imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Seeing the Dead

By Edward B. Antonio
(First of Two Parts)

One day, while visiting my son Genghis’ room, I was met with a suffocating unpleasant odor that I could hardly describe. I found out that our two female cats had given birth and that they burrowed themselves under his bedroom for several days already. The kitties were already playing here and there when I discovered them.

We removed the kittens and their parents from the bed and took out all the bags that were stocked beneath. Apparently, the source of the pungent odor came from the bag piles which the cats made as their birth-giving bed. We cleaned and disinfected the room and brought all the beddings under the sun.

I was examining the contents of the bags when I found some worth-reading books and magazines. It was customary for me to buy books and magazines to be read later. But my wife, a woman who doesn’t like books and magazines scattered anywhere, neatly packed them in sando bags and placed them inside these souvenir bags I got from different regional and national trainings, seminars and press conferences.

It was already dusk time, but I was still there under the mango tree reading some of those old stuffs. One that caught my attention was a 2007 magazine where bizarre stories were told to Jesus Manuel Torrento: It was entitled “I See Dead People,” sent by a Press Relations Officer of the Davao City Police Department. He sent two stories which I am sharing with you in the next two issues. I hope you don’t just find these stories entertaining but will also open your “sixth sense” to the bizarre things happening around us, especially those things pertaining to the dead.

The first story runs:

I possess what others call a “sixth sense.” It is also called “psychic ability” by physical researchers or those involved in the study of the supernatural.

For one, I have an “uncanny gift” of being able to anticipate things. There were times when I would suddenly sit down, with a strong feeling that a visitor or a letter or a phone call would come. And most of the time, it would!

Not surprisingly, I have had encounters with the spirits of newly-deceased people – eerie incidents that would leave me exhausted for days. They were, however, inarguable proofs of life in the hereafter. Some ghosts, indeed, return to the world of the living for some “unfinished business” before they go to the realm of peace and eternal rest.

The first of these happened shortly before the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. I was then the press relations officer of the Davao City Police Department and working for a master’s degree in English and Comparative Literature. I was staying at St. Anthony’s Dorm for men along Claveria Street in the heart of Davao City, within walking distance from the police headquarters.

My co-boarders were mostly professionals, yuppies and employees working their way up the bureaucratic ladder at the city hall. My next door neighbour was Juanito Regodon, a soft-spoke Boholano who worked at the provincial capitol.

Nitoy, as he was called in the dorm, was the retiring type. He was neither a book-reader nor a moviegoer like me, but we had one thing in common: painting. He was skilful with watercolours, a medium hard to wield, and his pieces had some luminous properties, visually poetic in the wash blending of colours, hues and tints. Sometimes, he borrowed my oils and brushes and I’d borrow his tubes of watercolours. On some weekends, we would go to Talomo Beach, south of the city, for painting sessions along the shore.

By summer of that year, I temporarily left the dorm for six months. I was sent to the US as a scholar on Police Community Relations, sponsored by an American association involved in law enforcement development. When I finally returned to the dorm after the grant, Nitoy was the first to welcome me.I was busy unpacking when he came in.

“I did some paintings after you left,” he said. “Would you like to see them?”

It was past midnight. My plane was hours behind schedule for the flight from Manila to Davao and I was very tired.

“Your canvasses must be very terrific, I’d like to see them first thing in the morning,” I told him.

“Tomorrow then,” he said, sounding strangely hollow. I had a good look at him before I left my room. He seemed to have shrunk. Thin as wafer, I thought.

The next morning, I found his room locked. There was no response when I knocked on his door.

At breakfast, I casually told my fellow boarders at the table: “Nitoy came to see me last night when I arrived. He looked thin. Is he sick?”

They all stared at me open-mouthed. They looked at one another as though I just told them a joke. It took a few seconds before one of them spoke.

“Nitoy has long been dead. Weeks after you left,” he said. “They said it was meningitis and the doctors could no longer save him.

(To be continued)