April 19, 2018
Sheerdarkness engulfed her like a cold winters night. Her tears gathered momentum, slowly rolling down her cheeks, dripping to the floor as sadness and despair filled her eyes. Her last thoughts; her child, all alone, left behind, abandoned. The only reality, the only certainty, is imminent. A crisis she had hidden for so long became her fate as the last whisper of breath softens then shallows, her shortened life comes to a close. The uglybadwolf made another visit to the village and the aftermath could not be avoidedas one more life is lost to death as you hear a young girl grieving, sobbing as distant cries echo, saddening to hear, “why Mama, Why?”
The young girl could barely recollect the blissful days of her mama, like a distant dream. The days when she was beautiful, glowing, healthy and vibrant. Unfortunately, they had all faded as do wildflowers dried by the sun, then scattered by the wind, because a thief, the wolf, comes to steal, kill and to destroy.
For many moons, slideshow of her mother played in her mind. Pictures of her so thin, skin pale and lifeless, with the naked eye you could see the veins, the bones, the harmful virus eating away at her soul.Hopelessness and misery were mama’s daily bread. All that remains, the result of a bad, ugly wolf, the Human Immune Virus, as the young girl kept crying “why mama, why?”
Mama, the girl cries, why didn't you take your antiretroviral treatment, your ART's? Was it so difficult to access them? Why not act earlier, why wait until it's full-blown AIDS? Little did the girl know, mama was in a perceived mental prison. A prison of shame, sadness, confusion, and fear.“What will people say when they see me taking ARTs?”“People will treatme as an outcast.”
Mama’s diagnosis of her condition is a self stigma. It manifests from fear of a negative community reaction. The stigma influenced her to hide her medication from sight, under the mattress, tohidefrom society her shame, her fear of social rejection. While those around her assumed she was faithfully taking them.
Unfortunately, as night followed day, her immune system weakened and the grim reaper collected. Now the young girl’s cry had become “why mama, why didn't you share your burdens with us?”
Nothing can be hiddenforever; her body began to show the truth where her words had not. The medical team realisedthat mama was not taking her medication and an emergency plan was enacted. Like seeds sown on rocky ground, too little too late, she continued fighting for her life as she withered away, but the cry of a young girl was suddenly heard. “Why mama, why did you leave me so soon?”
by Ntlafatso Foundation
"Why Mama, WHY" is a human-interest story shared at an Anti-Stigma Campaign February 2018 in the Ministry of Gender and Youth Conference Hall at Upper Moyeni, Quthing District, Lesotho, reflecting a true tale of a young girl's loss.