That was our first major fight.
That day you said something, harsh words that I remember to date because they seared through my heart and left an empty hole that has taken me years to fill: “If I can’t get it from you, I will get it elsewhere.”
The beatings, the insults over sex were nothing compared to the hurt I felt by your betrayal and by those hurtful words. Was I just a sex object?
Wasn’t I something more? A future? That was the end of us.
I hurt so much. But the long four-month holiday helped numb me and I tried to move on.
I met someone though the relationship was rocky because I had not healed. So, when we were in our last semester of second year and you invited me for a talk after sending so many emissaries with your apologies, I thought it would be good for closure. I came to your room in the afternoon.
And you surprised me by cooking for me my favourite dish. But the surprise was you cooking. You had said before that you would never cook for a woman because you were a ‘total man’. But that day you did. And it was a sweet thing to do. I enjoyed the meal and the cocktail served with it.
We talked and laughed and everything seemed okay. You escorted me back to my room. That week you walked me to and from class, and even waited for me after other classes that we did not share.
You invited me again to your hostel, I think it was a Friday. I agreed. You cooked again. And said you want us to be together again.
That you will marry me. But I said sex was still not on the table and I would think about the proposed relationship as I had met someone.
The cloudy look on your face and your angry eyes should have been the warning sign. But I was enjoying your company and I felt the flickers of love again. You gave me another glass of punch and we continued talking.
I NEEDED SAFETY
And then, I started feeling like something was off. You kissed me and I kissed you back. But I remembered I now had a boyfriend and I told you no. But when I tried to stand up, I was wobbly.
You moved me towards your bed and I kept saying no, and began walking towards the door. You slapped me and pushed me hard to the bed. I was scared. I couldn’t scream. I tried to push you away. I did not pass out, though I wish I had. I remember you on top of me and I remember the pain between my legs and the pain in my heart. I cried and cried. I cannot remember how long I cried.
But I remember you falling asleep, then me getting up, dressing up and leaving that hostel. I walked outside wandering in the dark at around midnight. I walked towards the dispensary, reached near the gate and just stood there.
The guard asked if I was okay and if I needed help.
He was concerned but to me he was a man. And I did not need a man right now. I needed safety. I turned and ran all the way back to the girls’ hostel. I showered for more than an hour trying to wash all the dirt away.
I know I should have first gone to hospital but I didn’t. I scrolled through my phonebook looking for who to call but I could not gather the courage.
I skipped classes the next week and locked myself in my room. I couldn’t talk to anyone.
But life had to go on. After this I was really scared of men. I dumped my boyfriend because I was just unfair to him yet he had never hurt me. I couldn’t date for a long time and I found solace in books.
I began to heal after campus, but I was never the same.
YOU CALLED ME
Five years ago, in 2013, you called me. I had changed my number but you got it from a mutual acquaintance. I slammed the phone down as memories came flooding back. The ghosts of that night and of many more sleepless nights clouded my thoughts and I feigned illness at work to go home. I felt uneasy again and felt as if someone was stalking me. I couldn’t bear to be with anyone. But I got over it.
Later that year, we bumped into each other at a restaurant in town. I was seated with a mutual friend and I couldn’t leave, but I felt safe with her around. You said you had come back to Nairobi and wanted to talk.
Our mutual friend excused herself and I realised you had used her to get to me. She never knew what you did to me only that we were a good couple in campus and she wanted to see us back together.
You talked and apologised and I just listened. I cried. And I finally walked away and asked you never to talk to me again.
I said I hated you and what you had made me become. You tried to reach out to me again several times over the year, but I ignored you. You finally gave up. For 11 years I struggled to heal, to move on, to be happy.
But John, I want to tell you that I am okay now. No, we will never be together and I prefer not to be in the same space as you, but I have forgiven you and moved on. I no longer hate men and I realise there are some good men out there.
I always pray that you find peace and make amends with your maker. I wish you all the best.
Off My Chest is an open forum for anyone who wants to share their story or write letters they have always wanted to write.