Sunday, May 11, 2003

MOTHER'S DAY HAPPY OR NOT ? The word Sisa became a byword among us friends calling each other Sisa instead of “baliw" (crazy). Sisa was the mother who had gone crazy looking for her two sons, Basilio and Crispin in the novel of Jose Rizal. Upon the invitation of a nun-friend, I visited a small town in the South of the Philippines. There I saw a Sisa. She is a permanent fixture of the town; often seen with some food handed to her by some kind citizens; humming and sometimes dancing with an imaginary partner. Gloria’s dream all through childhood was to help her poor family and have a family of her own. She finished high school and despite her wish to go to college, her mother with some more mouths to feed cannot afford to give her education that she needed in order to get a job other than being a sales girl or a maid. It was the period when nannies or governess were in demand in the United Kingdom. With all expenses paid, it was a dream job for those who do not see any career blossoming in the financial district with CPA licenses and MBA certificates. She was one of the lucky ones. She became a baby sitter for two boys whose parents traveled a lot that most of the time they were out of the country. She was loved and trusted by the couple and the children. They increased her salaries without asking her for a raise. During these years, she postponed her vacation in order to save more money. She asked her mother to have a new house constructed in a lot that she bought from the savings. The mother obliged. She would ask for more money for the construction materials. All the while she would send her photos of the dream house under construction. She was happy with her life until her employer informed her that they were moving to the USA and much to their regrets they would not be able to bring them as nanny since the boys were already past the age of being baby-sat. She was however referred to an old couple whose grown up son visited them every time he found time to be away from his job in the city. He was good and he got a girl friend. He got also a vice, liquor. It was in one of these drunken moments when the son barged in in her room. After fifteen minutes of maximum exertion of kicking and fighting, she was subdued. The old couple was kind enough to allow her to stay until she delivered the baby, who they thought was a result of a relationship that soured. The son, however, liked the baby but was already engaged to be married. It was at this point when she saw herself at the dark corner. She was looking at herself being an unwed mother and reaching a crossroad to decide what options were available to her. She got savings. She got family back home. She got a house. Yes, she got a house. She planed back to her country with the baby without even a short notice. Everybody was surprised. Her mother, her mother’s lover, her brothers, sisters and other relatives. She looked for the house. She was expecting a big beautiful house. She saw the house; exactly the house in the photos she received from her mother. She was about to get inside the gate when her mother told her the bad news. It was not hers. They just took its photos. There was no money in the bank either. The mother's lover was a gambler. She had not recovered from her shock yet, when she received the news that the father of her child was in town. She traveled to the City in order to consult a lawyer regarding her right over the baby leaving the latter under the care of her relatives. Travel time was equivalent to a day and a half in the bus or three days for the entire trip. She spent three days to look for a good lawyer; a total of six days, enough for the Father of the child to stuff some bills to her relatives' pockets in exchange for the baby. He did not waste a day more to leave the town and another few weeks to get the necessary papers to bring the baby back to his country. The woman disappeared for a few months. Every one thought that she flew back to UK but she did not. She was confined to the hospital after she was found sprawled in a sidewalk, bleeding. She never talked again. On this Mother’s Day, a young man must be greeting a mother, Happy Mother’s Day. The real mother would not hear it. She must be hearing some voices. Voices that make her alive but not sane. Quotation: No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you-life.


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