People think twice before befriending someone with an ‘unhealthy’ body. My two disabled cousins have no friends.
I have a friend who thinks he has an unhealthy body.
He is unlike my two cousins, who never went to school. I met him during one of my visits to his university here in India, and we became friends by chance.
He shares his body with an unwanted deadly agent.
A taboo subject
After he tested positive for HIV, he did not know how to cope.
He could not decide whether he should tell his conservative parents, who would think acquiring HIV was a heinous crime.
For two reasons, they would not forgive him – for pre-marital sex and for it being with a man.
His homophobic friends would treat him like dirt.
AIDS is a taboo subject here. People who have HIV are looked down on and not treated with dignity or respect.
Dehumanisation, I believe, destroys India.
He was devastated and decided to keep it a secret.
I lent a sympathetic ear while he told me.
I tried to cheer him up and told him about inspiring people who had succeeded against all odds. All I did was open my universe for him.
Though he was not a student at my university, I let him stay with me on campus for four months. We let nobody suspect that he was an ‘outsider’.
My room was the only place he could be his most authentic self.
Wearing a long scarf of mine around his slender waist and covering his chest with a gamocha (traditional Assamese towel), he would dance to Hindi songs.
He would walk like a female model in the corridors of the hostel, tease boys, and express disgust at lovebirds.
My friend found a guy who lived next door attractive. He told me that he had a fantasy of sleeping with him.
The boy once left his door open.
As my friend and I peeped into his room, we got a smell, repugnant and putrid. The room was a mess.
My friend’s desire sailed away, never to return.
Sometimes, we did not talk to each other. He would be angry at me for chatting with a person he liked.
It took me time to understand his idiosyncrasies.
Academic pressure and my insecurities made me make a face at him, unapproachable and unsmiling.
He had to take medicine regularly to boost his immune system.
He ate dinner early. He stayed awake for two hours, and then he took his pills.
The pills caused him dizziness and he fell into a deep slumber. He slept on the floor, I in the bed.
As I jerked off, the legs of the bed creaked. The pills were so strong that he hardly realised.
One day, he was so frustrated that he decided to throw his pills away.
Luckily, he threw them at the wall. The next day, I teased him about his drama.
Beautiful and infinite
This is a story of a boy as physically and mentally fit as you are.
It is the world we grow up in that tells us the differences between ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ bodies.
Education can produce excellent individuals who have little time for stupid things, but happiness can also be found in senseless, stupid things.
We believed that happiness can be achieved by making others’ lives beautiful.
He and I lived under one roof. I did not feel that he was different from me.
What matters is that he trusted me – he let me have a peek at his universe.
Those four months on campus with me, he says, were the best of his life.
Had he not come into my life, I would not have realised many things.
He has a wish: to be my best man at my wedding.
I have not found my life partner yet. I wish my friend good health so that he will be able to attend my wedding.
I try to talk to my cousins. I am interested in their universes, which are as beautiful and infinite as the Milky Way.
If you need support about HIV, sexual health, or discrimination, you can refer to our list of Australian community services and resources for help.