Thursday, January 24, 2008

Righteously Yours

Just read this and was so glad V and I got tested. It was my idea but he was completely cool with it. Just like the tattoos. And the mad drives. And the baby-rearing. Like most things, really. I come up with the idea and he is happy to participate.

I think that's pretty much the perfect attitude to take in something like testing for HIV before marriage. In our case, I wanted it because it suddenly struck me that I'd had unsafe sex and didn't think it was fair on him. Of course, once we'd given our samples I was convinced that I had HIV and I worried myself silly until the results were handed over a few days later. Much later I discovered one needs to test at least thrice to be certain. But given that two tests set us back by a thousand I'm not sure we'd have gone in for such extravagance. Of course, when pregnant I had to re-do the test once more.

I don't know what the big deal is. We've all done something stupid or even careless in our lives. Why is testing for something life-threatening that may have resulted from a moment's carelessness so stigmatised? Like I commented at the post, I believe the test is something you undergo to show your concern for your partner; if you were concerned for yourself chances are you'd already have done it.

This is equally important in arranged and love marriages. In arranged marriages because you have no idea of the other person's past, obviously, and have to depend on what they say. In love marriages because, let's face it, few of us are our partners' only bed-fellows. V may never have slept with anybody else other than me but I did, so I think the test was important for us both. (Since we'd been having sex way before it struck me to take the test.)

I really don't get the big deal. I can understand your trepidation if you fear that the request for an HIV test will ruin your marital prospects -- but do you want to marry into a home that is so narrow-minded, unscientific and orthodox? I'm often told that I ought not criticise those (usually girls) who give in to all kinds of demands during the setting up of an arranged marriage because I had a love marriage myself. And I always say one thing: my marriage was something I arranged for myself. I have known what it is to love mindlessly, unheedingly, not caring of the consequences. It was never like that between V and I. Is that why this relationship lasted? I don't know. But I do know that I ensured that he would please my parents, be able to provide me with the kind of emotional support I need, that he would understand my tumultuous relationship with my brother, indeed, my family, that he would want and love children as I did -- I only agreed to the marriage because he suited these requirements. I was cold-blooded about it all because having been through very different relationships I had learnt that romance can always come later, but if the basics aren't in place, no amount of romance will hold you together. It sounds like very simple common sense now but it took me a long time to acknowledge this.

And thus when we decided to marry, I went about most things (ok, not all but most) with my mind, not my heart. The test was a part of this. I did it because I think it's something we all need to do.


Suki said...

Very, very thought-provoking. Proud of you :).

By the way, I guess you had more options but.. why set yourselves back by a thousand when there's VCTCs all over the city testing people for practically nothing? On second thoughts... scratch that. I wouldn't trust the government with more than I need to, let alone have them poke needles which come from god knows where into my system.

Sue said...

Suki -- LOL! Thank you, I'm sure. I didn't know of VCTCs then, and I think they were just setting up then or something. You can always go to them. Just buy and carry your own new, sealed, disposable syringe.

jayashri said...

I really appreciate the frankness with which you write the blog. While i was dating M, i had to go for the test as a part of joining formalities in a company, i was kind of sceptical, but thanks to M he said ok lets do it together so that i wont feel awkward...

dipali said...

What awesome common sense. I'm very proud to know you, young Sue.

Mona said...

i identify with this post so much. when i married Z, it was the same with me, thinking with my mind more than my heart and yup, we got the tests done too.
there would have been a mad uproar at my in-laws if they knew, but we kept the tests to ourselves. we tested for a couple of things and i'm so glad we did, i can rest easy, knowing i've done my part and leave the rest to the Almighty.

Anonymous said...

well i've always raised this point whenever my mom suggested me a match and we end up arguing and my dad giggling behing the news paper. hope people start thinking like u. Cheers to ur frankness.

karmickids said...

Sue, very sensible. Am achingly monogamous and hope the husband is too. In fact, the man has been the only action I have ever got, but am not complaining. But thats no guarantee for the other is there? we get our annual tests done (cmon we're almost senior citizens now, we need cholesterol and sugar and such like monitored) so I always insist we sneak in the HIV test, much to the man;s horror. God bless.

Anansi said...

+1 for the idea. Re: the second part- practical's a better word for cold hearted( wink!) And by the way tag! You're it. From anniversary to anniversary update!

Just Like That said...

I love the way you're totally upfront about yourself. I have been monogamous, but if I hadn't been, I wonder if I'd be bold enough to own up to it in my blog? Somehow, I think not.
Kudos and more power to you, Sue.
and wish both of you many happy years together.

Grafxgurl said...

lol, considering Ed's and my past, we thought of it at the same time!!! infact my best friend at the time was also going to get married and so we went together to this very "all- assuming" clinic and got it done.. all the while trembling in our boots and making future plans to stay together if in case we had HIV.. hahahahhaa!!!!

Shobana said...

