There is a common saying about “calm before a storm”. You know that period of time when everything seems perfect then suddenly, your world comes crushing down on you. Everything changes in just seconds and suddenly life as you once knew it is gone and you are left trying to figure it all out. That is what happened on that fateful evening in the streets of Nairobi.
The dinner was amazing and so was the wine which made everyone happier or at least laugh more. The mood was simply great, lots of story telling and laughter, you know the usual girls’ night. We had so much fun catching up and just laughing about the most random things. I had picked the hotel based on the fact that I knew it was great, the ambience, music and food was always on point and this time, we were definitely not disappointed.
We left the restaurant at about 10:00pm and got into our separate care. The girls heading to Embakasi had a separate car. Dawn, Mumbi, Cera and I were to ride together in the car that was heading towards the Nairobi- Naivasha highway. Dawn was to drop us at Cera’s house where we were to spend the night and then drive to her place a few blocks from Cera’s.
The ride from town to Cera’s place only took about 20 minutes since there was no traffic on Waiyaki Way. As usual, we were in a great mood albeit fatigued after a long day at work and a great evening out. Soon we were at Cera’s and so we stopped right in front of her gate and got out of the car.
Suddenly, there was a loud sound of screeching wheels coming to a halt. In just a matter of seconds, there were men surrounding us, pushing us back into the car. I thought of screaming but was quickly silenced by a sharp blade placed on my throat. Cera, Mumbi and I were pushed back to the backseat of the car whereas Dawn was forced into the passenger’s seat. One of the men took the wheel whereas two more men sat at the back with us, sandwiching us on both sides. They started driving us back to highway with another car following us closely.
I remember the fear that engulfed me. I tried to stay still but something clearly told me that my life was in danger. Next to me, Cera started sobbing quietly followed by Mumbi. This seemed to annoy the men as the next thing I heard was a loud slap on Cera that shut her up immediately. I remember forcing my mind to immediately go to another place. I didn’t want to think about what was happening to us. I tried not to be afraid and instead wore a blank stare as if I wasn’t even part of the nightmare. However, there was no escape for me even mentally.
We drove all the way past Kikuyu town and stopped somewhere near the Wida Highway Motel. The car veered off the main highway and unto a rough road. At this point, I could see Cera holding her rosary in her hands saying a prayer. Mumbi had her head down and from the heaving; I could tell that she was still crying. Suddenly, Dawn tried to do something none of us had dared to do. She started negotiating with the men. Dawn is a business woman and she is used to boardroom negotiations but this didn’t seem like the right time for such negotiations. She offered the men our phones, wallets and even jewelry. For a moment, I thought the men would listen but instead, the man seated next to me leaned forward placing the knife under Dawns chin and practically lifting her up with the blade. We all started pleading with him asking for forgiveness on her behalf until he let her go. Terrified, Dawn slid down her seat and lowered her head. She accepted that there would be no negotiations to be done this time.
After about 30 minutes into the rough road, the cars stopped. We were in the middle of nowhere with only trees surrounding us. There were no houses or even cars around us. We were pushed out of the car into the dark night. The second car came to halt and the driver and a second man came out. In total, there were five men. We were easily outnumbered and overpowered.
They made us kneel down on the dirt and stood hovering over us. Suddenly, they started talking as if we were not even there. They talked and laughed about something we could not understand. They then started referring to us as “Wasichana high class” High Class women. It seemed that they were very pleased with the kidnapping having assumed that we had a lot of money and so expecting to make a kill from the horrific incident. All the while the girls were all sobbing again. For some reason, I couldn’t even cry. I kept forcing my mind away from the present. I tried to think about other neutral things. It didn’t seem to work though.
I looked up and my eyes came into contact with those of one of the men. He was the youngest in the group. There was something about him, for a second he looked unsure of what to do. He didn’t even look like he belonged with the group. I had a faint glimmer of hope that he may be able to sympathize with us. He kept looking at me but when I looked back at him, he would quickly look away.
