My house is at the top of the hill. You can’t miss it; it’s the white three story mansion that is bordered almost all around by the slums. Except for the side that faces Muthaiga and which has a private driveway. It’s a beautiful house it actually looks like a castle. The kind a gal dreams about to live in and live happily ever after. I wish it was. Appearances are deceiving because that is a castle of nightmares.
My name is carol. I started living here two years ago when I was ten. My parents died in an accident and there was no one to claim me. Mama Salma said that she would take me in. No one argued, well no one would dare too. Mama Salma supports half of the slum I used to live in, in one way of another.
“Carol you are going to be very happy with me. All my gals are happy. And you are so pretty, in a couple of years you will be beautiful. Yes, you will do. Yes, you will do very nicely.” Mama Salma told me. It’s a good thing I didn’t know what she meant else I would have refused to go with her.
We walked to the edge of the slum with Mama Salma. Her with her beautiful fashionable clothes and me with my hand me down second hand clothes. A Mercedes picked us up from the edge of the slum and drove towards a gated compound just next to the slum. The gates opened themselves as if by magic and I only discovered later that they were called electric gates.
As the white mansion neared I was caught up in amazement at the lawn and the compound the likes of which I had only seen on TV. The mansion was big, a massive three floors. The inside was even more impressive. It was painted in shades of red and cream and the floors were marble. It was beautiful. I almost pinched myself to see if I was dreaming.
I was taken to the second floor. The pretty lady who took me there smiled and opened for me a room. “This will be your room,” she said. I was stunned. I asked, “I will be sharing this room with others children?”
“No! it’s just you. We need to get you out of those awful clothes. You need to get clean and then we will de-lice you. We can’t have you not looking beautiful. Come let me show you the bathroom.”
I wondered what it is about beauty that attracted these people. I had noticed that all the people I had met had been either handsome or beautiful. People told me I was pretty. My daddy actually used to tell me I was beautiful and when I would grow up I would turn heads.
I was short; I had pretty brown eyes, a light brown complexion and long natural hair. I hadn’t started blooming yet. My breasts had not come out and neither had my hips. I was a rose about to bloom. Looking back to then when I was naïve and innocent I was a rose ripe to be picked and bloom in someone’s garden.
After I had been washed, (I found this strange as I had not been washed since I was 4) the pretty lady who had introduced herself as Natalie, went out and when she returned she had some beautiful dresses and sandals. “Pick one and wear it,” Natalie said.
I was unsure of what to choose. I had never had new, new clothes. All my clothes had been bought second hand from the market or handed down to me by my cousins. I choose a yellow sundress and some pretty red sandals.
Natalie sat me down after that and told me there were rules to be followed in the house. The first rule is that I was never to go anyone unaccompanied by someone from the house. The second was that what happened in the house was private it was not for telling to strangers. The third was that I should never try to run away or break any of the above rules otherwise I would be punished. The fourth rule was that I was not to leave my room without permission. Natalie asked me whether I understand and I said I did.
Natalie said with a sad smile, “you don’t have to stay here. Do you have any relatives that you can go stay with? You have one chance to leave and that’s right now.”
“I don’t have anywhere to go,” said I.
Natalie sighed and then said, “Well now that you’re here to stay I’ll be taking care of you.” She reached for the telephone, dialled some numbers and said, “Please bring some food for Carol. Some chips, chicken, and a soda will do. And ice-cream for desert.”
Natalie looked at me and told me, “If you need me press three. That’s my number. Enjoy your food.”
I was left in this room that was big enough to fit our old house plus another two. There was a big bed in the middle of the room. It had a pink bedspread, pink frills and even a mosquito net. I thanked God for these wonderful strangers who had taken me in and had given me luxury that I had never imagined. At home I used to sleep on a mattress on the floor because there was only one bed, my parent’s 3 by 4.
For the next two weeks I never left my room. I watched TV on a big screen TV that was brought to my room. I ate, showered and relaxed that’s all I did. In fact I started adding abit of weight on my bones.
One day when I was watching TV Natalie came and ordered me to bath. “We are having special guests tonight. They all want to see you. They have heard how pretty you are and they want to see you for themselves,” she said.
Natalie took me to the bathroom and this time again she washed me then she braided my hair into cornrows. She oiled me with some fragrantly smelling oil and sprayed some perfume on me. When we returned to my room there was a lacy dress that did not seem to have any lining. Wear that, I was ordered. I was puzzled but I was too frightened to speak. Natalie had this expression on her face I cant describe it but I felt scared. There was no underwear and when I asked for some I was told it doesn’t matter. She gave me a glass with some juice and told me to drink it. It tasted funny but since I didn’t want to argue I drank it up.
We went downstairs through a lift that was at the end of the corridor. I was taken to a large room where there were many chairs and a sort of stage with one seat. I was told to seat there. There were men in the room, no women except Mama Salma and Natalie. Natalie came and stood by me. The men were drinking. I was young but I knew the smell of alcohol.
I sat there feeling so uncomfortable. I was wondering who these men were and what they were doing there. And all these men were looking at me. They were around 20 of them. Some old and some young. They all had one thing in common. They all looked rich. Having lived in the slum you can tell when someone had money. You can look at their face, nails and hands and clothes and you can tell.
After a while mama Salma stood and clapped. She smiled and said, “welcome gentlemen. It is our honour to host you again at our lovely abode. Today we have a tasty morsel for you. We have managed to acquire into our family a young untouched gal. She is a virgin and she is up for sale. We will start bidding at 120,000 thousand. Gentlemen come look at the merchandise. Isn’t she beautiful?”
