Loss

At around 4pm today while my husband and I were away at work, a man (40ish, clad in a white shirt and blue pants) arrived by the gate of our house, pretending to be talking to my husband on his mobile phone. He asked one of the maids to let him in, saying he was a relative of ours, and that my husband asked him to wait in our house. While the maid hesitated, he insinuated his "authority" by asking her to buy him some cigarettes. As she went, he let himself in the gate and ordered the other maid to hold the guard dog down so he can get in properly.

Inside the house, he called my sons and asked them to make mano to him. The boys, confused as they were as to who the man was, obeyed. Feeling that he has further established his "identity" as a relative, the man then egged the maid for some merienda. When she said there was none in the house, he berated her, saying, "Ano ba naman 'yan, ako pa ang magpapa-merienda sa inyo imbes na kayo ang magpa-merienda sa akin."

He then took out P500 from his pocket and ordered the maid to go to Jollibee (in Pacita Complex, a good 30-minute tricycle ride away) to buy burgers. When the maid refused, saying it was too far and that we weren't home and that no one would be left to look after my kids, the man told her to just go and bring my younger son with her.

And so the other maid left with my boy in tow, leaving my older son alone in the house with the stranger. The stranger then went upstairs into the masters' bedroom. When he saw that my son had followed and watched as he forced the drawers open, he said my husband had asked him to get something.

My son went back to watching TV downstairs.

Minutes later the man came downstairs and without a word, left the house carrying a blue, fat, bursting clutchbag.

It was then that my son called me at the office to tell me about the man. I FLEW and got home just a few moments after the two maids and my young boy.

My heart sank when I entered our bedroom and saw the opened drawers. The man had helped himself to ALL of my jewelry, and a substantial amount of cash. He also took my foreign currency collection.

I wobbled down the stairs with jelly knees and let out a torrent of strong, very angry words at the maids. How could they let him in, despite my instructions about not TALKING to strangers? Why did they not call me at the office to report the man's presence? Why did they follow his instructions blindly, even taking my boy out on a trike ride, without my consent nor clearance? How could leave my 10-year old alone with the man?

Our first and perhaps only line of defense was the gate -- and the maids were under instruction to keep away from the gate as much as possible. When the maid came near the gate and talked to the man, she gave him a host of possibilities for breaking in. If he had not talked her into going out to buy him cigarettes, he could have taken her at knifepoint and demanded entry, could have kidnapped my boys, raped the maids, killed them all...

I thank God that my boys are safe, but with the bounty he got I fear the man (or his friends) will be back for more. My older son was traumatized by what had happened. Being older, he understood the extent of our loss and perhaps felt some blame for not being able to stop what he had seen. While I assured him that he did the right thing (of keeping away from the man and then calling me), and that he wasn't to blame for what had happened, he had repeatedly asked, "Mommy, paano kung bumalik siya?" He had insisted on coming with us to the office beginning tomorrow.

****
My mind refuses to quiet down so I can sleep, and my heart chokes with grief. I grieve over the things we have lost; I grieve over the things we have given up to earn that money. I grieve over the memories and the sentimental value taken away with my jewelry.

More importantly, I grieve over our loss of safety, the sense of normalcy thrown askance by the turn of events. I realized how unprepared the maids are for emergencies. What happened has shown how instructions, admonitions and training dissolve in the fear and panic of real-life crises. Gone is the confidence of leaving my home and my sons in competent hands; in its place, fear, worry and frustration, as I cannot be at two places at one time.

Nothing is the same.

2 comments:

jenny roxas said...

This story is a tough one, and an eye-opener for working moms like us. I understand the trauma and all - and thank God, the kids were safe.

Another moral of the story, beware of "very pushy' people - strangers at your doorstep, credit card agents, and even those in the mall who give out freebies for a moment of your time - una, nakaka-irita, pangalawa, napaka-impolite pa nila.

Marko said...

i feel bad to hear about your loss. thank god nothing happened to the kids!

mark s

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