Many years ago, I must have been in my first year in college, a classmate got a boyfriend.
He was in his thirties and had a job. He was what we called ‘working class’ in those days. He had a car too, and would regularly pick her up from college after classes. He showered her with expensive gifts, including a mobile phone at a time when one cost an arm and a leg.
He also seemed to be always calling her, wanting to know where she was and who she was with. I recall how he would throw a tantrum if she told him they could not meet because she was going somewhere with friends. We thought it was cute and wished we could find ourselves a boyfriend that loved us that much, one that wanted to spend his every waking moment with us, one that would get jealous if he saw us with another man. Our young and inexperienced selves equated this mental disorder, this possessiveness, with love. How wrong we were.
As time went by, this friend, a girl that had previously been happy-go-lucky, changed. She began to wear the look of a cornered rabbit, and each time her ‘flip’ phone rang, she would almost jump out of her skin. She also stopped hanging out with us, and when we asked why, her working class boyfriend’s name would almost always come up.
We would learn much later that she was in a violent relationship when a cousin of hers informed us that she was admitted to hospital with a fractured jaw and broken ribs. Determined to end the abusive relationship, she had broken off her relationship with the deranged man, only for him to descend on her with kicks and blows, beating her black and blue.
This story came to mind when I read the unfortunate story of Ivy Wangechi, the Moi University medical student who was hacked to death by a man she had rejected. I would like to address any young woman reading this.
Possessiveness is not love. That boyfriend who wants to control who you socialise with, that one who insists on scrolling through your phone, constantly calls you just to say hi and wants to know where you are and who you are with all the time does not love you. Love is not controlling. Love is not possessive.
If there is a man in your life who is using gifts and money to try and win your attention or love, run, because he is a disaster waiting to happen to you.
If you have told him that you are not interested in him and yet he is still hanging around, hoping that you will change your mind, telling you that he will wait for you no matter how long it takes, don’t be flattered. Be very afraid because there is something very wrong with him.
Normal behaviour, when one is rejected, is to walk away, not to stay put, begging the person that rejected you to change his or her mind. If you have someone like that in your life, do all you must to protect yourself, including sharing your fears with everyone that can shield and protect you. By all means go ahead and report him to the police and ensure that this tormentor knows it. My heart goes out to Ivy’s family.
The writer is the Editor, Society and Magazines [email protected]