On Friday afternoon after school, Ntsiki and Themba walk home, hand-in-hand.
“Eish!” Themba stops walking. “I know that voice – you want something from me. What’s up?”
Ntsiki chuckles. “Well … uhm … you know how you said you want us to … you know … go to the next level and–”
“You mean you’re finally ready to show me you love me?” Themba licks his lips and his eyes gleam.
“I might be, but–”
“But what, Ntsiki? What is it this time? I agreed to use condoms, didn’t I?”
“But, but, but. Stop beating around the bush and tell me, or keep it to yourself.”
“I will if you stop interrupting me!”
“Fine!” Themba lets go of Ntsiki’s hand and crosses his arms over his chest. “You have my undivided attention.”
“You don’t have to be a jerk about it,” Ntsiki says, her chin jutting upward.
“Tell me already.”
Ntsiki catches her bottom lip between her teeth before blurting out, “I want you to go for an HIV test.”
“Intoni? Where’s this coming from?”
Ntsiki takes Themba’s hands in hers. “Knowing your status shows you care about yourself … and me.”
“I do care about you. You’re my bae. Ndiyakuthanda.” He takes her face between his hands and caresses her lips with his.
“So you’ll go for a test?
“I’m not driving ama-Z3.”
Ntsiki’s face breaks into a broad smile. “So you’ve already been tested? That’s awesome, Themba!”
“No, I haven’t! But I don’t have bloody AIDS!”
“Stop shouting at me!”
“Sorry, babes, but you’re being impossible.”
“You’ve had other girlfriends, Themba, and you had sex with them,” Ntsiki persists. “Utowna.”
“For fuck’s sakes, Ntsiki, that was long before I met you, and I’m committed to you now. Why all the drama? Are you committed to me?”
“I am … and I got tested. I’m negative!” Ntsiki takes out her clinic card and shows Themba the entry, with a date for an appointment six weeks later.
“Oh! … Okay …”
“You should get tested too.”
“Do I look sick, Ntsiki?”
“I don’t have AIDS, finish and klaar.”
“But you had unprotected sex and–”
“No more buts, please. You’re killing my weekend vibe.”
“Fine!” Ntsiki takes Themba’s hand. “But we’re not done talking about this. Not by a long shot.”
“I’m bloody done talking about it. I don’t have AIDS. ”
* * * * *
“He won’t go for a test, Tay,” Ntsiki confides, as she and Taylor walk to school on Monday morning.
“Ai, what’s Themba scared of? An itty-bitty needle?”
“He says he doesn’t have AIDS because he doesn’t feel or look sick. But he’s not coming anywhere near the cookie jar if he doesn’t get tested first.”
“Kudos to you, girl. You gotta look after yourself. Did you tell him the barber story?”
Ntsiki shakes her head. “He wasn’t interested in listening to anything after I asked him to get tested. I think he’s been avoiding me since Friday.
“Or perhaps he’s been busy with school work. Don’t let your imagination hijack you.”
Tell us: Is Themba’s attitude to HIV and Aids testing common, or unusual?