Wow! On paper it does not look like I have not been around but in spirit I have been away for long. Too long. And so much has happened. Where do I begin? I think I should start from the latest.
By now you have heard about the Sugabelly rape story – if you haven’t google it and relocate from under that rock. It was such a distressing piece to me, not just because she went through a lot -and she did- but because in many ways I could relate. And it brought back all the ways I could relate so vividly. I cried and cried. My personal reflection on the event is summed up here , some of which you already know, and some you do not. However, this culture of silence over rape and abuse that we seem to have embedded in our (Nigerian) culture is a good port of call in discussing ways that we can rid the world of AIDS in the near future.
In my opinion, If we are to rid our country of this illness then we must be ready to stop pretending. We must be ready to speak about the things that are taboo. How we are unhappy in our relationships, our marriages and want out rather than sneaking around with multiple partners, how we are being beaten by a partner instead of saying that it is a family/ domestic matter, how we were sexually abused as kids, or raped as adults instead of running around broken. Conversely, we must also be able to empathise with people who have been in these situations or who are in them even if we do not understand them. They are not sluts, and prostitutes, and ashawos, and shameless, and irresponsible and stupid. They do not want it nor are they asking for it. They just are. Because HIV in Nigeria is primarily transmitted by sexual intercourse we have to lift the lid off all the situations that can make ensure that sexual intercourse is unsafe and/ or dangerous. because it is perpetuated by our culture of silence we must question our taboos.
So where have I been?
Let’s start with the good news
Towards to the end of July I began I job in a start-up. In September I began ARVs and met someone who liked me irrespective of my status. In October my mum finally got paid her gratuity and in November we bought her a new car.
And now the bad news
In September I was fired because my boss needed to micromanage me and I resisted. He literally wanted to arrange my work schedule by the hour so he knew what I was up to or supposed to be up to every hour. I thought that was ridiculous but offered a weekly update on my activities. Then one day the company director came and not finding him on his seat spoke to me. He became nervous and insecure and fired me.
In October I broke up with my ‘person who liked me’. Turned out he liked my pocket. He expected me to fund or at least subsidise his life. I caught him out in a lie more than once and I cut him off. (That didn’t take long.)
So here we are. This is the short version of the events because I really do not want to rehash the long. But I am on ARVs now and I have been doing well. I had no adverse reaction to the drugs which was a shock and a pleasure to my healthcare professionals because it is very rare. I may share details of that if you guys are good because only two people asked of me when I was away 😦 But being on the ARVs without side effects empowered me so much that I began to share my status with my colleagues and friends. I am living openly now and frankly, it feels great! I feel free and unhindered; I no longer carry a burden. And I help people too. When they see me and find out I am positive they are encouraged that being positive is not death.
Otherwise I am just here wondering about my next meal and hoping that December doesn’t run so fast without me.
How ya living?