It was November 2016, and school had resumed for a new session.

I didn’t write my year two second semester exams due to my ill health. I knew the workload for this session would be much, but I was determined to put in my best. Aside from stressing over the carry-over courses, I was in a sound state of mind.

The news of my illness had spread all through the department. My absence was noticed, because I was a notable figure in the department. And so, when I returned for the new session, I was swamped by lots of well-wishers who wanted to commiserate and welcome me back to school.

I’d lost so much weight from the illness, so I began to engage in rigorous exercises to regain my fitness. Life was generally becoming good once again.

On one evening, during a power walk, I ran into Mark. (He was the guy I helped with his registration in my first year. He’d also once tried to kiss me in my first year.) We were both now in third year.

I hadn’t been particularly close to Mark since the time he tried to kiss me and he had taken my rejection not-so-well. But as we chatted that evening, I found myself wanting to be friends with him. After all, some of my closest friends, Uchechi and Mr. Unizik, had graduated, and I was open for new friendships.

I was happy to see him, and when he started moving, I fell in step beside him and we began strolling while gisting about this and that.

Soon, I began to pick up on his pensiveness and I knew there was something he wanted to say. I hoped it wouldn’t be something difficult or awkward.

When he eventually blurted it out, I stared at him, not knowing how to react.

“You know, GT, I’ve always seen Duncan as something of a competition where you are concerned,” he began.

Competition? I thought, feeling a spark of annoyance flicker inside me.

“And I am deeply sorry about his death. But life must go on, right?” He gave me a small smile, which I returned with an awkward one of my own.

What is he driving at? I thought.

“I’m sure you must be wondering what I’m trying to say,” he said. “Well, I was wondering… Now that Duncan is no longer with us, maybe you might consider you and me getting together… You know, as a couple…”

I stopped and stared. In a brief moment, I had a flashback to that moment, that day in my first year when he hugged me after that fateful Single Ladies performance, and whispered in my ear: “I love you.”

Could he still be in love with me? I wondered.

I tried to keep my cool as varying emotions swirled inside me. I was still very sensitive to the subject of Duncan, and to have this guy bring him up in the same breath he was using to ask me out had me feeling a little triggered.

I didn’t let on my displeasure though. In fact, I kept up a wooden smile on my face as he talked, which no doubt gave him the impression that I was receptive to what he was saying, as evidence in how bolder he got with his flows.

As I looked on at him, I began to give him the onceover I’d never given him before. Unlike Duncan, Mark had a shiny dark complexion. He was about 6’3, with high cheek bones, full lips and thick brows hovering above vibrant eyes. I just then started to notice what a beautiful man he was; he almost looked sculptured. And there was an earnestness in him that where once I’d found off-putting now seemed very appealing; it added to his charm.

I liked Mark, but a relationship wasn’t something I was so interested in at the time. I explained this to him, but he didn’t seem ready to back down this time. He became very cajoling, pressing me to reconsider or at least promise to think about his proposal. I was uncomfortable with the situation, so I changed the topic. Mercifully, he clued in to my mood and didn’t press on the matter.

I just wanted to go through school as quietly as I could, with no emotional entanglements. And he seemed to respect that, accepting for us to become close friends. Add to that my other friends, Dike, Nedu and Izu, and these were all the relationships I needed to get through life in school.

However, toward the end of the semester, Mark asked me out again. He was very serious this time. He had been such a great friend all this time, and besides, I felt more ready for what he was asking. So I said yes.

And it was great. We had such fantastic chemistry. We enjoyed each other’s company on a more intimate level. And sex with him was amazing.

First semester rolled to an end and fortunately, I did well with my grades. The semester break was short, and I did not want the stress of traveling the long distance back home just to spend a week at home and then come back to school. So I decided to stay back. Plus, I needed the time to meet my lecturers regarding the carry-overs I had from last session’s second semester.

Mark traveled home; his family was based in Aba. But he returned to school sooner than I expected.

By May 2017, the second semester was in full gear. The course load was much and I needed everything I could possibly require to stay focused and make it through.

In July, Mark suddenly became very ill. He traveled home to get himself treated and stayed in Aba for two weeks before coming back to school. He looked fine and in good health, but there was something odd about his behaviour.

The guy who had left school my boyfriend returned with a new proposition: that we should go back to being friends and that we could no longer have sex.

