Rape is a big deal for me. It happened to me once, a long time ago, and brought with it a lifetime of nightmares and self-harming behavior. I think I’m over it, because I’ve been able to form relationships [though not necessarily healthy ones] and even have a baby girl, but I still feel a chill every time I hear the word come up. Seemingly innocent jokes really upset me, and I was wailing, shaking, and sobbing during the rape scenes in Book of Eli. I even stopped reading Robert Ludlum after that scene in the bush with The Baj. So when I got a crank caller threatening to rape me, I was pretty shaken up.
This guy calls me from 0789345646. He claimed to be Samuel Mwangi from Safaricom. He asked how my day was going and whether I was enjoying my weekend, then said and he wanted to ask me a few questions. Now, I work fairly closely with the Safaricom Team, so I assumed it was a call from the office. When the guy asked me when I first signed up for M-PESA, I absent-mindedly replied that I had no idea. He raised his voice and asked why I had given him that answer, and I shrugged and said I’d used the service for years, so I had no clue when I signed up. He asked if I had a receipt that I could check for reference, and I said I probably did, but again, I had no idea.
At that point, I figured it was probably a con, so I told him that I work for Safaricom, which is technically true. He rudely asked me which Safaricom I meant, and I asked him how many Safaricoms he knew about. I’m not sure what was said after that, because I was getting really irritated. I asked him if he knew who he was speaking to, and he said he knew me very well. So I asked how I could help him. That seemed to really annoy him. How could I help him?!? I said he had called my number, and I work for Safaricom, so he should tell me how he’d like me to help him.
I asked him what he wanted from me, and he said he wanted to rape me. I asked him again if he knew me, and he said he did, so I asked him what my name was. He wondered about my reason such questions, and I said since he clearly knew me and wanted to do things to me, he should tell me my name and ID number, because otherwise, he was simply wasting my time. He responded that if he was wasting my time, then I should hang up, so I wished him a nice day and hung up.
I was pretty upset by then. My hands were shaking and my voice was raised, so I immediately texted for advice. I tried to log on to Twitter, but data was down, so I started dialling the numbers of everyone I know at Safaricom to see who was on duty. I finally found somebody at his desk and asked if they could flag the number.
He seemed more amused than anything else. He said women get calls like that all the time, and that sometimes the callers get really obscene and abusive, so I apparently got off easy. He figured it was a call from a prison, but since it wasn’t a Safaricom number, they couldn’t do anything about it. He suggested I report the number to the police instead.
I tried giving myself a landmark talk to calm down. We learn in the course that actions in themselves are meaningless, and that it’s only our interpretations that give them meaning. We are human machines, so we have no control over our thoughts and feelings. They’re automatic. But we do have control over how we interpret situations. An expensive broken glass could be a reason to panic, or an excuse for a shopping trip. Same broken glass, two extremely polarized reactions.
I asked myself why I was upset about the call. Some random man wanted to rape me. Why would he want to that? I don’t know him! I haven’t done anything to him. Why would he want to hurt me like that? Then I asked myself – has he raped me? No. Can he rape me? Probably not. Does he know where I am? No. Can he get to me? No. Then why exactly am I upset?
That calmed me down a little, but I was still shaking. So I took it a step further. I was upset because this man was trying to con me. He was trying to take away my money. How dare he? I work hard for that money! He’s probably some asshole sitting in some prison trying to hurt people. What about the people who fell for his tricks? What about the innocents who gave him their M-PESA details, letting him hack their accounts? He was already in jail, so he was probably a criminal. Hadn’t he learnt his lesson? What kind of evil person was he, and why are such evil people allowed to live?
But then I tried to see things from his point of view. I’ve heard a lot of people justify crime. Thugs say if you didn’t have stuff to steal, they wouldn’t rob you. You’re probably better off than them, and it’s only fair to share. After all, you can probably replace what they steal, so they clearly need the stuff more than you do. You’re insured, right?
Conmen say if you weren’t stupid or greedy, you wouldn’t have fallen for their schemes, so they’re justified to trick you. The prisoner probably figures that I have my liberty while he’s locked up with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Nobody will hire him once he gets out – if he gets out. So it’s okay for him to earn his money any way he can. In his mind, he’s not evil at all – just really, really smart. He was probably more pissed off at me than I was at him. After all, he was using his airtime to call me, spending his money to harass me. How dare I waste his time without giving him M-PESA in exchange? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else and fall for his trick?
This is all supposed to make me feel better, but it doesn’t. It probably will tomorrow, but right now, it doesn’t. Meanwhile I’m bitchy and cranky and it’s getting to my baby. We’re sitting in a living room with dark cloudy faces, banging away on computers because we’re too mad to communicate with each other. My moods have a way of rubbing off on her, so you really don’t want to visit us during PMS, and this afternoon is no different.
See, she was there when I got the call. She heard me yelling into the phone and she asked why I was upset. She was there when I texted for help and advice, trying to hide the tears. She’s been here while I type and ask her not to read, because she’ll only get worried. But now she’s down because she knows there’s something wrong, she doesn’t know how to fix it, and each time she tries, I just push her away. She thinks it’s her I’m mad at so she’s settled for playing a cake-baking game. Meanwhile I’m trying my hardest to ignore everyone because I’m scared that if I open my mouth, I’ll let out a string of curses.
The thing with landmark theories is they mostly hit you when you’re not looking. Maybe at some point in my sleep it will sink in and everything will make sense, but right I’m still shaken and upset. My hands have stopped vibrating, and now I just feel cranky and sad. The trouble with the New Age theories that I believe is they have no place for hell. They allow for open-mindedness and understanding of every being on earth, so they rarely lay blame. They believe that everyone is right in their own way, because nobody ever sets out to do evil. They just do what they must to survive. But then what do I do with all my anger? How do I survive in a world where I can’t feel righteous, where I can’t believe in some form of punishment for people who hurt others?
I noticed that the room was suddenly quiet, so I went in search of my baby, who had slipped away. I found her curled up in bed in the dark, because she thought that I was mad at her. I cuddled her and talked to her and explained my mood was not her fault. Then she asked me to help her find something on the computer. Now we’re eating digestives and playing around on Google. Sometimes it helps to get outside your head and just notice the world around you, even when you’re pissed off at the assholes of the world.
♫ These are the moments ♫ Edwin Mcain ♫