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Read the 3rd chapter at: http://lubnah.me.ke/unbroken-wings-the-nest/
Excerpts from Nafisa’s Unwritten Diary
“People look at us, the disabled, like we don’t have any feelings, like we don’t need love or to be loved and appreciated, that we don’t need companions and friendships, that we don’t have dreams of getting married too just like any other lady dreams or having children and a family of our own…they look at us like zombies just existing in this world. It hurts a lot because throughout my 40 plus years, I have felt lonely far too many times which in turn made me so much vulnerable. Many a times I extended my arms to people who ended up only hurting me or using me for what they needed. I’ve had ‘friends’ who only had bad opinions of me, who were there in my life only when it was for their own personal gain then left. I’ve struggled and survived through all these phases yet there some incidents I will never forget in my life…
At my prime age of 22, 1998, I had someone who cared for me, who tried to show me that indeed a normal person can be interested in a disabled, love them sincerely and be happy with them. However, how this story started and how it ended are two different scenarios.
Our neighbour’s son was 6 years younger than me. His sister by then was doing a home science course which I had already done. So time to time, she would come home to exchange ideas with me or show me what she was doing when I was home, for I was working at that time. On one particular day, she came with her younger brother to our home, which I found very surprising. It wasn’t necessary and of course a bit uncomforting since they came into my room. Nonetheless, on another evening from work, I passed by their home to check on the sister’s work she wanted me to have a look. As we went on chit chatting, I asked where her brother was. She told me he was writing in his diary and had shut his room door. Upon hearing that, we decided to follow him into the room. We snatched the diary from him and started throwing it around from my hand to the sister’s. He kept on chasing us to get it back. We were just doing it for fun, but then when the diary was in my hands and ran through the pages, I saw my name. I quickly read through that piece and gave back the diary. I was surprised by what he had written. I couldn’t question him since his sister was right there so I quickly said that I needed to leave.
On my way back home, he followed me and apologized for what I had just seen but still confessed that he truly had feelings for me just as he had written in his diary. I knew this young boy didn’t know what he was talking about. I asked for some time before I talked to him again. I told him of the views of our society on disabled people. That no one would let him be with me. I explained to him my many health complications and that I couldn’t afford to be someone’s pass time. It had to be something real and eternal. The boy still insisted that he was firm in his decision and really wanted to be part of her life.
For two consecutive years, he never gave up. He would send me gifts, cards when I was sick, pop into my office lunch hours…he was committed into making me believe that indeed he was being honest with me. After two years, I agreed and we were in a relationship. He joined rotaract and we would go to meetings together. After that we would go for dinner or for a drive. He was my first love and he made me happy for that while.
In 2000, his father passed away just a week before his sister’s wedding. It was devastating and a huge shock to the family. My parents supported them in whatever they could and I did my best too. However, on the day of the burial, I was supposed to go an outing with the Rotaract club for I was the then president of the club. To add on that, the group had already planned to meet in our family’s farm in Kwale so that meant I couldn’t miss out. I was in a huge dilemma. I wanted to support and be there with him but I also had responsibilities. I called my mum and she told me to go for the outing and that they were present for the burial. Well anyway, none of our parents knew about us so it wouldn’t have made any sense for me to go and mourn right? I had to actually be just the supportive neighbour that’s all. On Monday there was also my cousin’s wedding which I also couldn’t miss. Again, what excuse would I give not to go when no one knew about us? I wished I could do more but in that situation, I really had no other choice.
Fast forward 5 years later, I remember it was on 13th April we had a rotaract meeting. It was a week after that meeting that my first love started changing. He was avoiding to talk to me and when he did he sounded rude…I couldn’t understand why. I understand that things were pretty hard on him since his sister was divorced and back home, he was the only son and the only one to support his family…but what was my mistake? His friend called me on 1st May to tell me that I should leave him. And that really hurt me. Why did he approach me to confess his feelings to me yet send a friend to tell me to leave him?
When I got the chance to talk to him and asked him why, he told me the very same reasons I gave him 8 years ago when I didn’t want a relationship with him. He said about the society’s views, my disability and complications, that he was the only son and had many responsibilities at the moment. But I knew there must have been another lady in his life. He later confessed of another lady in Nairobi whom she started getting close to after his father died…and that it was because I wasn’t there for him then.
One of my other friends in Rotaract whom I was close to had a talk with me about it and he said, “Nafisa you should have thought about this well from the start…”
So now it became all my fault for accepting a relationship with a guy younger than me yet I had rejected him for two years. I am a human being too. How long could I resist on?
In 2006, he got engaged to the other lady which broke off two months later. He tried getting back with me but I refused to give him any attention anymore. I had learnt my lesson.
Right after that was my cousin’s wedding in UK which I was going to attend. I decided I wanted to go there and not come back to Kenya again. I needed the change. So before leaving here, I knew this was probably my last time.
