When our close friend Kit (Chief of Staff of Risa) was confined in the hospital last week due to kidney failure, we made it a point to be there everyday to keep her company. Being understably protective of Kit’s disposition, we were aghast when a nurse who took her vitals at 3 in the morning, muttered to herself while staring out of the window “full moon pala, kaya pala madaming multo sa hallway.” At the time, I was more incensed at how a nurse can foist her fears (founded or unfounded) on unsuspecting patients at an ungodly hour of the day, than perturbed by the statement itself.
A few nights after, around 8:00 p.m., I decided to grab a snack at the cafeteria at the ground floor. I took an elevator from the third floor, where Kit’s room is located. The elevator was empty when I stepped in, but there was a little boy around the age of seven who was behind me. He entered the elevator as well. I gave him a small, polite smile.
Then he suddenly chimed, “may sakit ka din?”
I felt an inexplicable jolt. Staring straight ahead, I replied, “hindi, dinadalaw ko lang ang kaibigan ko.”
We then both stepped out of the elevator when it landed on the ground floor.
I wondered about the strange feeling I felt when I was in bed later that night. I like kids, and make small talk with strangers. Certainly, there was nothing strange about engaging in small talk with a kid I haven’t met before. And then, all of a sudden, it hit me: Kahlil, Kit’s 6-year-old son, was not allowed to visit his mom during the entire duration of her stay. Children below the age of ten are prohibited from entering the premises of the National Kidney Institute. The little boy who spoke to me could not have been visiting a relative. If he were a patient, then why was he moving around so freely?
* * *
If the little boy was not of this world, it would not be my first encounter with friends from the other realm. When I was in fourth year College as a Journalism major, I interned at the crime beat of GMA 7. One night, we covered a vehicular collision at the North Expressway. The scene of the incident was, literally, a bloody mess. It was my first time to see intestines and blood and brains splattered on the pavement. In the midst of the commotion, someone came up to me from the side and then muttered about how the driver had fallen asleep on the wheel and missed the chance to swerve. Something like that. I remember that he had on a yellow t-shirt.
Thinking that I had the first hand account we were looking for for interviews, I told him to wait there while I look for the reporter and tell him we have a subject. When I caught up with the reporter and the camera man, they told me we had to rush to the hospital. Upon reaching the hospital (a mere five minute drive), we learned that the driver had just been declared dead. As I had gotten used to looking at corpses from being in the crime beat for a month already at the time, I went ahead to take a look. One glance was enough to make me turn away.
He was wearing the same yellow shirt as the guy who had spoken to me just a few minutes earlier.