The Boys Version:
I am 5 yrs old lad and my name is Arjun.I dream of becoming a big person. My family is a small one.Its basically just me and my mother.I have never seen my dad.”He used to be there”, that’s what mom always says and that he left us and is in some other world. I do feel sad sometimes when I see other children playing around with their fathers. When I cannot bear it, I run to a lonely place (its actually behind my playground) and cry till my tears stop. Initially I had lots of friends. There was Ramu, Vishak, Pooja and lots more. All are about my age and I loved going to school and playing with them. We played lots of games together. It was a jolly lot. But as the old saying goes “Good things aren’t meant to last” and that’s what happened. All of a sudden everyone stopped playing. No,no.. They did not stop, its just that they stopped playing with me .I still remember the day it all started. My mom felt sick and our neighbours rushed her to the hospital. I had to stay at Anjali’s house that day.Well,who is anjali? Oh I am sorry I forgot to introduce her to you. She is or should I say,“was” my best friend. The day my mother was released from hospital, anjalis mom came running in the morning to anjalis room and carried her away forcefully. I asked aunty what was wrong but she shouted angrily “stay away from her and get out fast, your mother has come”. I got scared and started crying. Luckily my mother came to the room picked me up and I left weeping. I have no clue as to what happened. Is it because I pinched anjali yesterday? That might be the reason. I am not sure. My mother cried a lot that day and our bad times started. No one used to visit our house from that day on. When I went to play with my friends their mothers ran and picked their children. I felt heart broken. Even anjali ignored me.Atleast I thought school would be different. But even the teachers started acting strange. I was initially made to sit in separate bench alone in one corner of the room and then one-day mom stopped me from going to school. She said she is angry with the principal and hence I will not be allowed to go to school.I feel really sad now.I have heard that God punishes kids who are naughty and I admit I have been naughty at times. But I have left all that naughtiness behind.” God if you are hearing me now, you must have noticed that I have stopped being a bad boy. I am sorry lord if I have hurt anjali by pinching her .I promise not to do it again. Even though I fall sick nowadays I don’t disturb my mother much. I swear I will pray to you everyday before I go o bed and be good boy .I ask only one thing in return,“Please give back my friends”. I already feel lonely without my dad and now my friends deserting me is just not fair.Also please take care of my mom,she falls very ill nowadays and none comes to help her….Please Lord hear my prayers..Please……
The Mothers version:
My husband had left us some time back. He died because of AIDS. The day he heard it he confessed of having a relationship before our marriage.I had taken a beating inside me but what else could I do.I started taking care of my husband.”Why?” Because I still loved him”. He died within a year. It was a sad moment in my life as I did not know how I would bring up a child on my own. Somehow with the help of a close relative I managed to land a job as a lab assistant in a hospital and slowly I started putting together the broken pieces of my life.Though we were alone we had a happy time. We had to shift from our dwelling because I was not being able to make ends meet. There were very friendly neighbours in the new locality. These people were very kind and arjun used to play with their kids all the time. We were like one extended family. They used to bring fruits and chocolate for arjun.I think they understood the plight of a single mother and helped us a lot. Everything was going fine till one day, when I lost consciousness and fell down while washing the dishes at home.The next thing I remember when I opened my eyes was lying in a hospital bed being attended to by a nurse. The duty doctor asked some general questions and said we have taken your blood sample for a test.I asked him whether anything was amiss.He said “Not to worry must be some virus of some sort. We will get you back to health in a jiffy” .He came back about an hour later, but this time his smile had worn off. He asked the whereabouts of my husband and I promptly gave him the details surrounding his demise. He finally looked at me and said,
“sorry looks like your husband had passed on the infection to you”. I couldn’t hear the rest of what he said .It took some time for me to take stock of the whole situation .I had never ever thought in that angle;then holding my breath I asked the inevitable question.“Will my child be alright”?. He said “in normal circumstances since you got the infection before you conceived it is most likely that your kid is also infected. I am sorry“. I broke down and started thumping my chests. The nurses present came and held my hands. I lost consciousness again.
…For the first time in my life I hurled curses at my dead husband as he had become the tormentor and because of him my innocent child would not be able to lead a proper life.The news spread like wild fire and my closest friends and neighbours deserted me.That does not pain me, but when the same things happen to my child I am unable to comprehend it.They stopped their children from playing with him,he was told not to attend school, they…they just don’t understand, That’s a child for god’s sake and he is no way responsible for the ordeal he now has to suffer. I weep when he comes and asks me some innocent questions as to why his friends wont play with him anymore and why he cannot go to school like the rest of the kids. I just tell him “everything will be alright”.Actualy I am not sure whether it ever will be!
I have researched on aids after that and found out that it cannot be spread through touching .I tried telling my more educated neighbours about it but they would simply not listen or even try to understand. Are these people the ones who have been christened with degrees? Are they the ones who go on to lead the society? Are they the ones who uses logic for every other thing but when it comes to such simple common sense, they are miles away even beyond the illiterate slum people. I have not committed a sin and neither has my child. I admit we are infected but its not the Plague or the SARS that one would catch by coming in contact with us. So why should we be banished from our own society, why are we not given equality defined in the constitution? Why is everyone acting like this? Why is no one listening to us?…..
AIDS is a killer, no doubt, but it does not spread by touching or talking to someone. It could happen through means other than sexual contact also; one of them being blood transfusion .This does not mean that such people be thrown away from society. Each and every one of us should put ourselves in their shoes and understand the torrid time they are going through. Most of them will not survive for long, so it’s our duty as fellow Human Beings to make people aware of this killer disease and also to make sure that their remaining time on this beautiful earth is made memorable.The child and mother above don’t need your sympathy. Just a little care and understanding.Is that too much to ask for?