"Hi there. Thinking of getting inked. But there is one thing I must confess that am HIV Positive and am saying this because not only its my duty but also for the safety of others and your parlour's reputation. Rest up on you"I waited with bated breath wondering how will he react and what kind of response would I get, or would I really get any response at all.....seconds ticked by......then...cling-a-ding-ding-ding.....cling-a-ding-ding-ding My cellphone beeped! He replied!!
“See, there is nothing like a HIV+ cannot get a tattoo done. But just one question I would like to ask you : Do your wounds heal fast? Like if you fall and scrape your knee or anything, does it heal ok?”WoW!!! That was the best most comforting text I ever head. I suddenly felt at ease with that guy. I texted back :
“To be frank, since 2006, I have been taking great care not to injure myself so I really don’t know. But wait. Let me plan with my friends to make me fall down without my knowledge and get hurt so that I can answer your question accurately”
“Haha. No need to fall. Just ask your doctor and we will shall go about it”This guy really intrigued me I decided to ask him how come he is so comfortable doing a tattoo with a positive person when others are so fearful to be even near them.
“Hey, you know what? You really impress me. How come you are so cool with it?”
“I know not many tattoo artists will agree to be at their service and would even rudely show you the door once you confess to them. But I use all the necessary precautions needed so I hardly care!”Man, he was something!! He made my heart soar. And he was the FIRST ever person who made me feel the sense of belonging. Accepting me the way I am. Never asking me a lot of questions. Making me feel as if am his most “special” client. I texted, “You are truly a blessed soul” He replied “We all should learn something from you. You teach us courage…..I don’t know on how I should live with myself if I knew something like this. Thank you for teaching me the power to live life” (I HAVE PRESERVED THIS TEXT IN MY CELL AS MY MOST BEAUTIFUL WORDS EVER EXPRESSED BY ANY INDIAN) I felt a trickle of tear fall from my eye. Furiously jabbing the keypads I texted “awwwwww” His SMS was “No seriously. It has been a great pleasure too talking with you. Sounds like a plan. Should I come to Mumbai on behest of a client, I will let you know so that at the same time I would get you inked!” This incident has taught me one thing. You cannot judge the world. You cannot live in assumption that people will hate you once you reveal your status to them. You cannot presume anything you like coz no one person is the same. Out of a billion population you may never know how many of them will support you, how many of them will accept you the way you are, never making you feel being left-out in the corner. Humanity and Sensitivity still exist. But that does not even mean you paint the town red proclaiming your status. It only means approaching the right people at the right time. Even when you have approached the wrong person, no regrets. Tomorrow, they will be the ones in awe of your boldness and will recall you one day how fearlessly you had declared being a positive just coz u had cared. Just coz you don’t want them to remain in ignorance and cause them any harm. Just coz you were selfless. They would be heartless in the beginning but their conscience will bother them in the later end. I will share with you another story that had happened in my workplace. “Jo, you are taking so many leaves, planned or unplanned. This is seriously affecting your productivity. And unplanned leave is something we don’t approve as it could result in termination”, my manager said. “I understand, Sir, but sickness don’t give u any advance notice. So how will I come to know that this is the day I wouldn’t be feeling well and report unfit for duty,” I replied very innocently “Its ok, but viral fever the first day, then anemia after some other days, and then what is with the series of blood tests every month? You look perfectly healthy and fine to me. Is doctor your friend”? I tried to suppress my giggle but failed. “Honestly Sir, if u doubt the authenticity of the medical certificate, then you can call up the doctor and check” “Yea yea,” he said, “If the doctor is your friend then he will agree to everything I ask him. I need to take the case to the HR and I am doing this for you so as to help you not get terminated by the company. Unplanned leaves are not in my hands. The HR sees to it and if they notice it, you will be handed the slip. So I have to speak to them and you can explain your case”, saying this my manager left his desk . I really adore my manager. He is strict but cute. He goes all his way to see that his staffs are comfortable but also sees to it that the results are delivered on time. My productivity level had been falling. My score card had been dipping. I was in danger of being terminated should I fail to make a progress in the last financial quarter. Company was firing staffs and many of them are being told to resign. Due to recession in the US, my company was hell bent on cost-cutting. After few minutes HR called for a closed-door meeting. “What is it, Jyoti? Can you tell me the reason of why your absenteeism is becoming a habit so that we can understand you? And don’t worry, we will try to make adjustment to your needs should there be any.” I sighed! Its about a time I have to stop playing the round-about game and come to the point. The medical certificate that I showed wasn’t a lie, but it didn’t tell the “exact” truth. And I had to tell the HR, the truth. Even if I have to risk my job! All depends on how understanding she (the HR) will be. I felt sweats on my brow, even though we were sitting in the air conditioned cabin with the temperature that could have kept dolphins happy. I requested for a private talk so my manager had to excuse himself. Not because I don’t trust him. Not because I was afraid of revealing it to him. It is all because he don’t have to know. My job lies in the hands of the HR, so they are the best people I can share my issue with. Once we were left alone, I could hear my own breathing. The HR was looking at me, waiting patiently and here I was, hesitating but knowing that I had to tell. And I did. What happened after, made my head held high. The burden has been eased. The HR has taken the entire responsibility should anything happen to me in the workplace and in Emergency Contact Number (which was blank for 2 years as I had no one whom I could list to call in case of emergency) was the HR’s name. She even requested that I send in the doctor’s paper saying what should be done should there be a delay in taking me to the hospital. And the medicines that I am in so that the doctors are prepared. I will share with you another story but I will make it very brief. I had a dear friend and we were like two peas in a pod. He use to share everything with me, even told me the secret that he is bisexual. I respected him for what he is. We use to go for a long late night rides, make a midway stop in the highway for a grab of bite and some drinks (I don’t drink now, the story was pre-Nov 2011 days) and there was a time we even planned to go outstation (Leh-Ladakh) for a week-long holiday together. He was my best friend, my ex colleague. The day I went public by blogging on A Girl Like Me, I knew I had to tell him my deepest darkest secret before he could hear it from somewhere else. So I told him, knowing that since he is my best friend and since we had shared so many things, so many secrets, he will accept me the way I am and nothing will change. But imagine my surprise when it happened exactly the OPPOSITE. The news had hit him like a lightening. And he was so angry on me and decided to even call off the friendship. That’s when I knew where I stand. If he was really a true friend, he would have accepted me in whatever the condition. But he had ditched me then and there. I was hurt but I didn’t let that effect me. We were not in a relationship, neither a couple thus his way of reacting such did not make any sense. He was just simply my best friend so when I told him about my status, what was wrong? Maybe his ignorance? Whatever! I am what I am. So here’s my message to everybody :
- Don't let your past dictate who you are; let it be a part of who you will become. The past flows into the present & manifests as the future. Clear the past as you move in life
- In life, you get what you hate and you also get what you love. The first step towards creating a better life is to develop the ability to envision it. God works miracles every day. We just have to train our minds to be aware of them. Don't go the way life takes you but take life the way you wish to go.
- Never give up hope; maybe it is all you have but it will definitely lead you to all that you want. The first step towards creating a better life is to develop the ability to envision it.
- We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Many things in the world might catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart; pursue those.