Loon, age 50, / Manipur, India



From 1983 to 1997, I am fully on heroin in between lots of rehab and lots of jail and lots of anything. From 1997 to about five, six, seven years, I’m totally on abstinence. After that, I was thinking to myself, total abstinence is like sitting all the time – like this… Sometimes I want to stretch –  like this! So, my way of being on recovery or being clean is completely different. To me, there’s nothing good or nothing bad in this world. Tell me one thing good; I’ll tell you how bad it is. Tell me something bad; I’ll tell you how good it is.  It’s how you look, how you perceive, how you take, how you consume, how you use. If you consume more than what you’re supposed to consume, it’s bad, right?

Recover means how many hours or how many days or how many months or how many years you have to be clean? Or addict means what? Shooting every day? Or once a day? Or twice a day? Or once a week? I don’t know this. I know that I’m just a drug user. That’s it. I’m not a current or ex. Once in awhile I use something.

In the year 1997, when I was in the rehab, before I even test myself, every day I was taking people with HIV/AIDS in the rehab to the hospital for getting tested or to get their treatment. And I know that I’m going to be HIV-positive before I even test. But no matter how prepared I am, the day you receive the paper with your name and where they do in big, bold, red letter stamp, “HIV-positive,” yes, it suck.

I come out rather quickly. Maybe on the fifth day or sixth days I give a television interview, straightaway. Yeah. I don’t care about what the world think. What the fuck, stigma? The most stigma is self-stigma. Once you conquer that, fuck the world, man. I am not what you think. That’s what you think, but that’s not what I am.  I don’t want to hide my status. Hiding our status is like wearing tight shoes. No one knows. It looks very beautiful. But here, I’m suffering!