I was quite stunned by this. I didn’t know what to make of that. I could have pleaded and tried hard to find out why it seemed as though he was breaking up with me, but I didn’t have the energy for that. he had made his decision and I was going to respect that.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of any awkwardness between us as we transitioned back to being friends. Other than the sex, nothing else changed between us. I wouldn’t let the no-sex thing bother me, because at this time, I had a seminar presentation, a costume exhibition, two practicals and six carryover courses to write.

I managed to push through the semester without any mishaps. By the end of August, I was done with my academic works for the session. I planned to spend some time in Awka, but that plan was shot to hell when my mother called to inform me that my sister had just given birth. Since there was nothing of real importance to keep me in school, I decided to travel back home and to my family.

The day I got back to Uyo, I stepped into my house with a slightly increased temperature. I’d always had an issue with traveling long distance by road. I get plagued with migraine, dizziness and nausea. I had to ooh and aah over my newborn nephew for just a few minutes, before I escaped to my room to rest.

However, when I woke up in the evening, instead of feeling refreshed, I was feverish. This was unusual. Rest always took care of my motion sickness. I took some pills, ate the little I could and then lounged in bed as I browsed through WhatsApp and chatted with friends, before eventually retiring for the night.

By daybreak, my condition had worsened. I could hardly move my body because of the chills and aches that were wracking me. For a brief paralyzing moment, I was shot back to the last time I was home and so physically incapacitated. I wanted to cry as I wondered if that debilitation I suffered last year had come back.

Duncan, please, if this is you again, please let me go… I prayed frantically in my head.

I went to the hospital that morning. The doctor I saw referred me to the lab to run some tests. The lab attendant, male, was – in my opinion – unnecessarily nice. He was chatty and full of smiles, and when he wanted to draw my blood, he kept massaging my arm and urging me to relax.

At this point, I had to scoff and roll my eyes, which made him laugh.

“Bad guy,” he chortled.

I was very disinterested.

“You have very nice skin,” he added.

I arched a brow. Was this guy hitting on me? I gave him a quick onceover. He was coffee-coloured, with a really bright smile whose brilliance was helped along by the fact that he had dazzling white teeth. He also had a beard, dark lips and an athletic build. The guy was pure substance.

But I still wasn’t interested.

And when I said, “Is this how you flirt with all your patients?” I knew I sounded cold. But I didn’t care.

“Hey! Relax bro,” he said with some defensiveness. “I’m only trying to make you feel relaxed.”

“Relaxed? I’m always uncomfortable whenever I come here. Hospitals are not a favorite place of mine. So, there’s really no need for you to try to make me feel relaxed.”

He drew back, clearly very affronted by what I said. And immediately, I started regretting my snappishness.

And I hastened to fix the situation by adding in a more conciliatory tone, “Thank you though for trying. I really do appreciate it.”

And he turned and gave me a broad smile.

The guy really loved to smile. Couldn’t blame him though; he had the dentition for it.

“I’m Ebitu, by the way,” he said.

“You know my names already, but call me GT,” I said.

When he was done, he asked me to wait in the lobby for my result.

After about an hour, the doctor called me into his office and handed over the result to me. I looked through the sheet.

Acute malaria and enteric fever…

I flipped over to the next page, and the word “positive” caught and held my attention immediately.

HIV WHAT?!!!  

Written by GT

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  1. Black Dynasty
    October 19, 10:26 Reply

    Ah damn, i had a sneaky suspicion once Mark said no sex and just friends.

    Kai, na wa o

  2. T-man
    October 19, 16:33 Reply

    Oh my God! Was that why Mark stopped the tryst? I’d be so mad if this is what I think it is.

  3. Audrey
    October 19, 18:20 Reply

    You probably got in to Unizik when I was preparing to leave and maybe that was why I never got to know you and GT. Well I knew the story was heading that direction though.Pele

  4. Rexxy
    October 22, 14:45 Reply

    Oh dear, this is really crazy why didn’t Mark ask him to get tested immediately Nah! Nawa ooooohh
    PP, please I would really love to get in touch with GT, we all need some kind of support in times like this!

  5. Manuel
    October 23, 14:01 Reply

    Jesus!!!!! This is so sad.. I’m so sorry man!

  6. knoxy
    December 17, 22:01 Reply

    Your comment..MARK!!!!!!! 😱😱

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