After a while, we were all ordered to stand up. Then they then asked us to strip naked. It was so humiliating since the men were just lined up in front of us. At that moment, all my self-worth and dignity seemed to hit the ground at the same time with every piece of clothe that I was wearing. We stood there in the middle of the night, headlights shining on us and almost freezing to death. It was a cold night and for a moment I thought that if I didn’t die in the hands of the men, then I would die from the cold.
One man stood up and started going through our handbags. They took all our phones and money. They then turned to clothes and started checking all pockets for extra money. They took anything that they thought looked expensive. I lost my shoes at this point since according to one of the guys, they looked like designer shoes. Although I knew they were not! I had just bought them a week ago from a street vendor at Ngara for a hundred shillings.
At this point I am sure that all the girls had the same thought. We were going to get raped. It is the worst fear for any woman and for us. It seemed inevitable at that moment. I tried praying to God and just silently pleading with the men not to subject us to anymore torture. I heard someone crying again but I couldn’t tell who. It was dark and we all had our heads bowed down standing about a foot from each other. After what seemed like forever, someone ordered us to dress up. It seemed like the worst had passed.
Just as I bent down to pick my skirt, I saw a pair of feet in front of me. Suddenly, my heart started racing and I could feel my whole body break out into a cold sweat. I tried to grab my skirt but then man stepped on it. I looked up and was shocked to see that it was the young man who I thought had looked unsure of himself.” Stand up!” He screamed at me. I turned and looked at my friends and was surprised to see them dressing. Now I was the only naked person in the group.
I kept wondering what I had done wrong. I mean, why me. Why was that happening to me? Why was I being singled out at that moment?
“So you are the courageous one in this group”. He asked with a scorn.
I was so confused and wondered what he meant by the comment.
“ Huyo mwanamke anakaa tu kichwa ngumu”. That woman looks strong headed. One of the men said. “While the others are crying and begging for their lives, she was just standing there looking at you”. He added.
“So you are one of those women who think that they are better than men since you probably have a degree and a good job?” He asked again. I was still in shock; I couldn’t even fake tears even if I tried.
I just started praying again and this time, I didn’t do it silently.
Suddenly, my worst fears were confirmed as soon as I saw him unbuckle his belt. He pushed me to the ground and started raping me all the while hitting my face whenever he felt like it. I remember looking into his eyes again and thinking back to when I thought he would be our rescue. I tried to block my mind from everything but once again, failed miserable. That face will haunt me for the rest of my life. When he was done, he stood up and I could hear the other men laughing and making some crude remarks. I couldn’t believe that it had happened.
I lay there on the ground; wishing death would take over me. My face hurt and so did my whole body. I felt dirty, truly worthless and I just wanted to die so bad. I wished they would just kill me. I felt like my life was over. How will I ever look at myself in the mirror again? How will I ever get rid of that feeling of being so dirty and feeling like nothing? I wondered why God had let that happen to me. All my life bad things seem to happen to me. The child abuse, the heartbreaks after heartbreaks, all I have known is pain. This was the worst thing yet and it had happened to me.
I felt someone touch me and I thought it was a second man. I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried and tried to hit him until I heard the voice. It was Cera. I looked around me and realized that they were all gone. The girls were around me, crying, trying to wipe all the filth and blood off me and dress at me at the same time. For some reason, I was so angry at them. This happened to me, not them! I was the one destroyed so what were they even crying about. I just wanted them to leave me alone. Cera’s car was left behind although it was stripped of all valuables including the GPS and the stereo system. We drove back and headed straight to the hospital. I was treated and put on antiretroviral medication for a few days.
The days after the ordeal were a nightmare. The medication used to make feel nauseous and every time I took them, I saw the eyes. Those eyes haunt me every night and remind me of the ordeal. I completely cut all the communication with the girls since I couldn’t bare look at them. I know it wasn’t their fault but I just felt bad about what happened to me. I felt like they had no idea what I was going through and would never understand. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and I hid under big dark clothes. I cut off everyone and tried to concentrate on my job so as to numb out the horrible memories.
I remember that it was exactly eleven weeks after the carjacking and rape that I was able to go back to church again. For weeks I had avoided praying and I was angry at God. I kept wondering if He even knew me. Did He even hear why prayers? If not, why do I even bother praying? Why did He let me live? I often asked myself. For those weeks, suicide was always on my mind. I felt like all my dreams had been shattered. I thought I would never get married. I mean who would want damaged goods. I felt ugly, unloved and so worthless.
