25 May, 2017

HIV Cannot Kill Love ~ In Conversation with #Author Ajay K. Pandey

About the Author:

Ajay K Pandey is a popular author of two books You Are The Best Wife and Her Last Wish. He is currently working with Cognizant, Pune. Although he grew up with a dream of becoming a teacher, destiny landed him in the IT field. Travelling, trekking and reading novels are his hobbies. Travelling to different places has taught him about different cultures and people and makes him wonder how despite all the differences, there is a bond that unites them. Trekking always inspires him to deal with challenges like a sport. Reading is perhaps what makes him feel alive. Apart from writing, he wants to follow his role model Mother Teresa and make some contribution to the society. His debut novel You Are The Best Wife was based on his life events and went on to become a bestseller soon after its release. It charmed many hearts and inspired several others to live every moment with love, peace and happiness.

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In Conversation with Ajay Pandey

In a battle between true love and HIV, love always wins.

In a world that moves at a pace faster than we can catch up, there are many subjects of conversation that remain hidden, or taboo in the society. Bestselling author Ajay K Pandey describes what it is like to come face to face with one such essential subject of discussion and how, despite various efforts at creating awareness around it, it is still hidden beneath layers of doubt and uncertainty. His latest novel Her Last Wish is a story of an HIV patient, and how she and her husband fight all odds, including the home and the world, to stand tall in its wake.

Q: Why take up a subject like HIV/ AIDS?
A: I had met an enigmatic lady once, who was an HIV patient. And let’s be honest! What comes to our mind when we hear about an HIV/ AIDS patient? Not generalizing, but a majority of us would judge them to have indulged in unsafe sex with multiple partners, or just consider them to be immoral. I mean, I am sure not many even know that that HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, and without treatment, it can become AIDS which leaves people vulnerable to dire infections. It’s not the disease that kills; it’s these infections which can be as common as a cold too.
I changed as a person after talking to her. I felt I should wash off these presumptions that have come into existence owing to lack of knowledge, and I have tried to make my book a source of information, using the medium of storytelling, to make people more aware.
Q: In your research, did you feel that we as people underestimate the potential of people suffering from HIV or AIDS?
A: Absolutely. And the problem is, AIDS is often seen as ‘someone else’s problem’. In our country too, people living with HIV have faced violent attacks, been rejected by families, spouses and communities, been refused medical treatment, and even in some reported cases, denied the last rites after death. No wonder an HIV/ AIDS patient refrains from divulging their problem openly.
As per reports by WHO, an estimated 36.7 million people worldwide were living with HIV till the end of 2015, out of which approximately 1.8 million were children under fifteen years of age.[i]
That is a huge number, and this one epidemic, as WHO calls it, cannot be the end of someone’s life.
Q: Is your book a true account and what was your most prominent find?
A: The story is based upon the experiences of quite a few I met and spoke to, though has been rendered in a story format for making it reach more people. In course of writing, I realized that HIV is not the end of happiness. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live a long and happy life. So much so, that doctors have confirmed that life expectancy on early detection and proper medication has increased to almost 25 years after detection.[ii]
The second realization was more of a confirmation of what veteran actress Shabana Azmi said in the advertisement for awareness on AIDS: Aids chhoone se nahi failta, isse sirf pyar failta hai. Half the discrimination exists because people have misconceptions. For instance, here are some lesser known causes for HIV:
         Can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Upon taking the right precautions, this can be avoided.
         Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.
         Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a patient’s mouth mixes with food while chewing.
         Being bitten by a person with HIV. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken.
         Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood contaminated body fluids.
         Deep, open-mouth kissing if the person with HIV has sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged.
HIV is not spread by:
         Air or water
         Insects, including mosquitoes or ticks
         Saliva, tears, or sweat
         Casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses

Q: Are your characters extraordinary people in a special love story?
A: On the contrary, they are ordinary people who become extraordinary with their acts. They emphasize on how love can win over all odds. And since an AIDS patient goes through double the trauma – of having to prove themselves innocent, which is something they are unable to do in their lifetime; second, fighting the disease – love becomes all the more essential. The characters, the story, the experiences one lives while reading it – all go on to prove that HIV cannot overpower true love.

Q: What message have you tried to put together in the book?
A: We are living in a progressive world. We are nobody to give moral certificates to someone. It doesn’t matter how deadly the disease is if you have people who love you, believe in you – it changes the battle completely. Imagine a society where AIDS patients are not sacked from offices, are not thrown out of a rented home, they are not thrown out of any social community, where people have no problem in hugging them or shaking hands with them. Don’t you think their life will become much better and qualitative!
They deserve your love. This is no sin, and HIV/ AIDS patients are not sinners.

To read more on what it feels like to be discriminated against, how a disease can turn someone’s life completely upside down, and how true love and resolve to stand by each other can defeat all problems, read the inspiring story of an AIDS patient, where a husband chooses to fight with her, for her – Her Last Wish.

[i] WHO: http://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/
[ii] http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/it-s-a-better-life-for-hiv-patients/story-8Di1bkgwFnTWoivPXNoG2N.html

About the Book:

His father's over expectations only ruined his self-confidence further with each failure. A ray of hope walked into his life as his wife, a charismatic personality spreading joy wherever she went. Everything is going per plan, but darkness comes knocking soon. He finds out that she does not have much time to live and takes it upon himself to fight all odds – even his family, if need be – to help her fight her medical condition. His father sees his own redemption in helping them, he knows his son will be a winner only if he will fight for her, with her. Will a defeated son prove himself to be a good husband? Will the father-son duo together be able to change the course of fate? Her Last Wish is an inspiring story of love, relationships and sacrifice, which proves once again how a good wife makes the best husband.

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