THE COLLEGE CHRONICLES (Episode 9)

THE COLLEGE CHRONICLES (Episode 9)

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?!!! 

I demanded for another test, and minutes later, right before my eyes, the double lines appeared on the test kit. I could only stare at the doctor without any words to express myself.

“How long have you known?” he asked.

I hadn’t known anything about this until now! How could this be possible?

Many thoughts cut through my mind, but I couldn’t fathom the certainty of this new aspect of my identity. GT is HIV-Positive. It seemed surreal.

I went home with the drugs I bought from the hospital pharmacy, and on the way, I couldn’t help but still think of this situation as a joke. I did not know how to break this to my family, so I decided not to. Maybe I’d wake up someday soon to realize that this was the Universe playing a prank on me.

Due to my moody state and withdrawal from family activities, my mom became curious, pestering me with questions about what result my trip to the hospital yielded. When I refused to let her in, she went to the doctor.

I was sitting under a tree in our compound that evening when she drove in. She was crying. Immediately I saw her, I knew she’d been told the truth about my health status. I didn’t even have the energy to be mad at the hospital for breaking the doctor-patient confidentiality and telling my mother what was my prerogative to tell.

She walked over to me, took my hands in hers and prayed for me. The next day, she took me to the hospital, and the doctor referred us to the ART clinic section of the hospital. I was enrolled for ARVs and soon, I’d started my meds. And that was when it dawned on me that these anti-retroviral drugs were my new best friend. I’d have to depend on them to stay healthy for the rest of my life.

My first week of meds was not funny at all. I was constantly drowsy and weak with blurred vision and a burning sensation on my skin. I recall spending a better part of that week in bed. I could only eat peppery food because without the sting of pepper, every other meal simply made me nauseous enough to throw up. My mom and sister were supportive; they set an alarm to get me to take my drugs promptly, because left to myself, I wouldn’t do it. Not when the drugs were the source of my misery.

Then a month went by, and the side effects began to wear off. My system began to adjust well to the new treatment.

Then, my sister returned to her husband’s house in Port Harcourt and mom went back to Benin. The only occupants of the house in Uyo were now me and my brother, Bruno, who is also gay.

Ebitu, the lab attendant – remember him, the one who got chatty with me when I went to the lab to have my blood taken? – also began to visit regularly and was full of support.

Then, I called Mark and asked if he could come over to Uyo and spend some time with me. He’d earlier told me that he was dying of boredom in Aba, so he jumped at the chance to get away. I sent him some money for his fare after we agreed that he’d come over during the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, I picked him up from the park. He was as handsome as ever, beaming with smiles. Once we were in the car, he surprised me by quickly kissing me. I wondered briefly what had changed; the Mark who I dated back in school had broken up with me, saying we should stay friends and not be intimate with each other. But I didn’t question his affection; Lord knows I needed it.

When we got home, he unpacked his bags. He also came bearing gifts: dry fish and crayfish. I was pleased, and while I went to fix something for us to eat, he went to wash off the grime of the journey in the bathroom.

Later in the evening, Ebitu called to inform me he was in my neighborhood and would love to stop by. I said okay and soon he’d arrived just in time for dinner. In addition to Ebitu, myself and Mark, there was also my brother and his friend at the dinner table.

When I introduced Mark to Ebitu as my friend from school, he blurted out, “Your boyfriend?”

The unexpectedness of his response caused us to burst out into laughter, and Mark answered, “Yes.”

During that dinner, I got to find out that my brother and Ebitu were long time friends, although they didn’t say anything about whether they dated. The dinner was fun, a long conversation about football, boxing and entertainment.

It was past 9pm when Ebitu announced he was ready to leave. I walked with him to his car, and out there, he asked if Mark knows about my status. I said no.

“Well, since he is your boyfriend,” he said, “you owe him the truth. I understand you’re probably scared of his reaction to that, but if he decides to leave after you tell him, trust me, love will find you again.”

I felt very warmed by his words. He gave me a hug and was soon driving off.

By the time I got back into the house, it was to see that Mark had cleared the table and was washing the dishes in the kitchen. I joined him to finish up the chore and then we went to the bathroom to shower together.

