By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
I can't remember when last I was that upset. I looked Cynthia in the eye and told her that I was going to go and stay over at my Dad's place for a few days so I could think. Well I didn't say it to her, I more like shouted at her. And when I said I was going to go over to my Dad's place for a few days, I didn't actually mean a few days, I meant that I was done with her and that I was gone for good but I couldn't say that because deep down inside, in spite of all that had happened, I still loved her. She was my one and only true love and not even HIV could change that and that's what made me even more upset. When I stormed out of the hospital and I was driving home, I was thinking, 'How could that bitch give me HIV? How could she be so irresponsible? She's killed me' but then there was this annoying voice at the back of my mind that kept saying, 'But she was raped Max, it's not her fault' and the more I tried to shut it out, the louder it became. By the time I got to my driveway I felt so torn. This was it. I was about to leave my HIV positive pregnant wife.
I mustered up the courage to get into the house and for the first time I started noticing things in the house that I had literally walked past for the past year. On the display cabinet in the lounge, there was a picture of Cynthia and I clutching onto each other in the blistering snow, barely smiling because it had been so cold. We had gone to China for Christmas last year and the picture was taken on the Great Wall. We had such an amazing time. As I looked at the photo, I started reminiscing on how amazing that holiday was for us and I started smiling but then that smile was quickly wiped away as I snapped back to reality and remembered why I was in the house in the first place. I was leaving Cynthia because she had given me HIV.
I went upstairs and started packing. It took me about twenty minutes to get all the essential things that I needed to pack. After I was done, I sat on the edge of the bed and started soaking in the last few moments I would be in that room for a while, possibly forever. As I was sitting there, I saw a shoe box in the corner of the wardrobe, right at the back. It was strange because I had never seen it before. It wasn't hidden but it was conspicuously placed enough to raise curiosity in me and so I got up and went to go see what was inside. As I picked it up I felt something inside it but it definitely wasn't shoes and so I opened it and there was a brown note book inside. I went back to the bed and I sat down and opened it. Immediately I noticed it had Cynthia's handwriting in it. Then I started reading it and in the beginning she was talking of how amazing marriage was and how happy she was then somewhere half way through, the mood of her writing changed. I then read something that still makes me cringe every time I think about it. It was on the 4th of May 2013 and it read, 'I feel so terrible. I went into his office because he said he wanted to talk to me but then he locked the door and forced himself on me and I said, 'Tata, stop. You're hurting me. I tried to push him off but he was just too strong. I feel so dirty and I want to tell Max but I can't because he will never believe me. He and Tata are so close. This secret is killing me.'
My heart started beating fast and I thought, 'Tata? Tata?!' That's what we called my Dad. Is Cynthia then saying that she was raped by my Dad? I couldn't wrap my head around that. I started feeling a bit light headed and having shortness of breath. My Dad raped Cynthia? That was just too difficult for me to fathom. Then something else hit me, 'Cynthia's rapist is the one who gave her HIV. Does that mean then that my Dad is the one who…did he… No! It can't be!' I wish I could explain how I felt in that moment but the truth is that I can't. The best is if I could mix anger, disbelief, shock and denial into one feeling then maybe I could come close.
As this whirlwind was going on in me, Cynthia suddenly walked into the room and when she looked at me I could tell that she knew that I knew. In that moment, there was so much I wanted to say, but all that came out was, 'Cynthia, why didn't you tell me?' As I said that she broke down and started crying, and I went to her and held her. As I held her, I imagined the kind of pain and hurt that she must have been carrying all this time and I wished I had been there for her. Then I thought about how my father had betrayed me in such a terrible way. I had loved him with everything yet he had turned round and raped my wife. The emotions of hurt started welling up inside me and I suddenly broke down and began crying too. We stood there crying in each other's arms for what seemed like an eternity.
I then kissed her on the forehead and told her that everything would be fine. I told her I was sorry for being so unreasonable at the hospital because I had completely no idea about the magnitude of the situation. I didn't know what I was going to say to my father but I was going to confront him and give him a piece of my mind. He would be out of our lives forever though, that was for sure. I would also tell my mother the whole story. She would be hurt but she deserved to know that she lives with a monster. Cynthia and I would take the necessary measures to make sure that our baby was born HIV negative and we would start taking ARV's to ensure that we live for as long as we can with our baby. In as much as we would do our best to deal with the situation though, our hearts, just like the HIV we had contracted, would never heal.
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