Pragya Sharma - I am doing just fine 2021-12-09
Pragya Sharma - I am doing just fine

Dear diary,

How are you?

I woke up as usual at 7 pm, didn´t want to, but I had to, as I was out of meds. Ran down to the pharmacy for getting medications and there it was, that look on their faces as if they were saying,´ here comes the abomination´.

They think I don´t notice when they put on an extra glove every time before examining me or when they pass on that little joke about me being in this state because I AM homosexual. Did they ask me, how I got this, this parasite, and all the disgrace that came along? I guess not, maybe I should tell them someday, how I went for a regular checkup at THEIR clinic and how his insatiable need to eat a burger was more important than using a new sterile syringe. Well, I don´t think my venting will do any good, and more sets of eyes will get a piece of humor.

It is the same look in their eyes every day as if I am dirty and all I want to do, is ask them, ´WHY?´. Is it my fault? Is it my family´s fault? Because they sure too are being treated as untouchables.

I remember when my doctor first told me about HIV. The moment she mentioned that I was positive, my brain became numb, everything seemed disoriented and grey. My heart sank so deep the second I remembered my mother, how was I supposed to tell her that she´s got a dead son? No one in my school or college ever told us about HIV, what it was, how it was transmitted, or how it can alienate you in an instant. My doctor explained what it meant to be HIV-positive. She said it´s a disease, caused by a virus, but all I heard was,´´ you are going to die now, ALONE, because no one will ever associate with you´´. I cried and cried and cried until my appointment time was over, but the doctor was a guardian angel sent from heaven as she stood by me till the end and when I stopped crying, she suggested that I join a social group. I stood up and left, it felt suffocating in that room where I was told that I will never be able to live a normal life again. I ran away from home, couldn´t face them. Somehow the society conditioned us into believing that if a person has HIV, it´s their fault. But it´s not, the virus doesn´t care about your religion, caste, creed, country, or your ethical stand, all it cares about is a portal of entry in your body, that´s it. A serial killer sitting in a prison and you studying in a college have the same probability of getting it.

I came back after a week and went straight to the doctor. She arranged everything for me, the antiretrovirals, the regimen, insurance claim, and the social group. I joined the group and attended my very first session. I was hesitant to share what I was feeling, the discomfort, denial, and most importantly fear. I was scared, scared of this new unwanted life that was assigned to me, scared to tell anyone because I couldn´t bear the sight of their judgmental look even in my worst nightmares.

So, I listened. I listened to all of the members and their stories. Neha, a new member from India, shared her experience where her dad died of HIV 10 years back, and how the hospital staff disposed of his dead body in the sewage because they were afraid that if they do the cremation, the virus will spread through the ash. Marianne, a transgender, told that she was bullied and beaten by the lower healthcare staff when she went to take her medications. Madhu, a 45 years old woman, shared that when she went through a miscarriage, her doctor said, ´´It´s better that your baby died instead of living a life with HIV´´. Something died inside of me when I heard this, I think it was the part that believed in humanity. ´´It´s not the virus that kills us, it´s the attitude people treat us with´´. I was terrified to see a college student there, who was just 20. He told everyone how he shared concerns about his condition with his girlfriend last week and that she still loves him and supports him the same. While listening to him, I could see a ray of hope coming out of the window as the sun rose above our heads. Maybe there is hope if everyone gets a doctor like mine, maybe there is hope in the future, maybe there is hope for people like us.

People like us? People LIVING with a CHRONIC MANAGEABLE DISEASE. Yes, it is manageable and with proper medications, it is non-transmissible too.

How am I, you ask? I think I am doing fine, where the word fine has a personal meaning. When I say I´m fine, it means I made a deal with my anxiety to go out, I am fine because I took all my medications yesterday. I am fine because my mother called and I remembered how she accepted me and told me it was not my fault, every single day. I am fine because I made peace with the fact that my friends left me to die alone. And I am fine because I have got other people who are doing just FINE.

Hoping for a better tomorrow, Goodnight.

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