When Liza told me she’d be coming to Ipoh GH on 28th September for her appointment, I told her to bring the necessary supporting documents to help her apply for financial help for her child. I promised to meet up with her then. When she was first referred to us Buddies, I wasn’t on duty, so I had not met her personally.
Yesterday I sent Liza a text message asking what time she expected to reach Ipoh. Since she said she should be in Ipoh before 10 am, this morning when it was almost 10 am, I made a move from the Buddies center, heading to the hospital.
By 10.10 am, I was already at the O&G clinic, where Liza was supposed to be. I tried calling Liza, but there was no answer. I then sent a text message, there was no reply. We had never met each other before, so how was I to recognise her if she didn’t answer my calls or reply my messages? I tried looking around, trying to look for a young pregnant lady who came alone… there were quite a number of them. (well, some came with their husbands, but their husbands sat far away…)
10.35 am… there was still no reply from Liza. I decided to walk back to my car and maybe try to call her a bit later, maybe meet up with her after she was done with her appointment. I had already walked halfway when finally Liza’s text message came. Apparently she was a bit late this morning and when I called earlier she was in the bus and didn’t hear her phone ringing.
So I walked back to the O&G clinic, and called Liza again to find out which one was her. Again, my call wasn’t answered. By then I knew she was already there, so I sent her a message, telling her I was sitting near the big Malaysia flag, wearing a maroon colour tudung. After a while, finally Liza came over to me.
Liza, at 20, seemed a lot mature than her age. And I mean she looked and acted mature, not old. While many 20 year olds I know are still enjoying life out there, Liza had gone through a whole lot, and although officially she is not yet a single mother, in reality she already is.
Liza found out about her HIV at the age of 18, when she was pregnant with her first child. At that time, she was staying and working in KL and so her appointments too were in KL. While Liza was mature for her age, her husband, just one year older, was not. He was not responsible enough to stick to a proper job, and most of the time, it was Liza supporting the family. She takes her job responsibility seriously, as compared to her husband who went to work as he pleased, causing him to lose his jobs.
Liza didn’t mind. After the birth of their first child, Liza worked even harder to support the family. Her husband stayed home to look after their child. But usually if the breadwinner is the husband, and the wife stays home, the wife would be looking after the child, cleaning up the house, cooking, etc etc. In Liza’s case, since she was the breadwinner, and the husband was the one who stayed home to look after the child, that was about all he did… look after the child. (I guess women are better at multi-tasking huh?) By the time Liza got home, the house was in a mess and no food cooked. After a long tiring day in the office (and husband relaxing at home just “looking” after their child), the husband would complain if Liza decided to take a short rest.
Liza did complain that he was not helping out with the housework.
“Itu kan kerja orang perempuan?” said the husband.
“Habis tu yang cari rezeki untuk keluarga ni bukan kerja orang lelaki ke?” Liza snapped back.
Sometimes Liza wanted to do overtime to earn more income for the family since the husband was not working. But the husband wouldn’t let her. He wanted her to carry out what he said were her duties as his wife… to see to his needs!
In addition to that, the husband was also the jealous type. Very jealous. Whenever he fetched Liza back from work, sometimes he’d see Liza talking to some of her male colleagues.
“Handsome boyfriend baru awak? Patutlah selalu nak buat overtime. Awak tu bini orang, jangan lupa.”
Personally I think he actually felt insecure. He knew he wasn’t doing his job as a good husband, but not wanting to admit it, he looked for Liza’s faults instead.
After a while, Liza got fed up. She filed for divorce. But before the case was called, her sisters-in-law coaxed her to give him a second chance. The husband promised to change.
Liza, still feeling some love for the husband, decided to give him a second chance. They moved to a new place. The husband did manage to get himself a job. Although by then they already knew about their HIV status, they did not practice safe sex. Liza got pregnant again. And the husband fouled up again, losing his job and leaving Liza as the sole breadwinner again. When Liza complained, this time he slapped Liza’s face.
“Tangan pun dah naik tu saya tak tunggu dah lah kak,” said Liza to me while I took her out for lunch today after she was done with her appointment.
When one day her husband didn’t even come home, she decided there and then to leave him, and she went to stay with her sister. The sister was the one closest to Liza and the only one amongst the siblings who knew of Liza’s HIV. She and her husband had no problems having Liza stay with them. When Liza went out to work, the sister would take care of Liza’s child.
After a while, the sister’s mother-in-law coaxed them to move back to Perak as she needed her son to help her out. Liza followed them back to Perak (she grew up in Perak) but she felt it wasn’t appropriate for her to stay with her sister as the sister stays at her mother-in-law’s home. So Liza now stays with an aunt nearby. Liza’s parents had moved to a southern state since last year to stay with Liza’s eldest brother.
Only problem now is, Liza’s aunt doesn’t know of Liza’s HIV status even though she knew of Liza’s marital problems. And knowing the aunt as the kaypoh type, Liza certainly doesn’t want the aunt to know. Initially she found herself a job at a minimarket at a nearby town, but after the employer found out that she was pregnant, and not wanting to pay her for nothing when she goes on maternity leave, decided to terminate her employment before she was confirmed.
So Liza figured she might as well wait until she delivers before she attempts to find another job,
I asked Liza about staying at her brother’s house together with her parents. But Liza is reluctant because other than her closest sister, the rest of the family doesn’t know of her HIV. Liza and her sister did finally tell the mother, resulting in the mother not letting her prepare all the food at home for fear of the virus spreading to other members in the family. So nope, staying with her parents is not an option. At least not for the moment.
As far as possible Liza wants to move out before she delivers, because if after delivery she goes back to stay with the aunty, chances are there’d be lots of questions asked… especially when the aunty finds out that she won’t be breastfeeding the baby. Even as it is, the aunty is asking all sorts of questions why Liza needed to come to Ipoh for her appointments.
If possible Liza wants to move back to KL. She already knows her way around and she knows where to find openings to get herself a job after she delivers.
And Liza also plans to file for divorce after she delivers. If she has to go through life like a single mother, she might as well make it official.
Right now I need to ask around if there is a place for Liza to stay, at least temporarily until she can get herself a job.