THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What would you do...

… if you found out that your husband had been infected with HIV? How would you feel, knowing that you too may have been infected? Would you be angry? Sad? Confused? Unsure what to do?

Would you react differently, if your husband got HIV through different ways? Would you be able to accept your husband more if he got infected through drug injections instead of through promiscuous activities?

Actually, the recent talk for the Perak Women for Women (PWW) Society, where the matter of the empowerment of women were brought up, had me thinking. Would things have been different if the women under my charge had been empowered with more knowledge?

Would it have been easier for the women to make decisions for their future?

Ahh… so many questions!!

I do wonder how different people would react to the different situations faced by my clients. So this time, I am hoping my blog readers can give some input on how they think these women should react. Let me just refresh your memory with some of their stories…

In the case of Zainab, she found about her HIV infection before her husband found out about his. She was pregnant with her second child then, and when they found out that Zainab was HIV positive, her husband Zaki had the cheek to ask Zainab if she had any affairs with any Mat Banglas at her work place since he himself did not have HIV. Only later when he did his blood tests and found out that he too was infected did he admit that although most of the time he took pills for his drug addiction, there was once or twice that he resorted to sharing needles for injection. Zainab readily forgave him. After all she thought, since both of them had already been infected, they might as well just live positively as husband and wife for the sake of their children.

Then there was Mrs. K, who found out about her husband’s HIV infection when she was pregnant – but she herself miraculously was not infected. The doctor had her blood tests done twice to be doubly sure she was not infected. Mr. K, despite being a former policeman, somehow got involved in drugs and that was how he got infected. Mrs. K’s family was mad with Mr. K and told Mrs. K to leave her irresponsible husband, but Mrs. K remained loyal to him despite herself being confirmed negative.

In the above cases, the husbands were injecting drug users. They didn’t play around with other women.

Then there’s Lin… yes, Mr. Darling’s ex-wife. Lin had known about her husband playing around with other women for many years, but being someone who believed that she had to sacrifice for the sake of the children; she just tolerated him and prayed that one day he’d change. Well, he did not. And after keeping everything to herself without letting her feelings out to anyone, when she found out her husband was HIV infected and that she too was infected, that was the last straw. She was mad at him for being the reason of her infection. She asked for divorce. By then, although 3 of her 6 children were still schooling, they were grown up enough to understand her situation.

Recently, a blog reader, R, contacted me to relate her story as she needed to talk things out with someone. Now, to regular readers of my blog, don’t get so curious… she never left a comment in my blog and no, she’s not someone you know, ok? She actually contacted me direct to my email address and later on I gave her my number so we could talk. Let me just summarise R's story without going into the nitty gritty details.

In R’s case, when the husband was found to be HIV positive, he admitted to her that he had been “naughty” before their marriage. For a moment there, R did feel a bit relieved although she was still worried about getting infected as well. The fact that he did not cheat on her after marriage somehow did make her feel a bit better. Then after some thinking, she remembered that her husband had been quite a regular blood donor… surely his blood would have been tested for HIV. If indeed his HIV infection occurred before their marriage, surely he would have been detected positive during one of his blood donation and he would have been informed earlier. When cornered, R’s husband finally admitted that he did “have some fun” during his recent overseas assignment. Yes, just recently!

The first blood test done 6 months ago for R was negative. But not long before that the couple had been planning to have another child and when the first blood test was done, it was still during the window period and as such R was not 100% safe yet. R had just done her 2nd test and is now waiting for the results before she can be sure of her status.

For the moment R is still with her husband, although she no longer feels for him the way she did before. Her decision on her future will depend on the outcome of her blood test. Unlike the other women I mentioned in my stories, R is an educated and independent person. By the way, R has 2 kids, aged 3 and 8.

What do you think her decision will be? And what would you do if you were in her shoes?

And to all out there, please... you may think that any action of yours, no matter how bad, is OK because it’s your life and it’s your problem if you get into any trouble. Just remember that your decision now may not only affect your own life, but also the lives of others in the future… your wife, your children, your loved ones...

So, THINK, THINK and THINK before you act.

16 comments:

Monster Mom said...

I can't imagine if it happens to me. Since now I'm a homemaker n have to depend on hubby for money matters, I bet making the one final decision will hard on me and my kids. Hopefully that will never happen.
Do you know any NGO in Seberang Jaya area which I can give support to?

Pi Bani said...

Monster Mom,
For northern region, one active NGO is the Community AIDS Service Penang (CASP). If you have any questions about their activities, you can contact them at casp@streamyx.com

Anonymous said...

