BEFORE I DIE

????????????????????????????????????????????????????“Lights would guide you home

And ignite your path

And I will try, to fix you…”

Those are the words of the song I am listening to. It is Fix You by Coldplay, one of my favourite bands. The song is everything at this moment. It isn’t as though I am broken right now, but I feel as though I need to be fixed. My heart is beating, like I’m running from an angry homophobic mob, yet I’m wearing a calm face. I can’t afford to fall apart right now. Besides, my mum thinks she’s Batman, so I can’t give off any emotion to make her suspect something is wrong.

“And I will try… To fix you…” The song’s final words are followed by the soft thrum of a piano. I know it’s a piano because I have listened to the song thirteen times already. Then I look at the time and it is 2: 10 pm. My heartbeat increases. The lab scientist had asked me to come get my result by 2: 00 pm. I’m already dressed in the same clothes I wore to the lab yesterday. I put on my slippers and walk towards the door.

Mum: Bobby, where you dey go?

Me: I wan reach Rowland house, I dey come.

Rowland is my childhood friend. We attended school together, both secondary school and university. He is straight though. He knows I’m queer, and is totally cool with it. He isn’t even in town; I’m too stressed to think of a smart lie. Normally, I’m a very good liar. Lying just comes to me naturally.

I walk to the junction and board a taxi, plug in my earphones and go to my music player. I press play.

“Lights would guide you home

And ignite your path…”

I let myself get serenaded by Coldplay, the track on constant repeat for the twenty minutes it takes the cab driver to get me to the lab. I walk in and smile at the receptionist; she is light skinned and very skinny.

Me: I’m here for my result.

Receptionist: Okay. Just sit down. Give me a minute.

She walks into the back room. In the first minute, I am seated, draped over my seat. And then, it is three minutes past, and I am upright on my seat. I can’t comprehend why I suddenly feel tense with each passing second that shows the receptionist should not be trusted for her time-keeping. I mean, seriously! It’s now four minutes.

Then, the skinny girl walks in.

Receptionist: You can go in now.

Me: Me? I thought you were supposed to give me the result.

Receptionist: The lab scientist wants to talk with you.

This is where I start to die.

I walk into the consulting room, and the laboratory scientist offers me a seat. I sit down.

Scientist: Good afternoon.

He is wearing a smile, a plastic smile.

Me: Good afternoon, sir.

He pauses for a while. I can tell he is a bit uncomfortable. Then, he looks up at me.

Scientist: Uhm… So, your test… There was a reaction.

Those are his exact words. He continues speaking. I keep quiet. I am just staring at him with my palms under my chin, studying his features more than I am paying attention to what he is saying. He is cute – pointed nose, nice cheekbones, kinda reminds me of David Beckham. His eyes are light-brown and he is chocolatey in complexion.

Scientist: It was positive.

Those words jolt me out of my slight reverie. My mind blacks out, like the dimming of lights before a stage performance. I can still see him talking, his lips are moving. But I am suddenly more interested in the fat lady singing at the opera – the one my mind revealed when the lights came back on, blazing on the stage. The fat lady’s vibrato is perfect, she sings like a siren. I have to let her finish her performance. She is really good. She even gets a standing ovation. The song is over.

But the scientist’s lips are still moving.

Me: Can I go now?

Finally, his lips stop moving. He gives me a quizzical look.

Scientist: Sure.

He folds the paper that is my HIV result and puts it in an envelope, before handing it over to me. I walk out of the office, towards the exit. The very skinny receptionist waves at me. Her emaciated frame reminds me of someone wasting away – of an AIDS patient. I don’t wave back. I just walk out as composedly as I can manage.

I get in another taxi, and in the next twenty minutes, I am home, in my room, on the bed, with my earphones on. I don’t listen to Fix You this time. It is the tune of If I Die Young by The Band Perry that thrums in my ears.

“If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song…”

Since I am thinking my life is over, it is the perfect song. I have it on repeat. Then, my phone beeps. It is a BBM message from Rowland.

Rowland: Guy, how far?

Me: I’m HIV +

Rowland: lol. You don start o. First of all, nah “u be gay”, now nah HIV.

I don’t know what to reply at that point, so I remain unresponsive. After about seven minutes, he texts me again.

