I have run out of ways to tell Nairobi men I do not love them.

(Tw: sexual harassment )

I have run out of ways to tell Nairobi men I do not love them.

I feel (and I know it sounds defeatist) that the world I inhabit belongs to them and that I just borrow space as I move within it.

I think their bodies come in all sizes and their insults do too. And so when I walk around I think this is free space but actually it is space filled with their insults and when I pass by they release even more into that space and of course those insults hit me and bruise me because we cannot all fit in here and it reminds me of being squeezed on the queue to the tuck shop on days Mama taki had stocked hot buns and thinking my insides will come out like toothpaste.

Can I say Sema Nyonyo enough times that I wring it of its blow and it does not make me want to burst into tears. I want to pour these words into the river in my grandmother’s farm but I fear they will find a woman downstream and trap her legs and drown her.

I want to write a book called How To Grunt From Your Loins When A Luo Woman Walks By But Want Her People Dead.

This weekend I will clink glasses with men who tell other men to do better on Twitter and then insist on touching me on dance floors after I say no thank you in all the languages I have learnt. Kind but firm. Frown. Awkward smile. Finger pointing. Finger flipping. They will offer me jobs and wonder why I do not follow up. I will wish I could run and leave them all behind but I fear I am allowing them to continue monopolising the places that matter.

Last week, at 5-ish, I was waiting to cross the road at Yaya and I saw a group of men coming from work or whatever. I cross the road every time I see groups of men in my way. But the road was busy and a silver car was coming and I considered running in front of it but I thought I would definitely die and it would definitely be my fault and so I waited and one of the men grabbed my right breast and I cannot promise that I have not wished that I had jumped in front of that car.

The day a woman will take a scalpel and open her stomach the earth will grow dizzy from the odour of what she has been keeping inside. Then the earth will not be able to take it and it will self-destruct and once again a woman will have caused the Big Bang and birthed the world.

I want to tell people one day about how a woman a god made from mud uses Sunlight bar soap to lather her hands and then to love my body. The soap smells like something a little too sharp to apply to the softness of my nakedness and she apologises but we hope it stings the insults and washes me of them the way it stings my eyes. I tear. I want to tell people one day how a woman a god made from mud applies shea butter to every inch of my body and at first she says sorry 23 times. Out loud. And then she starts to say a word I do not recognize over and over again. Every time it is the same word but I never remember it. But it seems to remember me and it finds me in all the corners I go to squeeze myself, and it embraces me and it tricks me into coming out.

I have run out of ways to tell the woman a god made from me that I am scared.

Something warms my stomach and fills it and makes my heart beat fast and I feel like a character in a children’s storybook. The first thing I will do when I find the money I collected somewhere that smelled like a butchery that has not been cleaned for a while is ask someone for their professional opinion on whether I have lost “it”.

 

I feel like I belong on a page of Goodreads quotes when I breathe too fast and think that I do not deserve the absolute kinds of loves that women offer me.

 

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