Luthando felt like there was a man in her head with a hammer. As she sat in the doctor’s room, trying to focus and understand what the doctor had just said, she could feel herself getting fainter with each hammering thud.

“Luthando, I’m sorry. Do you need a moment to rest?” the doctor asked, showing kindness and sympathy.

“Just some water, please.” she answered in a daze.

The doctor had asked for some water from the lady at reception. Luthando had taken the glass with trembling hands, and tried not to spill any in front of the lovely doctor. She held it with both hands and took a sip. The cooling water went down her throat, straight to her aching heart, and part of it went up and welled in her eyes.

“You will have to come for counseling. And we need to take some blood to check your viral load,” the doctor said, scribbling something down in her file.

Luthondo just sat there taking small sips of the water.

“I’m sorry, I know this is all too much to digest,” the doctor said looking at her. “Do you perhaps have someone you could come with on your next visit? It’s important that you establish a support system, a friend, maybe a family member?”

Luthando’s tears started falling. And then she started sobbing, first silently, and then with every breath, her sobs became louder. The doctor was now standing next to her, with both her arms around her, allowing her to cry on her clean, white lab coat. She didn’t mind, it came with the job.

Poor thing, the doctor had thought. Luthando had told her she had had only one sexual partner, and had blushed with embarrassment when she confessed that she only been sexually active only once. The guy must be a carrier, and perhaps this was all his great ploy. How evil, how vile! He deserved to be locked up, preying on young girls and infecting them with the virus.

The doctor was appalled. But sadly she had seen more cases of young women falling victim to HIV positive men, who infected them intentionally. It was a growing epidemic.

When Luthando had finally stopped crying, and the doctor had made an appointment for her, given her some medication for the STI infection, and given her some sleeping pills to take when she gets home, she had walked out of the surgery a zombie.

Sfiso had given her H.I.V. and he out doing it again to some other girl.

God why me, what did I do wrong to deserve this? she asked herself as she cried at home.

She was meant to meet Lindo the next day. But how could she? What would she tell him?

She decided right then that she didn’t deserve to live. The one thing that pained her more was that she knew Lindo was looking forward to it – he loved her too much. She had betrayed him and their love. He deserved better.

She then took every single pill she could find in the house and laid them on her bed. Nobody was home, so she took her time.

With each harsh swallow, as many as five pills at a time, she could feel life disappearing in front of her, she was watching it end. She wanted the final memories to be good ones. She had to stop thinking about Sfiso and how revolting he was, how he knew he was H.I.V positive and had infected her on purpose, how much she hated him, she pushed the thoughts of people ridiculing away from her mind, an decided to think happy thoughts.

Lindo. Lindo was her light. She remembered all the wonderful things in life that they had shared together. As the effects of the pills started to work, and Luthando was starting to feel her body going numb, she was happy that the last memory that flashed in her mind was that of Lindo’s perfect smile.


She could see lights, bright as the morning sun, when she tried to open her eyes. So bright was the light that she couldn’t look at it. But it wasn’t yellow, it was white.

Is this heaven? her faint voice asked inside her throbbing head. But then she quickly remembered that she had committed suicide. Heaven was not a place for people like her. Then the place started to smell like hell. A burning stench of ammonia filled her nostrils and she wanted to cough.

“Hey you, thank God you are awake,” Lindo’s was calm and welcoming as she opened her eyes. He was sitting in a chair in front of her, holding her hand. She smiled weakly as she realized she was in hospital.

“How did I get here?” she asked.

“Shh, don’t talk. Here, have some…” he said giving water to drink out of a straw.

She looked at him and was overwhelmed with emotion. She felt loved. A tear trickled down her right cheek and Lindo quickly, yet ever so gently, wiped it away.

“I don’t know what would have happened had Ntando not been there. But I just thank God you are alive coz I don’t know what I would’ve been without you,” he said with tears falling from his eyes also. “H.I.V positive or not, I love you, Lu, and I just can’t live without you.”

Luthando smiled as she could not believe her ears. Lindo must have read the letter she had written as a suicide note. Life was going to be bearable with Lindo in it.

After she recovered, with Lindo attending to her every need, she was determined to finish school. With the support of her family, the wonderful counselors and nurses, the love she was getting from Lindo, her new ARV medication, she braved the odds and went back when university break was over.

She focused on her studies and spent very little time dwelling on the past. In less than six months, news made rounds that Sfiso was seriously ill. Shortly after that, he passed away.

Luthando’s life slowly came together, step by step, day by day. She focused on her studies and she worked hard. In June 2013 she graduated and became a doctor. On the 1st of December 2013, World Aids Day, she was celebrated. She was going to deliver a speech at Moses Mabhida stadium in from of a large number of people.

“I have a dream, that one day H.I.V and AIDS will be history. I took wrong tough turns in my life, but the word tough does not mean impossible. Nothing is impossible and I dream of an H.I.V free generation!”

The End


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