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They do not allow aunt chitti to touch anything

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dear all,

i came across this story which really touched me.Just thought of sharing it.




This is the story of my Aunt Chitti -- father's youngest sister in a famaly of seven sib lings. There are four brothers and three sisters. My grandfather worked as a peon in a college. My father is his second son, and the only one who does agricultural labour. His brothers are all working as peons in offices and colleges. Of the other two aunts, one is working as a head cook in a girls' hostel, while her husband works as a watchman in a college The other aunt's husband also works in a college.

My aunt Chitti is the youngest of the family. Once the pampered baby of the family, she grew up into a beautiful, fashion-conscious young woman. But she looks terrible these days -- thin, ugly and without much hair - and is shunned by everybody. I feel sorry for her and cannot understand why she should be blamed for her situation I feel for my Aunt Chitti because she is not much older than I am. And I see her right before my eyes. She is staying with my grandparents now I know her life story well because I grew up for a greater part of my life in my grandparents' house She is 25 year old now and I am 16.

Aunt Chitti studied science in her Intermediate. But she failed in English one year and in Chemistry in the second year. She wanted to continue with her studies, but the family thought otherwise. They stopped her education, and married her off when she was 19 to a man who turned out to be an opium user. My aunt's husband was an Arts graduate, but kept changing his job frequently and couldn't keep one for more than a few months. Not that they were aware of these traits at the time of her marriage.

My aunt became pregnant a year after her marriage. Her first baby, a daughter was weak from birth and died of diarrhea and vomiting within a few days. Our family spent Rs. 7,000 on her. My aunt became pregnant again within a year. The second baby, another daughter, did not live beyond three months. It was apparent that her health was poor, and about a year ago my grandparents and uncles took her to a hospital. The doctors told her to undergo a blood test and she tested positive for HIV. Then they tested her husband and found hat he, too was positive.

After the result became known, my aunt's husband left the village and did not take her with him_ In front of the family, he accused her of acquiring the infection from somewhere else and passing it to him. She found it difficult to speak her mind in front of so many family elders, especially my grandmother, So she kept quiet but wept a lot My aunt came to stay with my grandparents. I remember my aunt started feeling depressed after that; only recently has she begun to come slowly out of her depression. Now both his family and ours trade charges We think he must have got infected from somewhere else and passed it on; but his family accuses my aunt of infecting her husband. Her in-laws have stopped visiting her.

For two years, I visited my grandparents as usual, unaware that anything was amiss. Then one day, Aunt Chitti liked a dress of miile and borrowed it. When she returned it, another aunt told me not to take the dress back. She told me that Aunt Chitti had AIDS and that 1, too, would get infected if I wore my dress again. I did not know much about AIDS then. All that I knew was what my aunt told me. "If anyone wear;~ the dress she wears, they, too, will catch the virus," she told me Really, what an about-turn in their attitude! Before they came to know about her positive status, all of them borrowed her nice clothes with a free hand. Anyway, after my aunt told me not to wear my dress, J stopped wearing it. Aunt Chitti noticed this and asked me about it. Later, my mother washed my dress in hl.1t water and gave it to me.

My other aunts do not allow Aunt Chitti to wash her clothes along with theirs They do not sit where she sits and do not use her soap. They do not eat from her plate They keep all her belongings - clothes, plates and so on - separate. They do not allow her to kiss their children or touch any thing. They advise me not to


eat from her plate and to be very careful. But they allow me to take care of her. This means that two of us -- my grandmother and I - share the duty.

I boil the water to her bath and help her sit on the bed. She can barely walk now. I give her everything that she needs. My grandfather helps me bring hot water to her Sometimes I get irritated, especially when I have exams. "Who will work all the time? When will I have the time to study?" I ask. Her health is unpredictable. One day she is fine, the next day she is ill. She is usually in bed. She often has a cold and cough. My uncles' wives are quite mean to her. They know she is not well and deliberately do not give her any curry. They keep muttering to themselves that she demands curry all the time. But I know this is not true. She asks them only when she finds it difficult to eat plain rice.

Out of fear of my grandparents, who still love her, and my uncles, who are her brothers, my aunts do not

. say anything to her directly. But they look at her angrily if she sits near them. If she comes into the room to watch whatever television programme they are watching, the immediately switch off the TV and leave the room. Despite having to tolerate such behavior, my aunt remains patient, keeping her faith in God. She reads the Bible a 16t these days and sometimes goes to temples. She was always fond of visiting temples, but went more often after becoming aware of her infection

We went to one doctor who we were told could offer treatment. But he cheated us, saying he would treat her for her cold, and charging us Rs 3,000 for medicines that only cost Rs 500, a fact we realized only later. Later, another doctor came to our house to treat her. He said she should eat 100 grams of butter every day and should not eat cold food. He applied oil on her body daily and gave some herbal medicines for five to six months. When my grandfather ran out of money to pay him for the herbal medicine, the doctor stopped giving it.

Recently, Hari told us that the medicines would not cost much and registered my aunt in a government hospital as an out patient. He helps us now. We pay him Rs. 500 and he gets medicines from Chennai. If my grandfather gets the money that is due to him after retirement, we will take my aunt to Chennai for a check-up. We have not yet told them that she is HIV+. Our neighbors do not know about her infection. They keep asking us why she has become so thin and ugly. She was so beautiful before she became ill! We simply tell them that she has bronchitis and typhoid. When her friends ask her the same question, she replies that she had typhoid twice and bronchitis once. Actually, she had typhoid only once.

I know there is no cure for this illness yet. I do not know the exact difference between AlDS and HIV. I have not discussed these issues with my friends; the topic has not come up so far - and I do not want to ask them. My grandmother is very enterprising. She has rented out two rooms in this house for Rs. 300 each and joined a savings group to save money for my aunt's medical expenses. This group has 10 to 15 members; they know that my aunt is not well, but not the real cause of her illness. My grandmother has had to spend a lot on my aunt's treatment. She got Rs. 10,000 to 15,000 after selling her small piece of land. She also borrowed Rs. 10,000 from chit funds and is now repaying in amounts of Rs. 200 to 300 every month It's difficult to pay these installments, but we manage somehow If only my grandfather gets his pension of Rs 1,200 each month, the situation will ease. We will not have to face any problems from others then - only, maybe, from family members.

Despite my aunt's experience, my parents will marry me off, probably after I turn 18, since I am studying now. In our community, they marry us off whenever they find a good match. I hope I get a good, healthy hushand without any bad habits. He should be employed, of course. Personally, I would like to postpone getting married till I am 30. But if the family wants me to get married before that, how can I escape? I have no option but to heed their words and carry out their wishes. But first I'll try to convince them of my viewpoint. If they listen, well and good. Otherwise I will keep quiet.

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