By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
We sat on the bed in our room, holding each other and both probably thinking about different things yet on the same subject. I was thinking about how I was going to confront my father and what I would say to him. You see, my father and I were really close and I loved him. I looked up to him as my moral compass and my confidant, the one I would go to when I needed any help or advice. I never dreamt that one day I would be confronting him about raping my wife and giving us both HIV. Yes, I was angry but even more than that, I was broken. If my own father could do this to me then who could I trust in this world? My faith was completely shaken. But then when I looked at my wife and how completely shattered her spirit was by all of this, and when I looked at her little baby bump, that innocent child that was growing inside her, preparing to come into this world with its life already sabotaged because it would be born to HIV positive parents, all this anger and bitterness began to well up inside of me and I suddenly got up and said, 'Baby, get up. We're going to my father's house'.
My hands were shaking as I drove to my father's house. My wife was sitting quietly next to me and the tension in the car was palpable. We both understood the significance of what we were about to do and the impact that it would have not only on my mother but on our entire family as a whole. But it had to be done. My rapist of a father had to pay for what he had done.
We got to the house and I rang the intercom and almost as if to add to the drama, it was my father who answered it and he said, 'Pastor Malcom's residence. How can I help you?' Hearing his voice just sent my blood pressure up another notch but I composed myself and said, 'Tata, it's Max. Please open.' And he said excitedly, 'Ah hello son! Let me open for you!' The gate began to slide open and it was just not opening fast enough. As we drove in, he was standing by the driveway, smiling at us. I had half a mind to just run him over but that would have been too easy. He had to suffer slowly for what he had done.
I parked the car and got out and went towards him screaming, 'You sick bastard!' punching him in the face. As he fell to the ground I stood over him and yelled, 'How could you rape my wife?! How could you do that to me?' leaning in to give him another lusty blow but then my mother, who had been in the house came out and shouted, 'Max, no!' and so I stopped mid-punch. I had so much adrenalin going through my body as I burned with anger.
My mother then asked, 'Max what on earth is going on?' and I took a few moments to catch my breath and I replied, 'Mom, last year, your husband raped my wife.' My mother then broke down and started crying and she said to my father, 'Malcom, not your own daughter-in-law too? Please tell me you didn't also rape your daughter-in-law!' My father just looked at her with a blank face, blood dripping from his nose and all he whispered was, 'I'm so sorry son. I'm so sorry'. There was a desperation in how he was saying it but even he realized that the situation had disintegrated beyond the level of forgiveness. There could be no redemption for his actions.
My mother went and hugged my wife Cynthia, who was now crying, and said, 'I'm so sorry child, I'm so sorry.' It turns out that Cynthia was not the only woman that my father had raped but that there had been several other women that had come forward to my mother claiming that they had been raped by my father but he had told her that he had had relationships with these women and that they were saying this just because he had broken up with them. My mother had wanted to leave but my father convinced her to stay saying that a divorce would destroy the church that they had both built over the past 24 years. He had also promised to change. My mother loved the church, it was her whole life and so she had stayed. Their relationship though, was never the same. In public they were the model couple but at home, they had become estranged. We never knew though because they both played it really well.
As my father tried to get up I said to him, 'You evil man. Now because of you both Cynthia and I are HIV positive and we are expecting a child. You've killed us!' After I said this, his face shifted from that of guilt and shame to that of utter complete shock and he said, holding up his hand, 'Son, hold on a minute. HIV? I don't have HIV.' I went up to him and grabbed his collar and said, 'You lying bastard!' and I prepared to hit him once more but my Mom yelled, 'Max stop! Your father is right. He doesn't have HIV. We went and both got tested just last week during our HIV Awareness outreach in the township.' She then went into the house and came out holding a little pink slip that read, 'Name: Malcom Malaba. HIV Status: Negative.'
I looked at this slip for a few minutes – I was speechless. I was in complete disbelief. I looked at my wife with an eye that was looking for answers and she looked at me with a face that could offer me none. If my Dad wasn't HIV positive, then where did she get it from?
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