Alewa rummaged through her purse for her car keys at the parking lot. She remembered dropping them in earlier when she got to the doctor’s office. She searched and searched as silent tears trickled down her face. She couldn’t believe this was where everything led to, she couldn’t accept this would be her punishment, her life long sentence; the result of her sin.
Frustrated, she dumped everything in her purse out so as to better look for the keys, and she finally found them encased in her handkerchief. She took them out, and quickly replaced the contents of her purse, opened her car, got in before she allowed the tears come in torrents. She didn’t lower her car window so the animal sounds she was making wouldn’t escape; she just kept the car running with the AC on. She wanted no witness to her misery, she wanted to suffer alone cos she believed she deserved it; she was being punished for all those years, years of being involved in the lowest form of depravity, years of sleeping with her father.
Alewa had been feeling some symptoms of malaria and decided to visit the doctor. She had been feeling nausea and tiredness for some days and it was when it started affecting her output at work that she decided to make the trip to the hospital. Alewa detested hospitals and tried all her best to avoid going there, she figured she had paid her dues to the health system in general, the years she spent visiting her mother on her sick bed was entrenched in her mind, and she avoided anything hospital like the plague.
It had taken days of her health not improving to convince herself to go see her family doctor. She had finally capitulated and taken the trip this morning. Little did she know that she was signing her own death sentence. The doctor had taken one look at her and ordered various tests carried out, including pregnancy and HIV test. Alewa had rolled her eyes at the doctor, wondering how on earth she could have gotten pregnant or even contacted HIV. She was as clean as a whistle, she was sure of it; even Virgin Mary didn’t have anything on her.
Imagine her surprise when the HIV test came back positive. She was dumbfounded, speechless and very surprised. She had malaria all right but she also had something more deadly; she had HIV. The doctor had gone through his spiel of how HIV patients can still live full lives, and the different ways by which one can be infected by HIV apart from sexual intercourse but Alewa was not listening. She had known the source of the disease. She had known it was her father that infected her with HIV.
Alewa was barely thirteen when her mother had died. Her father had waited for just three months after the death of his wife to begin molesting his daughter. It started late one night. Alewa had just cried herself to sleep thinking on the death of her mum and missing her terribly. She had just lamented her heartbreak and loneliness to God asking him why he had allowed her mum to die, why he had chosen to leave her in this utter loneliness and despair. She was the only child of her parents and her mum’s long illness had not allowed them try for more children.
Her mother was a sickle cell carrier and she was always in and out of the hospital. After the birth of Alewa, the doctor had advised against more children, he said her body cannot take the stress and she would die, she had listened to him and didn’t have any more children, but she had died anyway.
Alewa was on her bed that night wishing desperately for a younger brother or sister to share her lonely days with when her body gave way to sleep and she dozed off.
After what seemed like minutes later, she felt her bed shift from the additional weight of someone. She had always been a very light sleeper and that little movement woke her up. Despite the low illumination in the room, she had recognized her father. Although it was strange to find him on bed beside her, her young mind had been grateful for the protection and companionship, and she had sleepily moved to give him space. He slept beside her that night but nothing happened.
Alewa woke up the next morning happy and rejuvenated, and the cycle had repeated itself for the whole week until the day her father decided to take it one step further. He raped her that night, all the while whispering how much he loved and missed her. Alewa had not understood his mumblings until years later when she was fifteen and discovered he took her to be his dead wife; in his mind, he was making love with his wife.
Alewa withdrew further into herself. She didn’t have anyone to talk to about what was happening to her. She had always been a reserved child and the situation she found herself just sent her into a deeper funk. Her teachers in school attributed her further withdrawal to the death of her mother and they didn’t question further. She had no friends or confidantes to talk to, and she had no close relatives to share what she was going through with. She was on her own and the man that was supposed to protect her abused her instead.
She endured the nightly torture and watched her dad wither away. She had assumed it was the death of his wife that was affecting him; she thought he died a year later because he couldn’t bear to live without her anymore. Now, she knew better. He had died of AIDS.
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