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Project Hope/ George Iype
Suresh Krishnan, 26, (not his original name) contracted AIDS on the streets of Mumbai. The disease has made him a virtual skeleton. Currently a patient at the Mar Kundukulam Memorial Research and Rehabilitation Centre, this is his story:
I was born in a Hindu family. The only son among four children. My grandfather and father managed everything. I passed the matriculation exam with a second class, and got admission in pre-degree course in a renowned college in Ernakulam.
The college was very far away from home and I had plenty of free time to wander about. I was like a fish from a pond in the ocean.
Meanwhile, I was forced by my father to sit for the medical entrance test at Jimper, Pondicherry. I was least interested in science, but my father forced me to adopt to his ideas especially in the case of studies.
The big generation gap between my father and me created a lot of hatred towards him. Though my father and sisters were against me, my mother was always on my side.
During my college days, I had my first love affair that spoiled my education and strained my relationship with my family. At the same time, I began indulging in homosexual relationships. I used to get a lot of money and alcohol from my companions. This further distanced me from my family.
One day, I ran away from home and college and boarded a train to Mumbai. Initially I stayed at an aunt's place. I got a job as a trainee in an office there.
I then began visiting the red light district of Mumbai. I borrowed money from many people and never gave it back. During this period, I fell sick and was diagnosed with syphilis. I wandered around without food and shelter for days. I lost my job due to absenteeism, but was cured of the disease soon.
I then boarded a train to Ernakulam. Though I reached home, I craved for the streets of Mumbai. After a few days, I joined a construction company as a helper.
By now I was addicted to liquor and women. I stayed away from home with friends. I earned well, but spent more. I avoided all family functions -- like my sister's wedding.
Soon I left for Bombay and started doing odd jobs. One day, I suddenly fell ill. I felt sick and was dumb for many days. I knew something was terribly wrong with my health. I again left Bombay for Ernakulam where I begun working as a labourer in a tea trading company.
In January 1999, I got blisters all over my body. I went to a local dispensary. During this period my blood test was done and I was asked to report to the Indian Medical Association. My blood test showed I was HIV positive. I was shocked.
My family members refused to meet me. There was no food and shelter for me. I wandered around in search of peace. I went to Bangalore and Puttaparthi. When I came back, my father refused to let me into our house. My health was getting worse. My body weight collapsed and I had frequent fever.
I began staying in the warehouse of the tea company I was working in. Soon a cousin brother took me to one Dr R Menon. She suggested I should contact Mar Kundukulam Memorial Research and Rehabilitation Centre.
I have been discarded by my family, by society because of my own mistakes. But the Kundukulam Centre is my dying resort. All the people here are very nice and loving. This is an ideal place for discarded AIDS people like me.
Even though science and medical research tells the public that AIDS is not contagious, there are still people who are ignorant about the disease. They hate the affected persons rather than the disease.
I do not think I will see my family members now. I have seen some AIDS patients dying here. Family members have not come and received the dead bodies. I know I will die one day. I pray and hope my life will be a lesson for many so that they do not end up as AIDS victims like me.
Design: Lynette Menezes
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