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Grandpa's Last Visit


My third eye is, I think, only partially open. Most of the time, I can feel that a place is haunted even though others around me feel nothing out of the ordinary: Sometimes, I am sensitive enough to know how many entities are in a place, and where they lurk; sometimes, I can just feel that something is not normal, and nothing more than that. Sometimes though, I feel nothing out of the ordinary even if the place is reputedly haunted. And, except for one episode while I was still in high school, I have never seen an apparition at all. The jury is still out whether I find this a gift or curse. I am sure though that I got this 'ability' from my mom's side of the family.

There was grandpa, my mom's dad. He seemed to have met most of the creatures of Ilonggo legends: The mantiyaw or mantyo (an unusually tall, skinny guy which is reputedly taller than most houses or trees); the kapre (a big, black, hairy giant that sits on trees or rooftops while smoking a giant tabako or cigar); the tikbalang (a creature with the body of a man and the head and feet of a horse); the tayho* (a centaur); the bagat (a shape shifter that assumes the form of a giant, black dog or pig); the tamawo (a fairy that looks like a normal human, identifiable only by its lack of a philtrum, the groove between your nose and upper lip); and the murto (ghost). According to the stories, these creatures would sometimes block his way on the road at night, but never harmed him. Grandpa would just politely greet it and say he wants to pass, and then he would wait until it makes way for him. Oftentimes, he would just see them around him. They sometimes show themselves near the big, old ancestral house in the province where grandpa and grandma lived. Sometimes they showed up even when he was in the city.

My mom could also see things, mostly ghosts. Several times, she saw the swivel chair in her office turning by itself. What she saw never scared her away, just like grandpa. In fact, she still sits in the same swivel chair. I remember when I was younger she would tell me lots of stories about my grandpa's or her own experiences. Even then, I suspected she had not told me everything. What she always told me though, at the end of every storytelling, was never to be afraid of those things, for they could never hurt me.

Anyway, I'd rather talk about grandpa and how he protected me all these years. It's really rather unusual that he still protects me because, you see, he died when I was only a month old.

According to mom, grandpa moved with us just the day before I was born. After I was born and taken home, he insisted that he take care of me himself. He changed my nappies, sang me a lullaby to put me to sleep, and gave me a bath every day... Pretty much everything except breastfeeding me himself LOL. Then a month later, he complained he was not feeling well and collapsed. They brought him to the hospital where he went into a deep coma. The doctors said he had a stroke and only time can tell if he'll recover.

Meanwhile, I was left at the house. Being just a newborn infant, I could not be brought to the hospital where the risk of getting an infection is great. My mom could only leave me for an hour or two at the most to visit grandpa. When she leaves, only my nanny, the maid and the cook is there to watch over me. My nanny stayed with us until the day she died, that is until I was about eight. She told me this story several times as I was growing up.

A few days after grandpa was sent to the hospital, my nanny went to the nursery to check on me because I had been unusually quiet for a long time. When she entered, she was surprised to see grandpa standing beside my crib, looking down at me while I was sleeping and holding my hand.

"Lo," she said. "Kasan-o ka lang nakaguha sa ospital?" (Grandpa, when did you get out of the hospital?)

Grandpa didn't say anything and just continued to look at me. Then he looked up at her and she saw that he was very pale and looked very sad. He smiled and then he was gone. It was at that moment that she knew he had passed away. When he disappeared, I woke up and started crying so she picked me up as tears streamed down her face. It was that scenario that greeted my mom when she entered my nursery as she got home from the hospital.

To be continued...

*I'm not really sure if this is the correct spelling

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