I am 37 years old. My story has been too painful to narrate. I have never narrated it to anyone because I doubt any words can visibly describe the pain, the humiliation and betrayal an ordeal cemented in my heart.
My former home was in a village in the former Nyanza province. At the age of 10, most girls in our village would be pronounced ready for FGM, but my aunt came to my rescue when I was only seven years old.
Not having children of their own she and her husband easily convinced my parents that they would pay for my education and upkeep if I would go to live with them in Nairobi. My aunt knew the dangers and humiliation girls go through during and after FGM, having gone through it herself.
Because her singular voice would only drown in the crowd if she were to protest, she decided to save at least one person. Graciously that one person turned out to be me because I was the youngest girl. I am the third girl among four boys and three girls. Aunt Regina took me in as her own child and I enjoyed all the luxuries there were in a wealthy, sophisticated and Christian family.
I went to the best schools, ate the best foods and often travelled with my new family across the country for mission work. My aunt ensured that I never went to the village alone; she would always accompany me and not at any point would I be a distance from her view. I completed high school and joined Kenyatta University to pursue a Bachelor in Education.
Life in university was thrilling. Like most of the girls, I got myself a boyfriend who was very proud of me because I was not "cut." He was from my village and we even went to the same nursery school before I went to Nairobi. In my second year, I introduced him to my aunt and they connected very well.
One day, I called my mother in the village and told her that I already had a boyfriend. My aunt had cautioned me to report any FGM enticement from her. When she remarked that my other sisters would look down on me if I got married without being ushered into womanhood, I reported it to my aunt immediately.
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An exchange of bitter words would later ensue between the two sisters with my mother telling aunt Regina that she should get her own children. She however denied having suggested anything about FGM to me. I couldn't bear seeing my aunt crying after the exchange because I felt like I was to blame. I reassured her that I was her child and that being an adult now, I could choose where and with whom to live with.
However, I called my mother in order to make peace and the bad blood between them was cleansed. That arbitration would seal my fate.
Nonetheless, Aunt Regina remained very sensitive about my travelling home alone though my mother remained our friend. It was therefore easy for her to know the day Aunt Regina left the country for a conference in Taiwan. I got an emergency call from home demanding I travel immediately. I was quite alarmed because my father was ailing and I feared he may have died.
When I insisted on knowing the urgency, my mother just ordered me to travel immediately claiming that the matter could not be discussed on phone. "Please keep me updated," my boyfriend held me tightly as he saw me off to board the vehicles to the village. How I wish I had travelled with him because he had so insisted.
My aunt, on the other hand, reiterated that I should be very careful and should inform my uncle immediately if anyone threatened me.
I arrived home in the late afternoon and found the home deserted. My younger brothers may have been in school so I immediately ruled out death because had it been so, the home would be flooding with people. As I was pondering where everyone would be, I was grabbed from behind by two women who covered my mouth and blindfolded me with a dirty piece of cloth.
They dragged me to a house I later realised belonged to one of the women. There they flogged me in turns saying that would make me a brave woman and that I will not even be scared of labour pains when the time came. I was in shock because everything happened very fast and I was wondering what mistake I had done to warrant such beating.
The women pinned me down and that is when I realised I had been trapped. I tried to scream but my mouth was covered; I then felt an excruciating pain followed by ululations before I passed out.
When I came to, the first person I saw was my mother; I did not talk to her but sobbed uncontrollably. "You're now a woman," she had the nerve to tell me triumphantly.
Back in Nairobi my boyfriend and my uncle couldn't reach me on phone because it had been confiscated and switched off. They travelled to the village and my mother lied that I had travelled back the following day. She said that I had mentioned I would be passing by a friend's home before going back to Nairobi but she didn't know which friend.
My aunt came back two weeks later and found a search had been mounted. They called all potential places and friends though my boyfriend kept insisting that he knew all my friends and that I wasn't a person to make random visits.
Meanwhile, my wound was getting bigger and infected; by the third week I was too frail to move or even eat. There was a horrible stench in the room where I had been placed on a mattress on the floor. It was evident the wound was decaying since yellowish pus was oozing and I saw maggots on the mattress. I started getting nightmares and hallucinations. For weeks, I groaned in pain, I hallucinated in feverish delirium as the woman who claimed to be my mother watched from a safe distance. All she would do was to send cheap ointment to the old women to treat me.
My father was too ill also to know what was happening and I guess my mother was attending to him while her two friends attended to me. They may have feared I may die in the house and get them arrested because after a month is when they hired the pick-up to take me to a general hospital over 50 kilometres from my village. I was bundled into a wheelbarrow, which I vividly remember because the vehicle couldn't go down the slope to the house.
They were sure someone would help me at the hospital or maybe they thought I would die and they would cover up my disappearance. I was left at the hospital gate in the middle of the night by a pick-up that had disappeared in the dark. Strangely, my switched off phone was put in my pocket.
The hospital's night watchmen took me in and rushed me to the emergency room. It was after another month in the hospital that I gained coherency and gave my aunt's contacts to the hospital.
My aunt came immediately and took me to a private hospital in Nairobi where I went through intense counselling and treatment. I stayed in the hospital for another three weeks before I was discharged.
Pastors and preachers would flock my ward every day and though I never said any coherent prayer. Since the day I was attacked, I kept reciting five words: "please God don't abandon me." My boyfriend never left my bed until I was discharged though unfortunately we never ended up together.
I graduated and started my teaching career where I met my current husband. He is German and we have been together for five years now. We have a three-year-old son whom we named after my uncle.
I now have a happy family though my husband doesn't know the fine details of my ordeal. He only knows about "a forced FGM" which is common in Kenya. I teach in a girls' private school and I shield them with a lot force lest anything near what happened to me endangers any of them.
My aunt and her husband believe in forgiveness and they are in talking terms with my mother although she is never welcome to their house in Nairobi. They couldn't pursue the matter in court because it involved family and besides my father also died shortly before I was transferred to Nairobi.
As for me I have no such grace to forgive my mother but I think God can. I have not set eyes on her for over a decade neither does she know my husband or my son. I have a good relationship with God and am sure He understands my resentment. I have a phobia for women generally and I even prefer male gynaecologists. I also get frightened when I see a girl walking alone.
No psychological counselling or therapy can be enough to delete the ugly scenes of my ordeal. The greatest punishment for my mother is to be haunted by her actions for the rest of her life.
When I recently arrived back to the country from a trip abroad, my aunt was the first to tell me about an initiative for FGM survivors to undergo clitoral reconstructive surgery. It was the best news I could get. Who would have thought that anyone would come up with the idea of restoring the dignity lost during FGM? The minor surgery will cost Sh150,000. I am currently going through counselling as we plan for the operation. I can't wait to get my womanhood back and shame my mother who thought she had triumphed over me.
To me, the restoration of my mutilated sexual organ would be fantastic but the hatred I have for my mother is undeletable. I disowned her together with everything that concerns her. She conspired with her friends, tricked me and pounced on me and crudely mutilated my genitals; an ordeal that almost cost my life.
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