31 May 2009

Behind the Door by Kola Tubosun

Why I finally decided to take the test, I no longer remember. There was no compulsion whatsoever beyond the recurring curiosity that was never strong enough to overcome all reasonable and unreasonable resistance. After about a week in and out of the clinic, getting one immunisation injection or another, the last thing I wanted on my arm was another needle jab. No desire for the certitude of my wholesomeness was enough to goad me into the ordeal of venipuncture, and my thoughts dangled for years between unexplainable reluctance and indifference...



This story has been selected for the StoryTime anthology African Roar, please go to the African Roar site for more info on the book.



Behind the Door was written by Kola Tubosun.

Copyright Kola Tubosun 2009.



Kola TubosunKola Tubosun is the 2009/10 grantee of the Fulbright FLTA program to Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He studied Linguistics and African Languages at the University of Ibadan, and Moi University, Eldoret Kenya, where he was also awarded a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship in 2004. His first collection of poetry, Headfirst into the Meddle was published in
Ibadan in 2005. His poem "Creation Story" won the First Prize in the Ibadan Christopher Okigbo Poetry Competition in 2004. Another one, "Here, Moving" won the Sentinel Poetry Bar Challenge in October 2006. He was born, and continues to live, in Ibadan, Nigeria.





26 comments:

StoryTime said...

Welcome to ST Kola! A strong start you have made here with Behind the Door. Being tested for HIV is rarely talked with such openness, even though it has in fact become a global rite of passage. At some point we must all make that journey, and here you have lead us through like a careful guide in an unknown land. For those who have taken the test it will bring back vivid memories and cause reflection. For those who haven't it will gently but honestly let you know what it may be like.

Ivor W. Hartmann said...

Great beginnings and story Kola, Welcome to StoryTime. I remember my own trepidation during my first test. The nagging thought that somehow (despite my best efforts), it would pop positive. I have friends who are positive and friends who have died, so I know how it goes. Thanks for shining a spotlight on this sensitive topic. I know for my part testing has become a inherent part of dating, a step that must be taken together before sexual relations.

Thamsanqa N. Ncube said...

This is excellent and entertaining(considering the seriuosness of the subject!); and the story is told with such a defined balance that keeps one going on until the end, and i like the way it ends; behind the door!. Good work! Keep it up

Kola Tubosun said...

Thank you all for the comments. I am encouraged. Need I say, this is my first published short story.

Since writing this "report", which is in a large part an account of a real life visit to the test centre, I've been inundated with so many feedbacks on the issue, and most of them were very enlightening on the nature of the test in different places, the virus, and the societal response to the people living with HIV all over the world. This writing is therefore a learning process for me, as well as some sort of exorcism of the trepidations from very moving encounter.

I'd be glad to hear from more people all over the world about their own encounters both with the disease and the test, and most importantly, how the existence of HIV in itself affects their lives indirectly. In one instance, a friend of mine who is American read the story and told me of how she had been permanently barred from donating blood at a blood bank because she said in the pre-donation donor questionnaire that she had had sexual contact with someone from Nigeria. Why the question is on the questionnaire in the first case beats me still. The answer, I guess, would lie in one of the regions of our health reality: deadly malaria, malnutrition, irresponsible sexual behaviour and substandard health care.

My point in all this is that I wrote the story to deal with my own questing and questionings, but I am very glad that you all enjoyed it. Thank you.

Kola Tubosun said...

@ Storytime. You are right. It's not talked about with so much openness. I wonder why.
@ Ivor. Thank you. Without you, this story would not have seen the light of day. At least not this quickly. It must be a testament to your own interest in the subject.
@ Thamsanqa: Thanks lots.

Afolabi said...

Hello Kola, this was nice to read. I like the continuity of the story and how you narrated it, so fluidly. But I feel some of your choice of words is a bit faulty or not elaborate enough. For instance, in the sentence "No desire to prove to myself my own wholesomeness and freedom from the virus", I feel that the word freedom does not quite express what I think the character feels towards been infected with aids. He seems to think that it is unlikely for him not to have aids, yet he still has doubts. So I don't think he feels completely free from the virus.

