The Last Kiss is running…
THE LAST KISS
Alicia is nervous and downhearted.
She is on her way to the first forum for PLWHA which will be climaxed with the launch of the group.
This is the first time she will get to meet most of the members behind the keypad.
The group has seen massive patronage and caregivers of People Living with HIV/AIDS have joined.
Their meetings have all been held online and now they are going public to make a difference.
The idea is to get people to shake off the notion that getting HIV or AIDS is the end of a person’s life. They want to use their testimonies to inspire and encourage others to go for their dreams no matter what obstacle life puts in their way.
This event was planned before Curtis’ trip and now with the court case and all, Alicia feels she should not be doing this.
She’s had a long dialogue on the matter with Curtis but he did not see the need for a rescheduling.
Curtis is behind the wheels and senses his wife’s nervousness. He puts his right hand on her left thigh and pats it gently.
“Everything is going to be alright, Ally! This is for a good cause and I know our Father in heaven will bless your efforts. I’m so proud you are doing this. I’m really lucky to have someone like you in my life.”
“Thanks Curt! I don’t know how I ended up with an angel like you either. You’ve been the rock I can lean on in my life’s storm. I love you more and more each day.”
“Not as much as I love you Ally. My love for you know no bounds. It’s like you are the air I breathe, the blood that runs through my veins: without you, there’s no me.”
Curtis turns into the plush hotel where the event is taking place.
It’s an awesome sight.
The hotel is a five-star with the whole of the ground floor as a swimming pool.
Adjacent to the swimming pool is a large decorated open area reserved as an Events Park.
It has a theatre setting and the most luxurious roof and lighting fixtures that make you fall in love with the place immediately you see it.
The Events Manager at the hotel, Gifty Quartey, has ensured the set-up is simply magnificent.
One look around and Alicia’s sadness and nervousness melts away.
The decorations are not extravagant but a real beautiful sight for sore eyes.
Alicia and Curtis exchange pleasantries with the members present.
They are an hour or so early.
The event has been advertised in the Dailies and a lot of people have called to confirm their participation.
The Minister of Health, the Guest of Honour, has also confirmed participation.
Most of the invited media personnel are already at the location when Alicia arrives. The TV/Radio station which has offered to carry the event live are busy setting up their equipment.[stextbox id=”alert” caption=”WARNING”]Exlusive Content to aaron-ansah-agyeman.com Do not copy or share on any other site. Do not share on any WhatsApp, Facebook or Social Media page. ONLY SHARE THE LINKS TO THE STORY[/stextbox]
There are numerous hand-made posters with an HIV/AIDS message or theme everywhere.
One of the PLWHAs, an artist, has gone out of his way to do magic with his illustrations and posters that outlines their needs, fears and expectations from society as a whole.
Curtis and Ekow are chatting heartily in one corner.
Alicia and Ekow’s step mom are around the high table making sure everything is in order.
“You know, it is really a good thing you brought these people together. Now my Ekow looks forward to becoming the best IT Analyst ever. He is even thinking of falling in love and raising a family of his own. I see how much he has changed and my heart warms up in gratitude. You are really special, Alicia! I want you to know you can count on my support, anytime, any day. I’m most grateful for inspiring our boy.”
Alicia sees a beautiful young girl walking up to them and just stares. Her beauty is out of the ordinary.
“Good day, ma’am. I’m Sedicam. I read about the event in the papers and decided I wanted to be a part. I know this is short notice but is it possible to share my story too. I’m HIV positive.”
Tears form in Alicia’s eyes instantly.
She hugs the young woman to hide her tears and just holds on without saying anything.
They finally break off from the hug when Curtis joins them.
“Thanks so much for that hug. I feel at home already. And thanks for this initiative.” Sedicam says as she takes Curtis’ extended hand in greeting.
The program starts on schedule and Ekow, the MC for the day, sets the ball rolling with a short video he has put together on how the group started with excerpts from their interactions on the WhatsApp platform. The video also highlights the program for the event.
He ends it all with an intro of all the hundred and twenty-one members in the group and urges PLWHAs present who are not yet members to join the Journey of Hope Group.
Alicia gives a touching address that brings people present to tears.
“When I was diagnosed HIV positive, I thought my world has come to an end and I’m sure most of you felt the same way. For me, I have a husband who is so selfless, so giving, so courageous I didn’t lose much as far as his love for me was concerned. He helped me accept my condition and move on. He is the light in my darkness.
The reason I press on no matter how harsh people treat me. I know you all have some light somewhere. Something or someone who inspires you to go on. It can be anything but whatever it is, keep your eyes on it and just live. Let people remember you as someone who didn’t allow his or her condition to define him/her but who fought all the odds to fulfil their dream in life. There will be obstacles, bitter memories but we should never ever give up.”
Alicia takes her seat after her concluding statement and the Minister for Health, Hon. Jutta Mawuena Addai, squeezes her hand gently in solidarity with tears in her eyes.[stextbox id=”black” caption=”GRAB YOUR COMPLETE COPY”]
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Ekow announces the next item on the agenda and adds that another person will be talking after the couple who had joined him on stage.
The couple hold hands as the man takes the microphone.
He clears his throat and looks into his wife’s eyes.
“My name is Kwamena Kesson and this is Beauty, my wife. I will like to first of all apologize to this kind woman standing next to me for all the pain I’ve caused her. If I knew my actions were going to lead to something like this, I would have walked away at the first sight of another woman. I was happily married by all standards. I have a committed and devoted wife.
