THE CABINET

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 By  Dinna C.  Vasquez

Abigail’s  uncle Danny lived just beside  her in a townhouse in southern Metro Manila.  He is  a former priest who lived there with his mother,  sister and two nieces. After a few years of being by themeselves, the family  finally decided to hire a  helper to  help with the housework.

Lydia was a comely lass who  seemed strong and hardy. Dark-skinned,  tall and on the  chubby side, she came from  Daraga,  Albay.  “Handa po ako magtrabaho,”She gamely told  Abigail’s Uncle Danny.

Danny gave Lydia instructions on housework and he specifically told her not to  disturb the second room upstairs. Don’t touch it-was his strict warning.  But the girl saw nothing  with cleaning  the room and  rearranging  the  furniture. After all, she was  Danny’s  sister Nelda enter the room lots  of times.

The following day,  Lydia was in the  batroom when she was startled by a loud banging on the door.  Thinking it was the two  children,  she opened it but was  surprised  to find  no one there. “Someone must be playing a trick on me,” she shrugged before  finishing her business  in the bathroom.  After lunch, Lydia told Danny that she would just  take a shower and iron some  clothes.”Sige, doon ka na sa taas,” Danny  replied.

After an hour,  Abigail,  who had just given birth to her second son, heard  a loud  banging coming from her uncle’s house. Worried that Danny’s  mother may have fallen down the stairs, she rushed next door to find out what was wrong. As she entered,  she  heard noises coming from upstairs, like something was hitting the walls.  Danny was  also about to go up  the stairs to see what happened.

When Abigail  and Danny reached  the second floor, they were  startled by what they saw -blood was streaming  down Lydia’s face! She was in the room that Danny had  specifically told her not to touch! They  could see  Lydia hitting her air,  throwing  punches  at some unseen foe.  They could also see her skin being broken and torn, seemingly  from the  force of a punch.

Danny  tried to pull Lydia away.  All Abigail could do was  scream because she  was carrying her baby boy in her arms. Finally,  another neighbor Rene, rushed into the  house. “Ano nangyari?” he asked Abigail.

“Ewan ko, parang sinasapian “tong katulong  nina Tito Danny,” she replied.  Indeed, Lydia looked like a woman possessed. Her face was contorted in an unimaginable  way and Danny, whose arms were around her, couldn’t seem to make her  stop. “Tulungan  mo ko,  pare,  ang lakas nito,” he told Rene. Even  with Rene helping Danny pull  Lydia away from  her invisible  opponent, the  housemaid seemed stronger, which was no mean feat  since Rene was 6’1″ and weighed  almost 200 pounds.

After what  seemed like hours,  Lydia seemed  tiredof her exertions.  She fell  to the floor and looked  like she  had gone through a 12-round boxing match. For four  hours,  she laid  there,  mumbling, shouting  and cursing, until  Danny’s  mother decided to  call a  magtatawas to  find out what was wrong with Lydia.

“May kalaban ito at hindi basta-basta…kapre,”said Aling Pilar.

Lydia’s struggle lasted almost the whole night. By  2 a.m. she seemed herself  again although she looked pale and tired. She  didn’t last long in Danny’s household. After she left,  no extraordinary incidents like this followed. A years later, Danny and his mother moved to Canada. His sister and her  two daughters went home to the province. Because the move was immediate, they gave  away their furniture and most of their appliances.

Emy, a neighbor wanted the cabinet in the second room upstairs. There was  nothing spectacular about the  cabinet but Emy like it because it had many drawers. She  asked her husband Art and  two of her grown sons to  bring it out of Danny’s  house.  It took Art and  the two boys an hour to take the cabinet out of the room but for some strange reason,  the three couldn’t bring it down the stairs.

“Ang bigat!” Art exclaimed. “Parang may laman.” But the cabinet was empty. They left it outside Danny’s house because they planned to repaint it the following day.  The same night, Abigail couldn’t sleep.  She kept  hearing strange noises that  seemed  to come from  Danny’s house.

The next day, they decided to call in Aling Pilar, who immediately pointed out to the  cabinet as the source of the noise. “Bahay niya  iyan,” She said. “Binulabog n’yo siya. kaya nanggugulo s’ya.”Apparently, the kapre  didn’t  appreciate being  uprooted from his  habitant, i,e.  the second room in Danny’s house. Emy  and Abigail then decided   to get rid of the cabinet by giving it to an  ambulant vendor who passed by the house.  After that,  everything was quiet in the compound of Abigail’s townhouse.

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