My name is Anita. I have this ugly tattoo sitting on my bum. It’s a man’s face.
Trust me – there are moments when I have felt like chunking off half of my buttocks just to get read of the ink. I had the tattoo of Brian inscribed on the left cheek of my bum. Imagine such indiscretion! I had no idea the innocent act would follow me like a tail for the rest of my adult life.
I remember my sister Janet warning me that such a thing could one day land me in trouble. It did in March, 2020. I was engaged to this man and was waiting to walk down the aisle in September 2021. Let’s just call him Victor.
This is the tattoo that broke my engagement to Victor – an engineer who had engineered his way into my heart. Our relationship lasted three years. Sex was a rumor in the relationship because we had agreed to preserve one another for the big day.
To be honest – I was happy with the arrangement because it could give me more time to deal with the ugly tattoo that was sitting on my bum. I call it ugly because I had done all manner of things to try to deface it; remove it if possible, only to disfigure the face and create an ugly man.
‘There were days when I would just pray to God to take it away – and would dream that Go had deleted my sin only to wake up in the morning and find Timo’s face staring at me. Timo broke up with me in our third year on campus – I remember freshers had just reported at the University of Nairobi where we were both studying Education.
Did I mention that I had the tattoo in my first year in college? Well, now I do. I don’t know where I got the courage – but it was Timo’s idea.
A friend of mine would later tell me that she knew four girls all of whom had the same tattoo – which Timo comically referred to as rubber stamp. Stupid man.
Timo left me and the tattoo for a first year girl. That night I spent seven hours scrubbing the two-year-old face with a cocktail of sand, booze, cooking oil, hot water and ice cream.
The face kept smiling at me. I remember dating another campus dude at the beginning of my fourth year. I avoided getting intimate with him for the first few weeks until he threatened to damp me – and so I gave in one condition – that I had this childhood phobia with lights. It didn’t make sense – but it worked.
Seven years later – I met Victor. The man who just cancelled our wedding plans.
So Victor and I never had sex for the period we met – because I feared the tattoo would be an issue to him given he is this conservative man and a staunch christian. Things changed three weeks before our grand wedding. I remember him driving to my house one evening. It was on a Friday – and he looked worried.
“Is everything okay?” I remember asking him.
I looked at him as he sunk into the seat. As his future wife, I went to his side and hugged him – tightly.
“It’s the office. I made some mistakes at the new dam plant and the company lost Ksh15 million worth of investment,” he said.
I kissed him – that reassuring kiss and asked him to go take a shower as I prepared him dinner. He obliged. I cooked dinner and together we ate as we talked about the wedding.
As we were talking – he asked me if I was keeping any secrets, he needed to know before the wedding.
“I don’t have secrets Victor. What makes you think I could be having some secrets?”
He replied: “I just asked so we can be free and open – now that we are going to be husband and wife.”
I asked him to go first – and that’s when he told me that he had been engaged before to a woman but things didn’t work out between them as she had too many things going in her life.
“So, tell me!”
“I have a tattoo…” I said and kept quiet. I don’t know what I was thinking.
“Can I see it? Is it a tattoo of me?” he said jokingly.
“No. It’s not you. It’s my first boyfriend.”
The look in his face turned ice-cold.
“It’s on my buttocks,” I said and waited for the earth to open up and swallow me.
I lay on my belly as he examined Timo’s distorted face like a well-paid surgeon.
“I heard him pick himself from the bed – and walked towards the door. My face still hidden in my hands. I was still lying on my belly.
I heard him open the door before shutting it. I could feel his last gaze still directed on the ink. That’s how Victor left me.
He would later tell me – in a WhatsApp text that he cannot survive in a marriage where he will be forced to look at another man’s face even in the privacy of his bedroom.
I don’t know what to do.
Imagine having something on your body permanently, and enduring quite a bit of pain.