To commemorate the World AIDS Day, Kenny Brandmuse had this to say on his Facebook page.
It Was This Time Last Year – Musing on World AIDS Day.
‘Hello, Kenny, I saw your story about HIV. Hmmm. It is well. Hmm. How are you now? Hmm. So you are fine, right? Hmm, so that means you are taking your medication well? Hmmmmm…It is well.’
Those were some of the words that greeted me from close gay friends when I disclosed my HIV positive status last year December.
Then others went to my ex, without bothering to chat with me.
‘Hello, Greg. Hmm. So Kenny just came out to the whole world that he has HIV. Hmmmmm…. I hope you are doing well? Because I’m more concerned about you. Hmmmmm. At least you two are no longer together. Hmmmm…. We thank the Lord. At least you are fine, right? Hmmmmm. Right?’
One particular dude came chatting with me on Facebook.
‘Hello, Kenny. Hmm, your story shook me and moved me to tears. Hmm. So, that’s why you never fucked me all those times I was disturbing you for sex. Oh, you are my Jesus. What would I have told my wife and children? Hmm… I can never thank you enough for not fucking me all those years. Ha, Chineke! Hmm. At least you are fine now, right? You take pills, right? Hmm. Honestly, you are my Jesus.’
‘Hello, Kenny. Hmm… I read your story on Bellanaija. Hmmm, it is well. You know we are the same. Hmmmmm. You and I have the same thing.’
‘What do we have?’ I might ask.
‘Hmm, you should understand by now. That story. Hmm. That story of yours? It’s the same thing doing me. Are you single?’
One of those days, I met this other one. He said we should make out.
I said, ‘You know my status, right?’
He said, ‘Yes of course. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m on PrEP.’
Then, we fucked each other’s brains out. And just as we both came, he jumped off the bed and rushed to the bathroom, turned the faucet of warm water onto his genitals. When I went to check on him in the tub, I thought he was scrubbing an elephant skin. He kept scrubbing hard as he eyed me obliquely. ‘Hmm, it was a very good sex. Hmm. You said you are undetectable, right? It means you can’t infect someone else with the virus, right? Hmm.’
One other night, just in the heat of summer, I met another one on the two train from Manhattan. For a quick second, most of us on the train thought he was Idris Elba, but without his salt and pepper beard. I tried to keep my eyes away, but his eyes were telling me to stare some more. He smiled. I was like a thirteen-year-old girl. Could he be smiling at me? A woman got off on 72nd street, and he quickly moved into the seat beside me.
‘Would you like to stop over at the Grand Concourse with me?’ he whispered in his deep voice.
I shuddered. My dick was hard. My nipples couldn’t hide their excitement, and my lips were quivering like Whitney singing I Will Always Love You. I didn’t intend to have sex that night, but we held each other tight at the train station as he told me how much he was into me.
‘We should have another date,’ he said. ‘Or could you go home with me?’
No! I tamed the raging beast in my pants. Instead of going home with him, I just gave him my name. ‘You can Google me. Read up my stories, and call me after.’
He dragged me closer to himself and kissed me deeply. Both of us never minded the hundreds of commuters coming out of the subway. The following day, he called me. ‘Hmm. So I’m trying to find a clinic now.’
‘Why looking for a clinic?’
‘Hmmm… I think I must have caught something.’
‘Hmmmm…. but why didn’t you tell me everything before you allowed me to kiss you? Hmm, I’m really afraid you must have passed me something. You could have stopped me from touching you at the train station.’
Then, when summer was beginning to shed off its scorching fangs and the relieving coolness of fall was beginning to set in, I moved in with a new friend who does not know how to boil water. The only thing he can cook is toast bread. He can spread the butter on the bread before he puts it in the toaster, but he does not know when the bread is ready. Even when the toaster chimes. One evening, I decided to treat him to real African food. We went organic at Whole Foods. Onions. Vegetables. Chicken breast. Red peppers. Plump bell peppers of three different colors. I had chopped the chicken breast into cubes of steak. Next were the peppers. Then his Cutco stainless steel knife popped a vein in my finger and was soon spraying my blood on the recipe. The white onions turned to burgundy. The red peppers began to bleed red, and the chicken breast cowered in fear. He was very afraid. I was very ashamed. He didn’t say much. He was busy trying to stop the blood. Now I had to do most of the talking as we both cleaned the items.
‘Don’t worry, I will get other groceries. You won’t have to eat this. You are not starving yet, right? I’m so sorry about your wall. I will have it all cleaned up nicely for you.’
He put some bandage around my finger, applied some pressure, and ensured the blood stopped flowing. Then, he looked straight into my eyes and said: ‘How about you finish your cooking because I won’t eat toast tonight.’
‘This same food?’ I asked slightly looking away.
‘What’s wrong with the food?’ he asked me as he washed the vegetables all over again. ‘Is it because you told me you are HIV positive? You seem to forget that HIV cannot survive outside the body, no?’
‘Hmm…. yes you are right,’ I said.
Note to self: HIV is more than a virus. It challenges our mental selves, and can drive us crazy due to so many uncertainties, past rejections, and questions.
This World AIDS Day, make up your mind that you can never answer every question, and you can never take responsibilities for those who choose to be ignorant about the virus. Do just one thing. #LIVE.