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Ominous cloud

two days ago, tuesday, february 8th, i thought about the Aids Quilt/Name Project. in the late 90s i went with my mother and her husband to place and view the quilt we made for his brother. i had never met him but it was nice to feel that i was helping my stepfather to remember him. i felt part of the cause again. as a teenager i was an activist working for mount sinai hospital as a peer educator. we put on skits, travelec to schools, universities, religious centers and prisons. then after the skits we used a "what would you do?" approach. the people would give advice to us while we were still in character. one role i played was of a young girl, 15, who'd heard that the guy who had romanced her and she had adored was rumored to have hiv. i was at the clinic doors, wondering if i should go in. my parents would throw me out i said, they would be so angry, kids in school would shun me. i don't know if i want to know. i decide not to get tested. and then the people get to talk to me. there were often tears involved. mine or theirs. i swam with twelve hiv positive men at a picnic after on show. i screamed in the streets of new york with act-up and gmhc. i cried for the suffering of the world.

i did a google search, to see how things are coming along. what are the stats? "aids in africa. aids in africa!" people say. it's as if it's just happening over there now. but what about here? i tell my best friend i am so glad that i have never had to suffer through a loved one having hiv. i always wondered who it would be. i thought someday one of my cousins would come up with the sad sad news. hiv, an ominous cloud floating above our heads. the boogeyman, which one will he get? which one will he catch by the toe?

wednesday, february 9th. my cousin calls, and within 2 minutes is crying. this is nothing new. she has called me in a raspy squeek, saying my name. it echoes in my head later. i know the precise sound and what it means. something horrible, really horrible has happened. it has been that her boyfriend had just beaten her, that she was in acab escaping, that he was threatening to kill her, that her mother had hit her, that her mtoher was driving her insane with threats and betrayal, that her daughter had been molested and she was in the hospital being tested... my heart seizes with fear when i hear her voice crying my name. "can you keep a secret? you can't tell titi ( my mother)", she pleaded. i stealed myself for the worse, someone had molested her daughter or something along those same veins of abuse that she has endured had split open again, my mind flashed with the possibilities. instead she squeekily rasped something that i thought sounded like the name of her ex."what?!?", i yelled, thinking he was the problem again. "my mother has hiv. _______ gave it to her." "what?1?", i shrieked, and screamed as if someone had stabbed mein the chest. i shook. i stuttered. i got woozy. i said "oh my god" over and over again as if that would erase what i had just heard.
oh my Godoh my Godoh my Godoh my Godoh my Godoh my Godoh my God


Sent via Email, February 11, 2005 from new york city, USA.


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