We both received an SMS from our mother that her half-sister was stabbed in the face in her office on Tandang Sori Avenue and was confined in New Era General Hospital. My brother and I hurriedly went north of Manila, not knowing where the hospital is located, to visit an aunt we have never met.
We found the hospital situated beside the mammoth church of Iglesia ni Cristo along Commonwealth. This confused us because according to our mom this sisters of hers is a devout follower of Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a sect organized in Davao City by the animating evangelist Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, so she can’t be in a hospital run by Iglesia ni Cristo. But recalling that her family lives on Tandang Sora which is adjacent to Commonwealth, then the choice of hospital made sense. As if she had a choice after she was made into an emery bag by some psycho.
Along the way, my brother tried to call our mother who at that time was attending the burial of her grandmother. We forgot to ask her the name of her sister and the family name of her husband. This meant not being able to enter the hospital. But of course we couldn’t afford to go home after traveling from Makati to Quezon City and giving up a portion of our weekend rest without seeing our aunt. So we went ahead and gave a description to the person in the information counter.
“Yong dentist po na nasaksak sa mukha (the dentist who was stabbed in the face). Is she confined here?” I swear I must have said it in a very funny way that caused the man I was talking to smile a bit. Or the situation itself was funny.
“Room 209 sa second floor.”
We were surprised at the laxness of the security in the hospital. We showed him our IDs which he barely took notice of then proceeded to writing something in his log and left us to meander in that labyrinthine, dark, and humid hospital. We found the ward and but seen no one satisfying the description our mother gave us. The four middle-aged women inside were either moderately ill-looking or not bloody-enough to be suffering from repeated knife thrusting blows, and of all places, in the face.
We asked the personnel in the nearest nurses’ station as to where our aunt was; they indifferently pointed to the recovery room. My brother and I argued as to who should go first. At that time I was carrying a tumbler of Gatorade. I told my brother, Des Neil, to finish what was left so that I could go first. I advised him, “You’ll need all the sodium and electrolytes in that drink to prepare you for whatever you’ll see.” I opened the door and went inside the air-conditioned recovery ward. There were three beds. We found our mom’s sister in the middle lying in her bed, her son on her side fanning himself.
There are situations we place ourselves into when we hardly know how to react. My expectation did not even reach a quarter of what happened to her. Her face was grotesque. There were countless stitches of varying length that run in her chubby face. Her right cheek was swollen, bruised, and showed a translucent patch of darkened blood. She has stab wounds in her side. The back of her neck was even more swollen. One of her eyes could not see but both are as red as dynamited fish I used to avoid whenever I was the one tasked to go to the market by our mother. She would still be able to see, the doctor assured them. I was wondering if she could see us. I saw dried blood on her pillows as she was attempting to sit up to greet us.
Of course she never recognized us. We introduced ourselves, that we are the sons of their younger sister in her father side. She gave us a blank stare; I never expected a warmer welcome. Then she blurted “Ah kamo ang mga bata ni Dyutay nga mga alamon” (You’re the bright children of Dyutay [that’s how they endearingly call our mother]) .
I wryly asked her, “Kamusta ka na Ta?”
I was never good at empathizing. But I knew I was so scared.
I was occasionally looking at my brother who at the time seemed distubed. I thought he was just shocked because we’ve never seen something as gruesome as the sight of an aunt we’ve never met before. Des Neil started to go pail and nauseous. And before he could fall, I caught him by his shoulder and led him to a vacant seat. I feel sorry for my aunt because she thought her wounds scared my brother unconscious. My brother passed out after seeing on the other side of the room a woman having blood transfusion. Our family has this unexplained fear of seeing blood. I remember panicking whenever blood climbed up my intrevenous bag during that one and only time I was hospitalized due to amoebiasis in Davao City.
That time in front of my aunt, my mind went into a trance. I was down to my senses; reason deserted me. I could never imagine the kind psychological make up of the person who did the thing to her. Her face was emaciated, frankensteined. My cousin retold the story for us.
She was alone in her office that day when a well dressed man entered her clinic in Tandang Sora. She recognized the man who was a former collector in a nearby water refilling station. The man wanted to have dentures fitted. My aunt, according to my cousin, being always helpful and never doubted the goodness in other, led him inside her clinic. But the unimaginable happened. The man took the empty pail and whack this on my aunt’s back. Despite this, she remained conscious. The man pulled her hair and hit her head on the wall several times. He then took my aunt’s dull kitchen knife she uses to scrape scab on healed wounds and with this stabbed my aunt in the face.
The neighbors, hearing the noise stormed the clinic. But shock took the better of them. The man managed to escape but some of the people who were around the place saw the commotion and ran after him. Somebody saw him jumped off a creek. The following day, his body was found floating in the murky water of that creek.
My aunt suffered from at least fifty stab wounds. But more than that she’ll forever carry with her the memory of that noontime when from nowhere a psycho felt a sudden itch to murder.
Nobody is safe these days. No one can brag about his security because lurking in the dark or even in broad daylight somebody who will kill you or leave you scarred for life, physically and emotionally, just so they can spite their inner demons.