As I settled in the sitting room waiting for the husband, Mr. Paul, my mind was somewhat unsettled. Monica, Paul’s wife, was sitting right in front of me. I was struck by her radiant beauty, but my in my mind’s eye I could see the Monica of yestermonths. Months ago when she first attended FACES clinic her cheeks were sunken and I remembered her struggling to supported her husband on her left shoulder plus Junior on her back as they came to HIV education. Mr. Paul interrupted my thoughts as he walked in from the bath room. He had a broad smile proved that he was really expecting me.
Silence ensued as Paul dressed behind the curtains which delineated his bedroom in their one roomed house. Junior played with utensils interrupting the silence. Finally Paul came with apologies. He sat right besides the wife. On his left were a bible and a hymn book. Looking up is a family photo.
He welcomed me profusely and made me feel at home. We chatted for a while as I revisited some of the Facts that Matter on HIV/ AIDS. The family talked of their experiences. I asked then how they got to know their HIV status. “My husband was sickly. We used a lot of money to treat him in vain. I found a brochure with information on couple counseling.” Monica’s voice was full of excitement. I could hardly recall the long face I saw at the clinic few months ago. “I really feared he would die if not treated, and I remain a widow with not enough to provide for my children.’’ She smiled holding back tears.
Paul, a tall brown slender at his late 30s, holds the posture of an athlete. He is a driver. Paul picked up the story, “At the VCT we were counseled and got courage for the test despite our fears. When the results came out,’’ he paused looking at Monica. “We were both positive.” We were referred to FACES on 13th February 2006.’’ He sighed. “We also found out why our –X year old son was always falling sick. He too has been enrolled at FACES.”
Paul and Monica are too me a picture of determination and togetherness. When Paul started clinic he was emaciated and always tired but they stuck together. During the counseling before starting antiretroviral medications — they stuck together. Even now, they stick together. Their strength, the couple say is sticking together. No blame games. “If I blame my husband, whom will Junior blame?” I agree with her as we all watch the boy play around the table.
Paul is on antiretroviral drugs with no major side effects. He plans to go back to active driving very soon.
* Paul not real name
* Monica not real name
* Junior not real name