If I asked you, what was the most memorable day in your life, or perhaps the most life-altering day of your life, what would be your answer?
Would it be the day you graduated from college? The day you got married? The day your first child was born? The day a parent passed away or someone you really cared about died? Or would it be the day you were diagnosed with HIV?
I’m going to tell a story. …Don’t worry too much whether it is real or based on a true story, or whether it is entirely fictional. The main thing is to read it from start to end, and then think about the answer to the questions asked.
And then read the actual answers.
Let the story begin.
I was trained as a doctor. All my life I had spent treating others, helping others, I was never in it for the money. I’m not saying that money isn’t important, of course it is. But because I came from a background of relative poverty, apart from being obsessed with accumulating wealth, which I did in my part time by investing in the stock market and building businesses, I was in medicine to serve the poor and I never left the public service because of this.
You can say that I was successful as a surgeon. I was one of the youngest in the unit I worked in, and it didn’t take very long for me to build a name and reputation as one of the best in the region.
On the surface however, everything seemed perfect. I had a good career, I was financially successful, I had established a network of friends and colleagues who were like me; very accomplished and well respected in the community, albeit from various backgrounds, both in and outside of medicine. I was able to give back to my parents, help my relatives and most importantly, help others who came from similar disadvantaged background like myself.
But there was a part of me that I kept away, far away from the limelight. A secret that could destroy everything that I built and worked so hard for all my life. I didn’t want it to be a secret. I wanted to shout it out to whole world. But if I did that, I knew that I would be treated differently, not just at work, but also in my business dealings and the other projects which meant the world to me.
I was attracted to both men and women.
Before I married my sweetheart, I confessed. Like most “normal” people, I had dated and gone out with others before I decided to settle down. I have done nothing wrong, nothing against the law, it was all consensual. I never forced anyone to do anything they didn’t want to, and I was honest about my relationships, past and present, to all of them.
There is a myth about gay relationships, that I am mentioning because it is relevant to my story. The myth regarding anal intercourse. Don’t ask me about the percentage, (this part is difficult for me to put in words, so I am struggling now, please understand that this is not an easy story for me to write) but a lot of gay men just enjoy the close company of other men.
I was ‘clean’ before I married, all the tests were clear. I was a doctor by training. I always took the necessary precautions and got tested as and when needed.
Life was perfect until that fated day. I was involved in a road traffic accident. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Just bad luck. A tyre blew and a car went out of control, hit my car before crossing over to the other side and causing a head on collision.
I was injured, but I didn’t notice in the beginning. My instinct was to help the others when I realised that I was ok. There was silence and then there were children and people screaming and shouting for help. Passers by stopped and I instructed some of them to call for ambulance and other emergency response. The vehicles were crushed, you could tell it was bad, but there were survivors.
I had to crawl into one of the cars to help before the ambulance arrived. There was blood everywhere. I’m not sure if the cut in my hand occurred during of after the accident. When I noticed, it was too late. Four people out of ten lost their lives that night from the accident. Three died and the other one’s life was completely destroyed.
Everything I have ever loved and worked hard for, were taken from me in an instant a few months later, when the blood test results confirmed the worst.
I was sitting opposite a friend in the doctors office. The doctor just kept quiet. “It’s bad?” I asked. My friend nodded. “I’m sorry” was what I heard, “we have to get you out of here, word is spreading fast”.
As fast as I left, word of mouth travelled even faster. By the end of the day, there were no more secrets. The healthcare professionals can be even more judgemental and as one of them, you were supposed to ‘know better’. Even the cats on the street knew I was HIV positive and it was because I was bisexual.
I lost my job. No one wanted to do business with me anymore. I lost friends. My marriage crumbled. They took away my car and house.
Question no 1: is the character in the story male or female? Question no 2: what is the characters religion/faith? Question no 3: what is the characters race/nationality? Question no 4: did he/she deserve the ending?See More
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  • Neurule Somme-Yong Abdul Jalal Morning Mazlyn
    First reading answer would be
    1. Male
    2. Moslem
    3. Malaysian
    4. No
    But no 1 could be female too. I choose male because of the reference to anal n gay men. And this seems to be very typical Malaysian reaction.
  • Jimbo Jimbo Answers: ‘it doesn’t matter’ to all the questions.
  • Afifi Albarr 1. Male
    2. Irrelevant
    3. Irrelevant
    4. No
  • Saliza Abd Aziz Ive read this story some where… its a guy..Chinese..were very successful..hmmm… still trying to recall when and where I read it..:).. but I still can remember the image on the story. Good looking guy next to a sportcar.. but answering to the no 4Q.. No. but being a surgeon he is high risk for the medical field. If he is in other field ..investment/development it may not matters. But in Malaysia where skepticism/phobias still plays in everyone mind it will be difficult for him.
  • Yen Teck Hoe It’s a fiction.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha I intentionally forgot one disclaimer…do not reveal your answers because there is no right and wrong. Rather, it will reveal to the reader if they themselves may or may not harbour prejudices. Now I’m going to change the storyline. The main character is not a doctor nor a surgeon, the main character is a banker working in a prestigious bank. AND, the main character is either (1) your good friend (2) your relative. Does of any of your answers to the original (1)-(4) change?
  • Jimbo Jimbo Doesn’t change my answer.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Exactly the moral of the story Dr James, thanks for participating and helping me make a point 🙂
  • Shaktivel Palanivel Here, there’s a list of things you can and cant do if you are a doctor
    with HIV or Hep C. You can do ‘high risk’, ‘high exposure’ surgery like orthopedics, but opthaic surgery is fine. You can be a physician, but you cant do certain procedures like chest drains. Fair or not? Discrimanative or not?
  • Neurule Somme-Yong Abdul Jalal The changes dont matter to me. My cousin is HIV +ve and we all love her the same.
  • Shaktivel Palanivel sorry ‘cant’ do high risk….
  • Zaidah Mohd This reminds me of the movie Philadelphia
  • Mazlyn Mustapha I haven’t seen Philadelphia Zaidah Mohd, is it good?
  • Zaidah Mohd It’s good, Tom Hanks won an oscar for his role (he was a high flyer lawyer who contracted HIV) and was discriminated for it as soon as word got out… And Denzel Washington was his lawyer coz Hanks sued his firm for unlawful termination… Back in 1993 (this was when this movie was released), US was like us now, HIV was new and hence people didn’t how to react if someone conctrated HIV… This movie is one of the first mainstream hollywood movie that actually talks/reflects how the US people react to HIV and it was huge back then… Watch it if u have the time
  • DrFelix Chong My answer as to his/her sex, religion, race/ nationality are irrelevent. And No he/she does deserve this ending. But this should not be the ending as now HIV Positives can live longer healthy lives and can still contribute in so many ways to society.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Are you sure it’s a ‘he’…
  • DrFelix Chong It’s irrelevent whether it’s a she or he.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Funny you used the word ‘he’ that’s why I asked 😉
  • Shaktivel Palanivel its a he. there is talk of the myth regarding anal sex and gay men. if its not a ‘he’ then there some very complex stuff going on. not that it matters….
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Well, the way I wrote the story, (pay attention to the details people), the protagonist is a bisexual, and hence in theory, could have got it from any of ‘her/his’ partners, although in the story, ‘he/she’, (it’s irrelevant but I’m trying to make a point), got in by accident. Pardon the pun 😛 It’s creative writing and it’s entirely fictional.