Thereafter, as we lounged on my bed, watching television, I thought over and over again how I would tell him and how he would react. After awhile, I stopped torturing myself and decided to simply go for it.

“Mark, can we talk?” I began.

He looked at me. “Sure. You look gloomy by the way. Are you okay?”

“Well, if you decide to split after hearing what you’re about to hear, it’ll be fine,” I said. “I’ll honestly understand.”

“Ow-kay…?” he said, sounding wary. “Babe, you are scaring me. What’s up?”

I went to my wardrobe and brought out my test result, which I handed to him.

A moment after scanning what was on the paper, he gasped.

“Oh no…”

And then he broke down into tears.

I sat there, confused. He was crying? Oh god, this must feel like that big a betrayal to him.

“I’m really sorry, Mark,” I said pleadingly. “Please forgive me.”

He looked at me, looking very forlorn. Then he got up from the bed and knelt on the floor before me. he took my hands in his and began to apologize.

“No, GT, it is I who is deeply, very sorry. It is I who should be forgiven by you,” he said dejectedly.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, my confusion deepening.

“I’d always wanted to tell you this but I couldn’t find the courage to… But now… Babe, I am HIV positive.”

What!!! I stared at him in shock.

The story began to unfold rapidly from him after that. He said that the time he traveled home after he became ill in school, that was when he found out. That that was why, after he returned, he’d broken up with me, saying we shouldn’t have sex anymore.

“I thought I could save you from getting infected, and that if I kept quiet, all would be fine. But I never knew that I’d already infected you. I’m so sorry…”

I just kept staring at him, unsure how to react. Was I to get angry or to cry? This was unbelievable. I couldn’t take this. It was one thing for him to tell me he was HIV Positive, and quite another for him to represent the source of my infection. And he hadn’t even afforded me the same courtesy I just did him by telling me all this time?

Eventually, it was the misery that won over, and I wept for the better part of the night, inconsolable in Mark’s arms.

The next morning, I called Ebitu and told him what happened. In record time, he was at my place. It was Sunday, so he had free time to come talk to us and lend some moral support.

As he talked, I began to let go of my anger at Mark. What had happened had happened. The way forward was all I wanted to know.

Mark revealed that he’d been taking his meds right from when he found out. At this, I wondered how I could have missed it, how I never saw him take his drugs or notice whatever ways the drugs might have affected him.

Ebitu took us to the clinic to run a viral load test, and our results came back quite fine.

With Ebitu’s help, I was able to forgive Mark and we reconciled. That night, we even had sex. And weirdly, it felt very good.

He traveled back to Aba the following weekend. It was still about six weeks to resumption at school and I had no plans whatsoever other than to sleep and wake. Ebitu and I grew quite fond of each other and we almost had sex on one of the nights we went clubbing.

It was November 2017, the beginning of a new session. My final year in school I couldn’t keep calm.  Already, I was tired of Unizik and its drama queens. I just wanted to graduate and start a new life.

I returned to school two weeks after resumption yet to find the campus still somewhat empty. Not a lot of students had come back. Mark called to inform me that he’d be coming to school during the weekend. That weekend, he stayed over in my room until school was in full gear. During that period, he was very attentive and nice to me. I guess he still had some guilt he needed to exhaust. He would do my laundry and always cooked our meals. I would eventually get uncomfortable with this attentiveness and told him to stop. I simply needed him to just be himself. He didn’t have to atone for anything with me. I told him I’d made my peace with my HIV status and that I didn’t hold any grudge against him for that.

That talk we had opened our hearts up to each other, and as we fell into each other’s arms and made love, we had decided to rekindle our romance and start dating each other again.

When school came back in full swing, I noticed how uncomfortable he was sharing a room with his brothers, who didn’t know he was gay or HIV positive. So, I told him to move in with me; my room was big enough for the two of us. It was our final year and we planned to make the best use of it for our relationship.

All year long and till the end of the session, we were together. Soon, it was project time, and final year students were hectically focused on turning out the best projects they could afford. I defended my project before Mark did his.

Soon enough, the school released our results and I pulled a Second Class Upper while Mark was one of the three First Class graduates in his department. My rent wasn’t due to expire until September, so I had to stay back for clearance. Mark and I were among the first set of students to be cleared by the school, and in no time, the school senate had released the names for NYSC. Fortunately for us, our names were in the list. Upon printing out our call-up letters, it was to find out that I was posted to Abuja and Mark to Kaduna.

