In DepthColumnsOverindulgence or Body Malaise? You be the judge


Posted on Thursday, 07 February 2013 13:04

Overindulgence or Body Malaise? You be the judge

Faith ka-Manzi

I am sick, sick as a dog and I don't even know what's up with me. My housemates at Morningside, where I am staying now, had to summon an ambulance one evening.


So, my fellow country men and women are mating like rats without condoms...

At first Addington Hospital was not admitting me at all until someone intervened that I should go to the screening sister who, fortunately for me - even though not welcoming, took her time to take a diabetic test, blood pressure and so forth.

Giving me an injection and some antibiotics, the nurse then ordered a drip to be put on after I was transferred to the overnight wing, where I sweated the whole night through from a combination of injections and medication.

She was direct in her explanation that I would not be admitted. "After the drip you must go home" she said.

When I asked what it is that I am suffering from, she simply said: "You have a body malaise".

What the heck is body malaise? My laptop's thesaurus definition of the word explained that I was down in the dumps, miserable, melancholic, depressed and gloomy.

I doubt that very much.

I got sick around the first few days of the New Year, after indulging myself in a great festive season.

Okay granted, I am not particularly happy about my place of abode right now. But hey at least I am not homeless. It's just that it reminds me of my student days, staying in a commune with several people of several personalities and different levels of mental growth where you cannot have an intellectual conversation with anyone about.

Oh, which reminds that as much as I was having a good time during the festive season, I did get very emotional about an incident which was tending to become a tedious habit from one of my housemates.

Every time there was a conflict between us he would start swearing saying that I had Aids, I was dying, and no man would want me.

This really made me angry. As much as I am open about my status, I don't want it thrown in my face.

But it occurred on several occasions.

You see, as a white man who lost his job "because of the emergence of BEE", according to him, he thought it was ok to accuse me of being a Zuma fan.

He also hit me.

So I decided to lay a charge against him after consulting a police officer, who became a lawyer and is now the Communications Officer for the Phoenix Police Station.

Arriving at CR Swart confident with the knowledge with which I was armed, peace had finally knocked on my door.

But the receiving officer was anything but nice and told me there was no way he could open such a case.

Sensing an impasse, I called my cousin who said I must ask for a certain senior official who happened to be a captain whom he had spoken to. A case of crimen injuria was opened.

Marko, the guy who had attacked me, recently got arrested for stealing Panado (pain killers) at a local shopping centre. But it won't stop me from proceeding with my case. I am waiting for my investigating officer to call and say that my charge has also come up.

I am doing this for me.

For too long I have allowed some people, men or women, to hurt me, with some leaving irreparable emotional and psychological damages through sexual, emotional and mental abuse.

I feel that if I withdraw this charge, I would be joining hundreds of other women who have done nothing about the abuses they have undergone and ended up terribly hurt or worse, because they feel sorry for abusive husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and boyfriends.

No. I am not going to allow anyone to insult me by my status and get away with it. There is just too much stigma, discrimination and we must fight it.

Marko's scathing words, about no man ever wanting me, made me burst out into fits of laughter.

Having a man is the least of my priorities right now. Just the thought of having sex fills me with revulsion. It could be the ARVs. But I don't know for sure. Some HIV positive friends of mine seem to be having a whale of a time with their sexual liaisons.

Maybe its menopause, with its accompanying hot flushes. I don't know but I am still a happy single black woman, anxiously biting my nails to see who will publish Faith's Diaries which I think are a wealth of knowledge even if I do sound egotistic about.

Meanwhile, I am religiously taking my ARVs as my life depends on them. My hopes of returning to work with a bang have been dashed.

My director says I must take things easy and thank God for my laptop as he can send me work to do at home. But it takes forever. Seems like all this fracas happening around is making me lose my touch.

Oh my word! I can't survive without writing; it's my lifeline, innate and inborn.

Recently he asked me to write a column about the closure of a city based semi-private HIV because of the Obama administration's decision to cut back on funding, upsetting people's lives with several others losing their income, patients sent back to government run HIV clinics in townships.

Swelling numbers

In November, my Director at CCS accompanied me when I went to deliver a speech about living with HIV for the university corporate.

We both discovered something quite shocking, new HIV infections were not on the decline in South Africa.

In fact, 2011 saw the highest HIV infection rate amongst South Africans.

So, my fellow country men and women are mating like rats without condoms despite the bare facts of the ravages always left behind by this AIDS scourge. More orphans, more households supported by grandparents and more homes manned by children.

One of my housemates, who is also openly HIV positive, has just returned from her ARV clinic and she said the overcrowding today had seen a lot of people being sent home without their medication and told to come back the following day.

It seems like the local government run HIV clinics are struggling to cope with the sheer number of people flocking to them for help, and I hope we don't ever run out of medication.

This housemate of mine also recently gave a hiding to one of our fellow housemates who verbally abused her about the fact that she is HIV positive.

I wish I could have witnessed the scene, but I was away attending a seminar at work.

So now there is going to be a Chimurenga (war) against people who insult us for having Aids with Faith ka-Manzi leading the pack.

Zero tolerance for them and forward with the struggle against any insults, stigmatization, intolerance, humiliation and discrimination.

It must be understood that such attitudes, stigmatisation and discrimination, are among the leading reasons why people are not testing, with many relying on their partners' status to determine their own. A dangerous assumption.

Some also vow that they are HIV negative without having been tested. These are the most dangerous as they go on infecting, getting re-infected with a cocktail of HIV strains.

And having finally being diagnosed with HIV, they panic and die.

These individuals leave us with the burden of paying tax so that their progenies can survive through grants and contributions from various philanthropic organisations.

Their nonchalance disrupts the economy and leaves us at the mercy of corrupt politicians and their crony robber barons to continue to loot the state coffers, as we get paid miserable wages.

Massacres of workers, as we witnessed in Marikana ensue, causing massive migration to already overcrowded urban areas, creating more urban slums in its wake!

Faith ka-Manzi

Faith ka-Manzi

Faith ka-Manzi is a South African writer and poet who has been living in Cato Manor for more than a decade. Born almost 44 years ago in Durban, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities at the then University of Natal now (UKZN) in 1999 majoring in English and History. She is a former mainstream media journalist for Daily News (with a column - Keeping the Faith), Mail&Guardian, SAPA, Business Day, SundayWorld, SABC among others. Faith is now based at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal where she writes and translates works mainly advocating socio-economic, political and environmental issues pertaining to civil society, especially the poor.

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