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Changing phases..

Updated: 3 days ago




When *Diana left work that day, she circled the town thrice while looking in her rearview mirror to make sure no one followed. If any car came too close, or trailed her longer than she thought appropriate, she went around again. “It’s tedious. The paranoia. But no matter how much I told myself to calm down, I couldn’t. The emails and texts on my phone wouldn’t let me,” Diana said.

*****

Three and a half years ago, Diana’s joys in life had been great, anticipated, hard earned. She had just moved to a remote part of Kenya to start a new job in a small private hospital, as a Medical Officer. “I was a stranger to that town so the sum total of my life was work-home-work.” Even if the surface of her life was flat, within her, she pretty much enjoyed her own company. And then she met *David.

He was a tall, dark, soft spoken Tech expert who had been seconded to the hospital from the IT firm in town. They would rub shoulders once in a while, a passing glance here, a nod there but nothing was ever said. One day after about three months of non verbal cues, he walked up to her and said, “Hi. When are you available? I would like to take you out for dinner.”

She felt pushed into a conversational cul de sac, “he was so direct, it caught me by surprise so I simply said, ok.” And it became a first of many dates to come. The next few months were the best months. Every morning was a flurry of butterflies and a quickening pulse as she looked forward to seeing him at work. “He was so thoughtful; the kind of guy who would drive to the next town to buy me a burger or cook up a storm for me several times a week.” Whenever Diana moved her lips to speak, his eyes never left her face; listening keenly to catch her words and store them up for himself. Perfection.

If she knew then, what she knows now; if she could rewind the timeline untwist it and roll it back like a ball of wool then maybe she would have seen the knots in the yarn. But at that moment, she knew nothing about anything, she had not seen it coming. She had walked squarely into it with her eyes open.

“It started with the headaches. He would hold his head in a vice like grip and groan for hours on end.” He told her that a few months before they met, he had been involved in a road traffic accident where he ended up with a burst lip. “But they didn’t run any tests,” he said.

“Maybe you should have a CT scan done just to rule out anything.”

The scan showed that he had an arachnoid cyst (go back and read the word folk. It’s easy -aa-rak-no-eed) so she linked him up with a neurosurgeon to advise on the way forward. The brain doctor opted for conservative management and started him on meds for the headache and to reduce the size of the cyst. But he continued to complain that his head felt like someone was using it as a trampoline. And there would be more drugs then stronger drugs then higher doses until at one point he was on morphine.

“David I don’t think these painkillers are helping. Why not opt for surgery?”

So after discussions with the neurosurgeon, he went in for surgery where a shunt was placed in his head to drain the fluid from the cyst. It was uneventful.

Several weeks post op, he developed constipation and would sleep like a box full of bricks. “Previously he was a light sleeper and an early riser but then he started to sleep longer hours and would act dazed when awake. And he still complained that his head hurt.” The equation did not add up in Diana’s head. She decided to go through his stuff. “I don’t even know what I was looking for but David was acting odd.”

During her search, she came across two large brown bags — the kind that you use to pack groceries in — which had countless needles, syringes and broken vials of morphine and pethidine — enough to sedate a horse!

“David why do you have all these drugs?” She asked him her eyes switching forensically between him and the brown bags.

There was a long and brittle silence, “Argh. They were prescribed. You have no idea the kind of pain I am in. The surgery…the headaches…”

“But these quantities are too much! This is why you have been constipated. Opioids cause constipation. And do you know what these can do to your breathing?” She went all wikipedia on him, explaining the adverse effects of the meds and added how addictive they could be.

He entwined his fingers as his eyes darted back and forth, “You are right. I will stop.” She expected much more resistance than this and in the next few weeks, searched every corner and crack in his house. And came up empty. He was now not as drowsy and he was back to his normal self.

“I was so proud of myself. That I had averted a probable disaster so effortlessly. In hindsight, I should have stopped there and then, taken a deep breath, evaluated the situation and made a different decision.” But she was already pregnant and shuttling between his house and hers.

He on the other hand seemed to have replaced one vice with another. He started drinking and staying out late. “One evening, when I got to my place after work and opened my door, I was hit by an unwelcome stench. It went straight from my nostrils to my stomach, churning its contents, making me sick.” She followed the smell to her kitchen where she found one of her sufurias coated with a thick brown paste that resembled sour porridge. “Some of the paste had poured onto my cooker and had lined several of my mugs.” David had access to her house so she called him, “Were you at my place? And why were you taking sour porridge?”

