Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Young man

I was revving up our trusty-rusty scooter (a.k.a. Black Beauty), about to swish up the small bridge over the gutter / creek in front of the Jeevan Sahara Kendra Community Care Centre, when I saw a young man.

Graphic T-shirt?  Check!

Slightly gelled hair?  Check!

Keds? Check!
Sling bag? Check!

He smiled at me.

Then I recognised.  It was Tarun. 

I still think of Tarun as an 11 year old boy.  He is now 18. 

I still remember him coming in sick over and over again in our early days.  And the fear we had when we started Anti-Retroviral Therapy for him.  Our first patient on ART.

Today he stopped in to show Sheba his latest tests.  They are great.  His CD4 level is over 500.  He is working. 

I used to remember him always being smaller and more frail than his peers.

No more.  Tarun looks like any other young man roaming the streets.

He is not a child anymore.  He has entered the first lap of adulthood.

And what a lovely smile.

Tarun is an orphan.  Both parents died of HIV in his childhood. 

But Tarun has survived.  He joins the gradually growing ranks of young people living with HIV - who have all their lives had the infection.

Its a whole new ball game for us.  No one really knows how to counsel them.  How to help them live out their dreams.  How to negotiate the already challenging paths of adolescence (enough Sturm und Drang even if you are HIV negative...) and transition into an HIV-aware adulthood.

We chatted briefly and Tarun walked confidently in to meet Sheba.

I drove away thankful to have seen a walking miracle.  And hopeful that many other children with HIV will grow up to be confident young adults.

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