By Tashinga Wazara, Zimbabwe:
I'm lying awake in my bed; I can't sleep. The events of today keep re-playing in my mind and the more I think about them, the more they eats at me. My name is Cindy and I'm a nurse at the government clinic in the township. Today, Pastor Malcom called me in the afternoon and said that he was coming in with his family to get tested and he needed me to be the one to do it so that I fix the results and he tests negative. It wasn't the first time that he had come to me with such a request and he always paid me so I agreed. As far as I was concerned, it was his life and if he wanted to keep people disillusioned about his HIV status then that was up to him. Besides, this is HIV; the truth would come out eventually.
When he got to the clinic, he was accompanied by his wife, his son Max and his daughter-in-law Cynthia. I thought that he was coming in to get tested with his wife so I was a bit surprised when he got tested with his son and his daughter-in-law. When I got the results his son and daughter-in-law both tested positive and his son Max lost it and started shouting at his wife asking her who else she had slept with. 'Who else?' I thought as I tried to piece this fiasco together. “What does he mean, 'Who else?” Then the longer they spoke, I figured it out. Pastor Malcom had slept with his son's wife and she was now HIV positive. She had obviously then infected her husband and then she had to confess that she had been infected by Pastor Malcom. That couldn't have been an easy conversation. Pastor Malcom then denied this claiming that he was actually HIV negative and they had come to the clinic to prove it. This had left Pastor Malcom's son Max with the only plausible explanation; that his wife had slept with someone else who had infected her.
As Max berated his wife, asking for an explanation, I looked at Pastor Malcom and his eyes were shifting nervously. He was clearly uncomfortable and I knew why. It was because the scum was the one responsible for all of this but he was too much of a coward to own up. What an idiot! I looked at Pastor Malcom's daughter-in-law Cynthia being shouted at by her husband and being asked questions that she didn't have answers to and my heart broke a little. As Max was shouting at her, she kept rubbing her belly then I looked closer and saw that she was pregnant! 'Oh no!' I thought, 'What have I done? Not only have I enabled Pastor Malcom to get away with murder but there's going to be an innocent child that is going to grow up without a father and with an HIV positive mother.' I started feeling sick. This was my fault, all of it. You might wonder what I mean when I say that it was my fault but it was, and I'll explain now.
A couple of years ago, my sister came knocking on my door at around 1am on a Tuesday morning. When I opened the door for her, she was shaking and she couldn't stop crying. I asked her why she was crying but every time I asked her she cried even more and she kept shaking her head. After a couple of hours she stopped crying then she said, 'Cindy, I was raped' and she started crying again uncontrollably. I immediately got up and went and got my car keys and said, 'Cathy, let's go to the police right now and report it.' But my sister refused and said that if we went to the police then the church would be destroyed. I was puzzled by this and I asked, 'What does you being raped have anything to do with the church?' and she said, 'I was raped by Pastor Malcom and if I go to the police then it will be headline news. The church will be destroyed and everyone will know that I was raped. I don't want to be front page news Cindy.' My sister had always been very religious but I didn't think that she was so religious that she would want to protect a rapist pastor for the sake of the church. I couldn't understand that. I tried to convince her to go to the police but she completely refused. She was willing to just let this go but I couldn't. I had to make sure that this bastard paid for what he did to my baby sister.
At this stage, I had been living with HIV since my husband died of AIDS five years ago. It was important that I made sure that she would be ok. I took her to the clinic and even though she didn't have a formal police report, I managed to get them to give her post-exposure prophylaxis, the anti-retroviral drug that rape victims take to help prevent HIV infection. After that I took her home and told her that she would stay with me for a while until she was feeling better. I didn't sleep that night and I kept on thinking about what this Pastor Malcom had done to my sister. I was so angry and decided that the next day I would go see him and give him a piece of my mind.
When I got to his office, he said, 'Welcome my child, how can I help you?' He looked at me from top to bottom as if I was a piece of meat and I looked him in the eye and got ready to tell him how I felt. But then another thought came to my mind, 'Why shout at him when I can give him a piece of his own medicine? He wants sex, so I'll give him sex'.
I then said, 'Pastor Malcom, I don't know how to say this but uhm…I really like you.'
He looked at me, almost disgusted and said, 'What child? Do you know I'm a man of God and I have a wife at home? How can you come in here and say that? Get out of my office now!' I started walking towards the door then as I got to the door, he said, 'Wait. Stop. Lock the door.' The pervert was weaker than I thought. I then had sex with him. The entire time I was thinking about what he had done to my sister and it made it bearable. And of course I didn't use a condom. He didn't mind either. After that he would call and we slept together a few more times and then a few months later, I told him that he needed to go and get tested because I had just been tested and I was HIV positive. He came to the clinic and I tested him: HIV positive. He thought it was his fault but I knew it was mine. I'd gotten the ultimate revenge.
But now as I lie in bed and think about the damage that has been caused, I wonder if it was worth it. I start thinking about Cynthia and Max. They didn't deserve this. I wanted to destroy Pastor Malcom, not his whole family. I decided that I needed to put things right.
In the morning, I go to Pastor Malcom's house. His wife answers the intercom and I tell her that I'm the nurse from the clinic and that I need to speak to her.
She opens the gate. When I get to the door, I say, 'Good morning Ma'am, there's something I need to tell you…'
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