Hello! Good day, how are y’all doing this fine Monday? Great I hope. How was work today? I apologize for not doing the usual medical post last week – so many pressures of life – I’m going to be doing it today instead. Straight to the point today; last Monday was World AIDS day and to honor that, we are going to be doing a story instead of the usual medical post.
“……….HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low – and middle – income countries.” William said as he stared straight at the camera, his gaze and stance weary. This was the fifth location today and all he wanted was get a bath and get some sleep. He got very tired really easily nowadays, so tired that he had to go check his vitals and donate blood for some tests. He wasn’t sure what was going on with him recently. He sighed as he reported the memorized script and silently prayed that his director would ask to wrap up the shot.
As if he could hear his thoughts, the director started rolling his index fingers around each other as a signal for Williams to round things up. He blinked three times in quick succession to indicate that he understood and then started to recite the boring, almost robotic spiel he usually used to end his newscasts.
“……. And again, do not forget that HIV/AIDS is still very contagious and anyone can get it. also remember that we can escape this disease by protecting ourselves and maintaining good hygiene; both personally and in our environment. Lastly, stigmatization is unfair as well as uncalled for; please be nice and keep in mind that it can happen to anyone……”
He finished the cast a few minutes later and nodded respectfully, albeit absentmindedly to everyone around. A few minutes later, he was driving towards home at the fastest speed possible considering the traffic on the road. He was especially tense today, because of Abby. Abby was short for Abigail, who happened to be his girlfriend of three years. She had said she wanted to “talk” right before he left for work that morning. Everyone knew that whenever a woman wanted to talk, there was trouble. He punched his horn hard twice at a vehicle trying to maneuver into the space in front of him. Everyone on this damned queue was rushing somewhere dammit, what made him think himself different.
It was almost nine by the time he got home, the street was quiet save for other vehicles that like his were just getting back from work. He waved at his neighbor, Alice from the next flat as he tried to open his own door as quietly as possible. She smiled and waved weakly, then entered her apartment. He tried not to feel sorry for her as he watched her go; she was the most fragile person. She had tested positive for HIV last year and her life had gone in an awkward downward spiral after that, with all her friends ostracizing her and her husband running from home. He would never understand why people stigmatized AIDS patients so.
He got into the house and met Abby sitting in a chair and staring at the door; she looked like she had been sitting there for a while, waiting for him. She also looked very tense, and it was all he could do not to go and hold her and tell her everything would be alright. She waited for him to reach her before she moved to hug him. He frowned, something was wrong.
“What’s going on?” he asked without preamble.
“I’m sorry.” She said, starting to cry now.
“Heyyy, sssh. You’ll be fine, just tell me what’s wrong first.”
“I am so very sorry, William.” She said again. More tears this time.
They went on like that for a few minutes; him asking her what was wrong, and she apologizing and being frustratingly cryptic about things. She finally calmed down enough to speak and she sniffed as she spoke.
“We have to break up, William.”
He had known this was going to happen, but he didn’t expect it after all the tears. “Why?” he asked, trying to keep his cool.
“Well, remember those tests we took a while back?” She asked.
“The results came back today.” She said .
The way she said it scared him, so he took her hands in his. He was scared, because he had asked to be tested for HIV and he didn’t like the look on her face. He held her hands tighter in a silent plea to her not to leave him. He opened his mouth, about to ask her to please stay with him no matter what.
“I tested positive.”
He immediately dropped her hand, moved back and thanked God that he hadn’t started begging for nothing. He knew he was safe, because they used protection all the time, except that one time last year. He tried to stop the smile from spreading across his face, but it did; this was a classic case of “God-don-catch-am”. He wasn’t infected. He wasn’t infected!! He shook his head and looked at her, pity oozing out of every pore. She started crying again, so he gave her a pat on the head and immediately cleaned his hands on his handkerchief.
“Don’t cry love, these things happen.”
“I’m crying, because you’re so thick headed” she said and a bitter smile started to play around the edges of her mouth.
He looked at her as if she was crazy; this one did not know what she was saying. He could deal with being thick headed; she was HIV positive abeg.
“You tested positive too.” She said quietly.
He froze; he was tainted too, he was going down too. He staggered and tried to hold on to something as he fell back and felt the darkness call for him.
“This cannot be the end.” He thought as he lost consciousness and the darkness took over.
This is not the end.