Rowland: Guy, you dey serious?

Me: So amongst everything I could joke with, I chose HIV?

Rowland: How manage nah?

Now that IS the question I don’t want anyone to ask me. Like, seriously! I don’t reply the message. Two minutes pass, and my phone rings. It is Rowland. I don’t answer. I don’t feel like talking to anyone. Then, he texts me again: “DON’T DO ANY THING STUPID! I BEG YOU, IF I MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU!”

I don’t know if Rowland is psychic, because a few minutes ago, I’d thought of jumping in front of a moving vehicle, jumping off a bridge, slitting my wrists. I am actually considering which one will be swift and painless.

Rowland texts me again: “I’M CALLING YOU NOW! PLEASE ANSWER…”

My eyes begin to water. The tears are long overdue. They streaked down my face, flowing silently like a 20 litre jerrycan leaking from beneath. There is no sob, just the tears. I don’t want to make any sound because Batman mum is home. Lots of thoughts are rushing through my head. I just can’t keep it all together.

My tears are still flowing, when my dad zooms in. I dry my eyes as fast as I can, when I hear his voice resonating outside my room. I have always known I have an understanding father, even though I haven’t tested the strength of his compassion. That is why I haven’t told him I’m gay.

I go out to meet him. He is bustling about, rearing to go out again. It is Wednesday, and we have an evening service to attend. I notice mum is in the bathroom, and dad is in the bedroom. I move to the bedroom.

Me: Daddy, welcome.

Dad: Ehen! How are you? Why aren’t you dressed for church?

Me: Daddy, I’m HIV positive.

That is how I said the news out loud for the first time.

Hi, my name is Bobby, and I’m HIV positive. I thought my life was over, but actually, my life just began.

 

69 thoughts on “BEFORE I DIE

  1. Woah, i have read and was i shocked. How did bobby come to that decision to tell his dad like that? I wouldn’t be able to tell my father. But then most children think they can handle these kind of big issues on their own.
    Bobby what you are doing here is really brave and that Rowland, he must be your angel.

  2. #Looks at Pinky with Super-Uber killer look for making me brush a non-existing hair for more than two weeks while waiting for his reply to my proposal….

    And you Dear UnBobby!…..know this,I PISCES will be her to cheer you on through…….

    #Takes seat and sips from my glass of Cherry juice while i read your first entry.

  3. I just read it and it brought tears to my eyes

    Friends?
    I have this one who was in disbelief as he could not fathom how a person of my demeanor would be HIV+……Educated him in the lil way i could and now he is of great help and sets me alive…….#thankyou Victor

    Blurting it out just as you did Bobby to my parents would have caused sandstorms as they have speculative proof of my sexuality buh my mum said something recently which gives me an inkling she already knows when i told her that HIV now has a cure tho still in the lab Stage

    Songs work wonders to the soul and i will tell you so cos i know….

    Nice first entry!

    #Pinky i dey vex for you o…..

  4. Hmmm….

    Ok, so I had to allow myself about two minutes after reading this to allow the emotions this post aroused settle.

    Great introduction, great conveyance of emotions, love the mixture of prose and dialogue, interesting exposure of your weaknesses and vulnerability at the same time, heads-up information on the personality type of those who I assume will feature quite prominently as your series evolves.

    I love it already and look forward to more.

    But most importantly, I salute your courage with daring to share this with the world!

  5. wow! wish this were abit longer. This was also the casual manner in which my dear friend told me he was HIV +. One minute we are talking about boys and next minute…”I am HIV +.” took me a while to be convinced he wasn’t joking. Cried that day like I lost someone, I was determined I’d do anything to not lose him… well sha lemme stop now before I get teary eyed, I’m almost crying sef.

    This might turn out to be my favourite journal here…keep it up! *hugs*

  6. Tears stream down your face
    I promise you I will learn my mistakes…

    That song can like to touch your soul!

    Lovely first entry…that ending had my jaw dropping.

  7. All these emotional stuffs am reading here will make me to start talking to mummy dearest soon oooooooo…..just hope I won’t break her hypertensive heart…..because if it’s for the love of acceptance, I know she will still love me but just don’t wanna do or say anything that will get her thinking more than she should and maybe something bad then happens to her….and I will never forgive myself.

