To mark the 20th anniversary of Asha Kirana Charitable Trust which has been providing counselling services, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS since 1997, here we publish a special write-up by Sujata Rajpal on one of the AIDS patients of Asha Kirana Charitable Hospital in Mysuru, to show how people can lead a normal life with AIDS. —Ed
By Sujata Rajpal
Ten years ago when I learnt about my HIV status, I wanted to commit suicide; my world had come to an end. But I was a married man with two children, I had to live for them if not for myself. I went to various hospitals believing there might be some cure which could reverse the deadly disease but there wasn’t any.
At the government hospitals which I frequented, I was treated like a pariah, like an untouchable as if the nurses and doctors will get the disease just by my mere presence. It was humiliating is an understatement. The feeling of discrimination was worse than the disease itself. Then one day, I ferried a passenger to Asha Kirana Charitable Hospital in Hebbal, Mysuru and my life changed forever.
At Asha Kirana Hospital, after multiple sessions of counselling, I learnt to live a normal life. The counsellors reinforced in me that HIV is like any other disease — like jaundice. Here I also learnt that there are so many people suffering from this disease and are able to live a productive life. So if they can, why can’t I? This thought gave me hope. I pop a pill a day and am able to live a healthy and productive life. I have no health issues, I work from 7.30 am to 7 pm. I am as fit as you or anyone else. At Asha Kirana, I am made to feel like a normal person. The doctors and staff even shake hands with me. The medication is free. I wish more people know about this hospital. Asha Kiran has changed my life. It’s not a hospital but a heaven for HIV patients like me.
Asha Kirana has not only helped me to live a normal life, but it was here that I understood the true meaning of life which is to live for others. I want to spend the rest of life serving people. I am a taxi driver. As my contribution to the society, I ferry blind, handicapped people and pregnant women free of charge. My wife is disabled so I can empathize with disabled people. She is also HIV positive but our children aren’t.
I have the contact numbers of all government organisations, I help people get their work done at these offices, it makes me feel good that in spite of being HIV positive, I am able to make myself useful to other people, my life is worth it. I was recently awarded as the Good Samaritan of the city for my contribution to the society. I have also been awarded by a few private organisations for my selfless services. Many people praise me for my service to the society. They are not aware of my HIV status. I wonder how they will react and behave with me if they come to know of my HIV status. I wish the society was caring and supporting towards patients affected by HIV.
[As told to this writer by Kumar (name changed), Taxi driver, Bengaluru].