There is this woman who fell in love with a guy out of her own cultural group. An out-group that is looked down by most of her in-group. Call it the hierarchy of ethnocentrism (that feeling of superiority over other groups). Her in-group truly exhibits ethnocentrism amongst all other groups with no qualms at all. They are proud of it. They show it. People know it. People are aware of it. People can even feel it.
Now the guy lets his intent of marrying the woman, let’s call her Apeace, fly out to the direction where Apeace’s parents are. The intent reached the parents through Apeace herself. As expected, the parents verbally pronounced total rejection and dislike towards the guy. And with the continuous discouragements from the guy’s friends, the guy, let’s call him MD, lost all courage and inspiration to go meet Apeace’s parents. Unfortunately, MD lacks immediate family circle to back him up. He allegedly grew up without parents, only distant relatives. That makes matters worse because, in the traditional Philippine marriage preparations, the road to marital bliss largely involves the parents. The guy’s parents to meet and form alliance with the girl’s. Definitely, the guy’s parents strengthen and increase the guy’s chances to win the girl’s yes to a marriage.
But, with the predicament they are in, what should be done with the growing baby bump of Apeace. Yes, those who want to have a child and tried various ways fail. And, yes, there are those who simply got swayed for a night and then boom! The pregnancy is totally, completely a taboo in both of their in-group and out-group! The conservative Philippines ranks farther from these sub-groups when it comes to taboos. They are placed in the extreme scheme of things in society, be it for life or for death. Something that reason does not understand the reason at all.
In all of the few months of agony as to what to do, misfortune befall the innocent fetus! Apeace had miscarriage as she claimed it was. The bedraggled sweethearts had to attend to the whole expulsion process in the next city where the walls may lack ears and the windows may lack eyes. They may have felt relieved after all, only them would know. So they were freed from the doom of impossible marriage. They could continue to live separate lives in separate ways.
A year passed and Apeace found herself in a new web akin to a maximum security prison. I cannot blame you if you’d say Apeace seems to have not learned a lesson after all. She herself thought the same. It’s the same guy, MD, so she claimed. The problem this time – MD is not taking any responsibility whatsoever. Hala. He does not even believe it. Apeace said, again, it happened only once. And MD asked, why are you not safe at that time? Tada. You may wonder, how do I know all these. The horse mouth said it all. We had a tutorial on a course that I teach and now she takes over while I am still on study leave. That’s why. We had our first tutorial when she said she missed her regular menstrual flow. She suspected it. So I suggested she took the preg test to confirm her nightmare. When we met at a gathering a month later, she hushed to me and confirmed it.
Time flies so fast indeed for us who are super busy but even to those who would not like time to move. Time can not be stopped at all. So the months progressed and the bump grew as well. She hid it through loose clothing. She was grateful of the new classes schedule wherein workmates do not necessarily meet in a week. So the workmate-mothers do not see her and she is free from their wise and experienced vision. So, she’s able to carry the charade for five months. But, the sixth month is different. The bump would show to the world! How long can she hide it. She said one of her students, the slightly autistic one, who remarked in class, that Apeace is fatter now and looked like another faculty in another department who is proudly pregnant! Hala.
While we had our tutorial, a fraction of our time is on limbo discussion about her complicated situation. She will surely be killed by her family, she said, if ever she’s found in such predicament. MD also would blame Apeace’s parents. So, what’s the plan? To go on a training in another city where she may successfully deliver without her clan knowing about it. Hopefully the workmates who’d go with her can assist her. So, is there Plan B? Nada. She has no idea what to do in case the training application gets disapproved. Yay. Two more workmates from her in-group had to know of her situation to supplement to her excuses of how she is not being able to do tasks expected of her.
One evening post-Valentine, one of the two workmates, let’s call her Lisa, called me seeking advice which hospital she would bring Apeace who appeared to be collapsing judging from her tone through the phone. We both agreed of the government-owned hospital to avoid high expense. We both concur that our sisters-in-law emerged from the hospital well and good, after their gynecological cases of births and the like. I told Lisa to just explain to Apeace well and make her understand so her psyche is properly set and at peace with the hospital. So off they went.
Lisa kept on updating me. The challenge of a super secret is that the ones who knew carry the burden of the world. In this case, only three knew, so far. Well, I later learned that the immediate family of Lisa and Olie (let’s call the other workmate this) knew too. While me, I’m all alone with the secret. I cannot burden any family member with it. No reason for them to know anyway. While the other two need to tell to be able to go. The update contents specified the doctor’s findings: the fetus is dead inside and it had to be evacuated out for Apeace safety. Boom.
The Caesarian section was done. Problem – the dead baby. Lisa called me about it because the hospital will give it to her. Lisa cannot accept it, and her family (sisters and in-laws) forbid her to take it lest she be the one to be accused of having bore it after all in an in-group so obsessed with taboos and where clan feuds abound. Definitely I cannot take responsibility for a dead body too. When my sister died over ten years ago, I even did not do any paper works. My spiritual brothers did it for me. It’s faster for them as they were barangay officials then. They took care of everything from death certificate to permits to bury to a grave where to bury. And am I to go through all that! No way. It is something that can not be hidden in my in-group too. Aside from the paperworks, there has to be a wake, a 9-day prayer, a burial, and 40th day prayer. I do not have words to say to anyone who am I burying. I rest my case.
Lisa had to be there all by herself as the only support Apeace could ever get. Wow, what a heroic act she did amidst rebuff from her family. She was told to get out of the maze, bringing Apeace to the hospital is enough. But, Lisa stayed through the night up to the following day when the operation was done. She even called for Apeace sister with the information that Apeace is in the hospital for an operation of some sort, as concocted by Apeace herself. Lisa went out to the city to claim the cash sent by a guy from afar. Alas, the name of the guy as reflected on the receipt does not match that of MD. The provision comes from another guy. Who is this guy now. Ambot. So the story ends here for now because Lisa and I, we do not know what happened to the dead baby now and we do not want to know too. If Apeace fears death to be inflicted upon her by her kins, what more for us?