At this point I was shaking. I looked around; I thought they were talking about someone else. But when the men started walking towards me with leery grins I realised I was in trouble. I was in deep deep trouble. I couldn’t believe that this could be happening to me. I started feeling dizzy and my heart was racing. I tried to stand and run away. Natalie held me down to the chair. For some reason I was feeling tired and my muscles were not obeying my commands.
When the first man came and started touching my face and caressing it, I fainted!
When I awoke I felt groggy. I was shaking and I couldn’t understand why. Then I looked down and saw that I was naked, just covered with a sheet on my bed. Then I remembered what had happened in that room. I started crying.
Natalie came to me and told me to hush. “Why are you crying? Crying will not change anything. You are very valuable. Do you know how much your virginity is worth? She paused and chuckled. There’s a man who will pay 100,000 dollars to be your first. And you had better make it worth his while.”
I trembled. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Who were this people? Why did this man want to take my virginity? Growing up in the slum and having to sleep in the same one room with my parents I knew what sex was. Sex was something grownups did together. So why did this man want to sleep with me? I understood that losing my virginity was sleeping with a man.
I was puzzled by this. I asked Natalie, “Why are you doing this?” Natalie smiled and said, "My darling one day you will learn that sex makes the world go round. It is a currency. It is power. Whoever controls it is powerful. Always remember that. There are many men who want sex and are willing to pay a lot of money for it.”
For the next two weeks I was a prisoner. I was not allowed to leave my room. There was a security guard posted outside my door so that I could not escape. Every day twice a day there was a woman who came, scrubbed me down with some portions and massaged my skin with fragrant oils. My skin was glowing and became so soft.
I cried and pleaded with Natalie to stop what was going to take place. She didn’t listen. I spend my time crying and praying for salvation. None came. It seemed that there was no hope for me.
One morning a hairdresser came to my room. My hair was natural. She put chemicals on it and straightened it. Then she put curls in it. She cleaned, painted my toenails and nails with clear nail polish. She tweezed my eyebrows and did a facial for my skin.
I was then washed in the tub and massaged with fragrant oils and lotions. I was made to wear a white dress and white sandals. There were flowers put in my hair. I was so frightened because I guessed that the dreaded day had come. I tried to plea for salvation to those who were attending me but no one was moved.
Later a man I was told was a doctor came to examine me. He checked me all over and then gave me an injection. I found out later it was drugs to make me relax and not be tense.
A car came for me. Natalie came with me. I was taken to the other side of town. We passed through the slum on the way out and I looked at my former neighbourhood. I wished I could go back there to play and stay. I couldn’t believe that a couple of weeks ago I was there. It seemed like a lifetime ago.
After about an hour we reached our destination. We had been stuck in jam for about 30 minutes. I had tried to plead again with Natalie but she wouldn’t listen. At some point she got annoyed and told me in a harsh tone to shut up. I shrunk into my seat and kept quiet.
When we arrived at the destination I was surprised. The biggest, grandest house I had ever seen was Mama Salma’s house but this was bigger and grander. From outside it was coloured in orange and cream paint. The driveway was long, with gardens and green lawns stretching beside it.
When we reached the house a man dressed in uniform came and opened the door. He ushered us into the house. I later found out that this man was a butler, apparently rich people have people who open and close for them their front door. They also welcome their guests. It seemed that there were no other servants; I found out later too that they had been sent away.
We walked through and a large corridor filled with paintings and sculptures. I was taken upstairs to a room with a huge bed. The ceiling was something I had never seen. It had a mirror that reflected back the images in the room.
A man came to greet us. He was not young or old. I couldn’t estimate his age. He was tall, white, had grey eyes and slim. When he reached us he smiled. I remember at that time I thought he had a kind smile. He kissed Natalie on the cheek and then looked me over. He put his hand on my face, cupping it and looked into my eyes. He said, “My name is Anthony. We will have a great time together so relax. We are going to have some fun together.” I must have looked so scared, because he chuckled. Then as if satisfied he let go of me.
He whispered something to Natalie and she left. I was left alone in the room with this stranger. He went to a sideboard where there was food. He offered me some but I refused. He took out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. It smelled funny and I knew it was bhangi. In the slum many young men smoked this kind of cigarette.
Natalie came back into the room. She carried a tray with drinks on them. She poured some into a glass, came to me and said, “Drink this. It will help you.”
I took a sip. It was bitter. Natalie forced me to drink it all up. She then took me to the bed, untucked the covers and made me sit on the sheets which were white. She said, “I know this will be hard but you have to go through with it. Anthony is a good man. He will not hurt you like some of the others would have. If he tells you to do something do it. Mama Salma will not be happy if you don’t make him happy.”
Natalie left. Anthony came to the bed. I don’t want to talk about those next few hours. All I can say is that I have never felt so much pain in my life. Anthony hurt me. He stole away my innocence and broke something in me. I think he broke my spirit. He used me over and over. I cried and screamed, I fought but to no avail. Anthony was stronger then me. He did what he wanted with me.
I stayed at Anthony’s house for two days. On the second day the doctor from mama Salma’s came to examine me. He cleaned me up inside and gave me another injection. Apparently this was to make me sleep.
When I awoke I was at Mama Salma’s house again.
To be continued.