This Is Me: The Metamorphosis of Ayo is a true story about Patricia Opio Ayo`s life-changing journey. One that was(is) full of self-discovery, identity crisis, miracles and turmoil.
Born with sickle cell anaemia, Patricia has been a `sickler’ from day one. However on her 25th birthday, she is faced with the worst kind of turmoil when she is informed by her doctor, `Patricia, you are HIV positive.’’ She had gone to the hospital for a routine checkup as was the norm in her family.
Having not had sex, Patricia is thrown into a state of confusion. She asks a pertinent question, ‘But doctor, how can this be? You know me? I am still a virgin?
At 25 armed with not just one `killer’ disease but two, Patricia stops living. This is when the setback begins. The desire to die seeps through the door. Depression blankets her mind. Suicidal thoughts become her constant companion. Being Christian, she wrestles with God over the HIV declaration as Jacob wrestled with God for a blessing. Patricia takes on a 40 day fast and goes further to finish it all at the Seguku Prayer Mountain. She is filled with conviction that her healing will reign down at the end of the fast. She drives to the hospital and subtly demands another test. Her doctor believes it’s futile but does it anyway. The test screams POSITIVE. Patricia goes downhill from there.
The first chapters of the book are emotionally heavy with Patricia losing her will to live. The once vibrant young lady who was ready to take on the world is now ready to leave it. Her faith is shaken by the new twist and her relationship with God suffers. She asks God Why did He let this happen to her? I caught myself asking God the same question.
Patricia lives life teetering between okay and not okay. She tries to date again but faces challenges. Once, she tells Mr Perfect aka prince charming about HIV and he ends the relationship! The dating life is not as thoroughly explored in the book as I would have desired. However, from the snippets we get, we know that it was/is a difficult journey-one that demands Patricia be fully transparent about her health.
Her relationship with God evolves through her journey. From hating God for not loving her enough to protect her from HIV to not stopping her prince charming from ending their relationship. Patricia felt like God wasn`t keeping His end of the bargain. While she was doing everything in her power to be a good Christian girl. How dare He just stand by and watch her suffer!
Most times as Christians we think that God will bless us because we are virgins, good girls who don`t drink or smoke, pray every day, and the list goes on. This attitude is what the bible refers to as righteousness like filthy rugs. God blesses us because He is a good Father and never because of our supposed hard work.
In John 16:33, these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Jesus promised us tribulation. It is a fact. But He gave us a precious promise, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Patricia struggles with this aspect. And she is justified. One disease is enough but a second morbid one is just uncalled for if you ask me! It’s like Jesus was off duty or something!!
As the book comes to an end, Patricia has come full circle. She understands her place in God. She knows who she is in God. She takes on a journey to discover who she is, what she is passionate about, what her abilities are? She accepts who she is. Acceptance for her comes in many forms: acceptance of her name Ayo which she hated; accepting herself-wholly sick and all. Worthy of love. Accepting what God was saying about her during her darkest season-A city on a hill that can`t be hidden.
With self-acceptance, Patricia was liberated to chase after her passion: working in the creative space as a creative consultant.
This is Me is a fast-paced read. I think this is due to the deep traumatic memories. Patricia desired to get it over with as soon as possible. It slows down in the last chapters and we breathe. Now that Patricia is unburdened.
However, there are gaps in the book that left me feeling cheated out of a good story. For example, when she found out she was HIV positive, at what point did she start her medication? Which hospital did she visit, what was her experience like the first day she went in for the consultation and ARV education? Did she go with anyone? Did the parents suspect anything? Was her health comprised with no ARVs intake?
Patricia writes conversationally like a girlfriend pouring her heart out to another over a sweet aromatic cup of tea and banana cake. The dark, ugly parts of Patricia`s story are really murky. The reader will be drawn in. You will feel with Patricia when she questions God. In 2020 and 2021, I questioned God time and again because my circumstances did not make sense. I honestly felt God had forgotten all about me and my life. But that is not true. Looking back now, I see the hand of God everywhere and I am grateful that He was there.
This is Me is a devastating read. The book cover design by Michelle Masanza is gorgeous. It captures aptly the book content. The poetry by Beaton Mabaso and illustrations spice up the book.
This book is utterly overwhelming and uplifting. A few pages in I could not stand the pain. Yet I was reading her memory! I wonder how Patricia got through the writing process. It ends with an uplifting message of acceptance and the dawn of a new era for Patricia Ayo.
Just like Patricia and me, you might not understand why some things happen the way they do, I pray for Romans 8: 28 to be true in your life. `And we know that all things work together for good, for them, that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose.’’
Have you had times where you have questioned God? How have you dealt with them? Have you given up on God?