He didn’t want a redeployment, so he settled for where he was posted. Besides, Abuja isn’t that far from Kaduna, so we could still make things work.

And we did. For the one-year of our service, we made our relationship work, with me visiting Kaduna to see him, and he coming to Abuja sometimes.

After NYSC, I was retained by the Ministry Of Information where I served. Mark later moved to Abuja, and luckily for him, he got employed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

And we’ve been living our lives as two normal people in love since then. I am currently studying Information Management for my Masters Degree.

Recently, I celebrated my twenty-sixth birthday, and as I looked at my life and everything that have characterized it in all the years I have lived, I am more certain than ever that I have reasons to hang on for as long as I choose to.

HIV will not be a barrier if we don’t let it. Whether from yourself or from others around you, you have to get over your hang-ups about being positive and simply focus on living. Whoever doesn’t love you because of your status doesn’t deserve you. Don’t be downtrodden when people turn their backs on you because of your status. Instead, focus your energies on making yourself a better person for it. Love yourself better than anyone could ever possibly love you.

To you who are still struggling with being HIV positive, know that you can live in spite of it.

You should live.

And you’ll be fine.

THE END

Written by GT

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  1. Mitch
    November 14, 08:55 Reply

    Right now, I just want to hug you, GT.
    I’m so damn proud of you. And I’m glad you and Mark are working out.

    All good things come in good time.
    I’m glad you’ve found yours.

    And, Lord knows I’d like to pick your brain someday soon. 😂😂

    • GT
      November 15, 07:12 Reply

      Thanks dearest.

  2. Black Dynasty
    November 14, 08:58 Reply

    👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 awesome conclusion, wishing you guys well!

  3. T-man
    November 14, 15:23 Reply

    This is so lovely. Had me smiling all through the conclusion. I’m happy for you guys dear.

  4. bamidele
    November 14, 18:37 Reply

    Wow!
    One of the strongest guys I’ve ever heard about. Trully, the mind is the strongest part of the body. Once you use your mind to control your mental state of mind, other things work out more.
    Great post. I wish you guys the joy and happiness throughout your life.
    remain strong!

  5. Good ade
    November 14, 21:56 Reply

    Thanks for sharing GT. Omoh!!! I keep learning from this site. How to be more tolerant, nicer and enlightened and also the new gramma, lol.
    If you are positive, will you keep taking pills all the days of your life? That is the scariest part of HIV *sigh. Will there be a time you will not have to take pills after your viral load is low??

    • Cy
      November 19, 11:20 Reply

      No matter how low your viral load is… you will keep taking the drugs. Non-Stop till a miracle happens

  6. Ken
    November 15, 06:03 Reply

    If I say something now una go call me winch. So let me keep kwayet.

  7. GT
    November 15, 07:11 Reply

    Thanks guys for taking time to follow my story.
    And a special appreciation to KD for this platform.
    I recall after the fifth episode, I became lazy about keeping up with this story and PP will come to my DM to encourage me to finish this story. I feel so relieved after writing this story. And to those who’ve reached out, you guys are my heart code.
    Muchas graçias🙌

  8. Zonna
    November 16, 15:03 Reply

    This was so beautiful to read and thanks for sharing ur story.
    Glad you found your person

  9. OB
    November 16, 15:48 Reply

    How beautiful … I was smiling as I read the end …

  10. Saucebutton
    November 16, 22:47 Reply

    Thanks For for this amazing series. 🥰🥰😍

  11. Flexsterous
    November 17, 10:15 Reply

    Wow, you’re a much better person than I am, forgiving someone that made your life a little harder.

    I know HIV isn’t a death sentence, but it changes so many things and relationships in your life, but i like that you refuse to be bitter about it.

    You’ve been through so much, so i wish you nothing but joy and love as you move forward, cause you deserve it.

  12. Chubbychub
    November 18, 06:10 Reply

    Wow, this is really soul lifting. Over been away from kd for a while now only to find and read this master piece. Thanks for this, it sure makes there’s hope for some of us.

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