I am a 28-year-old career woman, a banker to be exact. Unlike many girls my age who are getting ready for marriage and planning weddings, I am in a relationship people may call bizarre. I am in love with a man who cherished me as a baby and watched me grow up. This is the man who has never stopped calling me beautiful, whose love is broad-spectrum and is in and out of season. That man is my father.
Don't be hasty to judge me, I have no regrets nor am I ready to change my mind.
It all began when I was 13. Those were the days I badly needed love. My mother gave more attention to my two younger brothers and often I felt left out. She kept finding fault with me; throwing tantrums at the slightest provocation and blaming me sometimes for things my brothers did.
"You should be their role model," I remember every beating from my mother. Justly speaking, it was not all uphill with her; there were some good times but I can dare say that the bitter moments outweigh the good ones by far! I grew to hate her too. I am not embarrassed that I found love and consolation from her husband.
Daddy is a businessman; so many times he'd be away on business trips. When he came home, I would lie on his chest and cry asking him not to leave me behind next time he went for a trip. "Darling, you're still in school," he'd gently tell me and press me hard on his chest. I was only a little girl then. If my mother shouted at me in his presence, he'd reprimand her. Those were the only times I felt justice being done to me.
At the age of 12, after my first menstruation period, I dared my mother for a woman-to-woman chat. "Why don't you like me? Is it that you expected a boy and you got me? Did dad rape you on the night you conceived me," I recited what I had been coached by my peers. She insisted she loved me but her actions continued to be different.
Then, my hips started growing and I was turning into a pretty woman. I often caught my dad stealing glances at me especially at the dining table. I didn't know about man-to -woman love then and it's much later I that I realised my dad had fallen in love with me long before I knew it. My mother cautioned me against men generally and talked ill about all of them.
But dad was and is still different from all the men I have ever met. He's charming, caring, listening and willing to understand. I can describe my dad as my father, my friend, counselor and my lover. No man can match him! As a little girl, I could see jealousy written all over my mother's face and at some point I started enjoying it. I would sit on dad's lap and wrap my little hands around his neck just to provoke her. She'd make a face but not at any time did she ever stop me. Maybe if she had talked to me about incest then, things would be different today.
On my thirteenth birthday, Dad had a surprise for me: a trip with him to South Africa. I can't narrate the joy of being alone for a whole week with a person who loved me dearly and away from my mother's quarrels. A nice hotel in Jo'burg was my birthday place. I had a nice spacious room all to myself and dad's room was opposite mine.
On the second night he came to my room and without any preambles he held me tightly and gave me a long deep kiss on the lips. I felt a sense of belonging and a very special attachment to him. That is the night I gave my virginity to my dad. That night we discussed many things and he told me that he wouldn't mind telling the world that he loved me were it not for societal outlook.
We'd keep it secret though sitting on his lap and him hugging me and kissing my forehead or cheek would continue. I left Jo'burg with many presents but above all, feeling gratified that I had been ushered into adulthood by a man who loved me and whom I loved.
Our love blossomed by the day and we'd go out many times. He'd pick me from boarding school and we'd spend the afternoon together. The world knew dad loved me but perhaps their interpretation was different. This continued until I joined university.
At the University I could see my peers with their little boyfriends and at some point I thought I would give it a try. I got myself a boyfriend but the relationship lasted barelya week. He was childish, noisy and hyperactive! That is the complete opposite of my dad. My relationship with dad is mature. He has taught me to be calm and how to handle issues maturely. I am not surprised he pushes away any young man who comes close to me.
The day my mother caught me on her bed with dad, she faked surprise and I had to tell her bluntly to stop pretending. Was she so blind all those years to see dad was treating me better than her? He'd give me money to pay workers. We'd go shopping with him and have night-long loud-laughter chats in the study. We went for his international business trips together and even have a joint bank account! When she caught us and kicked him out of their bedroom, the poor man ran to me. I now share my bedroom with him without an iota of remorse. My brothers hate me but because my dad has always been there for me, I must fight to make him happy.
Though we denied it when summoned by the clan elders, thanks to my mother's big mouth, our love is not ending anytime soon. I know the science behind having a child with a blood relative that's why dad and I have kept it on hold.
When the right time comes, I may opt to adopt. Meanwhile, I continue being dad's best friend and lover. We have never fought over anything over the years. Though people may call us insane, from my intellectual eye, I notice even the elders who stood to condemn us admire our relationship.
- The identity of the person telling the story has been hidden to protect her and others involved from stigma
Incest is a serious public health issue but it's usually ignored in order to protect involved families. Father and daughter incest is common in many African countries and as Allan Kimani, a counseling psychologist at Nairobi Counseling Services explains, many incest victims suffer from Stockholm Syndrome where they develop irrational empathy for their assailants.
"Whether the girl is a minor or an adult, consented or not, the girl remains a victim because the father has the upper hand in the illegitimate relationship", says Kimani.
Section 20 and 21 of the Sexual Offences Act stipulates that if two adults of close relation get involved in sex, the two are guilty of incest and can face a jail term of not less than ten years. Consequently, in the case of an adult daughter and the father, the two can be charged in court.
Dr Kevin Wamula, a psychiatrist at Mathari Hospital points out that incest is more of a criminal than a mental illness. He however notes that in extreme cases between a father and daughter, mental evaluation is paramount. "The evaluation can determine whether any of the two is suffering from schizophrenia or any other mental illness," he said.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Dr. Wamula advises that should a person detect that they are sexually attracted to close relatives, they should seek either counseling or mental health services to prevent regrettable situations.
Scientifically, a baby conceived out of such a relationship is likely to inherit genetic defects and terminating the pregnancy would be the safer option.