More than misfortune

I am a product of a single parent. My mother ran a “chicken
parlour” near Obili, a town in Cameroon. She had my younger sister,
Loveline, seven years after me.

The chicken parlour was a popular spot where workers would relax
after a hard day. She had several girls who served in the parlour
and also in the rooms. The customers paid my mother for their
chicken and for these call girls.

When I was younger I asked my mother why the girls went with the
customers but each time she said I was too young to know such
things and that when I grew up I’d understand. My mates in school
shouted slang names at me because of the practices they saw around
us. Little did I know that what a mother does to other people’s
children, one day she will also do to her own. I didn’t know this
until she started using our sleeping room for such dirty deals. I
would come back from school and hang out until the room was

It really disturbed me but when I asked my mother about it she
would say “Where do you think your money come from. Have you seen
me with any man?” Once, one of her clients discovered where she was
keeping her money and stole everything she had saved.

Just after I had completed my schooling my mother became so sick
that she could no longer run the business. I was the only one who
could take care of her because I was unemployed. Her illness
persisted and she went to hospital but the doctors couldn’t do
anything until I paid them. I left her and my younger sister
Loveline in the hospital to go and fetch the money. When I got back
to the parlour all the men I met wanted to go to bed with me. Some
even told me that my mother, when she was well, never gave them
credit so why should they give me their money to help her.

I got a job as waitress in a restaurant but the men who visited
wanted to have sex with me. As soon as I refused the manager sacked
me. My mother’s illness became worse so I decided to sell my
precious body, which I had been reserving for Mr Right. The first
man I met was so drunk that we did not have relations so he didn’t
pay. The second one gave me just 2,000 francs (about £2) and
asked me to go back to him the following week when his salary had
been paid. The third man gave me cash.

When I rushed to the hospital to rescue my mother she had already
died. I was left alone with my sister. I applied for a job and had
to submit to a medical examination. This revealed I had Aids and I
missed out on the job. In order not to let my sister become a
victim in the future I started moving from one man to another to
make money. Now I am just waiting for the day the Lord will call me
to rest. Mother, oh Mother, this is the fruit of your womb.

Elvira Nain (not her real name) is HIV-positive and
receives counselling.

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