9th September, 2006, 7 women either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, have come all the way to capital from remote far western district of Doti to Kathmandu, voicing themselves in the media. This issue was just stirring for me. For Women in Nepal, it requires something more than courage to publicly declare their HIV status. “When you know you are on the verge, you automatically muster the confidence for your children. What else we had to lose?” say the courageous women.
A fear curled in my belly, when I talked to them. They are not drug users, nor are they involved in flesh trade, nor they have any illicit sexual relationship beyond their husband. But they live with the most painful truth; HIV/AIDS. Even as they bear this unfair burden, they are striving for a better future of their children. With the words of innocence, they are clear in what they want from the Government: Anti retro-viral capsules (ARVs), to expand their life span and guarantee education to their children.
They had gathered at the Reporter’s club, where Deputy Prime Minister Amik Sherchan along with Minister of State for Information and Communications Dilendra Prashad Badu and Minister of state for Labor and Transport Management Ramesh Lekhak, who also hails from neighboring district, were invited. Their eyes remained at the door, but none of the leaders turned up. Time and again, I have heard, the Government is committed to address HIV at the highest level. To add, they say, greater involvement of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS is critical to ethical and effective national responses to the epidemic. Here the context is different. Every time the issue of representation was the main shortcoming in the discourse of HIV/AIDS. Here, they have gathered courage to represent, but there was none to listen.
The Government should note that Nepal has just been through a crusade which carried a message of revolution, the end of a vicious epoch. This is a time of transition, an age of aspirations. People in general envisage a great from the old leaders who have come up with resolutions. May be, they will be justified, they were engaged in important tasks, but what is important to them is not obviously important to someone who is dying. And after all, who makes who? A leader makes people or is it people who make leaders?
Agreed, the Government is busy in its grave tasks of arms management and Constituent Assembly. Still, some sensible issues remain, which are facing a crisis of identity. People are confident; the superior brains of the nation are concerned about their lives too. There are some people who do not know what is management of arms, what is Constituent Assembly, they even don’t know what is the politics of inclusion all about, which uses their names for reference. Power and politics has always been the issue of concern for the people in power politics, but a layman has only his life, his children and his worries to earn for the next meal. He views the leaders only from this periphery. It’s high time, the leaders understood, that tomorrow is in today’s womb.
In politics, the public perception of reality is more important than reality itself. Whose commitment is it anyway? If they forget, those who remember them, then their commitment is a mere will to power, it is a feudal mindset, to promise and forget. The pain after anticipation is much graver than any thing. Time passes, but the wounds remain and mere drops of tears carry a greater significance when time again takes its next turn. Disheartened, they demand attention from the Government, ‘Either, tell us that we are not Nepali citizens and if we are, then Nepal Government must look after us. The persons at the Government must visit our village and see what it means to live with HIV/AIDS being a woman’.
Today, a considerable progress has been achieved in our region; nevertheless classic models remain the same. Women are to the most extent aware now, but those who voice for their awareness should realize that it’s high time they got awareness themselves. There will be a greater loss if the women, after rising and revolting against all the barriers, again adopt the view of the society. If this happens, the government will have another many years to tell them that they have the right to live. And then nothing can erase their rage. For wrong can never be made right. No planning can be justified when someone waits for you just before his death and you don’t come. The government should know that people, who are dying on the ground, can’t wait for their politics to be settled. It is very easy to assume responsibilities; but implementing them, is not everyone’s cup of tea. You have to answer the eyes who have dreamed about their betterment in lives when you came with promises. The time for transformation is long overdue. Realize! Who needs awareness?