Since it was a holiday today, I had my day planned out this morning. Work on my assignments in some of my post-graduate subjects (three backlog assignments to be exact)… finalize my teambuilding module for the Math department… accomplish my bridesmaid duties… catch some sleep.
As I went down for breakfast, Mom and Jeany (my cousin who’s living with us) were talking at the table. Still shaking off the lethargy in my body, I just quietly sat there eating a piece of bibingka while listening to their talk and contemplating which homework I should finish off first. Suddenly Mom asked me if I could accompany my cousin in visiting her father along with my other cousin – Pie – who was coming over for a visit. Seeing that my mom really wanted me to go, I couldn’t say no. Family would take precedence over my homework especially during holidays. (Actually… partly procrastination, and partly the call of having reasons in going out). Jeany had to run some errands and Pie was still on her way so I had enough time though for a head start in finishing off 2 of my homework.
We had lunch by noon and were discussing how to get to my uncle. You see, he’s currently detained at the City Jail. Not something major though… domestic disputes that spiraled out of control and the law high on its heels. Jeany hasn’t gone to visit her father, and it felt like my responsibility to be with her. Thankfully Pie came along too. I haven’t been to the city jail…EVER. So I don’t know where it was to be exact and what their rules and regulations are. I remembered having met someone – a co-volunteer during typhoon Pablo – whom I befriended who works there.
She gave me these information:
1. Bring valid ID. 2. DO NOT wear: YELLOW or BLACK top, Sando/sleeveless tops, shorts, and tight-fit pants. 3. Foil wraps, knife, and metal spoons and forks are not allowed inside the facility. 4. All visitors are subject for SEARCHING. 5. Visiting hours: 01:00PM – 04:00PM (Tuesday – Friday) 09:00AM – 04:00PM (Saturday and Sunday) No Visits (Monday)
Good thing that I asked. My other cousin and I wore yellow shirts so we had to change. We bought food for my uncle then went off to BJMP.
I admit being at a loss when we got there. Although I expected the jailers/officers to be terse in their interaction, what transpired before we got inside was something you’d only get to see in old Pilipino movies of people who were visiting inmates. i can accept that everything they do was just Standard Operating Procedures. I get that. I have no problems with that. But it doesn’t change how I felt when they did their “SEARCHING”. It wasn’t something I had expected really. And they did it TWICE!!! Pie was lucky enough not to get in (according to the officer’s standards, her pants were capri and therefore not allowed passage inside). She had to wait outside for us and look after our bags while Jeany and I went ahead. After a couple more setbacks (and the second “SEARCHING”), we finally got to sat down with my uncle.
Now I’m not particularly close to any of my relatives (on both sides) but I guess time and age allows you to be more observant and sensitive to your environment. The father-daughter moment unfolding in front of me was… heart-wrenching. The type you see in movies. Regret. Shame. Uncertainty. Out of duty. I felt like a spectator. I wasn’t sure if they would talk to each other at all if I left them on their own. I guess, now I know why my cousin brought me along. To be the icebreaker.
it feels weird to talk about grown-up stuff with uncles. Even weirder to be placed in their collection of pedestals. He was pouring out his frustrations and disappointments… and in that moment, I saw a glimpse of my mom’s little brother still peeking through the guise of a golden-aged man. It was a cry for sympathy, for care, for love. A cry of regret, deprivation, and self-doubt. But then again, that’s the unconditional positive regard influence. I never knew my uncle very well. Just from the stories and one particular event when I was young. That’s another story to tell though.
We talked some more about what happened (the WHY it happened), his plans after this adversity, and what to do for the moment. I asked my cousin to jump at every opportunity during our conversations and was lucky enough to see them reach out, albeit adroitly. When the signal for 4:00PM sounded, we bid our goodbyes and went on our way. Thank God they didn’t do their “SEARCHING” anymore in going out. (Twice the experience is more than enough for trauma to set in!)
Pie was waiting by the roadside eatery. With so much adrenaline still pumping throughout our bodies, the three of us decided to walk off the energy first until we reached the end of the block.
It was a new experience going out with my cousins as who we are right now. Sure we hung out when we were much younger, but this was different. Being able to talk about family without having to describe each and everyone and finding out a little bit more about yourself is just surprising… to say the least. But that’s another story to tell.
Something I [re]learned today, sometimes things don’t go as you planned for initially. You fall down… make mistakes… face trials… lose sight of yourself at some point… make up for lost time. But no matter what happens along the way, it’s the process… the learning you gain along the way… and discovering more about yourself – about who you are and what you’re made of.