31 October 2013

Made for Believing

No one will believe this story, but I once saw the hand of a monster. I’m being serious! This was many years ago, when I was about eight or nine. My older brother and I then shared a bedroom at the back of the ancestral house in Quezon City, and our view from the jalousie windows was of the neighboring house’s backyard, which seemed always shadowed by tall old trees. Because I was so fearful of supernatural things, and because I was, and have always been, the sort of person whose imagination runs wild, the decision had been made to tilt the windows shut every night, and lock the bedroom door, and let my brother, who was eleven or twelve, get to keep by his bedside the blue child-sized teddy bear with a massive hole on its cottony groin. 

It couldn’t have been a prank because the incident happened in the middle of the night, definitely sometime past twelve or even one. Everyone who lived in our house was asleep. In fact, I, too, had been sleeping until the creaking sound of the door—yes, the locked one—woke me. I knew it was a monster because its hands didn’t look human; they were colored black, a sort of gangrenous black, and had claws. And they were slowly pushing the door open. I remember glancing at my brother, who in those hot summer nights slept shirtless, to see if he was seeing what I was seeing, and when I realized that he wasn’t, that he was sleeping through the horror, I quickly but quietly crawled up to his bed and began to pinch his exposed belly as hard as I could. But he wouldn’t wake up. So I screamed at the top of my lungs—screamed like a wittle girl—and the next thing I knew the lights had been turned on and both my parents were at the door. The monster had disappeared. I was allowed to sleep in mother and father’s bedroom for the rest of the night, but to this day I have not forgotten, and continue to be spooked by, the image in my head of those hands.

Of the other things and creatures which various members of the household have, at one time or another, claimed to seeing—say, the lady in white or the headless man in Barong Tagalog, both of whom have a penchant for hanging around in hallways, and for causing disturbances to one of my cousins, who’s a busy mathematics professor—I cannot say I know anything. I’ve learned to be less afraid of what I don’t see, because after all our eyes are made for believing.

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