Aircon Against My Back

September 12

It was almost 9 O’Clock in the morning, we are almost open to accept applications for Claims on Gross Human Rights Violations. A woman walked in, sat quietly in front of me. She looks very polished, respectable, like a proper career woman. She handed her affidavit. She has a PhD.

After reading through her story, I probed: “maari ninyo po bang ikwento ang nangyari sa inyo?”

She replied, “my husband was an activist. So, they came for me as well. They wanted to know where he was. I have not been in touch with him for quite some time already. I do not where he was.

I was brought to the camp. Then they placed me in an isolated room. They forced me to stand with my back against the aircon with nothing on, except my underwear. Being in that room is like an eternity.

I was blindfolded.

I can hear voices of people in anguish in another room, like they were being tormented..tortured or something. They were hoping I would say something. What do I know? The sound of another person being tormented made me believe that the person was my husband. His cries pierced through the room, and I was deeply troubled. I know it was him.

They released me afterwards. It was the morning thereafter.

Several days after that incident, my husband came home. He became irritable and it soon became difficult being with him. He also became distant and cold.

We lost our marriage after that”.

I listened intently at her narration. Controlling my emotions; steeling myself to ask difficult questions. After all, my task is not about counselling, but to ensure I probe and validate the claim.

But when you hear the truth, there is nothing more to probe, or to say, you just simply accept it like it is, like a morning sun. It is as bright as the day.

I cannot offer words of sympathy. It is not my job to counsel or to offer some platitudes. It is best not to say a word, because silence carries with it better meaning.

We were silent for some time, as I ponder the meaning of her words. I can only force my eyes in reading the affidavit, because that is what I am comfortable to do.

When I finally got my composure back, I asked…”were you able to discuss what happened to him, when he went missing…?”

She said, “No. We were never able to talk about it. Even our kids do not even talk about it.” 

**********

You see friends,  torture is never happy thing. It destroys not only the life of the victim, but also that person’s relations – his family and loved ones are never spared.

The thing with torture, the memories stick to you like a permanent tatoo. Scarring you and your loved ones for life.

#NeverAgainToMartialLaw #mlchronicles #neverforget