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Opinion Pieces

Jun26

Then and now... the transition!

Monday, 26 June 2017 Written by // Kimutai Kemboi, Categories // Social Media, African, Caribbean and Black, Kimutai Kemboi, Youth, International , Living with HIV, Media, Opinion Pieces

Kenya's Kimutai Kemboi: "I am where I am today being whom I am because of opening up, speaking about myself to the people around me."

Then and now... the transition!

I used to hear that situations are not permanent but had not believed it until it happened to me. It has been a long journey but today I confidently say, 'those days'. It was not easy as such but it took a strong heart, believing in myself and keeping a focus on the dreams I had since my childhood! These have been the pillars of my achievement.

Sometimes I look at myself and smile, not because I am funny but at how I managed to overcome the situations I was in. Today I am living a free life that would not have been possible if not for the bold move I made to take the bull by it's horns. Perseverance and positivity played a crucial role in this journey.

I remember the days when I used to keep my bag always locked! I wasn't hiding anything valuable but to my life it was very precious, my Antiretroviral meds (ARVs)! Precious is the term to use now but in those day... I can't recall. I felt like a spirit of condemnation and shame would follow me should anyone notice that I was hiding or using ARVS.

But today I keep them on the shelves without fear of people seeing, they are my closest friends and I keep them close to me, travel with them and take them when their time is due irrespective of who is watching. Fear, guilt and shame are no longer part of me and neither are they issues to consider.

You can imagine what people will say when you take a whole jug of water assumed to be for brushing teeth, especially when there is water rationing. Not only that, but brushing every day at the same time (ten pm) even if you took supper at some minutes to eight pm, that is close to two hours. More surprisingly, I did so with an alarm alert. My friends were suspicious but they could not know what was going on. This was the trick I was using, in the name of brushing my teeth, to take my drugs without them noticing.

Nowadays, things are different. I disclosed my status to my friends and that I am under medication. These days, when it is some minutes to ten, they always remind me that I have not picked up my tablet or ask if someone should get it for me. It sounds funny, but I see a lot of support and in fact they're encouraging me to adhere to medication though they might not understand.

Gone are those days when I used to pretend that I had a make up class even when I had no classes, all just to go and collect my medication. I remember convincing my doctor to fix me a day, especially Friday so that I could go there late in the evening when almost everybody had left for the weekend. Nowadays I'm good on any fixed appointment day even if I have a class. I pick my three months or so package and head to class without any fear of being noticed. Even if noticed, my health is greater than whichever kind of judgment will be made against me!

When travelling, my roommates always ask if I remembered to pack enough for my 'away match'. When someone travels, we refer to it as an "away match", though it doesn't mean a lot. The funny comments they make towards me not only make me smile but also encourage me in a way.

I am where I am today being whom I am because of opening up, speaking about myself to the people around me. This has helped me find genuine friends whom I talk and make fun with. Because of them I never regret of talking about my HIV status, am stronger and will ever grow strong.

This article previously appeared at Kimutai's Facebook page, here.

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