Column: In Times Like These…
By ‘Rolake Odetoyinbo
Hey you, I guess you’re called HIV. Now, listen to me and listen attentively.
Open your hyper-active, blocked ears and let’s talk. I think I’ve ignored you long enough and now you think you reign.
This is the very last time you’re going to cause me discomfort. I’m simply sick and tired of you acting up when the mood seizes you. What exactly do you think you’re doing giving me shingles and making me cry?
I haven’t wept over you in two years and I think that phase of my life is over. I won’t lie here sick, nursing this herpes zoster you’ve caused. I give you plenty of food, so just eat and leave me alone. You’re a devourer, and I pay tithes for the likes of you.
HIV, you’re nothing but a bloody coward, hiding and mutating like a slimy chameleon. The only place you thrive is where there is shame, silence and fear, so I refuse to carry you around as my secret. You’re neither a ghost nor a spirit; you’re nothing but a stinking blinking virus! I’m all out to halt your spread everywhere, starting with my body.
I have chosen to speak openly about you; I will shout out from the roof tops and let the whole world hear. Some clueless people say accepting you’re in my blood stream is the reason why I haven’t received a healing; they say openly proclaiming I’m HIV Positive gives you strength to carry on. When I allow their talk get to me and mess up my head, you laugh, get excited and act up, but I refuse to share this secret with the devil. I’ll keep talking about you. I’ll go on learning and revealing your secrets. All the foolish myths and misconceptions about you must be exposed for what they are.
And to you CD4 and CD8 cells: Aren’t you meant to be soldiers? Isn’t that why God put you in my body? Better wake up and fight like the soldiers that you are. You are not alone in this war, so just keep telling me when you need extra help and I’ll get all you need for us to win this battle.
You’re now getting very expensive extra help from acyclovir, so stand your ground against this buster called HIV. Remember this is a war you’ve got to win, otherwise, HIV will kill you all. And to add insult to injury, it’s going to use your very souls to make more copies of itself. You are the legal occupants of this body. You own the house, and HIV is a hated, unwelcome, intruding parasite.
I hope you know this HIV doesn’t want to die and that is exactly what would happen if I die, so it isn’t ‘Rolake it wants to kill but you. Better let that sink into your nucleus.
My dear DNA: Stop accepting the false order, you are the most important and influential thing on this side of earth. RNA is inferior to you, so identify it and refuse its commands. Receptors, don’t allow this intruder attach. I’ll tell you a secret — that 419 chameleon just disguises when it knocks, so cell membrane, stop opening up to allow it in.
My whole body system, say no to this descendant of its father who is only out to steal, kill and destroy. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so let’s show this demon who is greater and stronger. Your word is law. Stand up for your lives. Together, we all can work to defeat AIDS — and defeat it, we must.
HIV, you won’t dare do this to me again.
I must work this week to earn a living. I must feed you, feed me, take care of my family, pay the hospital for my tests, maintain the car, pay phone bills, buy selenium, Centrum, Vitamins and all the million and one things I need to remain productive and comfortable. Whether you like it or not, I must go down to Enugu to talk about you, and then I’ve got to go see those dear people you’re harassing in Owerri, so I need my strength and I’m not changing my plans for you.
Obviously, you need attention and want to be noticed. Now the whole world is talking about you, but just behave yourself otherwise; I’ll get almighty ARV to fight you. We both know you dread this, but if you keep harassing me, slowing me down or killing my CD4 cells, ARV is what you’ll get.
Good, so just shut up and lie low or better still, get out! I’m too busy to indulge your every foolish whim.