He laughed. “That’s not porridge. It’s Busaa.”

“I let this fact percolate within me for a moment as I wracked my brain for something to say,” but she was too tired to mount a response. It was better than doing drugs anyway. She cleaned up the dishes and slept.

He continued to go out with his friends and would spend an alarming amount of money on alcohol. He was always the one footing the bill and he made a show of it. Back at his place she asked him, “Why do you throw money around like that? We have a kid coming in a few months.” He gave her a smug look and picked a small bag that he used to keep hanging on his bedroom wall. He opened it and gestured to her to look inside, “See this? Money is not a problem for me.”

The bag had rolls of cash; one thousand shilling notes each fighting for room in that small space.

“Kwani how much are you paid? Why do you have that kind of money in the house? Si you take it to the bank?”

“I don’t trust banks. My money is safer here.”

“Speaking of which, when you were admitted for surgery my bank called me. They noticed unusual transactions on my account to the tune of 50k. Some money was even sent to a paypal account with your name on it.”

“What? Me? There must be some mistake. Those guys are thugs. No wonder I can’t take my money there.”

The atmosphere of their relationship slowly shifted; the bond between them fading like the end of a song. Diana found herself alone most of the time and barely had anyone she could talk to. Because they were workmates they kept their relationship a secret. “I knew things were bad because I would bite into my pillow and cry every other night. Here I was, far from my family, pregnant, and alone. I felt my confidence slipping away.” Then one day he just announced, “I want to quit my job.”

“Why? So suddenly?”

“I want to start my own firm.” And he gave no other explanation. Because that was the kind of man he was. He would make roadside declarations and then weave a web of lies to back up his decisions. And boy was he good at it.

He went ahead and gave notice and after slender strips of time, all hell broke loose. A day before Diana went into labour, cops stormed the hospital. David was summoned to the conference room where they stayed for hours. After a while they left with him then came back and took even more time in the conference room. When they got out the second time, they went to his car to search it. There was a thick cloud of tension in the hospital. No one knew what was happening. When the cops checked his trunk they found him with 60,000 shillings worth of morphine and pethidine packed in a box. He also had syringes and needles enough to start a clinic in his glove compartment.

“I had been in that car! How could all this have eluded me? I even recalled seeing that box in his trunk and never thought anything about it!”

There was a scanner that could be used to code for hospital consumables and it was believed that he had it/one. The cops turned his house upside down but it’s not clear whether it was found.

The following day, Diana went into labour and David got arrested. “I felt like I had been hit by an 18 truck wheeler on ice. Imagine my confusion amidst all that physical agony. Then his mum came to the hospital and instead of rubbing my back she opened her palms and asked me to bail her son out.”

His bail had been set at 200,000ksh. Money that she didn’t have. But his mom wouldn’t relent. “Where is your ATM? She kept asking. It is only until my mom arrived and sent her away that she left.

Diana eventually gave birth to a springy shiny boy by c-section.

“I wish I could blame the anesthesia or post partum blues but after delivery, I looked for one of David’s friends, borrowed money from him and paid his bail.” But even if she did, she hated herself for it. It was like she was under a spell.

Reports came to her that he was being charged for possession of narcotics that he had stolen from the hospital. Being the guy who had automated the payroll, he had also created ghost workers that he would pay and pocket the money. That explained his endless supply of cash! “It became too much for me. I needed a break and told my mum I was not going to stay a minute in that town.” So she went home with her mum; who lived in another county.

By that time the hospital CEO discovered that David and her were dating and started to harass her. That she had to be a part of it. How could she not be involved? “I felt my blood turn cold. How did I end up here?”

When her son was a month old, she went back, packed her stuff, resigned and left. But not before she ended things with David.

That is when the emails and texts began.

“He would threaten me that he would commit suicide if I did not go back to him. When I didn’t respond he would resort to insults. The next day I would wake up to apologetic emails then the cycle would start again.” Once she received a text from his brother’s phone saying, ‘Last night David was unwell. We took him to hospital and he did not make it.’

She called back his brother in a panic, “What’s going on? What happened to David?”

“Kwani what has happened. David is asleep in the next room.”

When it hit her that she was being manipulated, she decided to cut off all contact. His dad called her asking her to forgive him and give him another chance, ‘we are now monitoring him and we even regulate the dose of painkillers he is taking,’ but she unplugged herself from them. She knew he was still using and pretending to be ill.

