It is better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all. Even if it means losing his life, Mr Kelvin Karuga Mwaura, 27, is ready to pay the price, but he will be paid first.
To some, he might appear the most indecisive lover in the history of love. To others, he could be the epitome of commitment.
His story unfolds as a voyeuristic roller-coaster of a dysfunctional relationship, presenting excruciating details of a love affair so torrid and lurid as it is incredulous.
It is a picture of the new lengths a man would go to fight for his love, including exposing himself to HIV “just to be like his infected lover”.
Mr Mwaura laughed with incredulity when he first heard that he may be HIV+.
In the middle of a tiff with his girlfriend, who had said she wanted out of their relationship in 2013, he retaliated by pouring a bucketful of water on her and infuriating her so much that the beast in the beauty was awakened.
The Nation will not reveal the identity of the woman for legal and ethical reasons.
“When I poured cold water on her, she took on an otherworldly quality before shrugging it off and casually saying: ‘It’s fine. After all I have already infected you’.”
“With what?” I asked.
“HIV,” she said.
“I burst out laughing, thinking she was talking in anger.”
Unfortunately, she wasn’t. She slapped Mr Mwaura and informed him that a bottle of pills she had previously told him were beauty supplements for her skin were actually anti-retrovirals.
The two had met in 2012, when Mr Mwaura, then a post-graduate law student at Kenya School of Law who was also studying for a Chartered Financial Analyst qualification, met the girl of his dreams.
“She was an actuarial science graduate and appeared impressed at my vast collection of books,” he says, even though he admits she did not look enamoured by him at first.
After months of relentless pursuit, the two decided to take the relationship to the next level, and even made a vow of faithfulness before she moved into his house.
While his love life thrived in their youthful exuberance, his school work suffered as he failed his CFA, and also failed eight out of nine subjects required to get him admitted to the bar. He would resit those and subsequently fail four out of the eight, and then again fail two out of the four.
LOVE TURNS SOUR
His poor performance depressed him so much he decided to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
During one escapade, he seriously hurt himself and his lover waited hand-on-foot and lovingly nursed him back to health.
Shortly thereafter, she told him that she wanted to participate in a beauty pageant and as she needed to lose some weight to qualify. He cut classes to go training with her in the Ngong Hills hiking trails, cheering her on and bringing snacks and water to replenish their energies.
He recalls seeing a bottle of pills, which when he inquired what they were for, she said were beauty supplements to make her skin glow.
Mr Mwaura’s queen qualified in several heats and was a finalist for the Nairobi County title at a contest held in one of the city’s lounges where patrons voted for the most beautiful of them all.
After the pageant, he saw subtle changes in the object of his admiration, who was now usually in a foul mood.
This, he attributed to her loss at the pageant. Days later, she would give him the news that would have sent any sane person running for the hills. She was HIV+ and did not want him in her life.
She also confessed that her nurturing care during his illness where she had taken him to three different hospitals was to verify if he had the virus, but his quick recovery had proved that she still hadn’t accomplished her mission.
Shocked beyond words, Mr Mwaura thought about their numerous unprotected sexual encounters and contemplated suicide.
However, before he could, he went for an HIV test and, to his shock, tested negative.
Rather than take this as a second lease of life, Mr Mwaura reached out to his paramour and an explosive confrontation ensued, landing the couple in custody and, in the morning thereafter, an agreement to stay away from each other.
Like grass, love grows where it wills, and the separation took its toll on Mr Mwaura, whose friends had already fled. He reached out to the girl and declared his unconditional love. She accepted to move back with him and several unprotected encounters followed. She made it clear that she wanted to be in a relationship with a HIV+ partner as that was the advice given her by friends at a support group.
Mr Mwaura kept testing negative, but to keep his love, he decided to play along. He lied he had contracted the virus and had begun his drug regimen. At first she said she was happy they were now sharing a virus and then later told him she was not interested in him now that he was infected as she was on a mission to infect others!
Mr Mwaura dropped the charade and revealed that he was negative and implored her to come back.
NUMBERS DON'T LIE
Here, the evidence of his intellect and “good education” as he puts his case forward: “Her chances of infecting me are 1:1,780, or 0.013 per cent.
The doctors have confirmed we are a discordant couple as I have no receptors for her strain of the virus. With me, she can comfortably have children, I love her. Why doesn’t she accept my love?”
Answers not forthcoming, Mr Mwaura moved to court in 2015 and sued his erstwhile lover for Sh1.1 million as damages for psychiatric and bodily harm to HIV/Aids exposure.
The court awarded him Sh127,000 for reasonable fear, but no costs.
Contacted by the Nation last Saturday, the girl at first denied knowing Mr Mwaura and said his was a mental case.
“The reason I say I don’t know Mwaura is that this happened such a long time ago,” she clarified moments later. “Does he have Aids? No? So how can he go around claiming I gave him the virus?”
The court in November last year questioned his state of mind, and Mr Mwaura agrees that there is a thin line between genius and madness.
This may be so, but for now he remains the one that rushed in where angels fear to tread, becoming the moth that did not just flirt but went right to the heart of the flame and emerged unscathed and for his trouble, he will smile all the way to the bank.
WHY I SUED MY LOVER
What he says about the case
The applicable law is sections 3 and 24 of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act, Section 26 of the Sexual Offences Act, and the Common Law, although the court warned of dangers of blindly applying it. These laws penalise outrageous conduct in a sexual context.
Why I sued
When you love someone, you get to live two lives; yours and theirs.
What I asked for
I asked for Sh1.1 million as damages for psychiatric and bodily harm to HIV/AIDS exposure. The court awarded Sh127, 000 for reasonable fear, but no costs.
What I have learnt
People should not fear HIV/AIDS because the scientific and medical community has shown how it is spread. People with HIV are living normal and healthy lives and they should be supported, loved and dated.
The claimed chances of Mr Mwaura getting infected with HIV by his girlfriend, according to his own calculations. Doctors, he says, have confirmed the two are a discordant couple as he has no receptors for her strain of the virus.