My Nightmare With A Stalker.
I didn’t really want to be at that party, I am not a party person and the loud music was irritating. It always felt like it forced my heart to beat in tandem with the music and by the end of the night I never really felt like myself. It was as if each rhythm sucked with it a piece of me as it did with everyone else in the room, I thought until the speakers were a patchwork quilt of pieces of everyone’s heart.
The lights in the small room were far too dim and this unsettled me. I scanned the room and picked out a not-so-populated corner and moved towards it. I sipped my non-alcoholic drink as I waited for my friend, Naliaka to arrive.
Slowly, I began to loosen up and started to mingle with the small group that inhabited the corner with me. They traded campus story jokes and laughed with abandon as they shared in their newly found camaraderie
I did not notice him when he approached me, otherwise, I would have seen the fiery intent in his eyes and moved away. Instead, I warmed up to him and said hello.
‘My name is James, and you are?’
‘Nice meeting you Judy,’
A silence followed as we both bobbed our heads to the music, racking our brains for something to dispel the awkward pause in our conversation.
‘What brings you here?’
‘I am waiting for my friend, she is the one who invited me but I must’ve gotten here before her because I can’t see her anywhere.’
‘What is your friend’s name?’
‘What?’ I shouted over the music.
‘I said,’ moving closer to me, ‘What is your friend’s name?’
‘Do you want to go outside?’
‘Okay,’ I agreed, needing, after all, a break from the boom of the music.
Outside, the air felt still. Very still, like the universe was silencing everything else in order to send out a resounding warning to me, but I failed to notice his eyes which were red like the blood that recoiled in my veins when he moved closer to me and ran his hand along my forearm. James moved closer to me, his breath clouding the space between my upper lip and my nostrils. I pushed him away, taken aback by his audacity. By now my heart was beating hard in my chest, I had not realised that we had moved so far from the main house.
‘C’mon,’ James cajoled in a breathy whisper.
I pushed him away and began to walk towards the main house. I felt a violent tug on my arm and then, ‘Whack!’ the blow caught me by surprise and I fledged between consciousness and unconsciousness.
I held my head where the blow had just landed and heard the blood throbbing in my ear. It wasn’t long before he struck me again and again. I started to scream. Loudly. My pitch rose with the blows until I could hear the shuffling of heels and three men peeled James from on top of me and I was escorted back inside.
James has pulled away, kicking and screaming, fingers splayed as if in readiness to attack invisible antagonists in the night.
It was after this incident that I began to notice his silhouette everywhere, at first I thought I was crazy but my fears were validated when he would text me exact details of what I was wearing and the visitors who frequented my university dorm room.
‘Judy, you’re probably overreacting,’ Naliaka told me when I showed her the texts.
‘How would he know these things if he wasn’t stalking me Naliaka? I should probably report this.’
The school authorities didn’t believe me and dismissed me before I could even finish my story, ‘Go settle your lover’s tiff elsewhere, don’t involve us in your personal business.’
I felt dejected. It was becoming harder for me to go to class or carry out my daily activities without feeling like his eyes were glued to my back, watching my every step.
Things got harder for me, but the situation took a turn for the worse when James posted on the school website a list of all the men that I had apparently slept with. No one made a comment on it but the effects were far-reaching, evident in the questioning stares I got from my friends and roommates as to whether the details of my purported sexual history were true.
Life slowed down for me and all that consumed me was how helpless I felt. The humiliation that wrapped itself around my life a straitjacket. The crippling fear of James made it hard for me to turn around each corner without feeling like the blood running through my body had turned rock solid and I felt unable to move.
The friends around me faded into the periphery of my life until it felt like I no longer had any, all chased away by the false image of promiscuity that had been created of me by James and the notion that I was some kind of creep who had somehow brought this on myself by rejecting his advances. For me, it felt like my life was unravelling and I didn’t feel in control. The post on the school website was the last straw and I decided to take legal action.
The court proceedings seemed to drag on forever. I had never been so alone in my entire life. The only friend who would have supported me through this trying time has been denied leave from school. Each court proceeding slugged on, exhausting me in its daily conclusion but I buoyed myself on the fact that I was seeking protection for myself from my stalker, no matter how long or what form it took.
The threats from James’ friends and some of the male fraternity on campus made me seek a police escort which was granted to me. They wanted me to withdraw the case but I soldiered on. Eventually, justice won the day and James was issued with a lifetime restraining order.
I proved them wrong when I resumed school after the break, unwilling to give my attacker the satisfaction of quitting school and moving to another campus as he had earlier thought and even put monetary bets on.
The memory still haunts me and the nightmares get very vivid, relentless in their intensity whenever I go through a breakup or reject advances from a male admirer. I dream of being locked up in burning houses and an arsonist is a man I have recently turned down.
I sometimes can hear him in the eaves or rapping on my window sill. I carry this memory with me, even though I cannot help it, it is with me when I take off my clothes at the end of the day or when I wake up in the middle of the night to get a snack. Sometimes it taunts me, reminding me that I will never be the same because of it, other times I feel strong in spite of it.
Either way, I feel relief at having gotten a legal reprieve from my stalker and I hope to spread awareness of my story to encourage those going through a similar ordeal by letting them know that they aren’t alone and preventing others from going through the same thing.
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Single lady in Nairobi is a collection of real-life stories and opinions from different women. It looks at the current world of dating in Kenya and the experiences that ladies have gone through. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Potentash.com.