  8. Wow Bobby! This is really touching. I wish u could tell us a bit of what led up to the HIV-test; was it just a routine test? Did u experience the seroconversion illness? Ur trepidation b4 u went back for the result would indicate that u might have had an inkling that something went wrong somewhere.
    I admire u strength,especially in telling ur dad right away. If u had procrastinated,u might have chickened out from telling them,along the way.
    Stay strong, bro.

  9. *standing ovation*
    The ending was everything. I never saw it coming, just when I was getting into the story. Well written Bobby. Can’t wait to find out what happens next.

    I Really! Really!! Really!!! NEED a ROWLAND in my life right now.

  10. Oh my God! This is like a movie, heck! You even chose the background music. Powerful songs I must admit. Really don’t know what else to write. I guess this touched me.

    P.S Who else let out a small chuckle at the 20 liter bit? See what this blog has caused now?

  11. Ahahhahahhahahahha! Wow yoou blurted it out like dat….er how old r u dude?

    Anyway I like your last comment about your life just beginning…way to go bra!

  12. I heard that Band Perry song first on glee, I’m totally in love with it but try not sing it for the silliest reasons!
    I’m totally looking forward to reading more. I feel you have so much to share and so much we all can learn from. I’ve always wanted to be part of a positive person’s journey in a non-intrusive way. Thank you Bobby for giving me this opportunity. And thank you pinky.

  13. Bobby thank you for sharing, I know its not easy. I remember my first time, I almost died but when I saw only control line and I was negative. It was as if a huge log was drifted away. I understand you now and just like I always tell most patient that comes for the test, its not the end of the world but the beginning of a new phase.

    Your name is bobby and this is your new phase.
    Keep it real,
    Let you head and heart do most of the talking,
    Always be calm because it helps,
    Go for counseling always,
    Don’t miss your appointments,
    Don’t forget to take your drugs.

    *we all can help out but only few understands this phase, will go for another testing immediately after my BDAY*

    Kudos to you bobby.

  14. *Picks up jaw from floor, dusts it nd attaches it back*

    Like seriously? U said that like that to ur dad?

    My dad would slap u to China nd back!

    By the way, “If I die young” is my soulful jam for when am contemplating ending all but “Defying gravity” by Rachel nd Kurt brings me back to reality!

    • Nah…I’d like to believe u dad wouldn’t slap u for having a health condition; he might as well slap u if u tell him u’re hypertensive!

  15. YOU FUCKING DID WHAT??? That was very brave, very stupid or u guys r just extremely free. Saying it out like its “pls pass the salt”

  16. Damn!!!

    That’s all I can say

    Everyone needs a Rowland in their lives, whether straight or gay, doesn’t matter, so long as he’s there for you through the good, the bad, the ugly and the WTF moments of life

  17. May God give you the grace that you need to carry on and above all “the peace” that peace that is more than sallam; the peace that transcends above human comprehension. This is no doubt an interesting read,

  18. This story made me remember the first time I did HIV test.
    That’s one of the scariest things I have had to face.
    Anyone who knows be knows I can be solid as steel, unmoved by whatever comes my way.
    But that day I was shaking like jelly fish. Luckily the lady at the desk helped calm me a little with her dry jokes and dry gist.

    In the end it was negative. lol

  19. Bobby you are so brave.The thought of going for a HIV test gets me sooooooooooo scared!Please I need help.And I stiLl barb with general(barber’s) clipper.*heart beating fastest*

  20. hmmm..i think i need to share my story asap….Bobby…Kudos to you…i dont think i can tell my dad yet, that would just mean the end of everything (polygamous house wahala)…Stay strong dear….You are not alone.
    BTW, those songs of urs…seems like you stole my playlist.

  21. Wow!!
    A really good read …kudos to you.
    Still a little bit surprised at how the lab scientist allowed you dismiss yourself without some counselling first.

    I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be strong enough to handle such news.

    • Now I don’t get. What was he supposed to do? Tie him down and call the police? Force feed information he was not even listening to into his ears???

