The 21st of February was like every other Saturday morning. This meant I would probably wake up hung-over and foggy-brained from too much drinking the previous night. There would be a dull but persistent throb in my head, a dryness in my throat and sometimes a dark, often beautiful, but always naked body snuggled against mine. Or if I were less fortunate, I would have to deal it with an oblivious Josh who snored and threw himself carelessly from one end of the bed to another. So yeah, it was another typical Saturday. But it was just me in my bed this time. Hung-over. Naked. Alone.
Besides the overwhelming urge to pee and need to quench the dryness in my throat, the heat from the rising morning sun pushed me out of bed. I stumbled to the bathroom and did my business before opening my cabinet to get out some Panadol for the headache.
And there it was – the Home Kit. My nemesis was staring at me.
After buying it, I’d attempted reading the instructions which, to me, had prints too tiny for my beady eyes to read. Then it had been too difficult to understand when I got around to reading the print. And finally, there was simply no time to take the test. So it had remained ignored in the cabinet until this morning.
Since there was nothing or no one to distract me, I reluctantly grabbed it and the aspirin, and went back to bed. Back there, I fiddled with my phone a bit, replied a few messages while unpacking the kit and attempting to read the manual for the umpteenth time.
How hard can it be sef? I wondered, as I unpacked its contents and placed them beside me. I reached for my glasses and reread the instructions.
My memory is a bit hazy, but I think it went something like this without all the plenty-plenty English they had crammed into the long white sheet. Prick your finger with lancet (This would definitely not be fun, I fucking hate needles!). Collect your blood in a pipette and then place a few droplets into the sample well (Can’t I just kill a mosquito and collect my blood from it?). Add the testing liquid (Can’t remember what that one was called), then it flows into the sample column. To show the test is valid, a pink strip has to appear beside the “C” or Control Band. And within fifteen minutes, if the same pink strip appears beside the 1 or 2, then it means you are positive. If otherwise… (Well you get the gist by now)
Just as I was ready to begin the process, I heard an intrusive bang on my door and quickly hid the kit underneath a pillow. I wrapped my bed-sheet around my waist and headed to the door. A peek through the peephole revealed who was at the door. It was Sophie, my Londoner neighbour. I groaned. This quarrelsome woman who occupies the flat beside mine can talk for Africa! Today, she will lament about the exorbitant charges we are levied monthly for crappy services. Next week, it will be a complaint about the neighbour downstairs who had parked in her space yet again. On some other days, she would bore me with a new business idea to import carpets from Turkey she was venturing into.
Josh often told me what the woman really needed was a good dicking. Unfortunately for her, our hustle was identical! My own is to smile till my cheeks begin to ache, laugh from time to time and nod like a lizard in agreement with everything she says. Perhaps this is why she’d mistaken my aloofness for concern.
I ignored the woman on the other side of the door, and crept back into my room. She knocked a few more times before eventually leaving.
I continued with the task at hand. The next obstacle was to get the lancet to work. I would later learn that all I had to do was pull the damn cover off and voila! But at that very moment, it refused to work. The more I tried, the more frustrated I was, which made me only more eager to get on with the test. Eventually I got a knife from my kitchen and cut my finger a little and placed some of the blood in the pipette. And then followed through with the process as described earlier.
Then came the waiting. The longest fifteen minutes I can remember, besides a sexual encounter which was so painful that time seemed to suspend for the short period it occurred.
And boy did I wait. Time dragged away lazily, seconds seemed like hours and minutes like days. I thought to myself, Temidire, this is it. This could be the moment where everything changes. I was excited, not in a good way though. Fear was looming somewhere beneath. I was not ready to go on with the process right now. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week…uh, maybe never? I kept second-guessing and asking myself if I really had to do this. Did I really want to know? Was there any need? I contemplated destroying the test and allowing life as I knew and loved it to go on. I glanced at the test which I had placed on my bedside table. A pink strip had thickened beside the Control Band. The test was valid.
I lit a cigarette and attempted to read the article for the day on Kito Diaries. After a few lines, I became disinterested and went to search for leftovers in the fridge, but I had no appetite. I eventually settled for an apple. By now, what would seem like a faint pink line had begun to form beside the ‘1’. I felt a rush of blood, my heart skipped a bit or two or three. I anxiously reached for the empty pack to check what this meant. It did not give me the answer I sought. Because at the back of the kit there were only three options: the first where there was no pink line (invalid test), the second with only one pink line beside the Control Band (negative), and the last one which had three pink lines which connotes positive.
But my result had only two lines which I could fool myself to believing actually meant that either the test was not valid or negative or mine was a special case. I decided to consult good old Google for some answers. I could not find anything substantial or explanatory, something to validate this tiny flicker of hope…or perhaps doubt. Somewhere deep inside, I knew the interpretation of those results. I just wasn’t ready to admit it.
I picked up the phone and dialed Daberechi. If anyone could give me the answers I was looking for, she would. And she would tell it to me just as it was. I sat on the floor, naked, waiting to hear her voice at the other end of the phone.
Written by Temi-D