A Dozen Tulips| #QueeringTheCloak

A dozen long-stemmed tulips showed up at work, wrapped neatly in yellow tulle and pale cream ribbons. All the girls rushed to my desk, cooing. They said I was the luckiest girl in the world. That my ‘boyfriend’ was the sweetest person on the planet. That they had never seen anything so pretty. That I must have done something really great to deserve him. I clutched the flowers tighter, wishing they would go back to their desks and leave me alone. On my face, there was a semblance of a smile. A little teeth flashed out. It looked like I was glowing and basking in their sea of compliments, but I was dying inside. I am not being dramatic. I could feel the tulips planted in my heart wilting, crumbling to ashes.

They left. I breathed out. The flowers were revolting. Sitting pretty in their tulle and ribbons, clean, pure, and unsullied. I wanted to throw them in the trash can below my desk. I wanted them to go away and not be a reminder of how dirty and weak I was. It felt like they were staring at me, judging me. But if I threw them away, all the girls would go mad. How could I throw away such a pretty gift? How could I be so ungrateful? Why was I throwing them away?

It wasn’t the first time. The first time, she had sent over a box of chocolates and my favorite bottle of wine. When I got home, she was there. In a negligée, looking so inviting I couldn’t resist. I told myself that she was truly sorry, that it wouldn’t happen again. As she sunk her teeth into my neck, I told myself that she loved me. This was her apology. As I cried out into the night, I convinced myself that she really wouldn’t do again. Last night had been an anomaly. We were fine. We would be fine.

And we were. Except for the huge fight when I forgot to buy the fruit that she had sent me. That time she almost threw a cabbage at me, but she was able to rein herself in. I calmed her down and didn’t bring it up. We were doing well. I really thought we were. We had had a few very minor spats that we talked through. Yester night was our six month anniversary and we had huge plans. Dinner in town followed by an early night in. I had been practicing burlesque for a month now and was ready to put on a show for her.

Dinner was in the CBD, at a quaint restaurant that offered a charming view of the Nairobi skyline. I was wearing a low cut black dress, with gold embellishments. She loved it. She looked just as nice in a short, white dress that showed off her legs. And heels. There is something about seeing her in heels that gets to me. I could hardly wait for the dinner to be over. It would be a great night.

The first hour we were there went by very fast. I could hardly pay attention to the food as my eyes were fixed on her. I was thinking of the things we would do, my show… I really hoped she would like it. When the waiter came to refill our wine glasses, I hardly paid him any mind. When he said, “Are you done?” I briefly looked up, nodded and resumed my staring. Her brows furrowed as they do when she’s angry and my stomach flipped. I hadn’t done anything wrong. My only thought was not tonight.

She waited for the waiter to leave. Then… a torrent, no, a barrage of words rushed out. Why was the waiter giving me those eyes? Why was he looking at my chest like that? What did I do to encourage him? Why was I so disrespectful? Did I want the waiter? Why was I being a filthy, dirty hoe?

I blacked out the rest and thought of our last vacation in Diani. I was not about to cry in public. She got up, threw a wad of cash on the table and grabbed me. I quickly grabbed my bag and coat. Or maybe you want to stay and be with your waiter? I was quiet as we left, quiet as we got into the car, quiet as we drove home. Thankfully, she concentrated on driving and didn’t talk. I thought that maybe we could salvage the night after all.

At home, she went straight to the bedroom. I followed her, peeling off my clothes. Determined that we would make the best of this night. Determined to give her my anniversary gift. She was taking off her dress when I walked in. I went to her and tapped her shoulder. She turned back, her reflexes faster than ever, and shoved me.

Later, while I pretended to be asleep on the sofa, she creeped in and covered me with a blanket. She kissed me lightly on my forehead and left. And then, today, there were flowers. Sitting on my desk, judging me. Judging me because I was already thinking of how we’d get past this. Judging me because I had already forgiven her, even without an apology.

When I got home, there was a note on the door. Asking me to meet her in the dining room. The heady scent of jasmine and sandalwood suffused me when I got there. Cutting through that was the aroma of chicken biryani. There she was, in the dress I like and in heels. Slowly, she walked towards me. Slowly, she kissed me. Sensuously, torturously. As her teeth dug into my lower lip, I moved closer into her.

We would be fine

There are things we don’t talk about. Partly because we don’t know how to say them, where to begin. Every time the words bubble up on our tongues, we fumble, we stumble and end up choking them back down. And partly because we don’t know where to say them. We are not openly gay to begin with. So when your girlfriend who no one knows about abuses you, emotionally or physically, where do you go? Who do you talk to?

The above is fiction. The story has just poured out of me. I apologize if it’s a misrepresentation of what you may have experienced.

On Thursday 21, from 3pm Holaa will be having a discussion on Twitter on the cloak of shame and silence surrounding physical and sexual assault in queer communities. Kindly join in on that day and let’s talk about it.

On their site, they have very insightful articles on the same, kindly check them out. Below are some examples.

#QueeringTheCloak: An Explanation of The Project
An open letter to the girl who will be a “new catch” to my abusive ex girlfriend
‘At least she did not hit me’

If you are living this, I cannot tell you to leave. I can only say that I am here, to help in whatever way I can.

P.S. If you ever need to talk, rant or anything, mail me at babydykeke@gmail.com .

 

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