The clock struck six and Makena heard Dan’s chair move and his shoes shuffle. She tensed and waited for the door to open. The hair on her arms stood stiff and her mind went blank. It’s funny how she had never gotten used to it despite the numerous number of times he did it. Then a familiar knock. Three times and then a slow turning of the knob. She got up from her chair and unbuttoned her blouse and sat on her desk. As she leaned back she felt the warm trickle of her tear racing down to the back of her neck.
“One minute!” she gasped as she quickly snatched some tissue and wiped her face. She didn’t want him to see her crying. She felt horrible but convinced herself it would only take a few minutes.
Dan walked in and without saying a word he locked the door drew the blinds. He then grabbed her by the waist and slid her off the table and turned her to face away from him. He was aggressive. The kind of aggressive displayed by a person taking back property that belongs to him. He unclasped her bra and lifted her skirt almost ripping it along the seams. Using his right foot he kicked her legs apart just above the ankles and pushed her head down on the table like a policeman apprehending a suspect with the intent of finding a concealed weapon. He undid the buckle of his belt as he held her down and dropped his pants this time with his hand tightly gripping the back of her neck.
She felt pain as she felt him enter. More tears. She couldn’t close her eyes while he pushed in roughly. As he grunted and heaved behind her, Makena let her mind wander off by looking at the windows on the building across the road. She watched the people busy moving about their offices as they worked overtime to meet their deadlines. It was interesting how everyone was so engrossed in their tasks that there was definitely no chance that they would look her way.
Her mind wandered off to her husband and kids. How earlier in the morning they all had breakfast in the master bed and laughed their hardest when the youngest child kept missing her mouth as she tried to feed herself like the rest of the family. She made a mess and everyone was happy. The parents had been working hard lately and the kids were ecstatic to have a much needed but rare unwinding occasion as a family. She recalled how her husband dropped her off at work as he started his Uber shift. He was really trying and the fact that he had had better days made her love him more for not giving in to frustration. The last couple of years had been tough financially and both man and wife had to make it work with their meagre incomes.
Makena felt him shake like an old car running out of fuel. He let off a deep guttural sound as his grip tightened on her hips. She could smell his cigarette breath as he contorted forward on her back. He was sweating and for a moment it felt like leaning on a wall of slime in a dirty, humid bathroom. She felt sick, ashamed and worthless. Moreso because it was Valentine’s day and she would later have to pretend to be horny for her husband.
Her boss pulled up his pants and tidied up his shirt. He pulled out his wallet and slipped her two one thousand shilling notes.
“Now you can’t say I didn’t give you a Valentines day gift,” Dan said in a low voice as he walked out, “And don’t come in late tomorrow”.
She could feel the triumph in his voice and how confident he was that this arrangement was permanent and that she had no power to stop it. More tears.
As she cleaned up and put on makeup she couldn’t help but acknowledge the hopeless emptiness she felt. She picked up her back and hurried out to the elevator. She took in three breaths of air and forced a smile as the doors slid open.
She desperately wanted it to stop but she couldn’t figure out how. She badly needed this job and since this had happened in her two previous workplaces, she had accepted that it is normal. Most of her friends were going through the same experience and even though this didn’t make her feel any better, it added further to the hollowness she felt in her being.
As she sat in the bus on her way home she couldn’t stop tidying her blouse and skirt. She felt uncomfortable and insecure as if everyone around her knew what she had been doing a few minutes before. Across from where she sat was a pregnant woman holding her bump as the bus hurtled down Valley Road towards the city center. Her heart skipped a beat and for a moment she couldn’t breathe. Earlier in the day she had taken a pregnancy test in the ladies bathroom. It came out positive.
This is a #TrueStory dedicated to the women and men in Nairobi who are subjected to sexual coercion every day at their places of work.