The Day I Was Pronounced Dead

It was the usual check-up for me and my daughter as we normally did every year, just to make sure we were healthy. We just had to wait two weeks for our results, so during that time I was just acting normally like nothing had happened, because it hadn't. I was 21 back then, and my daughter, Trisha, was 6.

I received a phone call from the doctor's office informing me that we needed to come to clinic as soon as possible. My heart beat much faster. "Is it something wrong?" I asked the doctor's assistant, but she said "Sorry madam, we can't tell you on the phone."

I started thinking, my mind going back to the past. Six years before, I got raped by my uncle. A few hours after that incident, when my grandmother came back, she saw my swollen face and took me to hospital for a medical check-up and to file a police report. Unfortunately my uncle is well connected. The case was closed with no justification. He had eventually died of AIDS.

I'd done my check-up at the time and the doctor said I was fine -- or maybe back then they didn't have proper tests like they have now. So I'd gotten pregnant, and I'd started living on my own and raising my kid at the age of 16, when most girls would be in school (REALITY CHECK!).

I drove all the way to clinic while my daughter was still in school. I decided that if it was bad news, I would take it and deal with it first before my daughter found out.

The waiting in the clinic was like hell. I waited and waited, and then they called my name. I went to see the doctor and she gave me a box of tissues. Hold on, Ellisya, I told myself. Don't be afraid, and just face whatever it is. The doctor broke the news: "I am sorry to inform you that you AND YOUR DAUGHTER are HIV positive."

I felt that day that God had pulled the plug on my life. I collapsed. After few minutes I woke up, but was still in shock. I just told the doctor "Thank you," went inside my car and burst into tears. Had I not gotten enough shit in my life? I got raped when I was 16; got raped again by three men when I was in London; was attacked and robbed by a man in Sydney; and on top of all that, now me and my daughter had HIV? I wondered, How am I going to break the news to her; how is she going to feel? Oh dear God ... are you punishing me for being born in this world? Are you being cruel to me when I don't even have parents? Why me? Why not some bad people who did badly to others? What have I done that I deserved this?

I cried like a baby. After a week, I picked myself up and started reading lots of information on the Internet. Web sites like helped me gather knowledge, and the spirit of others who still fight for what they have. Today I work very closely with an HIV organization in Malaysia. I work to create awareness, but they don't know my status. From time to time, when they mention HIV-positive people as mostly being drug addicts, sexually active people, gays and prostitutes, my heart sinks; I feel like I've been categorized in groups I'm not part of.

But then again ... Life is about looking forward; I hope one day I will be fine, and my daughter will find a man who loves her truly for who she is. When she was 12 I told her what we have and she told me "Mummy, no amount of disease is going to stop us achieving our dreams!" That is the day I knew I raised my girl well. I know that she will be great; in fact, she wants to be a scientist to help bring a cure to people.

We are going to fight this every day. No matter how long it takes, one day our fight might help the next people who have to live with HIV.

I remember the day I found out I had HIV felt like the day I was pronounced dead, but instead I came alive. I'm very much alive today, to fight and be strong for anything that comes my way.

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