#WorldAIDSDay2011: Essay competition on HIV/AIDS, vote for your winner (3)

By Ella Nweze

It’s our birthday on 3 December!!!

 It’s our birthday on 3 December!! But Shola won’t be there. Shola isn’t here and never will be again.  My birthdays will be celebrated alone until I probably meet someone as nice as Shola again who shared the same birth date as mine…I mean no one could actually be as nice as Shola in this life and even in the life to come.

“26 August,, 2000 would change my life forever!!!”

I look back on the past years with nostalgia for what was, what could have been, and what will be. I weep not because I lost Shola but I weep for what I could have done to keep shola with me longer, for the mistakes we made and for the love lost. I remember the day we met, 14 October, 1996. I couldn’t forget because it was our birthday, she was hanging with friends at jambazz and so was I…we had some mutual friends who introduced us on the grounds that we were birthday mates. We were both 22 and never met a birthday mate so we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch and yes we did. That marked the beginning of a friendship that would last years…till death.

Shola was your typical “aje butter” I mean she had no clue what suffering was or what it was to really need something and not get it because you couldn’t afford it. I on the other hand was used to suffering, hardly ever got what I needed but somehow managed to get myself into the university.  Getting into the university was my visa to reach the world, and I did tour the world! Determined not to lack one extra day in life, I got into the University of Abuja and headed straight into prostitution-“runs” as it is popularly called. I had help from my secondary school classmate and best friend Farida who  was already in the business

“Business” was good. I met Shola in our second year , she was supposed to be my reason to stop but I became her reason to start. Shola loved my party life, loved my status as the university’s big girl, loved the respect people accorded me, loved my friends, loved my confidence, things she said her money couldn’t get her and so she joined our business…first for the fun and later for the money. Her parents were rich but not rich enough for her to get a channel bag for N300,000 or wear a shoe costing N200,000. She knew the ground rules in the business:

Never sleep with a guy unprotected

Never go to their houses

Always agree on a price before the act

26 August,, 2000 would change my life forever!!! Shola had been down with malaria for some days now,  she was down with one thing or the other these days. There was flu today and there was sore throat tomorrow. When shola’s malaria wasn’t getting better I took her to the hospital where tests were conducted and it was found that shola was HIV positive. My world came tumbling down. How could that have happened???? She used protection, as far as I know she hadn’t had any blood transfusion, no oath taking too. The doctor had to be joking, there had to be a mix up somewhere.

Five test results later it was same. Shola was going to die! Maybe not soon but she already knew what would eventually kill her. Didn’t you use protection was all I could say to shola? With eyes full of tears she answered that she had ignored protection a good number of times because the client offered to pay higher. How could you Shola?

I blamed the people who slept with her without protection, blamed the government for making life difficult for people like me who lure people like Shola into prostitution, blamed her parents for not being more watchful, blamed fate for ever bringing me and add Shola together and blamed myself the most for leading her to what gave her the virus.

I wish taking the blame would make it go away, make me feel better but it doesn’t and never will. Shola passed away last month after 12 years of living with the virus. She lived a good life. The doctor said that she could have lived longer had she known her status earlier. More reasons you should go get tested now. Luckily I’m HIV negative but I leave a miserable life. The guilt won’t go away and Shola’s family still blames me for her predicament

Today I live to fight the virus. Let’s join hands to fight it. Apply the ABC: Abstain from pre-marital sex, Be faithful to your partner and use Condoms correctly and consistently.

We can do this………….Yes we can

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