Very proud of you Sue. It takes a lot of guts in an orthodox society as ours, to insist on such things. I wish more and more women are like that now and not giving in to their parent's wishes and marrying off without any questions asked. Also since HIV is not only transmitted by way of intercourse, every person who has ever had a needle poke is at no judging there. Kudos to you, outspoken woman.

D said...

I won't comment about the tests but about your take on arranging your love marriage because I relate with it so much. I always say that I fell in love with the guy who later became my husband with my eyes wide open. No, it wasn't a senseless, blind love. It was aware of the practicalities of life. Because passion dies out, and it's the practicalities that you are left to cope with.

Preethi said...

A very thought provoking sensible post.. you have left me speechless!! Yes everyone needs to do this.. we all need to get into marriage with our eyes, ears and senses fully open.. I applaud your forethought!!

karmickids said...


Priya said...

Very well said! I wish Blog and you happened when I was dating and then decided to marry..all the while only relying on heart and letting my head go on a fucking vacation somewhere! Anyway, it's not just about the test, but all the frills and cheap thrills that come with marrying. Sigh...12 years way to late...we live on :)

Nisha said...

So sensible Sue. A very honest post and hugs to you for that. It does take lot of courage to be so upfront. Kudos to you for that :)

Tharini said...

Very sensible and gutsy. To do it, as also to write about it.

Btw, I think you did go about it with your heart too. I don't know the other things, but w.r.t the aids test. You cared about V's future, hence you invested in it by investing a bit of your time and blood. Practical and cold blooded as it may seem, it was not your mind alone, but your heart fuelling your mind with the right intentions. As a result, you are not as conflict ridden as most people are!

Tharini said...

Btw, I tagged you a dreamy one...go indulge..

Sue said...

Jaya -- Isn't it great when your partner is so comfortable about it? I think that helps more than any degree of mental strength.

Dipali -- Same to you and many more. :)

Mona -- Exactly. It's not an accusation of 'illicit' behaviour, and I don't know why people take it as such. HIV can come from so many places, why should anybody take the risk?

Brundha -- Good for you. Since this is important to you, don't you compromise and marry the kind of guy who has a problem with this. You'll only have other problems with him later on, when you'll realise this was an early warning of narrow-mindedness.

Kiran -- But he goes ahead and has the test done, na? I think that's to be proud of, too. I guess our husbands aren't nearly as difficult as we make them out to be. :)

Anansi -- Sure, I'll take it up next week. And yeah, I guess 'practical' is a more useful word in this context.

JLT -- Thank you. :) It's not really a brave thing for me to write about my, er, peccadilloes, so I won't take credit. See, none of the stuff I write about is secret. All of it is known by a person other than V, so that makes it public as far as I am concerned.

Grafx -- LOL! And weren't you absolutely convinced you had it until the tests showed otherwise?

Shobana -- Thank you but I didn't have to insist upon it. I suggested it and V went along readily. Like I said, it was never a real threat to him and since he never grudges me money, the expense was no big deal.

Of course, if necessary I would have insisted upon it but I don't think I could have married -- and stayed married to -- somebody who needed insistence to test for HIV.

D -- Exactly. Which is why, although this relationship was so different, I've never felt it to be a compromise. (I regularly think it was a huge mistake, but that's another matter and only comes up when V is in my black books.)

Preethi -- I had it in mind, then one of my mother's brothers urged my mum to tell me to take the test. So then V and I went. The cool thing is that the urging came from that generation. So what if he is a doctor?

Kiran -- Will do. Let me think.

Nisha -- Thank you. As I've been saying, I'm not being as brave as you think, because I have nothing to lose by talking about all this stuff. :)

Tara -- You do have a habit of painting me in nice hues! But yes, it was also a way of showing Vicky my caring and commitment. The chances of me being at risk were far higher than him, so I guess it was a bigger deal for me.

I'll do the tag in a few days, thanks.

educatedunemployed said...

I have always thought about it. I even had to get tested due to an occupational hazard. I still think I owe another test just before I get into serious business with some one. Now I feel good about myself.

Thank you for this post.

Sue said...

EU -- You're welcome. You know the best thing about this post? The number of people responding saying that they've had the test too. So we're not really in a tiny minority. Great!

Squiggles Mom said...

You know when I was single and used to think about arranged marriages, I always worried about how I could convince the other chap to get a test done.
Of course, since DD and I met, we didn't do it because we were both monogamous. Though of course you can get it through other means.

The other point struck a note as well. Even though we had a love marriage, I made sure DD would be acceptable to my family. If I didn't think overall he was someone I could take to meet my parents I don't think I would have gone ahead. It was an emotional decision but a practical one too.

Sue said...

Sqiggle's Mom -- "we didn't do it because we were both monogamous. Though of course you can get it through other means."

See? So ideally we should get ourselves tested no matter what. Of course, we only ever get this mature AFTER the marriage.

Does it bother you that pregnant women get the test done willy-nilly and their families accept it since the doctors have insisted? It bothers me, because if you can accept it then , then why not sooner?