“When I see she face, I know something wrong right away. Me heart drop to me foot and is like I didn’t know what to do. If I look at she a seeing something wrong, but if a look at the wall all a thinking about is how she looking,” she said rapidly. If I did not know better I would have believed that she was going through the experience as we spoke.
She breathed heavily but did not look at me; she stared into space and wrung her hands. She is a mother and months earlier had found out that her youngest child was HIV positive.
“I don’t know if she suspected something or what, but she was the one who say leh we go and get test. Now I know I didn’t have sex, but I say is a good thing. We didn’t use to discuss sex and so… But if she want get test for AIDS then I should support her and so we went.
“Everything went well. The people talk to us together then by we self and then we go and get test. They call me name first and they say how everything was alright, so I come back outside and then they call she name. I see she teking lang, lang to come back outside and you know I start shifting, looking at the door all the time.
“The door open and right away when I look at she standing deh, like I know something wrong and I didn’t know what to do. I wonder if de other people seeing but deh lady signal for me to come. Girl leh me tell you I don’t know how I get up, is like I didn’t have strength to move but by the grace of God or something I just get up and start walking. Is was like I watching me body move but I didn’t know how it moving.
“I went inside and the door close back and is like she drop down or stoop down, I don’t know but she was down and crying. She crying so much she body was shaking.”
Again, she paused and this time she looked at me. I did not know how to react, so I was the one who looked away. The pain was still so raw. I wondered what I could have done or said. “Girl, this so hard to talk about. I know a say I would share meh experience but talking about it is just so hard. Is like I keep asking me self if it real. Me daughter is just a teenager what kind of life she could get? What will become of her?” she asked rhetorically in a pleading voice.
“But back to that day. So, I looking at her and she just crying and shaking so I didn’t have to hear the news I done know what it was. I held on to her and tell her to stop crying and the woman lead me to a seat to sit down and I carry she with me and we sit down together. The woman then tell me that me daughter have AIDS. Imagine my baby daughter have AIDS,” she said the last words in what sounded like disbelief.
“I turn to me child and I say ‘Man stop cry we go get through this together,’ but in me head I was screaming, like screaming going mad because I was like this is it, this is it fuh she and this is it fuh me. The woman start talking and to be honest I didn’t hear most of what she was saying. I hear something about nutrition and that she might gaffo go on medication but all was like in a dream.
“She there crying and shaking and the woman talking and my head splitting open. I can tell you it was the worst day in my life. I don’t want to experience another day like that one. It was time for us to leave and we went out. She try to stop crying and up to day like today I can’t tell you how we catch a bus and how we reach home.
“Now after like the next day is like this girl in depression and I don’t know what to do. She start looking at everything to see if me treating she different, so I be on my Ps and Qs with this child. I carry she back to the place and dem start counselling all two of we. She had to do some more tests and so and then they say she have to take medication and that was another hard thing.
“She wouldn’t want to take the medication at first because it was making her feel sick and I use to have to be behind her to take it, like remind her and give her with the water and suh. Is like I had a lil baby on my hand but all I thinking is that if she don’t take it she could dead.
“And then she would go on Facebook and be making all kinds of posts and people would ask me what is wrong with her. It was not easy I felt like I was going mad. And dem father he is of no help. When I tell he is like he become a child and asking me what we guh do? Like really, you is the man, for the first time in your life and stand and be a man. But no is about me finding the solution. Let me don’t start talking about he because he is another story by he self,” she said angrily.
“And just imagine I didn’t even know this child was having sex. I suspected but me didn’t know and with who because she never bring nobody home to me. But I had a hard life and because of me, me children went through something so sometimes I blame meself. But I does tell them me life was harder and I try with them, I couldn’t give them everything but I really try.
“A later find out that like she hear something about the guy and dah is why she want go and get test and she did want company so she tell me let we go and get tested. And now he dead and gone and she lef now and I just struggling with her trying to help her to live some kind of life. “I keep asking myself if she would get married and to who and if she would get children, all dem things you know. And if she start to go out with somebody how she guh tell them? And if she ain’t tell them is me place to tell them? How I could answer all dem questions eh tell me?”
I could not tell her because I did not have the right words or the right answers.
“I don’t know where we guh deh in a next two years. I don’t know if she would still be alive but a trying. I want to tell you this because I want other mothers to read and listen. Check on your children, tell them about sex, tell them about AIDS. Leh them know when dem young because if you ain’t telling them, somebody else would tell them and show them what is sex.
“And if your child have AIDS, love them still. You can’t give up on them, is you own and if you don’t love them would love them? So, I just hope my experience can help somebody out there to do things differently or to learn to love they children even if they have AIDS.
“This is not the end of my experience, I know. But I taking it one day at a time, just one day at a time.”
We sat in silence for a while and then we parted. I know her well and we will remain in constant contact. In fact, since she last spoke to me there has been some development in her daughter’s health, but she is not ready for me to tell it.
Like her, I hope mothers read and take her words of advice. And if you are a woman who is HIV positive and looking for answers or in need of support contact the Guyana Community of Positive Women and Girls (GCWAG). You can call 691-7297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.