Two men got in a local train. For Mumbai standards it was ‘empty’ – which means that people could actually sit down. One sat opposite our friend Arbind. The other sat next to Arbind.
And then they started talking.
“How that fellow died!” said the man in front of Arbind.
“Listen” chimed in the man beside him “he died of HIV! His wife also had HIV. They both had it. Within one month of each other both were dead!”
“That fellow used to go to the bars and over there he had a girl. He had a relationship with her and spread it to his family.”
“Looks like his kids will have it too. They were with him the whole time – they also sleep in his bed”
After hearing this much of the conversation Arbind could not remain silent anymore.
He chimed in: “Listen, HIV does not spread this way. We do things that are not right – and then we find out that we are trapped.
But kids don’t contact HIV that way. A mother who is pregnant may pass it on to her unborn child. That’s how some kids get HIV. But even then, if the mother gets the treatment at the right time, her child will not be born with the disease.”
Both men were quiet and listening attentively as the local train continued to rumble ahead.
“People say that do whatever you want, just use a condom and you are safe. That’s hardly the truth. God has given each one of us a wife. We must be faithful to her. That’s what gives us security.”
Arbind then hugged the man next to him.
“Look – HIV does not spread this way” he said “It is not a disease that spreads by casual contact. We can eat with a person with HIV, use their clothes, sleep in beds they have used, do all the daily acts of life without fear. HIV will not infect us.”
“But if we step outside that patterns of healthy relationships that God has set for us” Arbind continued “then we are putting ourselves at risk.”
“God has given each one of us a wife – why not be faithful to her?”
“Look – all of us who are sitting in this train. None of us is worthy to even sit here and be alive. But God loves us and that is why He helps us.”
The men looked at Arbind. One of them said: “Sir, where are you from?”
Arbind answered: “I am from Bihar.”
“Yes sir” said the man “that is what I thought, I am also from Bihar.”
“Look” said Arbind “if any of us has done something that puts us at risk for HIV – we need to get tested. Go to an Integrated Testing and Counselling Centre for an HIV test to find out the truth.”
“If you find out that you or your loved one has the disease, then there is free medicine available which you can take and live a healthy life!”
“If you need any help for anything related with HIV, you can approach the Jeevan Sahara Kendra which is at the Old Lok Hospital building in Thane. They will help you and your loved ones for sure!”
One of the men got up as his station had come and respectfully left. A few stops later Arbind and the other man got up as they had reached the station they were travelling too.
Our words can bring death... or life.
Arbind serves in one of the Indian armed forces and has taken leave to come and spend time helping out with Jeevan Sahara for these past two weeks. He is a blessing to us all – and speaks truth with love in various settings. Yesterday he was travelling by train for some personal work when the above conversation took place.