Enough Brown Tablets 

Enough Brown Tablets

The city road crew came along and did the potholes in the shopping centre near my office. On Monday I noticed the pedestrian crossing where I crashed Stevie has been repainted [see Split Second Zebra]. And yesterday I passed a road crew of six repainting another pedestrian crossing on the same street.

Maybe the Chinese have donated some white paint. And the government doesn’t know what else to do with it.

Meanwhile, Chipo came in yesterday [see A Fist Through the Wall]. At the clinic they told her they don’t let pregnant women onto their ARV trial programme. She says she had a pregnancy test on 13 January and it was positive. She’s known her HIV status since the end of last year.

I don’t know her story, or what her relationships are like. But I do know the way most black men treat most black women here, and the submissive, compliant way most black women are raised to be towards men. Did she try and resist? Did she ask him to use a condom? Did she try and use a femidom? Or was she too lost in the despair and hopelessness of her own situation to care? Was this the same man who transmitted HIV to her in the first place?

I don’t know the half of it. I only know its more complicated than I could ever imagine.

She wants to get an abortion. Which in Zimbabwe is illegal. But she asks if maybe I can help? She says she’s not very far along, and the people at the clinic said if she removes the baby, she can get on the ARV programme.

“Remove the baby. As in wait for it to be born?” I ask, wondering to myself if, with her 27 T cells this woman would even survive pregnancy, much less childbirth.

“No,” she insists, explaining it in Shona so it is more clear. “Abort.”

--You really want to have an abortion?
--She nods and looks at the floor.
--Are you sure? You don’t want this baby? You want an abortion?
--She nods. Sighs. Looks at the floor.

“Well,” I say. “I’m sure there are ways of doing that. Even here.”

She tells me a friend says if you take 42 birth control tablets—seven per day for six days—of the brown family planning kind, the foetus will abort. I raise an eyebrow sceptically.

“Is it too many?” She asks.

What do I tell her? What do I know. I have no idea. It just doesn’t sound very good for her. Or like it will work.

But she’s determined. When she finishes cleaning, she’s going to the pharmacy up the road. She’s pretty sure she has enough money.

Maybe it will work. And if on? There’s a host of wonders in Harare’s networks. Someone will know what to do.

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