I got a text message this morning from an unfamiliar number. Upon checking it out, I found out that it came from Maria. I had been trying to get hold of her to ask if she’d like to come for our Family Day, but my calls, whether to her mobile or house number, simply didn’t get through. So I gave up.
Well, just yesterday Maria was at the hospital for her appointment, and she bumped into Asiah, who then told her about the Family Day at LWOT this Sunday. Maria had actually lost her handphone, and as a result, my number as well, so she couldn’t contact me earlier. So yesterday she got my number from Asiah, and today she texted me.
Maria was asking if she could still join the Family Day, and if yes, if she’d have to go on her own to LWOT. Her husband wouldn’t want to join, she herself doesn’t drive, and as such, if she has to go on her own, she wouldn’t know how to get there. She only knows how to get to the bus station, and the hospital.
I told her that a few of us volunteers will be waiting at the bus station for a few other families as well so it shouldn’t be a problem. But Maria is the very reserved type. She has never opened up to anyone but me, and so she begged that she follows in my car and not anybody else’s. Considering the fact that this will be her first time ever joining our activity, I kasi chan la.
Before she confirmed that she will indeed be joining, she asked if we’d mention anything about the illness during the event. You see, she plans to bring her son along, and none of her children know about her HIV and she doesn’t want any of them to find out during our event. As a matter of fact, she even asked if we’d be giving any talks on HIV during the day. So overly anxious! I told her we’re going there to enjoy, we wouldn’t want to bore anyone with talks and the likes!
She finally agreed to join us. This will at least be a step forward for her… hopefully after meeting the rest of the gang, she will open up a bit more.
About half an hour later, Asiah called me up. She wanted to confirm that the Family Day is on. Since she hasn’t got any reminders about it from me, she was concerned if it was cancelled. I told her that I intend to send reminders to all my clients within this next 2 days.
Although she had already confirmed attendance earlier, Asiah’s anxiety was rather obvious. She sought my reassurance that we wouldn’t be mentioning anything about the illness during the day. All her children will be coming and none of them knows she has HIV. I told her that if anyone brings up the issue, it wouldn’t be from us volunteers, but maybe just amongst the PLHIVs themselves especially when the mothers sit together and chit chat. By then the children would probably already be too busy in the pools or at the slides.
Well, since these 2 are both newcomers, I can understand their concern. But there is at least one newcomer who’s not bothered at all if we’d be talking about HIV – and that’s Sofie! She openly talks about her HIV in front of her children. So even though this is her first time joining (last year she was too weak to even walk), no questions were asked. She was just happy enough that she gets to bring all her children out to have some fun.
I just went to their house today, to deliver groceries. I brought along the bundle of donated clothes as well to let them choose whichever they liked. Well, the 2 older sons were not around, but the 2 younger ones had a good time choosing! They were the first amongst my many clients to be given the chance to choose, so they went rambang mata – jeans… tracktop… gowns… baju kurung… baju Melayu… Even Sofie got herself a pair of jeans that fits her just fine!
Tomorrow I will be doing another round of grocery delivery – to Lin’s house. And I will need to bring another stack of clothes as her children are older than Sofie’s. Lin had joined our Family Day at Taiping Zoo 2 years back. Last year although she wanted to join, she couldn’t because she had to go to KL to fetch her daughter who just got back for her summer holidays (the daughter is studying overseas under scholarship). This year, Lin and all her children will be joining. Like Sofie, Lin’s children too already know about her illness, so Lin doesn’t worry about having any secrets exposed during the Family Day.
Hopefully for Maria and Asiah, they will overcome their anxiety once they get to meet the other ladies. It is time they let their hair down and forget their problems at least for a day…