World Aids Day; Breaking my silence

My cousin Immaculate. She was in S.3. Her mother had sent her to live with us when she was in P.7 after catching her with a man in the toilet, hoping that my dad, quite the disciplinarian would turn her into a disciple. She was in S.3. That was when she died. I remember how terrified I was of her. I remember how pale and skinny she looked. She vomited a lot. My dad fed her on a lot of eggs. And juice. And drugs that looks like stained glass. She liked to bask in the sun. Then when she could not take in any more, she would beckon me to help her up, and back in the house. But I would run off scared and beckon the house help. What if I caught whatever it is that she had. What if my lips chapped as hers had? What if I contacted those sores that I saw on her arms, legs feet, and hands? I did not know what it is she was suffering from, but I knew I never wanted it. She died a few months later. In our house. I was 10. At her burial, I heard people whisper. It was Aids that had done it to her. I told myself then that I did not want to die from HIV. Even if then I did not know how one contacted it.

She was my favorite cousin in the village Naome. She was always full of life, always chatting, and eager to show me around the farm and help me pick guavas. But when I went to the village that particular Christmas, everything had changed. Naome was not there to greet us. I found her lying in her bed, stark naked, moaning and writhing in pain. I took one look at her skinny body and knew immediately what she was dying from. Her huge eyes turned and stared at me blankly when I walked in. i ran out of the room and never went back. Five days later, at day break, she passed on. Aids had claimed yet another one. I was 12.

I find I cannot compose myself on this one. I had grown into a teenager. My dad and I clashed a lot. He was not that happy with me and I understood why. Come visiting day, he sent my elder sister to visit me. Had I been that bad that my father could not even bear to come and visit me? My sister had told me that he was busy. I did not buy it. I set out to read hard at school, maybe then I would win my father back. I found out from my mum later that father had been sick. Later that holiday, I noticed my dad was not his usual vivacious self. I also noticed he had stopped wearing shorts, his favorite weekend do. Once when he was jumping into his car, I noticed the sores on his legs. Wait. I had seen those sores before on Immaculate. I was horrified and mortified. Surely my dad did not have Aids. He was my father. He was not supposed to have any such humiliating diseases. I approached my elder sister and asked her. She confirmed my worst fears. She also pointed to the woman that had given him it. I was disgusted, and terrified, and I knew it would be only a matter of time. Three months later, the teacher on duty came to fetch me out of class during night preps. My dad had passed. Aids had claimed him. I was 13.

And many more…

Today I remember the many lives that have been lost to the Aids blight. I celebrate especially those that were dear to me. To those that are living with it and those that fight every day. To my little adopted sister who by no fault of hers was born with HIV, and my mum who fasts and prays for a miracle every day, for my little sister to get better.

Imagine the possibility of an HIV free generation…

35 loungers burdening me:

The Emrys said...

....it begins with you

The Emrys said...

drat, am the only one lounging on a monday

Solomon King said...

I know what that feels like. I too have lost too many people to AIDS.

And sometimes the reality of it all escapes us as we walk this walk.

Thank you for bringing it all back sharply into focus.

It begins with you.

petesmama said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Cheri said...

Thank u AP.

If only everyone would want tomake a difference...

Cheri said...

It is so sad and the fact that u can share this openly is the way to go.

nevender said...

We have all been affected by this disease...I believe this is one place where we all understand each other.

Thanks for sharing Auntie.

jny23ug said...

That was such a touching post.
Just want to hug yu right now.

Thanks D.

Des said...

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts - Aristotle.

To your courage today!

Be silent said...

Thanks for sharing and it surely begins with us. We need to do something

normzo said...

I have learned more about love, selflessness and human understanding in this great adventure in the world of AIDS- thanks for sharing your story.

Erique said...

posts about Aids freak me out. so for fear of contracting it, i'll make it short and sprint. Sorry Anti...

Anonymous said...

:-(

Thank you for sharing and helping to keep awareness of the virus alive.

mphoebe said...

ditto nevender;

thank you for sharing. Because not many of us are brave enough to...

Minty said...

You're brave for breaking the silence.

Chanel said...

You gat guts. Didnt think you had it in you.

Anonymous said...

I strongly belv that Promoting more open communication about HIV/AIDS between parents and teenagers w'd help alot rite frm the root
The Hope n possibility of a HIV free future begines wth u.

Eddsla

Sybella said...

you are one brave lady...

one person at a time and we can have that generation...

SilverBow said...

i love you sweetie. i want to hug you so much right now. i'm so sorry.

Carlo said...

You just made me cry. Your stories are so much like my own stories I feel like we knew the same people. My favourite uncle, my favourite aunt, my cousin who mostly raised us, so many people. I can't be crying right now, I sit at the reception. Darn! Thank you for the awareness though.

Emi's said...

I always thought that am most affected by AIDs, Reading all this made me realise that am not alone.
Yes together we can make that diffrence

Princess said...

Thank you for sharing.

Baz said...

Someone said to us when we were at the hospital that everyone has HIV. If you don't have the virus in you yourself, someone you love does and we are all in this together. It's good to talk about it. Let your friends know that you have their back and they don't have to bear the burden alone in secret, you know?

Ugandan girl said...

Thank you...you have made a difference already.

val said...

This was an amazing post.

I miss my family (fav uncle, cousins, aunt) to this day.

"Imagine the possibility of an HIV free generation…"...it is possible.

Esquire of the mountain said...

a very radically different post from your usual style and thus very sobering...makes us, makes me remember all gone and that this thing is far from over..the strides we've made nevertheless..i will echo all the other comments...thank you for this candid piece..thank you.

~ScotchBiscuits~ said...

Bambi:(

yz said...

amazing post. so many still pretend they're in a bubble floating above it all.

yz said...

amazing post. so many still pretend they're in a bubble floating above it all.

The 27th Comrade said...

Come here, Antipop. Sit here. You're a brave girl. Hugs, hugs. Those were two hugs, because there is a set that is from someone else.

And this is why I think stigma against HIV/AIDS people is dumb: we've all been affected, so why pretend to be ... Oh, well.

You're brave. Nice post.

Anonymous said...

Sad stories these...

wanyama said...

Me--i am touched. I have never done a test--but I promise to do it next week. I need to know. Thanks Aunt-pop

Mudamuli said...

It is very sad. Thank you for writing this, Antipop.

Zack (ألاسمحاجّ) said...

To re-echo Emry's sentiment and perhaps the campaign tagline too... an HIV free generation begins with you! You might also find THIS interesting.

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

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