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Five years of red letters
Synchronized our souls.
What memories we ignited
In childish make-out sessions!

Still, age thwarted us;
We both felt the changes.
My studies demanded time,
And her mind assurance.

But assurance wasn’t easy to give;
Only broken legs could make a point.
I would have broken one,
If I had seen the future.

Instead I crossed my fingers;
Long enough, they stuck together.
Watched her go wild
In the sloth of instant gratification.

Made a fair share of mistakes;
I needed morphine.
Used a few of people’s daughters
Just to get over her.

She came crawling back to me,
Like a lost puppy.
Having been victimized by footballers
Who kicked anything for sport.

She told me everything,
Just like old times.
She told me about the HIV and
The capsules that gave nausea.

I looked into my sinking heart,
Grappling an epiphany:
God never made female angels;
They are Shakespeare’s mistake.

I then held her tightly in my arms,
Like a Spanish guitar.
Had to upgrade my play,
Now that she was of a thousand strings.

©HerbertUba ’17


PS: We actually resumed dating for a few months until I realised that contracting HIV had changed her. She had become quite the flight risk with her insistence about having a baby. I was only 18, working as a teacher, racing against time for a university scholarship opportunity, and in no way capable of supporting anyone except my nuclear family. She thought she was going to die in a near future and it broke my heart. I come from Zimbabwe and my country is a part of the Sub-Saharan region where HIV and AIDS are most prevalent. In Botswana, the prevalence rate is about 20%, meaning 1 in 5 is infected. Just so you get the idea, in Afghanistan it is only 0.01% meaning 1 in 10000 people is infected. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, mixed couples(meaning one of them HIV+) can have a healthy conception without sharing the infection. This is done by PEP, Post Exposure Prophylaxis. Anyway, my ex-girlfriend will be having her baby anytime soon and, if it’s a girl and she looks anything like  mother, she’ll be the prettiest thing in the world.