  22. Wow. I rememba I had only jst told a friend & anoda family memba I woz gay. I was so hapi sm1 finally knew. I felt so free. 3 dys latr, I tested 2 b+ve. I just dint n cant tell dese 2 pple ds part of my story just yt.
    U av liver 2 av said dt 2 ur fada. I cant tink d storm dt wil range afta ur confessn.

  23. Hello dear.. give u hugs and deep kisses… just make sure Roland reads this journal… I can understand why u blurted it to ur dad.. it was cus thts just how u could handle tht situation, it was desperation and exasperation . we all looking forward to ur next post.

    • A quick reminder, I am always against road side labs and etc.. u could see, the lab guy aint equipped properly, to handle ur case. Therefore pls, guys get tested in a facility whereby u can be placed on programmes incase of eventuality.

      • Always against roadside labs??? *rme errr…the initial idea is ‘get tested 1st to just certify yourself free’ NOT “get tested in the hopes to enrol in a ‘programme'”. Thats what those road labs are for…ie if you won’t buy the test kit for yourself. One step after another.

  24. Hiv isn’t really a death sentence,its just like a warning to be more health conscious, and thanks pisces, u don’t know how confiding in me makes me feel, I never really considered myself much of your friend till that day you told me and now I’m inspired in so many ways by you, interesting journal bobby

    • Counseling program you say? Ha! So what do you think we are giving him thru all these our comments! First class and free couch session! See u!

  25. @Bobby: i absolutely loved this! brilliantly written and very touching. Well done! Keep them coming, bro! Lights will guide you home!

    In 250 years from today, every reader of this blog will be dead. Even if you live to a 100, some would say of you, “Oh, he lived such a long life!”. I always ask, long compared to what? Stupid question, right? Death is a reality that many not only refuse to face and but also spend all their days running from. When the day arrives, it meets many unprepared and laden with regret. We love life, as we should. But constantly refusing to face (at least mentally) the reality our impending death gives us a false sense of immortality. Its like a person writing an examination who doesn’t want to be told that he has got limited time. The obvious consequence of this evasive attitude is carelessness in action and a lack of appreciation of life. In other words, we take life for granted. if you have ever been in a situation where you felt your life was under any kind of threat, then you will understand that it is in such circumstances that life is most appreciated; when you wake up each morning, and feel your heart slowly fill to the brim in appreciation for JUST ONE MORE DAY! Concerning death and HIV, we should note the following. HIV is not a death sentence. Many who are HIV positive live longer than many who are HIV negative. Many things can kill a man! A HIV negative result doesnt give you any real advantage, as far as death is concerned, since you’ll die anyway. You want a long life? what would you do with it anyway? HIV negativity is not immortality. When a person says he has got HIV, dont look at him as if he is a walking corpse. You could die in a road traffic accident next week and the HIV positive dude will be the one that reads your eulogy at the burial. Fact, in a sense, we are all walking corpses.
    Living each day, aware of your future death, makes you appreciate life; makes you appreciate the brevity of life; makes you want to live it wisely and to the fullest; makes you wonder about the meaning of life (cos if you dont wonder about the meaning of life, how could you ever know it?); makes you set others free to live their lives (cos if life is this short, why shouldn’t they live free?); makes you love others more (just because life has given you an opportunity to!); makes you forgiving (because holding a grudge is not fun and a short life should be fun); gives you balance, making you do not just what is fun to do, but also what you NEED to do. Sometimes, a threat to life is what is needed to wake us up to the reality of LIFE and DEATH, to wake us up from the collective delusion of immortality.
    I dont have a death wish. I pray for a long earthly life but i live knowing death will come. But before i die, OMG! I have got soooooo much to do! So you’ll have to excuse me now. I’m off to live this day to the fullest. *runs away*

  26. I feel 90% of gays in nigeria are HIV+,the remaining 10% sleep with each other with protection.gays in nigeria are the most ignorant and promiscous ive ever seen.

  27. At first people thought HIV prevalence amongst gays was just in UK & USA,im happy they are beginning to see clearly.alot of nigerians dont invest in sexual health like the americans..watch documentaries like “sex in the city” and tell me how many gay or str8 ppl u knw go to that length for their sexual health.ALOT of men gay n str8 dont use condoms,secondly alot of men have Never been tested for HIV,are aware of the risk,yet they dont take precautions.

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