Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Secret Revealed

If there is one thing I learned about secrets is that life always finds a way of revealing them sooner or later.  Well, this one is the later kind.  But before I begin, I want to say that this is not my story, however reading John Silva's 2008 article "Lost and Found" in Starweek (also found here) about being reunited with a lost sister, I felt inspired and thought, why not?  This story, like John's has a happy ending  too. Of course, no real names will be mentioned to protect the privacy of the family. 

This story began in the 50's when a young woman while taking further studies in the States met a young widower who was then doing the same thing.  They fell in love and planned to get married.  But the young woman's family was vehemently against her relationship with the widower who already had young children.  The couple in spite of family opposition, continued to see each other and the inevitable happened...the woman became pregnant.  After giving birth, she decided to return to the country where she started working in her home province and was quite successful in her profession. She continued to communicate with the man who by then has also returned to Manila, perhaps hoping that her family will have a change of heart.  But after a few years, the woman decided to go back to the US.  She sold her business and left her young daughter with her mother.  The young widower continued to live in Manila raising his children and eventually he too remarried.  

That should have ended their love story...but no.  Fast forward to the future...one day I got a call from a friend asking if I know a certain someone.  And I said, of course! She is like an older sister to me...why?  Her answer was perhaps one of the biggest surprises in my life...I will never forget the feeling.  Even now, remembering that moment, I feel a little teary.  This is what I heard my friend say over the phone..."I think she is my sister". I gasped and my jaw literally fell open.  All these years, not a few people in my small city have speculated on who the real father of my good friend whom we shall call "Inday" was.  In fact there was one particular person that people believed was her father because this man and her mother were in the States at the same time.  Inday in all the time I have known her has never ever mentioned her father. And I never asked because like most people I believed in the speculation that "that man" was indeed her birth father.  How wrong we all were.  Poor guy...God rest his soul.

So how did my friend discover they had a lost sister?  This is her story.  When her father passed away and she took it upon herself to clean up his things.  While doing so, she came upon a box filled with letters and she got curious.  It was uncharacteristic of her father to keep letters unless they were important to him and these were filed neatly in a box.  She started reading them and to her surprise, they were love letters.  Her first thought was, this woman must have been someone her father loved very much to keep these letters and as she continued reading, she saw the pictures...pictures of a baby, then a toddler...and then, she realized that this woman must have had her father's child. A sister they never knew existed!  But what made it even more serendipitous is the fact that my friend now lives only minutes away from the last known address of Inday's mother.  How that happened is a small wonder in itself.  You see, my friend is a true-blue Manileña but was transported to our province when she married into a family from here.  Now she believes that God paved the way for her to discover the existence of a sibling.  Why?  Because one, she married an Ilonggo, secondly that Ilonggo lives in the same province as her older never known to exist before sister, and third, because of that marriage, she relocated to this province, something that she never even dreamed of doing since Manila has always been her hometown. Where do I fit in all these?  Well, my friend has been trying to put together bits and pieces of what information she could get from the letters when she remembered me!  So she decided to call me, crossing her fingers that I might know this person since I lived in the same city and probably even went to the same school.  She was right.

But it would not be as easy as I thought.  I couldn't just call Inday who has been living in the States since after graduation and so, my initial reaction was to call her mother's sister who still lived here.  That Auntie was dumbfounded, is to put it mildly.  I think I shocked her into silence.  Her response to me after asking if Inday's birth father was this man, was..."I will call you back".  After a few minutes, she did and we talked.  She said she will contact Inday and get back to me as soon as possible.  The next day, she asked that my friend call her because she wanted to meet her in person.  A few weeks later, I got an e-mail from Inday.

Inday grew up an only child left in the care of her grandmother while her mother married and had her own family in the States and her father remarried and had his second family in Manila.  But Inday was not a lonely child.  She had her mother's supportive sisters and their family and she was the pride of her grandmother being an achiever and consistent honor student.  Still, she must have wondered about her father.  So much so that Inday while studying in Manila tried to meet her father but she was not successful. It is not clear to me what happened but I was told that it did not go well and so, Inday never tried to see him again.  It is ironic that Inday did not get the recognition from her father because today his entire family including his second wife has accepted her wholeheartedly into their fold.  I can only guess that perhaps he has never told anyone of Inday's existence and it was too late to do anything about it.  I can only imagine the pain her father must have felt for being unable to do so.  But he should be at peace now knowing that Inday has been warmly welcomed into the family and has met all her siblings...and they are not few!

Life may not be fair but it has come full circle for my dear friend.  The puzzle of her life is finally completed.



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