The death of my husband took everyone by surprise! He only complained of mild headache for three days before he passed on. He would go to work as usual and in the evening he would complain of exhaustion and headache.
Living in a misinformed society by then, where everyone who ailed for a long time was suspected of dying from HIV my husband was spared the gossip.
Two weeks after his burial, a friend was helping me in the house to pack and put his staff away as part of my healing process. I took his favorite coat and held it for a very long time close to me. His manly scent tickled my nostrils making fresh oncoming tears as his memories clogged my mind.
I felt something in the pockets and decided to check what it was. I found a hospital appointment card and some drugs which I didn’t know what they were for. I showed them to my friend who took me to a nurse friend in the nearby clinic to explain to us.
On our way to the clinic, my mind was disturbed and my heart was troubled. “Why would he hide that he was sick, why would he take medication in discretion, and what sort of disease was he suffering from?”
Upon arrival to the clinic, I found out that my husband was infected with HIV. The nurse took me through intense counselling and advised me to get tested. The results came out positive for me and my two month old baby.
My friend who took me to the hospital took it upon herself to disseminate the news of my sickness in the entire village. Every time I would go to the market where I use to sell vegetables. People would point an insulting finger at me. Nobody talked to me anymore. Nobody bought from me anymore. My kids were discriminated at school and my in laws shunned me.
Shame took over me. I stopped taking my medication. I stopped eating. I stopped going to the market and kept even my kids away from school. Someone sent word to my sister when I completely lost my mind. She came and took me home to my mother who nursed and cared for me.
I was mentally disturbed for two good years. I can’t recall what happened for those years. I was told that at some point I would be tied in ropes and my mother together with the nurse would force me to take my medication.
I started feeling better and accepted my condition after many counselling sessions. When I went back to my home. I came to an empty home. My brother in law had sold my home land and everything I owned. I was given a small portion of land where I built a small house.
I am now waiting at a small restaurant in our small town. Life has not been easy. My two elder kids dropped out of school during the period I was mentally ill. My sister educated my third born daughter up to O level but I have no means to pay for her education further. My last daughter who was left at two months and was also infected is taking her medication well and is very healthy, now in grade seven.
I am a member of the Solid Rock Widows and volunteer with the health care Center as a care giver to the people who have been infected by HIV and AIDS. We can defeat AIDS by being open minded, supporting the infected and affected, taking medication religiously and living as one humanity whether positive or negative!