Dad doesn’t say a word, at least not immediately. He sits heavily on his bed, then turns and looks at me. The silence is really awkward, and I just have to break it. So I continue speaking.
Me: I went for a test yesterday, and it came back positive.
Dad clears his throat, and finally says something.
Dad: Have you been sleeping with girls?
Dad: Are you a homosexual?
The question throws me off balance. I had not expected that. Then again, I have not thought this situation through. A thought snakes up into my mind: Why didn’t I just say “Yes” when he asked if I am sleeping with girls? Well, it’s too late for that now.
I give this answer with as much distaste as I can manage.
Dad: Do you have a girlfriend?
I keep quiet. I don’t want to give a careless answer anymore. I need to think before I say anything else. I am not even sure if keeping quiet was the best thing to do, but as long as it keeps me from dipping myself in shit, I am fine with it.
Then, my dad sighs.
Dad: Well, it’s not the end of the world. We’ll have a family meeting when I get back.
When I get back… I have been summarily disinvited from attending the evening service. Why, because of this? Am I getting the wide berth already? Or is he giving me what he thinks I need, space and time to ponder the issue?
He picks up his bible and leaves the house for church then. He is a bit late already; he has a sermon to deliver. He is the resident pastor of our church.
His response to my revelation hadn’t been as scary as I thought it would be. But then he mentioned ‘family meeting.’ Family meeting? Like seriously? Well, that meeting can never, ever be worse than HIV.
I just have to wait for nighttime to come. I go back to my music player. I don’t need Fix You or If I Die Young anymore; I play gospel music this time. It is a Kurt Carr song. It plays while I check my messages. I see Rowland’s messages; they were a bit emotional. I do not need emotional bullshit right now. The only message that makes sense to me is: “ARE YOU OKAY?”
Me: I’m fine.
Rowland: Have you told anyone?
Me: Just my dad.
Rowland: Ok. Have you gone for a confirmatory test?
Rowland: Try and do it. Just to be sure. And one more thing, I really want you to be strong, don’t let anyone pity you. You are going to make it through this.
Me: Ok, thanks buddy.
Now, these are the kind of words I want to hear. I want to feel tough right now. And I am! Then why are these tears now gathering in my eyes, pricking them and welling over? I maintain a stony expression and will them back. But, the first tear rolls over down my face. The second follows. I give in. I give in to the tears. I scream, not like a banshee though. I just let it all out. I need to, because I have been strong for too long. I cry and my body shakes with the strength of my misery. I cry and shudder dejectedly on the bed. I cry till I am tired, exhausted in my soul and physically.
I go back to reading my messages. A text comes in from someone I have been chatting with for a while now. It reads: “HOW FAR? WHEN CAN WE SEE?” Wordlessly, I scroll to his contact and delete him from my BBM.
Time goes by. My parents return from church. We have dinner. And then, I know that any moment from now is family meeting time. I am in my room when I hear my name. It is dad calling me. I answer and walk out to the parlour. I notice everyone is already seated. Dad asks me to sit down.
Dad: Good evening, everyone.
The family responds.
Dad: I trust you all had a great day. Like we all know, we are a family and we are here for each other, no matter what the challenge is. We support each other. Bobby told me something today and I want him to share it with everybody so we’ll know how to deal with it. Whatever question you have to ask him, he will answer. Oya, Bobby, go on.
I pause for a while. I didn’t know how to start. I decide to just drop it like it’s hot, like I dropped it for dad earlier.
Me: Well, there’s nothing much to say. I went for a test yesterday and it turns out I’m HIV positive.
All of a sudden, it is like we are in the Antarctica. My brother’s and my sister’s eyes look like they have been hypnotized. Batman Mum – she has always had the flare for drama – drops the soda in her hand on a stool with a slam and slumps to the floor from her seat, and starts breathing heavily. She turns her stare to Dad, and then she looks at me. And that’s when I see the tears in her eyes.
Mum: Bobby, how manage… Do you sleep around? Eh, Bobby? Bobby, is it not you I’m talking to?
I remain quiet.
Dad: Answer your mother. She’s talking to you.