Also, you use 'etc', which I found a bit odd. I mean if you are going to describe the feelings of a character, why don't you go the whole way, rather than trying to shorten it, as though you are listing facts or ideas.

But it was still nice to read, and I'll like to read more from you, sure you can do wonders with words.

Vera Ezimora said...

WOW. This is very serious. I love the way the story flows. Keeps one reading. I've never taken the test either. Fear of the unknown. Crippling fear. Knowing I don't have it, but fearing still. Ignorance is definitely bliss.

awapointe! said...

I enjoyed reading your story Kola. Well done. Write on.

henrietta said...

Hi Kola! Lovely story,it's simple and smooth wtiting. Now I've got the itch to go write something again.
Thank you.

Kola Tubosun said...

@Afolabi: I am glad that you enjoyed it. You are an Editor, aren't ya? I appreciate all your comments. Can't say I didn't think well about those parts and then deciding to let them stay. ;). Do keep in touch. I'd let you know when I publish some more.

@Vera. Oh Vera, thanks for showing up. You're right. IGNORANCE is bliss for sure. So is DENIAL, but I think VERACITY beats them all hands down. No pun intended. I hope you agree. ;) That is the harbinger of true satisfaction. This I can tell you though: you'd never forget your first time. The thrill is filling. I'm glad yo enjoyed the narrative.

@Awapointe: Thanks lots. I'll write on. I hope you'd be there to read them.

@Henrietta: Hey... I'm glad you came, and liked it. I am still looking forward to reading yours. :)

Sree said...

Lovely.Well worded.and ofcourse love the social message.Something i would pass on to my friends to read.

Lati said...

ok...i'm speechless...I thought I was reading an piece from a novel.

This is beautiful...very descriptive, stirring, conscious, a bit bleak and very courageous.

Will there be a continuation??

Kola Tubosun said...

@ Sree. Thanks. What a nice blog you've got.
@ Lati. Continuation? Haha, I wonder. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I'll be checking out your blogs too. I see you've got some nice stuff in there.

eze said...

Thumbs up! Kola.Its a free flowing narrative.if you understand what i mean.Really,it is nice and quite educative.It sort of reminds every reader of his or her 'gust' at taking the test.
charles eze

Kola Tubosun said...

Thanks a lot Charlie! You are right. It's also meant to give you an idea of what it's like to be tested.

Qube The Wordsmith said...

Funi enuff this was d exact thing that happened to me wen i went to get tested...The waiting was maddening...only difference was all of us there tested negative that day.
Bloody good story mate,keep it up

Kola Tubosun said...

Qube the Wordsmith, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you liked it. One never knows: maybe they have been trained to attend to people in the same way. Or maybe we were tested in the same place ;)

Awa Music Map said...

Thanks for the link Hun, man the suspense for me was too much! You write really well :D Keep me posted on any new stories you write :P Catch you on Facebook ;~) Lol xx

Kola Tubosun said...

Thanks Nogo. Glad you liked it. I'll keep you posted. See ya

Isis said...

I like your story very much. As a short film dramaturg I know how hard it is to structure and pace a message in a short format.
You managed to keep me interested and emotionally involved.
My respects!

Sophia von Wrangell

Kola Tubosun said...

Thank you Sophia.

mkwrk2 said...

The less we know-the better we sleep.

Perhaps, that is how things are going at this clinic.

M. Kerjman

Kola Tubosun said...

Hi M. Kerjman,
The saying "the less we know the better we sleep" is not always true. But in this case, I'm willing to accept an exception only because it is a generally accepted fact that the reason why people shy away from the test is so as to retain the bliss of their ignorance. Whether it is always a better alternative is another matter entirely.
Thanks for dropping by.

Awa Music Map said...

Thanks for the link Hun, man the suspense for me was too much! You write really well :D Keep me posted on any new stories you write :P Catch you on Facebook ;~) Lol xx

Isis said...

I like your story very much. As a short film dramaturg I know how hard it is to structure and pace a message in a short format.
You managed to keep me interested and emotionally involved.
My respects!

Sophia von Wrangell

Qube The Wordsmith said...

Funi enuff this was d exact thing that happened to me wen i went to get tested...The waiting was maddening...only difference was all of us there tested negative that day.
Bloody good story mate,keep it up

 
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