Desperate demons

By June 3, 2023Entre'acte

By Rex Catubig 


THERE was a time I was remiss with my being a Cerrado Catolico Romano. Some life changing upheaval had me questioning my faith, and forsaking the obligations expected of a faithful. I stopped going to Confession which I had done regularly, even confiding once to the father confessor that I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Then I began skipping Sunday mass altogether as I felt like a hypocrite if I did but carried resentment in my heart. My mother, who was a member of the Catholic Women’s League, noticed this and asked why. I merely shrugged. Anyway, I made up for it by visiting any day an impulse struck me.

It was during one such visit, that I found lying on a pew, a sheaf of bond paper scribbled with heavy cursive that spilled, over pages upon pages, with an overflow of  rambling, ranting ruminations.

“Siak, Mrs Belen Flores vda de Magat, aquitulor ak karoman“, began the lengthy, incoherent, meandering letter bursting with surreal and sexual  imagery. She switched from Spanish to English to Pangasinan with frenzy– writing about family and genealogy, her being a teacher, the many priests she knew personally, the rumors about their affairs with women, the unwavering respect she had for them.

But the recurrent theme was how people talked about her promiscuity. Which she claimed she ignored, asserting that she was not a flirt and would not get involved with men of multiple partners.

Writing furiously, it was evident she had much going on in her mind. Random thoughts and memories haunted her and swirled around her head like winged insects around a flame. Her confused mind was close to the breaking point and she had to unload them, to diffuse the pressure that gripped her being, Maybe, she had hoped to share them with whoever would pause and read what she had to say. Then maybe listen to her quivering voice masking a desperate cry.

“Siak, Mrs Belen Flores vda de Magat, dengel yo ak”.

I found her stream of consciousness chronicle not just a curiosity but a revealing cultural commentary of her time. It was a mirror of the society she was part of—where family history and background occupied the top of the hierarchy of values. Where being a teacher was a mark of distinction and being multilingual came naturally. But underneath all the flourish, was unspoken emotional turmoil.

Her exalted status might have gained her the close relationship she had with the men of cloth, whose company she enjoyed; despite talk being rife with their alleged illicit affairs with women. Still, she was adamant that she held them in high esteem.

Upright and snobbish, she was nonetheless a magnet for controversy, the victim of scandalous rumors, by a society that condemned a person based on hearsay. She was branded a hoe which she vehemently denied. But couldn’t she accept that she, too, might have flirted with the priests and maybe had an affair?

Maybe this attack on her character bore some truth, thus her being defensive. Who knows if overpowering guilt pushed her to the edge as the groundswell of gossip was too much to bear for a vain woman of her stature?

The question that begs an answer is, was all this for real? Or desperate demons aching to be exorcised?

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