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  •   ३० बैशाख २०७८, बिहीबार

Yes, I Am HIV Positive

११ पुष २०७५, बुधबार १३:४३

One day, police had a raid in the hotel where I was with my customer. Maybe the police and the hotel owner had some financial issues that day or else the police themselves enjoy in the same hotel the other times. Many people including other workers like me and our customers were taken in custody during the raid. The custody wasn’t something new for me. There’s no difference between a bed and custody in my profession.

 

I have a small room in Butwal city. Not only room, my son is small too. I realized that my life had been so drab lately that everything around me seemed to be small. Small things end fast, maybe that is the reason why everything around me including me seem to be coming to an end. I am a native of Arghakhachi where men of the house usually go to India for work. My husband went to India to work as well and brought a surprise for me while returning back. He suffered from AIDS and infected me too.

People started hating us, to an extent where we were compelled to leave home and live in the cowshed. Then we thought that it’s better to have a pitiful life in the cities rather than being a prey of wild animals in the village. My husband would come home once in a blue moon. Most of the times, I didn’t know where he was even. This time, it’s been 15 months since he last came home. I don’t know if alcohol took him away or AIDS took him but I have strengthened myself by assuming that he is no more.

I gave birth to a baby boy within a few months after we came to the city. Now, he is about a year old. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) prevented my child from getting infected. He is my only sunshine, my only ray of hope. I work to feed him. Many people might not like my profession but I am fine with it because behind these dresses and makeup so wild, there’s a loving mother desperate to earn for her child.

Unlike the profession of others, my work starts at night and ends in the morning. In the morning, I always rush to feed my child whom I leave behind every single night. All of my worry vanishes as soon as I see him. My son is 13 months old. He crawls and tries to walk sometimes. Often times, he tries to crawl down the bed. It becomes tough to find the solutions to keep him safe and sound for the whole night. After all, I won’t be there for him at nights.

Sometimes I feel that it would have been a lot easier if someone could look after my child for the night but then I realize that HIV killed me in the eyes of my relatives before it could actually take my life.

Me and my son are the only ones I have in my life. I tie the mosquito net around the bed so that my son would not fall down before I go out each night. I make him wear diaper and change it in the morning.

Every second, I worry about him. I worry if he started playing with the water, if he got stuck in the water jar or if he crawled down of the bed. Every morning when I get back to my son, I feel revived.

First, HIV killed  me and now, this society is killing me. I don’t have any objection with my profession, I sell myself to earn for my child, my son is growing up outside these shut doors and somehow, this reason is enough. At least I don’t have to walk with shame like I had to in the village, I warm the beds of others but I am independent and earn for my son.

One day, police had a raid in the hotel where I was with my customer. Maybe the police and the hotel owner had some financial issues that day or else the police themselves enjoy in the same hotel the other times. Many people including other workers like me and our customers were taken in custody during the raid. The custody wasn’t something new for me. There’s no difference between a bed and custody in my profession.

It was a weird co-incidence that my son caught fever the same day, so, I had to go to my son the next morning at any cost. I didn’t have cash in hand and an old customer called me, so, I went. When I cried and explained my situation to the police, even showed them the keys of my room, they did not respond. At that time, my eyes couldn’t keep the account of my tears. I cursed god for the second time. I could visualize my son, after all, he was the one I was doing all that for. That made me cry more. I was wondering if my son would be smiling the same when I get home.

The law of my country is pitiful, my husband was never to be blamed for the infection he transferred to me.The society treated me inhumanly, but the society was not to be blamed either. And finally when I decided to something for myself, these were the consequences I was facing.

We were released at 10 in the morning. I rushed to my son. I could hear him cry from a distance. Although he was crying, it relieved me to hear him.

There are many sisters suffering from HIV like me, who are into this profession. The society could not respect us but why is it that the law and its protectors don’t care about our sentiments either?

Yes, I have HIV and I am into this profession but what is the fault of my son? I find my profession far better than that of the corrupt leaders, although dirty but at least the it’s a hard earned money-out of sweat and blood.

I cry whenever I remember this incidence. While there are loud slogans in the favor of HIV worldwide, small voices like ours go unheard. Yes, I have HIV but at least let me earn from what I am doing or what I consider as my profession.

Nowadays, some of the infected sisters have decided that we would cook and look after our children for ourselves. We have planned to save a little each week and help each other.

Please don’t reveal my name? Don’t take my pictures either. You’re a writer; do write my story and recite it to people. I will read it too.

 

NOTE

HIV is a name of the virus and AIDS is the stage of infection. Most of the people in Nepal consider HIV and AIDS to be same which is not true.

Written by- Suyog Dhakal

Translated by- Brigid Shrestha

 

 

 

 

प्रतिक्रिया दिनुहोस !
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