(Since I started taking the public transport without my earphones in all the time, I experience more stories. They make me more aware of the little issues that occur in other lives besides mine. Places things into perspective, I believe.)
A couple was speaking about HIV with each other. We were all standing on the silver intersection between train carriages. In between the friction and the unoiled noise, they start speaking to each other.
The boyfriend has HIV and was sharing what sort of questions he received at the clinic. His shoulders were tensed but he kept shrugging them off, with a hug smile on his face.
“How many partners do you have?” “I just lied, so I said one hundred.” “Male or female partners?” “Of course female.” “They asked me so many questions, I don’t know why they need to know all those things la.” “What kind of sex do you have?” “Penetrative? Which parts?” “Protected?” “How many years?”
His fingers run through his gelled up hair.
She fidgets and gives a wary smile listening to him. Every now and then, she would change her position – sometimes closer, sometimes further away from him. But her hand will always hold on to his right wrist.
“Are you scared now? It’s okay. After I take the medication, it will kill the bacteria and it will go away.”
He laughed; looking into her eyes and kept rubbing her shoulder. Almost too rough and hard to really translate his assurance. Almost too quick to convince her of his positivity.
Pulling her into his broad shoulders for a hug, her face was a painted mask of worry that’s hidden away from his sight.
For a moment, she made eye contact with me before looking away.
It is funny how we have a habit of laughing in the face of the things we fear most.