My Sick Mother

By Patricia Lungu
Patricia Lungu's stories
My sick mother

As the third child and the sole female in my family, I occasionally find myself shedding tears. During my upbringing, my brothers subjected me to bullying simply because I was the lone girl in the household. I yearned for younger siblings with whom I could frolic and enjoy the companionship of childhood. While I cherished my two older brothers dearly, the age gap between us sometimes led to moments of frustration.

I hold my mother in the highest regard for her courageous decision to bring me into this world during a challenging period. It was in the year 2001 that my mother received the devastating news of her HIV/AIDS diagnosis during a routine doctor’s appointment. This particular year held special significance as she had anticipated the expansion of our family with the arrival of a new baby.

Upon learning of her grave illness, my mother was profoundly shocked, understanding the gravity of a condition with no known cure. Her course of action involved commencing medication and facing an uncertain future, as the disease cast a somber shadow over her life.
In 1996, my mother entered into matrimony with my father, embarking on a remarkable journey. My mother, at the tender age of 17, united her life with my father, who was 30 years old. Their union was an elopement, a testament to their love, as my mother’s family vehemently opposed their relationship.

On one side, my father’s family lent unwavering support to the notion of my mother marrying him. Conversely, my mother’s family remained steadfastly opposed to the idea. The primary point of contention rested upon the fact that my parents hailed from different ethnic backgrounds, creating a significant dilemma for my mother’s relatives.

However, the profound love that bound my mother and father together transcended these obstacles. Their commitment to each other was so unwavering that they made the daring decision to marry secretly, withholding this significant event from both of their families. This decision underscored the depth of their affection for each other, demonstrating the central role love played in their lives.

At one point, my parents found themselves in a perplexing situation. Suspecting a pregnancy due to certain symptoms, they decided to purchase a pregnancy test kit from the nearby pharmacy. My mother volunteered to undertake this task. Upon conducting the test, they received unexpected news—they were indeed expecting a child.

During this time, blissfully unaware of the impending challenge, they continued making plans for their future. However, their world took a drastic turn when my mother received the devastating diagnosis of being HIV positive. This revelation was profoundly distressing, given her unwavering commitment to my father and her belief that such an incurable disease was inconceivable.

Confronting the daunting task of sharing this news with my father was an emotionally taxing endeavor. My mother informed him, “The doctor has requested our presence at the hospital because there’s an important matter to discuss.” My father agreed to accompany her, sensing the gravity of the situation.

My mother made a courageous request to the doctor, saying, “I want my husband to be tested as well, as I’m uncertain about how I contracted this disease.” The doctor, displaying utmost discretion, replied, “I shall act as if I am unaware of the situation.”

When the doctor conducted the HIV test on my father, the results revealed that he, too, was HIV/AIDS positive. My mother was taken aback by my father’s seemingly unshaken response, as if all the hair on his head stood on end.

Amidst her pregnancy, my mother inquired about the doctor’s guidance regarding their unborn child. The doctor provided a glimmer of hope, assuring her that it was possible to give birth to a healthy, HIV-negative child despite her own condition. This reassurance alleviated some of the anguish in her heart, as she remained deeply concerned for the well-being of her innocent offspring. Learning that she could still bring a healthy child into the world provided her with a measure of solace in the face of adversity.

13 September, 2023