NOTE: I have Mary's permission to share her sorrowful life story with you but thank God it ended in praise.
7 YEARS AGO A 30 years old Mary ( not the real name ) was sitting opposite me inside my consulting room. Tears rolled down her cheeks as we were about to open her HIV result. Mary's husband was on admission in the ward with advanced stage of HIV/AIDS disease and cancer which necessitated us asking Mary to take the test. She was reluctant at first but after much counselling she overcame her fear of knowing her own HIV status. According to her before she agreed to be tested, she was always saying she preferred to die without knowing because of the societal shame. But after much counselling, she gave her consent to be tested, the result came back but we had not opened it yet.
I broke the silence " Mrs Mary here before me is your HIV test result. So will you like to know?". She was obviously jittery. She started sweating. She said "doctor wait first. I know with my husband having AIDS I know I will be positive but don't open it yet." Then more tears poured into her eyes and rolled down her cheeks and she slowly started to tell me the story of her life. As she was crying "DOCTOR I REGRETTED RUSHING INTO MARRIAGE. MY MOTHER PUT ME IN THIS MESS" I curiously asked "why did you say that Mrs Mary". She wept more. She continued " Doctor I never had any plan to get married 8 years ago, I was just 22 years old then, just finishing my NYSC service when my mother said all the children of her friends were getting married. She had been buying their aso ebi ( aso ebi is the general uniform that people buy and wear on occassions like wedding). I didn't want them to buy her own aso ebi?. I thought it was a joke but before you knew it my mother began to put serious pressure on me doctor.
This my husband met me then. He was just a boyfriend I didn't really know him well. After so much pressure from my mother to marry him, that I was no longer a kid, I decided to consider her pressure and did some homework on him. I found some information out from his family and friends. I was able to gather that he womanises a lot despite claiming to be a Christian. I learnt He was a lazy person who indulged in lottery playing. I was told He would depend on me to take care of the family in the marriage. This was the opinion of some of the family and friends of his that confided in me. I was even able to gather from one of his closest friends that he was impotent but the person said I should not quote him. With all these pieces of information I gathered I went back to my mother to let her know what I gathered about the man she was pushing me to desperately marry." My mother "solved" all these problems with her mouth o'. She said may be he was womanising because he was not married. May be he was lazy because he could not get a good job. May be he was playing lottery while waiting to get a job. I asked her "what about the issue of him being impotent?" " Doctor my mother had a answer to that also too. She said there was herbal cure for impotence. In one word I had no excuse not to marry him. I discussed all these problems with some of my friends because my father was not saying anything. Some of my friends advised me to go ahead and on the issue of the impotence, I should have intimacy with him to confirm his potency before we got married or take him to see a doctor to confirm the impotence. The first option was out because I am a Christian so we can't commit fornication like premarital intimacy and besides I had made a vow with God and myself to marry as a virgin.
To cut the long story short doctor, I went into the marriage bowing to my mother's pressure, all for me to discover that he was truly having premature ejaculation. Doctor my husband could not last two minutes. Our intimacy life was nothing to write home about. He lied to me before the marriage that all the things I heard about him was to spoil his name by his friends and family members that didn't want us to end up together. Somehow doctor he convinced me and I married him. Doctor here am I today o. No single child from the marriage till date. I was the one taking care of myself for 8 years of the marriage. I practically slept alone for most of those 8 years. He clubbed and partied all over the place, somebody I married as a "Christian". Now here am I HIV POSITIVE. "
I cut in " Madam you are not HIV positive oh, we have not opened the result" . She argued with me" Doctor how will I not be HIV positive when I have had intimacy with him" I told her "it is possible." She said how possible. I told her we call it DISCORDANT COUPLE that one spouse may be HIV POSITIVE and the other one HIV NEGATIVE after they have had intimacy. So I asked her if I should go ahead and open the result. She shivered again and said with tears " okay doctor open it". Who said God is not merciful? She was HIV NEGATIVE. Mary was looking at me like somebody who just saw a ghost. A smile came out of her mouth with more tears out of her eyes. As she wiped her tears she said "doctor please are you joking?" . I showed her the result. After the outpour of joy I told her she needed to repeat it in 3 months time to finally confirm she is negative. She said " doctor for almost 2 years now we have never done anything together because he had been falling ill a lot and I never met with anyone. " Then I told her the result might be final then but still advised her to do it anyway. She agreed. She said " doctor no problem. Thank you. I have feared this day many times over. I never believed I was not HIV POSITIVE. If I saw a small rash on my body I panicked. If I had malaria I thought HIV had come to kill me. I am very grateful doctor". Then Mrs Mary went back to join her husband in the ward where he was on oxygen. Few minutes later, I was called he was struggling for breath. We did all we could he didn't make it. Mrs Mary cried like a baby. She was inconsolable. After a while, the body was sent to mortuary and Mrs Mary was taken home by her family and friends. This was how Mrs Mary became a widow at 30. This was 7 years ago and the last time I saw her.
Last week I saw Mrs Mary with two handsome boys running around in shoprite. I could not believe my eyes how beautiful madam Mary was looking now. She looked more beautiful now at 37 years old than she looked at 30. Stress is indeed a terrible thing. She was so happy to see me. "what a beautiful family you have there" She said thank you and introduced her new husband and family to me. She told me she remarried two years after her late husband's death. As I congratulated and bid her farewell, I got her consent to share her story. Six lessons came to my mind through her life journey. Let me share them with you below:
LESSON NUMBER 1:
This goes to the mothers that always rush their children to marriage because of their own selfish reasons. The reason in this story was for personal pride her friends' daughters have married . And so what? Because of Aso ebi and party atmosphere of wedding you pushed your daughter into the brink of death if not for God of second chance that saw her through. If you are this kind of mother please stop. Marriage is a personal journey. Not for your self- pride. Let your children take their time and choose right.
LESSON NUMBER 2:
As a young single person, beware of the kind of friends you depend on their opinion and base your decision to marry on. Most friends now are enemies in disguise. Use your own head and heart and consult God and get his assurance before embarking on a lifetime journey as marriage. Mary had a second chance, you may not.
LESSON NUMBER 3:
I asked her where her father was when her mother was putting all these pressures to marry on her. She said her father is a very gentle and quiet man. Unbelievable! Fathers you are the head of the family. Wake up to your responsibility. Final saying should come from you. I am sure if Mary's father had stood up to the mother, she would have stopped the pressures.
LESSON NUMBER 4:
This lesson goes to all the singles. From my experience as a doctor that specialises in family, I have learnt that most times things you hear about the person you want to marry before you choose to marry them are usually true. Especially if those things come from sources like family and friends. Take those things seriously before proceeding with the marriage and it is never too late to break a relationship if you see a danger sign. Broken relationship is better and will always be better than a broken marriage.
LESSON NUMBER 5:
God is always merciful. Sometimes when He sees that you are innocent or you make the mistake you made out of helplessness and of innocence of your heart and you have been faithful, He had a way of showing you mercy and giving you a second chance.
LESSON NUMBER 6:
Christianity is not what people say alone, it is more of what they do. It is by the actions of a Christian you will know him not only by his talk. Next time when someone said I am a Christian, check his or her deeds if they agree!