Our thrice-a-week househelp, Teresa, has become a permanent fixture in our home because of the quarantine. She chose to stay in rather than go home and not have any job (she used to have daily work schedules in various places).
She is efficiency personified, an angel from the heavens. There is not a corner in the house she does not clean and disinfect. She finds things we had forgotten we had. She tends to our garden with a thumb so green, everything is flowering and growing. It's as though our househelp of over 40 years, the late Ate Vi, has come back to life.
Unfortunately, Teresa has one big lament.
Her son, aged 21, got into trouble in December last year. The parents of his girlfriend, 14 years old and therefore still a minor, sued him for rape and he was jailed. He insisted that the act was consensual, but the law is clear that any intimate act with a minor is considered rape, a heinous crime penalized by imprisonment of six to 12 years.
Teresa’s public attorney suggested out-of-court settlement with the complainants. This forced Teresa to make a loan of P50,000 (the amount specified by the accusers) from various sources and immediately handed the cash to the girl’s parents.
The next step would have been a hearing so her son could be set free. But the lockdown happened, and court proceedings stopped. When the quarantine eased, the hearing was finally scheduled. But the lawyer was infected with the virus and had to be quarantined.
After that, another hearing was calendared. This time, the judge got the virus, too, and so the whole courthouse had to be closed for disinfection and sterilization.
He has been languishing in jail (crowded, hot, dark, and unclean) for seven months now. Teresa sends him money to buy food other than what prisoners are served (sometimes “half cooked rice” and “just tuyo”), but he said the money is confiscated by uniformed men. Sometimes Teresa sends him food through emissaries, but these are seized by prison bullies.
We are trying our best to help ease Teresa's lament by making her feel at home. Away from the problems of her family, she has our home for a refuge where she can relax, watch You Tube, get in touch with her son via mobile phone. We upped her pay so she could have enough savings to tide her over after the lockdown; and most importantly, we pray that God may grant her His grace of comfort and peace of mind.
There are many lamenting Teresas in the country today, while we all grapple with the onslaught of the virus. May we cover them with our prayers and help them, where we can.
photo credits: grabbed from various e-newspapers and thesun.co.uk