My problem is my niece, who is an old maid at 42. Her father was my only sibling. He, his wife and two other children died in a bus accident, and my niece, who was nine years old at that time, was the only survivor in their family. She was left to live with a cousin of ours who had no children. My niece had learning difficulties and finished only high school and took some vocational courses later. She now supports herself as a freelance manicurist.
All this time, I’ve thought of her as this angelic, virginal person who epitomized innocence and not at all interested in boys. I guess I never knew her! Sometime last week, I was talking with a former neighbor and our conversation drifted to my niece. I was saying how sad I was for her because she’s never had a boyfriend in her life and I even joked that she would die without having experienced sex!
My neighbor laughed and asked me if I were living under a rock all this time. She said it’s been common knowledge in our place how promiscuous my niece has been, and how she’s had three abortions or miscarriages already—she wasn’t sure now. She even knew of the time my niece had a boyfriend who beat her up, and how all her boyfriends have made her their gold-laying goose!
My niece, who I thought has never traveled farther than Makati, is apparently a seasoned commuter, going by bus to far-flung places alone, like Laguna, Aparri, Mindoro to follow guys she has just met—and gets dumped a few days or weeks later.
Now, she is again nowhere to be found! Her friends said she went to meet a guy who was her textmate barely two weeks ago.
I am not so young anymore and I am so afraid for her. I want to find her and bring her home. I feel that’s the least I can do for my departed brother. My most serious worry is that nobody will care for her anymore when I am gone.
You want to do an intervention for her? Your brother, wherever he’s perched, would be eternally grateful to you for your concern. But, you cannot intervene. She is of age and free to live the way she wants. You can talk to her till you grow feathers, she will agree and say yes to everything you’re saying, but behind you, she will still do exactly what she pleases. You might as well be talking to the wind.
It’s tragic that you had to learn the true nature of your niece’s from other people. She clearly pursues the wrong men, and they find a willing victim in her. And these heartless creatures are legion! They lack the sensitivity to gauge her mental state and wouldn’t know if she is just plain gullible or even an inkling she has the mind of a child. They just get what they want from her, and that’s that. How could they, when what they just see is a grown-up, well-developed mature woman who’d give them what they need for that moment. Your niece acts viscerally and therefore falls into their trap. She wouldn’t know a wolf from a sheep.
What you’re doing is truly commendable—but a practice in futility, however you look at it. You have time against you. Unless you lock her up in your house and wait—until one outlives the other, it’s too late to teach this woman-child the hazards of living and loving. There’s nothing you can do now except hope that she meets someone who will take care of her.
It’s tragic, but you can’t do anything but accept her fate. And pray that fate looks kindly upon her—at last.