I don’t know what to say. I can’t even look at their faces. Mum is now crying. My sister now looks like she just heard her husband had an accident. I am still silent. I am trying to keep it together, but I know I must eventually say something. I summon the courage and come up with two words.
Me: Accidents happen.
Dad: I know that. Let me tell you what you don’t know. On several occasions, your mother has searched your bags and seen condoms. I told her not to say anything because she wasn’t supposed to search your bags in the first place. You said you don’t sleep around with girls. I was thinking you were sleeping with a man. I asked you if you’re a homosexual, you said no. So tell us what you are doing with condoms.
Me: Maybe I got them from the salon.
Dad: Now, Bobby, listen, first of all I don’t believe you have HIV. I believe God is trying to bring you back to Him. You used to serve God very well when you were in the university. I remember anytime I call you, you would be in the church. But when you finished school, you changed. You left the choir. You don’t listen to anyone anymore. You only do what’s on your mind. God is trying to bring you to your knees. There’s no sin God cannot forgive, only if you confess and we pray about it. Nothing is hard for God to do. So tell us how you got HIV, let us know how to pray for you.
Me: I don’t know what you people want me to say.
Dad: Does anybody have any question to ask Bobby?
Sister: I don’t have a question. I just want to tell you to hold God firm, and as your sister, I still love you. Do not give up on your dreams. Whenever you feel like giving up, just know that I am counting on you, we all love you.
Dad: I believe God just wants to draw you back to him. We will fast and pray for three days, and I believe God will be merciful. Everything worketh together for the good of those that love the Lord.
I keep my straight face. I lack words at the moment. Mum is still crying softly. I don’t want to look at her face. I merely thank everyone for their support and leave the sitting room. I just need to be by myself. Soon, my elder brother walks into the room, and sits beside me.
Brother: Bobby, regardless of what happened, I have always wanted to ask you personally. Are you gay?
At this point, I get pissed. I give him a cold stare, the ‘no-gree-me-blow-ya-face’ stare. Then I stand up, grab my phone and my earpiece, and storm out to the balcony and the darkness of the evening.
Fear, depression, anxiety – they all come for me at once. Why does dad suspect me of being gay? Is this a good time to come out of the closet? When exactly do I die? How thin would I look before I die? Do I need to keep chasing my career? I’m already dead, so it’s useless to think of a Masters degree, right? How is mum feeling right now? Would she ever get over this? Shouldn’t I just kill myself and get it over with? What if I infect a family member? Can I ever forgive myself? Who even gave me HIV? Was it Prince? Was it UB? Was it Chukwuma? Ooohhh! It had to be Dignity – he wasn’t looking well when I saw him last. Or was it from that random sex I had with that tall, black guy I met at Gerald’s house, what’s that his name again? So I can’t even tell? Am I such a whore? Maybe God is just punishing me for being gay, and leaving the church, right? Is this really God’s way of bringing me to my knees? After the fasting, would I be okay? Do I even have enough faith left for God to work with? What about a family, would I ever have one? Do I get to have a significant other, kids? Who would love me now? I have disappointed everyone in my family, haven’t I?
Tears begin to roll down my cheeks again. And like the first time, I am strong enough to let them roll down silently without a sob. I am still thinking, about nothing in particular. But I am nonetheless lost in thoughts.
When I recover myself, it is to see that the time is 12: 07 am. I leave the balcony, shut the door and go inside. I lie on my bed, although sleep is very far from me. My mind is too busy to let me sleep in peace. I decide to use my phone to distract myself a little. Perhaps it can help me sleep off. I read my BBM messages, but don’t reply any. I have two twitter follow requests. I log into twitter and follow back the profiles. I scrolled through the tweets on my timeline.
Then, I stumbled on a dick pic. Damn! That dick so fine. Shape, 100%! Length, 100%! Width, 100%! Colour – oh my! Whoever posted that pic knows just how I like it. BLACK! I love it Black!
And then I notice something. I am not even aroused. I am as soft as wool down there. I’m looking at such a nice dick, and I can’t get hard? DAMN! HIV got my dick too?!
That is when I know I am in trouble. Real, big trouble!
Written by Bobby