In preparation for my journey, I went to Nairobi for my Visa interview as I was going to UK for my cousin’s wedding so I had to stay at my family friend’s place for the interview since it was near the British embassy. Amongst the family, one of their sons was a brotherly figure to me and his wife was also connected to my brother’s wife. After my interview, I went to meet my cousin and I stayed at his place. That was when the family friend husband (whom I considered a brother) texted me to ask about my plans for the day. Innocently I replied him for I knew he was asking just because I had stayed at their place. Nonetheless, he kept texting me and at first they were decent messages and I didn’t see a big deal in them. He kept in touch even when I was in UK. I’ve had some male friends in my life who’ve been good to me, but you can always know when a man is trying to make you feel special. He seemed to know a lot about me including my recent break-up, my functions at clubs, he knew almost too much of which I didn’t know where he knew from. His texts and messages suddenly escalated and they started getting pretty flirty and dirty. It was pretty absurd especially because he is 18 years older than me plus I had always considered him my elder brother. My mother had taken care of him when he was sick at 4 years and we used to go to their house sometimes when I was getting my calipers changed in Kabete.
He was extra nice and for a person like me; I couldn’t help but get taken away. People like me barely feel appreciated like that. I was blinded for a while and got too deep in the ‘feeling special’. I got attached. Any woman in my shoes would have…I was just from being dumped and by then I had already come back from UK where my plan to stay didn’t succeed, so yes, I was swept off.
Then all of a sudden he changed too; pushing me away and not wanting to communicate with me. I was pissed and hurt. How could he break my heart like that? I decided to tell my family about it. I was in pain and I had to…but the situation backfired right on my face. While I had deleted all his messages and emails, he had them all. When my family confronted him, he showed them my mails and made it seem like it was all my fault. His father wanted to report me and send me a court order for harassing his son. (Laugh out Loud) Harassing his son who is 18 years older than me!! My family was really mad at me and my father apologized to their family behind my back because I didn’t see the need. I hadn’t done anything wrong plus I had my two very close friends who had seen all his messages and emails, they were my witnesses. Although my family cut ties with him and his family, my brother took the side of his wife and her sister. It alarmed me more. Perhaps I did a mistake but he started it, and in this case, I was the one who was heart-broken. Ever since, my brother and I have never been in the best of terms but I wished he would put himself in my shoes and try and understand how all that drama affected such a person like me. Nonetheless, I moved on and at that time I was working with someone else who later on became another important person in my life…
I have always tried my best to not let my disability prevent me from leading a normal life. I worked at different places and was part of different groups and clubs. Amongst those clubs, there was a member who was in a different wing in the club from mine but we had met a few times there. When he learnt that I was searching for a job, he decided to give me a chance. I therefore started working in the office place in 2001, trying my best to cope up with the environment and pressure. My boss by then was only a fellow club member and nothing more. However, there was a day I was in office and his wife popped in while her husband was away. She was polite and nice to me at that time but she asked me how I got the job and when and did I like working there. She assumed that I had an affair with her husband so she called the business partner to her husband and talked to him. Again, I was hurt and depressed especially since her claims were not true. I knew that she and her husband had problems, but I had nothing to do with that. I didn’t work for long in that place due to the complications but I still stayed in touch with my boss. He was kind to me and we would meet occasionally at his favourite meeting spots and we would just talk and eat together, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. We grew close but he was always a busy person. He used to travel every 15 days to a different country and spend 15 other days here in Kenya. So whenever he was around he would call me and we would meet up. And I remember a day he was at the airport about to travel to the other country when he called me and he asked me if I was in love with him, which I denied considering his marital status. This was in 2004 but I finally revealed my feelings in 2009. This was a turning point in my life and for the first time I felt that someone actually loved me for who I am.
For many months after that, we kept in touch only that whenever he was having problems in his life or businesses, he would make me his punching bag. He would be reckless with his words or just cut me off for so many days then come back like he never did anything. He was the only one who dared to love me so I persevered through. I was patient even when he kept hurting me again and again; leaving when he felt like and coming back when he felt like. I was already getting old and this case, I was giving up to ever having a family or getting married. I just waited for him, hoping someday he will realize how much damage he had done to me yet still loved him all the same. But he never did change.
In 2013, he was very sick due to too much consumption of alcohol which I had tried warning him about several times. When he came back from India and I talked to him to check on his health, he put all the blame on me; that I was the bad-luck in his life and that everything in his life was going south because of me. He later on blocked my number.
After some years he divorced his wife, not because of me, that I am sure of. They had their own issues. He still travels back and forth between the countries yet still, he would only contact me when he felt like and ignored me for the rest of the years.
In 2015 June, I handed over chain of office of Inner wheel club after being a chair person for 2 years. Right after that he called me out of the blue, talked about the handing over in the club before asking me, “can we be friends again?”
I said, “You were never not my friend…so yes, we are friends.”
2016 on my 40th birthday, he promised to take me out for dinner which he never did to date. I haven’t seen him in two years and haven’t talked in a while.
Since 1998 when I first knew him to when I fell for him to date; 2016, I’ve had a soft spot for him, loved this man, cared about him and wished the best for him yet all he ever did was keep breaking my heart; reminding me that indeed in the society we live in today, a disabled person’s feelings are not that important and disregarded always.
I am human; I too feel the need of someone just giving me a hug to cuddle up to someone after a stressful day. It’s all feelings a normal human being feels, so why when we express do we become abnormal?…”
***As narrated by Nafisa herself***