It is a difficult situation but I strongly believe that I will rather leave the marriage than pursue it, for the sake of my kids as I am a professional and financially stable.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

this is strictly from my point of view.

encouraging a couple to split isnt a nice thing to do. having said that, in R's case if she believes its the best solution for the sake of allparties concerned, then she should. BUT, to me i truly believe if there's still even a tiny bit of love still left in her, then there's always some room for forgiveness. like zaiban, they can always look forward to at least try and lead a positive life together. buang yang keruh ambil yang jernih bak kata pepatah. always remember, setiap kejadian ada hikmahnya tersendiri.

Pi Bani said...

Anonymous 4.54pm:
Financial independence does play an important role in making the decision, doesn't it?

Pi Bani said...

Kerp:
That's exactly what R did initially - to forgive and to save the marriage. Siap gi jumpa marriage counselor. Tapi R sorang je pergi, husbandnya tak pergi. How to work like that? The sacrifice seem to only come one way. Mula-mula tu R's husband adalah nampak perubahan sikit-sikit... no longer marah-marah etc. But soon enough, he was back to his usual self - although tak main perempuan (at least not that we know of lah...) but his bad temper payah nak ubah. We have to remember that after all that happened, R has become a bit more sensitive. So bila asyik kena marah (to her husband tu perkara biasa je, lepas marah tu like nothing ever happened. But to us women, kalau kena marah tak pasal-pasal, effect dia lama wooo...) so R makin lama makin fed-up lah. How to pupuk back the love? Kot ya pun, tunjuklah sikit appreciation for her sacrifices.

Anyway, for the moment she's still hanging on to the marriage although makin lama dah makin tawar. The blood test results should be out soon, so let's see how it is....

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

like i said kak Pi, if she thinks the best way to solve this is by leaving her hubby, then maybe thats the answer. she's in the position to call the shot. but whatever the decision she may make in the future, she has to make sure every single thing is taken into consideration.

elara said...

Thanks for sharing such beautiful stories. They are like reminders to me to be always faithful till the end.

Pi Bani said...

Kerp,
Actually R was hoping she could get some feedback from readers. If to save the marriage, how? What actions should she take? Definitely just to tahan and sabar doesn't work.

On my part all I can do now is be a listener...

Pi Bani said...

Elara,
Sometimes we tend to forget how lucky we are. I consider myself lucky that I get the chance to be involved in this kind of voluntary work. Almost every day I am reminded that my life is much easier and less problematic than so many people out there.

Nightwing said...

Hello Kak,

Thanks for sharing this.

It is really a tough one.

Innocents really suffer because of irresponsible actions.

As for R, hubby should be thankful that she is giving him a chance...but if no changes in attitude...maybe she should leave.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,

If it was me in any of the positions (touch wood, it never happens), I would want to kill my husband...

That's the honest truth...Because you didn't just ruin your own life with your selfish act (promiscuous ke, drugs ke, it's still selfish), you ruined mine too...

That's why my heart goes out to all those people who get HIV not because of their own doing, but of the doing of some other person's work...

nutter said...

Besides ensuring that she has a strong financial situation, R needs to double make sure that she will have the proper emotional support should she decides to leave -- what with the level of open-mindedness that our society has -- if she was in Klang Valley, it'd probably be less noticable I have to say c.f. kalau duduk kampung gitu...

And it is VERY important that the children understands that (should separation be the choice opted for), in no way is it their fault what-so-ever.

Look beyond the husband too.. i.e. the extended family. Are they the sort worth hanging on to?

I know if this had happened to me, THE result (i.e. infected) would definitely be the deciding factor -- not in particular because of him having been 'weak', but because there is basically no remorse demonstrated (based on what you've written).

"ego nak mampus" is how I would put it.

But at the end of the day, some things we have no firm knowledge of, and when in doubt -- especially when one is the 'injured party', ask the Creator.

"Layukallifullahunafsan illa wus'aha" -- for God does not give/test unless it's within our capabilty. So R (should you be reading this), you are one strong woman, and all the best for the future.

Pi Bani said...

Nightwing,
Definitely anyone would find it hard making decisions in such circumstances. Even those who say they'd definitely leave, will still find it difficult when they actually land into such a situation.

Pi Bani said...

Daphne,
Aiya! Meaning to say if you were in their positions, you may also end up in jail laa??!

The problem is, whenever these people get themselves involved in drugs or promiscuous activities, they won't listen to advice. "None of your business", they may say. It never occured to them that by getting themselves into deep sh*t, they're putting their loved ones into deep sh*t as well!

Pi Bani said...

Nutter,
True, there are many things that need to be considered before the decision is made. Neither R's family nor her husband's family know about their situation. It's just them. Which makes it even more difficult for R since she doesn't have any family members to consult.

Let's just hope for the best for R.

Thanks for your response, Nutter.