I will never forget the afternoon I went for a HIV test. It was on a sunny day in 2017, roughly two years ago. That afternoon, I was feeling excited and energetic. And because nothing important was occupying me, I decided to go for a HIV test at a VCT centre which is about three kilometres from where I live.
Well, I hadn't engaged in any promiscuous sex in the previous ten years that would make me suspicious that I could have contracted HIV. Still, I thought it wise to know my status, especially after having been injected with medical drugs in several clinics in a span of four years.
You see, when I went astray at the university in JKUAT in 2008 and again at the University of Nairobi in 2011, the doctors who attended me thought I was sick. So they put me on medication that included injections. I had worried a little that some stressed-up nurse might have injected me using a HIV-infected syringe. That's why I wanted to be sure that I was HIV-negative.
Feeling excited and energetic, I arrived at the VCT centre after about fifteen minutes or so of walking that afternoon in 2017 I have told you about. And when I opened its gate, one of the things that struck me most about the centre was the way it was clean and quiet in comparison with the neighbouring communities. The VCT centre looked more like a school because of the numerous buildings on its compound, some of which were one-storey. But I didn't see any students there.
Upon entering the VCT centre, I first headed to the loo for a short-call. Then I went to the HIV-testing room where I was welcomed by a male counsellor who appeared to be middle-aged. But whether young or middle-aged, the counsellor was warm and friendly - that's what mattered. He asked me to get seated next to his desk which had two chairs facing each other. I sat on one chair; the other remained empty.
Before doing HIV test on me, the counsellor asked me a number of questions. I only remember two of his questions. The first was whether I had ever slept with a woman. When I told him no, he asked incredulously, "You mean you have never slept with a woman?" I told him "no" again but confessed to having viewed adult films on a computer.
His other question that I remember was, "What if you find you have HIV?"
"That will be deadly," I blurted out.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't scared of having HIV because over the previous five years prior to that afternoon I underwent a HIV test, I hadn't caught a cough or a cold. So I was cock-sure I was HIV-free.
I guess the VCT counsellor sensed my honesty and confidence because he didn't put me through a long counselling session. After those few questions, he showed me how HIV testing is done. He was to remove blood from one of my fingers, put it on a paper strip and then wait to see whether one or two red lines would appear on it which would reveal whether I was HIV negative or positive.
When I saw the counsellor holding the needle he would use to prick me, the first worry that floated in my mind was not the fear of getting pricked but whether the needle was safe. With all the people visiting the VCT centre, I needed an assurance the needle was safe and fresh. The counsellor reassured me it was, so I allowed him to go ahead and prick one of my fingers in order to get the little blood he would use for the HIV test. He removed the blood and put it on a fresh HIV-testing paper strip.
As we waited for the paper-strip to reveal whether I was HIV negative or positive, I continued having a delightful conversation with the counsellor. He told me sex is good for health, but not masturbation; he therefore implored me to get myself a girlfriend.
While we continued conversing, I glanced at the paper-strip that had my blood on it and saw there was only one red line. Huraay! I was HIV-negative! The counsellor confirmed I was indeed HIV-free. He then rounded up our conversation by telling me to bring my future girlfriend for HIV testing. "Don't allow her to spoil your life," he added.
"So this empty chair opposite me was for my girlfriend?" I asked, the idea having registered in my mind for the first time.
"Yes!" he agreed.
I left the VCT centre feeling as energized and excited as I had been when I entered it. Finally, I had known my HIV status. I was negative, with a capital N.
NEW! NEW! NEW! For those of you who missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new song that is available in the video's section of this blog. Just click on the "videos' link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the song.
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My Adventures in Kiserian
For the last two and half months, I have been religiously going for a jog and a walk to my home-town of Kiserian, which is about three kilometres from where I live. My purpose for the jog and the walk is to cut weight. With time, I have discovered my adventures to the town are reducing my boredom. So I intend to continue with them even after I successfully cut weight.
I strive to be observant and imaginative during the adventures to the town so that I can enjoy them. Like I am always on the look-out for winsome young ladies (potential wife materials). And I am always praying that should I get to see one during one of these fine days, I will pluck up the courage to approach her and make a good first impression.
On some days during my adventures to Kiserian, I happen to meet people I know. Some wave at me from afar. Others, who I meet within spitting distance, exchange pleasantries with me. And for those who I manage to exchange pleasantries with, some ask me to convey their greetings to Mum, which I always do.
As I go observing people and the environs of Kiserian, I get to see how some folks struggle to make ends meet by hawking such mundane items as bananas and sandals. Others don't have access to piped water, so they buy the precious commodity with plastic containers which they carry with their hands or with wheelbarrows. Seeing people struggle that way reminds me to be grateful for the good breaks in my life and to also work hard to create a better future.
I also see beggars on the roadside begging for money. Needless to say, they usually have disabled feet or arms. The other day, I saw one with a severely deformed ear. If you think you have problems, wait till you see that beggar and you'll be left feeling immensely grateful.
This world is never without real life drama. And I get to witness some of it in Kiserian during my adventures to the town. Like one Sunday sometimes back, I saw one motor-bike rider (locally known as boda-boda), fall on the road with his moving motor-bike as he attempted to miss a vehicle that had slewed on his side of the road. That incident helped me know that I am not the only one to whom bad things happen to.
Yesterday during my walk to Kiserian, I witnessed another drama. A somewhat large number of people was crowding on a boda-boda station. Thinking it unusual for such a large number of people to crowd in such a place, I inquired from one boda-boda rider what was happening but he told me he also didn't know. I chose to continue with my walk.
On my way back, I observed that the crowd in the boda-boda station had grown larger. I again inquired from a man in the scene about what was happening.
"A guy has died," he answered.
"Why?" I asked, my curiosity piqued.
"Oh, just the problems of life," he replied, a touch too lightly.
Curious to see the dead guy, I shoved my way into the centre of the scene where I saw a young man lying on the ground. He was dead. A few policemen were in the scene trying to control the crowd. I didn't bother to hang around and witness the whole scene unfold; I just continued with my walk back home, grateful to be alive and kicking.
Today during my walk (yes, today!), I witnessed yet another drama in another part of Kiserian. A crowd was milling around a scene on the opposite side of the road from where I was walking. And there was a police car parked nearby. Like in yesterday's scene, I was curious to know what was happening. The first guy I asked also confessed he didn't know; he said he had also just arrived at the scene.
I would have continued with my walk had I not seen a woman I know, who sells animal feed products in her shop, being led into the police car. As soon as I saw the woman, I turned back, crossed the road and started inquiring what was happening from the people around. To my unsatisfaction, almost everyone I asked for more information told me they also didn't know. So I left the scene to continue with my walk, not having known what had transpired near the woman's shop and led to her arrest.
Yes, I observe quite a lot during my daily adventures to Kiserian. My new mantra during my jogs and walks to the town is: "Use the mind to observe as well as think creatively and let the legs do the walking and jogging". Soon, I hope to be looking forward to those adventures much in the same way soccer fans look forward to UEFA Champions League matches. Adieu!
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