Sunday, October 14, 2007

Strange Encounters

The year was 1989, and Nanay Mila was ill. My aunt, who was pregnant with her youngest daughter, fetched her from Burauen, their remote hometown, so my grandmother can live temporarily in Palo, which was closer to the city. They rented the second floor of a run down wooden house, which I have only been to once as a child. The house was a short walk from the highway, just past the bridge.

It was really a strange place- dusty and dark, even in daytime. There were two adjacent bedrooms, and a tiny bathroom whose rotting floor was about to give way. The holes on the floor revealed the untended backyard of the house below, and every time you use it you feel like someone’s watching you, especially at night.

My grandmother was given the bedroom nearer to the bathroom, so she would not have much trouble. My aunt and uncle were in the next room. Strange occurrences started to happen. My uncle swore he saw a child walk around in their living room while he was using the CR, my aunt was about to urinate when she noticed a huge labud (centipede) at her feet. But the worst came when there was a typhoon.

They were awakened by my grandmother’s screams. They hurried to the bedroom and found her struggling on the bed, the lower part of her duster soak in blood. She said someone came in the room and tied her hands and she could not move. They assured her no one else was in the house. “Ihatod ak niyo kanda Iday, didto la ako.” She said, trembling.

Back in our house in Tacloban, there was a blackout because of the typhoon. We were in the sala of the two bedroom bungalow we rented when they arrived. My aunt and uncle arrived with my grandmother, soaked from the rain, and explained to my Mom what happened. My mom was a nurse but was not employed at that time. She was taking care of my youngest brother, who was then only an infant. My father was in Saudi.

It was the strangest night. I didn’t know if it was the wind but we heard strange noises, like some sort of a huge bird or a bat. My brother (Gavin’s dad) and I huddled in our bedroom, while my Mom got up and went to the kitchen to get a sundang (a long bolo). She grabbed a flashlight and went out the door to the back of our house screaming obscenities to the unseen intruder. After circling the house, she went back inside and asked my grandmother to stay in the same room with us. I hardly slept.

The next day, the flood was ankle deep in our yard. I looked around curiously around our house, and saw a big tear on the topmost part of the screen covering the window to where my grandmother was. It wasn’t a neat tear like when you use a sharp scissor, but rather irregular and it almost formed a circle, as if someone tried to poke his head inside the window.

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