I wasn’t able to write last week’s entry. My good friend Zikomo Matope was seriously ill. It was bad. The cheerful and charismatic Zikomo I know was reduced to a nonentity. He spoke little. He purged. He coughed. He vomited.
His wife, Tiyamike, whom he always refers to as MG1 during our beerscapades couldn’t do anything but cry. The sound of her cry, though frightening, was so sweet to my ears. Her cry, those who’ve been to Amazon would’ve said, sounded like that of the twittering birds of the Amazon Forest.
So, like the hardcore criminal with Jesus Christ on Golgotha, I sympathized with my friend’s wife-assuring her now and then that Zikomo wasn’t going to die-and at the same time, I comforted Zikomo who, it seemed, had given up.
Somehow, I was sorry for Zikomo’s two year-old son. The boy, Zikomo Matope Jnr, a spitting image of my good friend Zikomo, cried in unison with his mother. I had to comfort him too; being the ‘good’ Uncle I’m to him. Inside me, I prayed that the young boy shouldn’t take after his father’s boozing and pumping traits.
Tiyamike then explained how it had all happened. Zikomo had come back to work earlier than usual complaining of abdominal pains. Then he had started shivering, coughing, vomiting and then purging. It was bad, she had told me. And I had seen it.
“He’s refusing to go to the hospital,” Tiyamike had told me.
I asked Zikomo if it was true. He gave me a nod.
He didn’t answer me.
“We went together yesterday. The doctor said he is HIV negative,” Tiyamike chipped in. “I’ve told him that we should go again but he won’t listen to me.”
I tried to plead with Zikomo that we go to the hospital again but he insisted he was going to be fine. Indeed, once a drunkard, always a drunkard. Even in his sickness, my good friend Zikomo still had a bottle of his favourite drink, Carlsberg Green, perched beside his bed.
So, that was it. As I left his house late in the night that day, I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to file a piece for last week’s entry.
Anyway, that’s water under the bridge now. Zikomo and I met at our now favourite drinking hall, Pa MuChina.
As we downed a few beers, I remembered Zikomo’s state when he was sick and I laughed rather mesmerisingly.
“What are you laughing at you fool?” Zikomo asked me.
I continued laughing. Everyone turned to our direction.
“I’m laughing at you,” I told him.
“Zikomo,” I said. “Why were you refusing to go to the hospital?”
He smiled. And then laughed.
“My wife was insisting that I go for an HIV test,” Zikomo told me.
“And you were afraid?”
“Aren’t you afraid?” he fired at me.
“I’m not afraid,” I told him. “I make sure I go for the test periodically so that I’m sure of my health status.”
Zikomo looked very surprised. None of us spoke for some minutes.
“….but Diva,” Zikomo spoke up. “Don’t you think I’m HIV positive?”
“I’m not a doctor,” I said. “You can only know your status after a test.”
“I think some of these girls, especially Marita have infected me with the Virus.” Zikomo wore a worried look. “Do you think they’re fine?”
“I don’t know,” I said rather blankly. “Just go to the hospital and know your status.”
“May be I’ll one of these days,” he said.
He said nothing more.
We didn’t drink much last Friday. From the outset, Zikomo looked out of place. Something is wrong with him. We simply emptied our eighth bottles and left, with no pomp and glamour, as we always do.
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