A woman who withheld nothing but loved me unconditionally. Life was good and eventually my business blossomed and I came to possess a substantial amount of money. My wife was then busy nurturing our three children. While she was busy with chores and ensuring my needs are met, I was moaning over how things used to be between us and how much things have changed.
I felt lonely most times but never said a word about it. I made some friends in the business circles and met them often for one reason or the other. They were die-hard womanizers. Eventually, I joined in and changed women as much as was necessary. There were days I didn’t even go back home. I thought I was living a life of bliss. My dutiful wife tried all she could to make me turn from the bad ways but all her pleas fell on deaf ears.
I met this beautiful lady who managed to wrap me around her little finger with good sex and attention. I purchased a house and we moved in. During that time, I hardly went home. After a while, she fell ill. Her condition deteriorated rapidly in a few months and it was on her death bed that she confessed she had AIDS. I was shattered.
We had shared so many things like razor blades, toothbrushes in that space of time we had lived together that I was sure I had contracted the disease. I took the test and it was confirmed. Like the prodigal son, I went back home and confided in my wife and she took the test too. She was also infected. Thankfully, the kids were all negative.
I will give anything this minute or any day for my wife to be cured. I live with the guilt of infecting her every second of the day. My son has not spoken to me ever since we told them and I don’t fault him.
I was supposed to be his role model but failed him woefully. My little advice to the men out there, when things are changing in your marriage and it’s affecting you negatively, talk about them. You can save yourself a whole lot of heartache with simple but frank communication.”
His wife throws her hands around him and he turns to embrace her.
Their three children including the only son joins them on stage in a big family hug.
A young lady takes the stage after they had taken their seat and everyone goes quiet. She stares at the crowd for a long time unable to speak. She seems to be nervous and unsure of what to do or say.
Alicia walks up to the podium and puts her hand across her shoulders.
She whispers into her ears and tells her it’s okay if she’s not ready to share yet.
“No, it’s alright. I can do this. Sorry I got stage fright. This is the first time I’m standing in front of a lot of people to speak. Please pardon me.” Sedicam says and takes in a deep breath.
“My name is Sedicam Acolatse. I’m sixteen years and HIV positive. I know what you are thinking right now. You think I’ve had sex with multiple men that’s why I have the disease, right? Well, that is not so. I’ve not known a man sexually. I’m a virgin and the way I see it I will die a virgin because I know no man would want to be with me if he knows I’m HIV positive.
I honestly do not know how I got it. I had a blood transfusion at age ten and a tattoo at twelve. It is not known if these processes caused it but I do have the disease. All my friends have deserted me and life is really hard. I read about this group a few days ago and I must say it’s a step in the right direction. I know I will have some friends here and for me that’s all that matters.
The stigmatization must stop. We are human too. If I don’t tell you I have the disease you would never know so if we muster courage to declare our status, treat us right. That’s all we are asking for.”
Two doctors, Dr. Godfred Boakye and Dr. Ray E. T. Annan take turns and sensitize participants on general basic survival and reproduction tips.
The Honourable Minister of Health is touched by the turn of events and pledges her support for the group and its activities.
She officially declares The Journey of Hope Group launched and requests for a proposal on the things they want done for PLWHA in the next two years. She gives her word that her Ministry will do its best to make life a little easier for PLWHA in the country.
The press is treated to a Q & A session and then the event comes to a close.
It is a joy to watch all present sharing a hug and a peck here and there.
People networked as they shared experiences over refreshments.
It is when almost every member has left and the TV crew were packing their gadgets that Alicia notices a dark skinned beautiful lady walking towards her with a broad smile on her face.
“That was a really well-organized event. I’m really impressed.” She says after giving Alicia a brief hug.
“Thanks. I’m glad things went well too,” Alicia replies.
Curtis, Ekow, Nelly, his step mom and a middle-aged man has joined them now.
“My name is Samiratu Halidu, a Broadcast Journalist at Opambuor TV. We have started a show dubbed Making a Difference and it will be an honour to host you on it. The idea is to showcase persons who have overcome one challenge or the other and made a difference. It’s a way of sensitizing people on the various life limitations or challenges and how to turn them into opportunities.”
Alicia’s mind goes blank for a minute as she feels lightheaded.
The court case comes to her mind and she feels reluctant doing anything else.
“You don’t have to decide now. You have about two weeks to make a decision. It will really be an eye opener. I’ve learnt a lot today and I’m sure people will learn a lot too when they listen to you. This is our little contribution to diffuse the negative perceptions about people living with HIV/AIDS.”
Alicia thanks Samira and exchange contacts. She tells her she will get in touch.
Samira’s crew members are done parking and they leave.
Nelly introduces the middle-aged man as Ekow’s father.
They exchange pleasantries.
Alicia expresses their profound gratitude to him for coming to support them.
They leave to the car park, say their goodbyes and get into their various vehicles.
Alicia is grateful things have worked out as planned even with a little bonus: Ekow’s father showing up.
She couldn’t help but see pride in the young man who looks nothing like him but has his eyes and smile.
It is a day Alicia will never forget. The joy on people’s faces as they hug and network will stay with her for a long time.[stextbox id=”info” caption=”JOIN US ON WHATSAPP“]
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