several years ago, i sat down in a matatu and a man touched my thigh. i told him to stop touching me. the man next to him told me it was because my skirt was too short.
i began to wear longer skirts.
two days after that, a man at odeon reached out and squeezed my breasts between his long fingers as if checking for ripe tomatoes. i told him to stop touching me. he told me my shirt was cut too low for him to resist.
i began to wear shirts with a higher neckline.
a few days after that, a man at work run his hand over my butt and smiled at me. i told him to stop touching me. he said my trousers hugged my butt very nicely, told me he was only being appreciative and if i didn’t want him to be, i shouldn’t wear such tight clothes.
i began to wear looser trousers.
one weekend, my uncles sat in a circle and pointed out the things they appreciated about my body. i asked them to be quiet. they told me that as long as i remained single, i still belonged to them.
i went and found myself a man to marry.
several months later, my husband hit me for the umpteenth time because—i don’t even remember why. later, he apologised (again), and said that perhaps it was time we thought about growing our family, growing our love.
we had a daughter together. i wept.
at a party three weeks ago, someone in the crowd caressed my fully covered breasts and disappeared before i could say anything. my friends explained to me that childbirth had given me an admirable bosom.
i went home and chopped off my boobs and bled and bled and bled. my shirts no longer fit me.
last weekend, my husband stumbled into our bed piss-drunk and grabbed my butt. i told him to leave me alone, and he said my butt belonged to him. i told him itdid not and he hit me hard across the head. i think i remember our daughter crying. i woke up and felt the pain he had left between my legs. he told me that’s what love felt like sometimes. he did not notice the holes in my chest.
the next morning i sliced off my butt and bled and bled and bled. my trousers no longer fit me.
on tuesday, one of the men at the construction site down the street slapped at my hips and cried out to his friends to look at this woman with a flat chest and a flat butt, but hips that compensated for the lack. i told him i did not want his hands on me. he asked me if i thought he cared what i wanted.
i turned around and hobbled back home and carved and carved and carved until my hips lay on the floor. and i bled and bled and bled and bled.
yesterday morning, i drove to the doctor’s office to get something for the pain. he touched me. he touched me again. he kept touching me. he did not stop touching me. he told me he had always liked skinny women, had always thought the women around him were too thick for him.
i walked out of his office, drove home, sat on the bathroom floor and cut and bled and cut and bled and cut and bled.
i cut and bled and cut and bled until i disappeared.
earlier today, i hovered over my daughter and watched in horror as her teacher slid his hands into her panties, worked his fingers inside her, held her mouth shut until he was finished.
my daughter—no breasts, a little girl’s hips, skinny thighs, a flat butt— went home and took a knife and scraped at where it hurt. she bled and bled and bled and bled. she bled until it stopped hurting. she floated up to me and held my hand.
she whispered, “mummy, we’re safe now. they cannot reach us here.”