Sunday, 12 August 2012

Masked man

I saw him sitting in the corridor of the Jeevan Sahara Kendra.  He was wearing a handkerchief around his face.  Sitting hunched over on the white chairs along the wall of the hall.

I thought he was a TB patient.  Not that most come that way - but perhaps he had been told to do so in the previous place he was treated?

Later I found he was not suffering from tuberculosis.

He was suffering from fear.

The man had come to be tested for HIV.  When asked about his name he did not give it.  His wearing the handkerchief was to hide his identity.

Giri counselled him about testing.  He wanted to be tested, but balked when it came to giving his name and address.  Giri tried to explain that we would keep this in a separate register and that his name and result would not be linked in any place.

The man refused.

After some time, seeing that we wanted to have his name, the man walked out.

Giri was not able to convince him to finish the counselling and get tested.  He said that he knew all about HIV - and just wanted the blood result.

Where is this man tonight?

Of all the people who have come for counselling, surely this man would need counselling the most.  And yet his fear and desire for a quick anonymous test has kept him from knowing what his real status is.

It may be that he goes to some private lab and does a routine test.  They will take his blood and the Rs. 300 or so they charge - and the next day give him a printout of his result.  End of story from their perspective.  Another client met. A test done.  A result given.

Surely this man has something that is terribly pressing on his mind - for him to come in a masked state and hope for a quick blood sample and then a report.  How tragic that he was not able to trust us enough to take off the mask - to let the real person he is inside show and be helped.

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