I went to church on that Sunday giving God an ultimatum. I asked Him to give me a sign, show me what He wants from me. If I didn’t get a sign, I would kill myself. I would drive my car off the highway and just kill myself. It would all be over.
At the church, I sat at the back. I didn’t want to participate in worship and just wanted the preaching to start. I wondered what the message would be. I remember when the speaker was introduced, my heart sunk. It was a man! I didn’t want a male preacher since I felt like all men were the same. I wanted to walk out of the church but for the first time in my life, I heard a voice so clear commanding me to listen.
The sermon was about “God can turn you from a zero to a hero”. It was about people like me who felt worthless. It was a message of hope. The speaker spoke of Rahab from the Bible. The prostitute who hid the spies and this act made her a heroine and her life was turned around from then.
Joshua 6:26: But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho–and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
God had taken Rahab, a woman of ill repute who many would have referred to as being worthless and he had transformed her life. I felt like Rahab. I wasn’t a prostitute but I was worthless, in my own eyes I was. For the first time in weeks, I went down on my knees, raised my hands to heavens and started praying as tears fell down my eyes. I asked God to fix me. I also asked him to make me His vessel that other women who felt like me would know that they were not worthless. A feeling of calmness washed over me, my heart felt lighter and my spirit soared. I felt alive again.
I remember getting back to my car after the service feeling like a new woman. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to reach out to other rape victims and every single woman who had been made to feel worthless. I wanted to reach out to them through my writing. I left church that day feeling lighter and just happier.
Driving home was a joy. I sang and prayed all the way, just had conversations with God thanking Him for a second chance and asking Him to fix me again and make me whole.
No sooner had I gotten back to the highway than I witnessed a grisly road accident. A man was trying to cross the highway when the car in front of me hit him. He was practically thrown over the car with so much force that he landed just in front of my car. That sickening thud on impact made me think that he must have died on the spot. I stopped my car and to my shock saw that the other driver was speeding away. The highway was deserted at that time and I wondered what to do.
I walked out of the car slowly and towards the figure lying on the ground all twisted up. The sight that met me was terrible. Bones sticking out, intestines sprawled out and a massive blood bath. It was horrible. I heard the man make a sound and so I drew closer to him. I looked down at him, wanting to say something to him but suddenly, I froze.
The eyes! It was him.
The man lying right in front of me was the man who had raped me about three months ago. I looked at him and in anger walked right back to my car. He deserved to die. Right there in the middle of the road like a dog. Now he knows how it feels to feel like you are worthless. He deserved it all. I backed up my car and started to drive around him. However, my heart and mind just wouldn’t let me.
I got out of the car and walked back to him. He looked so bad. He had blood coming out of his mouth and ears and his eyes also looked bloody. I used my phone to call for help and actually managed to reach the hospital where I was treated after my rape ordeal. They promised to send emergency response.
Looking at the man, I sat down near him. I couldn’t move him since I was sure more damage would be done. “Po—ole”. He kept mumbling in Kiswahili just saying sorry over and over again. I looked at him in the state that he was in. Right then, In my heart I let it go. I had gotten my second chance at life. I don’t know if he was going to get since he clearly seemed to be dying. I held his hand feeling no life there and sat with him until I heard the sirens of the ambulance. The picked him and rushed him to hospital.
I left the scene with my conscience clear. I had forgiven the man. I let go of all that anger, the pain. God had forgiven me numerous times for all my sins and I simply prayed that He would give me the grace to forgive that man. For the second time that day, I felt a heavy weight get lifted off my shoulders. My mind and heart were completely at peace.
He died on his way to hospital. However, those eyes, the burden of un-forgiveness and simply everything that weighing me down left with him that day. I was free once again. He fixed me. God did.
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself” Tony Robbins
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This message in this story was inspired by a sermon that i heard at a Daughters of Zion meeting at JCC, Parklands Church. Daughters of Zion is a ladies meeting held at the church every last Saturday of every month.The next service will be on October 26, 2013 starting at 1:00pm.
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