SAD, SAD WOMAN STARES INTO THE STARS
Charcoal drawing on kraft paper
11" x 17", 2002
Her name is Marta.
As far as I can remember, she'd only come three times a year with a greeting for both my uncle and mother. She'd flash her toothless grin and say "Meri Krismas po Aling Linda", or whatever the holiday may be - the other two being New Year's Eve and Easter. And as has been customarily done by my two elders, they'd each put food on her palms and money in her pocket. "Salamat po Aling Linda. Biyayaan po kayo ng Poon." (Thank you. May the Lord bless you.)
With her bundle clasped tightly to her chest, she'd scuttle out into the streets with her back hunched and accompanied by the taunts of street urchins shouting, "Martang Peklat! Martang Peklat!"(Marta with the Scar)
When my uncle died, Marta sat on the floor at the farthest end of the funeral parlor. She stayed at the back oblivious to the march of our relatives, friends and family. Rocking back and forth, she would utter words comprehensible only to her. I spied her once muttering over and over again, "Salamat po Dok Simporoso." (Thank you Doc Sinforoso)
My uncle was buried a week after. We all mourned his passing and accompanied his hearse to the cemetery. In one jeepney, I saw Marta sitting on the floor of the vehicle and two men were already restraining her. I couldn't tell then why but it seems she was ready to jump and fly on wings from the moving vehicle.
"Dok Simporoso!! Bakit naman iwan mo ako??!!"(Why are you leaving me??!!) Marta wailed so loudly as my uncle was being lowered into the ground. I remember her running away when some of the men were about to restrain her for the second time.
Giving our last respects to my dead uncle, my family prepared to leave the cemetery and head back to the car.
We passed Marta near the cemetery's gate. Sitting by the roadside, she was picking the scabs from a healing wound on her wrist. For the first time, I noticed that she had wounds all over her arms and face. Some healing, some still fresh with blood.
"Marta, umuwi ka na. Sumabay ka na sa dyip pabalik ng Sampaloc" (Marta, go home. Go with them in the jeep back to Sampaloc), my mother gently beckoned her.
She looked at my mother and uttered, "Iniwan na po niya ako." (He already left me.)
That was the last time I saw Marta.
Marta (her last name I cannot recall) was a former patient at the then National Mental Hospital where my uncle served as an administrator until the day of his retirement. She was raped by a relative at age 16, became pregnant and lost her child to a miscarriage.
She lost her mind.
During her stay in the institution for mental care, she was again raped by her co-patients. It was after this incident that my uncle and his wife personally took care of her, and when she gave birth, she killed the child a few days later while it slept in its crib. She never again regained her full sanity.