Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Morning-after (pt. 2 of Postinor)
I hate tests, as much as my performance back in school stated otherwise that remained my stand. You prepare for a set of questions that the examiner does not expect you to get a perfect score. The sad part is that a test doesn’t end the moment you turn in your paper, you had to wait for the result. The result was dichotomous, pass or fail. I was preparing for one more test which might as well be the most difficult I would sit for. The venue was a Heart to Heart centre, and either it was good or bad, the result would be ready in fifteen minutes. It was an HIV test. The not so funny part was if I was told twenty-four hours ago I would be taking the test, I would have argued till my last breath. I wasn’t reckless but within the last twenty-four hours I was involved in a sexual encounter that ended with a torn rubber. I know there are guys that wouldn’t be bothered. I know of a guy that got drunk and had sex with a prostitute. He woke up the next morning to realise the condom he thought he used was still intact in his pocket. I sure know he didn’t have the balls to go for an HIV test cause he kept rationalising to play the event down. I was different, I knew I had a bright future and wouldn’t want the past to kill what was yet to come (does that make sense). Maybe I was getting over my head but the chic I was with made me feel I was with a po-po. I concluded that a girl that knew so much about postinol and had used it several times might not be the right person to have unprotected sex with.
I sat there while I was being counselled but all they said, to me, was preamble. Even an elementary school student knew the ABC of HIV. Finally, my blood sample was going to be taken. The HIV test kit looked like a pregnancy test kit, all it needed was a drop of your blood and you wait, for fifteen minutes that would feel like hours. If two parallel lines appeared then the blood was free of the virus. I sat there impatiently, after the first five minutes nothing appeared, ten minutes later no parallel lines. Twelve minutes later, still no parallel lines. The nurse noticed I was sweating profusely and walked me to the waiting room away from the kit. Maybe I wouldn’t have panicked that much but earlier at the centre I saw an AIDS patient for the first time. She looked liked death. She walked in to pick up her drugs. As she stepped out the nurse around began a conversation about her with someone who came for the test like I did. She was a mother of three and got infected through her husband who had been promiscuous. She went for the test when she began to fall sick and detected she was positive. She talked to her husband and suggested he take the test because his health was also failing. He kicked her out of their matrimonial home for being infected that day and kicked the bucket months later due to AIDS opportunistic infections. I didn’t want to look like that; you wouldn’t understand what I am talking about until you see a full blown AIDS patient. The path my future would take depended on two parallel lines. I looked at where the kit was, I couldn’t get myself to run there and see what the result was. It was two minutes past the required time, I couldn’t even remind the nurse to check it. Finally, she walked towards it. I tried to read her facial expression from a distance but nothing. I couldn’t envisage what she was seeing. She walked with it into an office, five minutes later I was called in. It was a new face, and the only thing I remembered from that encounter was a smile. She gave me another preamble but by then my head was screaming with joy. Being negative had never been so positive. Then she dropped the punch line. She asked to know when was my last unprotected sexual encounter, her smile dropped when I answered. I had to come in six months time because that was how long it took for the virus to be detected. The mood changed drastically like a movie with horrible continuity. I knew within myself I couldn’t stand sitting for six months to know my status after what I had experienced within half an hour. She gave me an easy way out, get the girl tested.
Talking to a girl to know her HIV status sounded easy at first, for one it sounded selfless. Hey, I wasn’t doing it for me because whatever the result was, it was yours and it was best you knew. I called the chic to see her the next day because I needed to know her status fast. The meeting was at her place and after what had happened I was in no position to invite her to Stamford Bridge (my bedroom). We were speechless at first and that made it worse for me to communicate my intention. I dipped my hands in my pocket and showed her my result. “Why are you showing me?” she asked. I acted surprised and claimed I had the test for her sake so she wouldn’t worry about me being, you know… “I didn’t think you were before.” That made it worse for me for two reasons. First it because obvious she used face value to determine if an individual was HIV positive or not (she obviously didn’t believe AIDS no dey show for face). Secondly, from her position I sensed she wouldn’t take it well suggesting she get tested. She handed the result back to me then we remained speechless for a while. I remembered what I experienced when I got tested, I broke the silence, “you have to get tested”. She gave this sarcastic smile women give that sensed trouble. “I knew you were going to say that, after pouring in me you just want to sort yourself out and leave. What about me that has to wait in worry for fifteen days for my period before I know if I’m pregnant? Men are indeed selfish.” The angle she tackled me from was way below the belt but had truth in it. If I knew her status I wouldn’t worry as much as I did. Might sound bad but pregnancy especially in the early stage is ‘reversible’ but being positive wasn’t. The girl was adamant.
When I was young and I didn’t want to take my pills my mother was fond of carefully placing them in the meals I found delicious, hoping I would swallow it unknowingly. It usually worked and I decided to use the same technique for this babe. I was going to use the most expensive bait that got most girls hooked, marriage, but I had to be careful and package it well. I got everything mapped out and it would only take days. I took it upon myself to call the chic constantly and schedule meetings where we had long discussions about… truth is I can’t remember. I began making references about how she was going to be a great mother in case she got pregnant. At that point joking about it became easy. I also talked about qualities I claimed to see in her that made her the kind of girl I would love to spend the rest of my life with. Finally her period came and I knew I wasn’t going to be a father anytime soon. That was what I had hoped for and it was my cue to get to the next step. I began to use the word love and for some reasons she bought it and we began dating officially. I told her about one of my friends that left the love of his life because they were both AS and they were at a high risk of giving birth to a sickle cell child if they eventually got married. I happen to be AA but she didn’t know and I wasn’t going to tell her. She told me she was O and I almost said Olodo. I had to explain that was her blood group and not genotype. I decided to play on her ignorance. I talked about the 21st chromosome that caused Down’s syndrome and every birth defect I could think of and linked it to the causes to incompatibility of both parents genetic makeup. I added a clause, if detected early everything could be prevented if someone knew their ‘chromosomal status’. I saw it in her eyes that she was nervous and wanted to know hers. That was when I played my card. I told her it could be detected in the blood with a single kit. She was eager to get tested and I told her I would assist her in getting it. I got an HIV home testing kit from a pharmacy and all I had to do was package it by unpacking it. All I showed her was the kit and a computer print-out which I claimed I had gotten from the net. My excuse was a nurse from the general hospital had stolen it for me from storage and that was why it was like that. I dribbled with stories which might have been inconsistent but who cared. I told her the most important part was two parallel lines meant her chromosomal status was OK. She believed it all and all I had to do was coordinate myself while we waited for fifteen minutes later two parallel lines to appear or not, “Wow, there’s no…” I said before she interrupted. “I hope now you are satisfied to know I’m HIV negative, now get out of my house and I don’t want to see you again”. I didn’t know if I should feel stupid or relieved but that was the second time I had gotten played by this girl. If she knew it was an HIV test kit why did she keep mum? My mind began to think too deep, I mean, if she knew it was an HIV testing kit then she must have gotten tested before but that didn’t matter because she was negative, It was my nature to be curious and I needed to find out why she acted ignorant in the first place. I talked to one of her friends and she gave me an interesting insight. The babe was very intelligent socially and was fond of playing ignorant to either get away from situations or illicit information. She also used it to know a person that was most likely to take advantage of her. I thought about it and remember the past president, Obasanjo, as much as people down played his intelligence he got away with so many things that were politically calculated.