This morning, I wrote a long letter that I’ve been meaning to write. It took me about five hours, and as I typed, I looked back over two years of my life. It was a bit like being in my own pensieve, except I didn’t notice the effect until after I was done.
When I finished writing, I felt tired. I tried to shake it off with a hot shower, but there’s no water in the taps. Fcuk. I remember reading about catharsis, or rather, the false lure of catharsis. Pop psychology tells us letting things out will make us feel better. The article claims that assumption is wrong, and I agree. Reliving the pain didn’t dull it or take it away. It just stung more.
I went onto my Twitter timeline to cheer up, but every link I clicked on felt sad and hollow. I can’t tell if the work was bad or whether I was looking at them through doom-coloured glasses. I’m glad I wrote that letter, but I wish didn’t feel so awful after the fact. It forced me to look at my past, and to wonder who really was to blame. It all made me very, very sad.
Yesterday, as I was going to the kitchen for something or other, I saw Princess change the channel. She usually does that when she’s watching something I don’t want her to see. Before I could ask, she explained.
“Mummy, that one isn’t for you. Utaanza kuwikawika hapa.”
“The crazy boys have raped Donna. Don’t worry, I didn’t see them removing her clothes. But I don’t want you to watch. You’ll start crying crying over here.”
I couldn’t move for a while. She risked putting the show back on and I saw Ira all bandaged up and trying to console Donna, who had literally frozen from the trauma of gang rape. Princess was watching, unperturbed. She’s 8.
“Why do you like watching those things?”
“It’s not real. It’s acting.”
“But si it can happen in real life?”
“No! If boys try to rape me, I’ll kick them and choma them with paraffin.”
“You see mum! That’s why I didn’t want you to watch. I knew you would start crying-crying.”
I’m sensitive to rape. Very sensitive. Even fictional rape will haunt me for ages, so I can never watch Don’t mess with an Angel and those two scenes in The Book of Eli had me sobbing and shaking convulsively. My little girl knows this. I’m not sure how she knows it. I must have lectured her about it. I tell her almost every day not to take sweets from strangers or to let boys force her, but I’ve never used the word rape.
I didn’t get to the kitchen. I went back to my room all zombified. I couldn’t understand how my little girl decides that soaps are fiction but adverts are real. I remember her telling me to buy a ceiling fan, a big basin, and Sunlight 2-in-1 so that she could blow bubbles and make them into flowers like the ad. I tried explaining that it wasn’t real, but she said we should prove it by trying.
It’s an interesting world where children believe in ads more than they do in fiction. I’m pretty sure I was the other way around. I’m flattered – in a way – that my baby wants to protect me. Like many other things between us, it makes me wonder who’s the adult and who’s the kid. And I suppose my mood right now could be as much from the gang rape as it is from my letter.
Or maybe it’s just PMS. I wish I could curl up in a corner and just wait for it to pass.