Her stars later aligned and she got a job in another town and moved but the psychological damage was done. “I became paranoid. This move came at a season when several girls all over the country were being hacked by disgruntled lovers. I was afraid I would be one of them.” She imagined him following her. When she walked in the streets, she would look over her shoulder multiple times to see if she was being followed. Once in a while he would get around her firewall and send a threatening email and it would take her to a very dark place.

A week after her son’s first birthday she received a call from an unknown number. When she picked she heard uncoordinated screams on the other side of the line.

“Diana. How are you? This is your mother. Your other mother.” Her voice sounded clipped.

“Who?”

“David’s aunt. I wanted to tell you before someone else does that David is dead.” She hung up tired of their games. But the lady called back.

“What!”

“David has passed away. Last night we had a family reunion and when we went to sleep he developed difficulty in breathing. We rushed him to the hospital but he was dead on arrival.”

She smiled sadly. ‘David must have put them up to this. What length was he willing to go to, to get under her skin?’

It is only until his mom called her mum to give her the news that it hit her. David was gone.

“I have never gone through a spasm of emotions like I did when David died. On one hand I was distraught. I took a walk in the town and found myself heaving and choking on tears in the middle of the day. Then in a split second I would feel relieved. That I was finally free from his manipulative ways and his threats.” But what sort of person feels relieved when the father of her son dies? Diana asked herself. She felt like she had lived a hundred years in the year that had passed.

“I wasn’t even sure whether or not to attend the funeral! I had not seen him in eight months. Did I have a right to be there?” Nevertheless she and her mum went. And she was glad she did.

One of his friends told me, “What do you mean you haven’t seen him in months? He would go missing for days and would tell us he was with you.”

Another one told her, “He told us you were engaged and was distributing wedding invitations to the ceremony.” Who had she been dating? It felt like they were describing a sociopath. But the one that imparted to her the most chilling bullet of knowledge was his closest friend who said,

“Once, David asked me to accompany him and his dad to a very remote village. It was a long drive and they left me in the car and went to see someone. It felt so cryptic.” When they got back, David’s dad spoke to him in their language assuming his friend did not understand. “What they didn’t know is I understood every word.” Apparently they had gone to see a witch doctor. David’s dad asked him as they drove back, “Are you sure you will get them?”

“Yes dad.”

“I hope so. Anyway, I am sure you won’t fail to get two of Daktari’s panties in your house. You need to do what the man has told you.”

Turns out David needed her panties to perform a ritual to get her back.

“I am only telling you this because you have a son. You need to protect him.” David’s friend said.

Diana underestimated the impact of all this information. “I know ghosts don’t exist but when I went back to my house, my paranoia was sky high. I couldn’t sleep without checking beneath my bed. I would toss and turn at night thinking about all that had happened. There was a day I woke up at 1am to burn my pillows! Because they reminded me of him.”

She became so emotionally unstable. “Sometimes it would be guilt that gripped me. Maybe if I hadn’t left him, he might have overcome his addiction. Then I would wonder whether I even had a right to feel that way.” Other times she would be angry, other times numb.

It was only until a friend of hers introduced her to the concept of therapy that she began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. “My friend insisted on it and even paid for the first session.”

“Try it Diana,” she said, “if you don’t like it, you can stop.” Turns out it was the turning point in her life. The rope she needed to pull herself out of the pit she had found herself in.

Through therapy she was able to process her emotions. The therapist helped her to take responsibility of not walking away sooner despite all those red flags. Helped her to understand why she felt guilty and there was nothing she could have done to avert his death. Helped her to understand why she was relieved because she had been living in a cage where he had locked her in.

“My son has been central in my drive to get better. Can you imagine I was first able to drive alone at night two months ago? It was so liberating. And I am still rebuilding my confidence.”

So why are you sharing this story now?

“Because my therapist told me I am sentimentally attached to it. My story. And said I needed to stop holding on to it and share it. I am just trying to be free.”



 


As told by Dr *Diana who chooses to remain anonymous

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4 Comments


A story courageously shared. May she get completely better

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Agnes Akinyi
Agnes Akinyi
Apr 14, 2021

Quite a story !

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patricia.oketch
patricia.oketch
Apr 13, 2021

You are brave. Sharing an intimate story like yours takes a lot of energy. Am glad you are on the way to good mental health.

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dela crucifix
dela crucifix
Apr 13, 2021

El chapo. On a light note. I've got mixed reactions so let me not even comment. ```deleted the comment in my head```

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