Ntombizodwa Somlayi, Body Maps, 2009, digital print on paper.
In this picture I have a scar, a dent, on my head, at my back and on my two arms. I was in the car accident between Piketberg and Mooreesburg on the N7. I have written “ALWAYS BE PREPARED” on my body map. It is my girl guides slogan and means you must be prepared for everything either bad or good. If you get bad, you must be prepared for it how to solve this problem, even HIV. The time I was diagnosed, I was worried I was going to die of HIV. But I told myself that I’m coming from heaven and not from here, and I must go back. Even if I’m negative I’m always going to die, like in that accident which gave me the scars. I was prepared.
Look here where I have painted the virus. On 19 January 2001 I became very sick. Stomach pains and headache. It was summer time, the season of peach and apricot, and I thought that’s why I had a sore stomach. When I was sick I was at Jooste hospital. I was very afraid of that hospital because people say you don’t come back from Jooste. There is no care, you can wait the whole day in a chair, there are not enough beds, and the food is only sometimes. You need relatives to bring you your own food.
That thing on my hand – Jane asked us to draw a symbol of us. I am a bread because all of my mother’s children are dependent on me. They are five. I am the oldest. The youngest is 14. I am 32. I am cheap like a bread, I mean every person who has a problem they come to me because I’m so simple as a bread winner.
My young son doesn’t know he is HIV positive. He just knows he is sick. I will tell him when he is 10. My older son is 12 and he knows I’m HIV positive. He tells me, “No, Mama, these are your drugs and these are your tablets, they are not all drugs, you must take these in the evening and the morning and these any time. Did you drink them today like you must?”