Monday, May 30, 2011

5/28: The image I cannot escape of my all day taxi ride the day before is of a man about my age clearly dying of AIDS. He was too weak to get into the taxi himself and when I pulled him through the doorway, I guided his frail body with ease, his body now merely flesh covered bones. All of his layers of clothing couldn’t hide his ashen pallor or soft gasps at bumps in the road. He mumbled unintelligibly several times to stop on the side of the road to use the toilet before someone could understand him. By that time it was too late. He hung his head in humiliation the rest of the day, only lifting it when another male twenty-something, a young, attractive, charismatic guy who had spent the better part of the trip swapping stories about girls with his new friends in the back seat, reached over and wiped his nose and mouth. He was drooling. The young man left the used tissue in the other’s lap for future use. Nothing was said, no eye contact made. For the fun loving guy knows that that could have been him sitting there and might easily be him. That among his friends he’s subtlely wiped more drool and turned the other way more times when his friends have soiled themselves than he would care to remember or admit. For doing so would acknowledge that more of his friends are dead than alive. That this slow and silent killer, which is discussed solely with memorized figures and regurgitated facts, has decimated an entire generation. The overwhelming fear of this disease’s anonymity and brevity has created a culture of silence. So the young man said nothing when he wiped a stranger’s face. And nobody acknowledged the smell of urine or his whimpers or his shame. It was like he was invisible, like nothing was happening at all.

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