Joseph!!” I yelled, stomping into the house, I usually called him babe but not today, “Joseph!!!”
“Babe!” he said, as I almost ran into him at the kitchen door, there was shock in his face and a small towel in between his hands.
“How dare you!” I spat and his brows pulled down in a confused frown “How could you do this to me?” I demanded.
His eyes darted at me in confusion.
“After everything Joseph, after e-ev-verything? Where did I go wrong?” hot tears streamed down my face
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh now you’re going to act like you don’t know? No wonder you were so curious as to when my results would be out..”
He shook his head with his lips apart, “What in the world are you talking abou..”
“I am HIV positive Joseph!” I yelled, “I am HIV positive and you gave it to me” I shoved my finger in his face “You gave it to our baby..” my lips quivered and I weakly slid to the floor
“What?” he muttered, more confusion enveloping his face.
I locked my fingers on top of my head “I am finished”.
I bawled on that floor and Joseph just stood frozen, beside me.
I thought about what would become of me now, what would happen to my child, what would become of my marriage. Joseph definitely had it too, he had it all these while yet he kept it from me. How could he do such a cruel thing to me.
I grudgingly looked up at him from the floor, too weak to yell any longer, “How could you do this to me?”
His brows were still pulled in a frown. “I didn’t know” he said. “I didn’t know you, I, have HIV”
“You didn’t know?” my elbows were now resting on my knees, hands clenched together against my forehead. “Wait, are you trying to tell me you are not on drugs?”
“No” he shrugged.
“Hei God!” I dropped my hands to my sides. So you don’t know you have HIV”
“You’re just telling me, I didn’t know” he shrugged further.
“How careless could you be Joseph, how careless!”
“It was one woman” he confessed, to which I scoffed and looked away.
I felt him squat to the floor besides me and place his palm on my hand, I wanted to shift away, but I was too tired to, as it was, we both had it now.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you about that affair, I just didn’t know how”
I turned my face to him. “Why Joseph? Was I not meeting up to your desires?”
“Babe we were fighting a lot…”
“After Ceecee’s second birthday, you were upset about not taking in for a second baby, you were always grumpy, complaining, your mood swings went on and off like a switch..”
“So you cheated, because I was grumpy”
“I was walking on egg shells babe, I didn’t know how to talk to you, how to talk to you about anything, you were really always in a terrible mood…”
“Do you know how many times you’ve given me cause to worry yet I stayed faithful? Imagine if I went around cheating every time you hurt me. But because you are a man, it is acceptable abi?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not trying to justify the act, it’s too late to anyway” His voice trailed away and he dropped to the floor and relaxed his head against the wall behind him.
We sat there and listened to the kitchen clock tick while tears streamed down both our cheeks.
“I am so sorry” he whispered, “I wish I can undo this mess I’ve got us into”
I didn’t respond, I was staring up the ceiling with a terrible head ache, feeling numb.
“Where’s Ceecee?” I spoke after a while, realizing I hadn’t asked about her since I came.
I lifted my body off the ground and began to stroll towards our bedroom. I got into the bed besides Ceecee, wrapped my arm tightly around her and cried softly till I couldn’t cry anymore.
I fell asleep.
When morning came the next day, I didn’t want to get out of bed. My eyes were puffy from crying, my head ached and my heart bled so I stayed in bed, refusing to speak to Joseph who kept making trips into the room to communicate with me. By the end of that day, I knew I couldn’t bear to live under the same roof as him anymore. I was angry to my bones.
I packed my bags at about 5pm and left the house with Ceecee.
I went to my parent’s house and without saying a word to either of them, left Ceecee in their care and went into my room and cried some more.
I was hurting, and it was easy for my family to tell.
Joseph must have come back from where he had gone to because he began to call my phone, but I ignored every call, I was not ready to speak to him yet, I didn’t think I would ever be ready to speak to him again.
My mother got me alone the evening of the next day and I tearfully confided in her about my predicament. She was strong: she didn’t scream, she didn’t break down, not in my presence at least.
She took me to a General hospital where I took a confirmatory test and the result came back positive.
I was immediately placed on antiretroviral drugs and counseled about my disease.
“You can have a HIV free baby” the nurse encouraged, “just stick to your drugs and when you become due, you will be delivered via caesarean section to reduce the risk of mother to child transmission”
My mother rubbed my back as if to help digest the message.
“You are not the only one” the nurse went on as if that would make me feel any better, “Many women are living with this disease, all you have to do is take your drugs and once the baby is born, he or she will be given ART for about 4-6 weeks and put on formula instead of breast milk and the both of you can go on to live a healthy life, so take heart”
“It is one of those things” she concluded.
I went home with my mother from the hospital and when we got to the house, my father informed me that Joseph was at the house to look for me.
“I don’t want to see him daddy”
“I think you should, he said he really needs to see you”
“Daddy I’m not ready”
“Listen to your father Chinansa,” my mother chipped in, “just go and see him, he is still your husband”
“I will think about it” I said and went in search of Ceecee.
My ringtone woke me up the next morning.
Sleepily, without reading the caller ID, I answered the call and then realized it was Joseph.
“Babe” he said.
I hissed and he quickly said, “don’t hang up”
“I need time to myself Joseph, you really need to stop calling me…”
“Babe I am not HIV positive”
The sleepiness I had been feeling instantly disappeared from my eyes and I sprang up straight in bed, “What!”
“I took a test yesterday and it came out negative, I repeated it in two different clinics and the same negative result”
I was blinking repeatedly at this point
“I came straight from the clinic to your house but I met only your dad and Ceecee, he said you went to the hospital with your mother”
I was dumbfounded, at Joseph’s results and not the other irrelevant things he was saying afterwards.
How could this be?
I was sure I had never cheated on him, even when I paid my ex a visit during one of I and Joseph’s ugly fights, all we had was a drink and…
Wait! I fell asleep after that drink…, I remember…. waking up on his bed and he told me…I was complaining of tiredness, wait, could he have……no! no!!
I flew my hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling out loud. I needed to pee, oh my god, I needed to pee..! I climbed down from my bed and began to pace the floor
“Babe, ” Joseph called at the other end, “Babe”
“Yes?” my voice was shivering with fresh tears filling up my eyes.
“Come home and let’s talk, leave Ceecee and come”
“O-okay,” I stuttered “L-l-let me q-quickly pack my things and com-me”
“No, leave your things, just come.”
WRITTEN BY KYLIE JOY TERUNDU.