She sat down gracelessly, not caring that her short pink pleated skirt was well up her thighs. Her ‘father’ frowned at her brown legs, all too familiar from the years he had visited her room at night. Neema tacked her legs under her, sinking in a bit further into the brown upholster. Her mother walked in a few seconds later, her boyfriend diverting his gaze to the plasma screen on one side of the room.
‘Frown all you want Baba but the government will never change!’ Kerwa said as she sat down next to him. She noticed Neema’s legs but choose to remain silent. She knew what was happening between her and her boyfriend but was not going to say anything-they had a roof over their heads, a comfortable life and expensive gadgets and jewelry as penance for ever sin committed against them. She let her eyes roam up and down her daughter’s body; she was indeed her seed. She was just as light skinned as she was, long kinky hair, delicate facial features and a petite frame.
Kerwa reached for her iPad on the table, noticing that the bruise on her arm was well faded by now. Baba, or rather, Peno, noticed that as well and grabbed her hand before she could get the iPad. Kerwa flinched. She looked up into his eyes and saw tenderness in them. Peno pulled her hand toward him, pushing the three quarter sleeve further up his lover’s arm, lowered his head to her arm and gently kissed the fading bruise. Kerwa was speechless. Neema just looked on, her expression bored. Her mind then wondered to her mother’s designer top and how she would wear it with a large buckled belt she had bought on sale the previous day.
When he finally let go of her arm, he reached for the gadget and handed it to Kerwa, who took it and placed it on her lap, still gazing at Peno, wondering, fearfully, what this gesture meant. Was he going to do something to hurt her-them again or did he genuinely mean it?
Neema looked back at the television, listened attentively and jolted down notes on her iPhone. She was a journalism student and had an assignment to do. She would otherwise have been in her room or her boyfriend’s place, as he liked to say, ‘shagging her brains out.’ The reference never amused her- it was what Peno had first said when he went into her room that first night they moved in. After eight years the phrase evolved from ‘who’s your daddy?’ to ‘who gives it better to you than Baba?’
She couldn’t tell anyone about what was happening to her once or twice a week. She understood what it meant- moving back to live in the whore house where she was a bonus package when a client saw her clinging to her mother’s skirt. Neema couldn’t figure out for the life of her why her mother exposed her to such a life. Did she just not care or was she genuinely that ignorant?
She became conditioned to believe that to have a good life (she had everything she could want) you had to give something of you. After years of pleading with a Higher Power to end her misery and nothing happening, she gave up. To survive she began to learn to enjoy Peno’s visits and letting go of the shame she used to feel the morning after. Looking her mother in the eyes became easier until she could have a normal conversation without an ounce of conviction.
And so life continued until she moved out of Peno’s, got married to her boyfriend and had a daughter.
And when her daughter was five the night visits from her father began.
And so the cycle continued.