Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Gift of Prayer By Irene Riot
In the Philippines during the early 90’s. First year of medical school. The start of Tess’ caffeine addictions. Anatomy. Physiology and the career ending Biochemistry. So much to process in seemingly very little time. After downing a few liters of barako coffee, Tess laid down to sleep.
Drifting off, her mind became more awake. A movie was playing, only the picture frames were moving so fast she could barely make out the scenes. She could hear voices. She could make out a few words but they were not in English or Tagalog. Latin? Body numb, almost paralyzed. Her heart was racing and her breathing was labored.
Tess had several of these dreams back then. She hated it when they happened. She always woke up tired. She would always fall asleep in class. Tess sat in the back and had to photo copy her classmates’ notes.
Every now and then she would see a young lady in these dreams. She was a petite Filipina. Fair skin, pretty with a sweet face. She had a mole on her chin. When Tess first started seeing her, the lady was always smiling. Then the lady appeared more frequent and she was with a man. His presence made Tess’ dreams even more uncomfortable.
Tess would see scenes of what may have been part of the young lady’s past. From what Tess could understand, the young lady was the daughter of a well to do family. Her boyfriend was the family driver. She was in love with him, wanted to marry him. Of course the family did not approve.
In one scene, the couple was going out for a drive together. They were driving fast. Their car crashed and they both died. In another scene, Tess was in the restroom with the young lady. She was crying and cut her wrists.
After several weeks of these dreams, Tess was annoyed. It was coming to the point where her studies were being affected. She would study in the early hours of the morning. Now, she was starting to feel a weird presence as she studied. If Tess was failing a class and had to study extra hard, maybe she could ignore the presence.
“Mom, can we go to the herbolario or spiritista? I’m having these weird dreams.” Her mother believed heavily in the supernatural. Tess believed in the supernatural when it was convenient.
Sitting in front of the spiritista’s shrine, covered head to foot in coconut oil, rosary around her neck, the spiritista was communicating with the spirits. Neither Tess or her mother told the spiritista of the dreams.
“You’re being visited by two spirits. A man and a woman. They were boyfriend and girlfriend. They committed suicide together because they weren’t allowed to marry.”
The hairs on Tess’s skin stood. The spiritista smiled triumphantly. She knew she hit the nail on the head with her prediction. “Don’t worry. They don’t want to hurt you. They just need prayer. When you go to bed tonight, dedicate your prayers to them so their souls can rest. What else?” she asked me.
“Will me and my boyfriend get married?”
She just laughed.
Before settling into bed that night, Tess prayed the rosary, “and I dedicate this rosary to the spirits in this house. May they rest in peace.” Turning off the light, not only did Tess feel their presence but she saw their silhouettes. Shocked, she turned the lights back on and left them on this time. She slept very little that night, if at all.
Tess no longer saw the young lady and her boyfriend in her dreams and she no longer felt their presence when she studied. She often wondered about them. One Sunday during mass, Tess remembered them.