” Let’s put up a trap and then when we caught her in the act, let’s lock her in a room and we will then take each turns to rape her.” All four boys laughed, hooted and discussed the possibility. I stared at them wide eyed. Their excitement and anticipation impregnated the dim lit room, shadows falling on their faces as they squatted on the hardwood floor. I wondered at the nightmarish quality of the moment. I could not believe what I was hearing. I felt Analyn who was sitting beside me in my bed, shivered. The landlady looked at the boys approvingly and giggled.
The boys were talking about Chona. One of the boarders in that boarding house near the campus where I was enrolled for college.They suspected her of stealing the landlady’s money and a ring my mother had given me a year ago as a gift for entering my first year in college. Chona was a trash talking good looking young woman who dressed in shorts skirts and tube tops all the time. She chain smoked and engaged in late night drinking with the boys on her day offs. She was always in need of money and had left college to be a bar girl. Base on that the male boarders seemed to think that she was also capable of stealing. I used to like her before she started working in bars. She was fun to be around, honest and was genuine. But when she quit college and started working in the evenings she became withdrawn and antagonistic. She often came home drunk and would sleep for the entire day until she has to go to work again in the night.
There were five girls staying with me in the room of our coed boarding house. Analyn, a shy fragile looking girl who was a freshman in college. She barely said a word or two to anybody since she start boarding with us. Everyone assumed she was the unlikely candidate for the theft and so was Caroline, a 30 year old preschool teacher. Caroline had returned to her hometown for some emergency even before we noticed our stuff missing. The landlady who occupied one of the bed in the room and I were the victims of the theft so the suspicion fell easily on Chona.
As I looked at the boys while they were leaving our room salivating in anticipation, I was reminded of the pack of hyenas, I saw on tv, drooling over a wounded wildebeest. I wanted to warm Chona as soon as she returns. It was all I could do as I lost my courage to voice out my objection. Guilty or not I was shocked that educated boys such as them would be capable of doing those heinous things to her. I wondered if they were really concerned about the theft. Or if she really did it or not. I felt they just found an excuse to punish a girl for not behaving the way they wanted her to. It was also unbelievable that our 40 year old landlady was gleefully condoning their plans. I thought about calling the police. But what would I tell them? The boys will just say they were joking and Chona will be the one who might end up in jail.
Like Analyn, who I heard tossing and turning in her bed, I was awake waiting for Chona. I was waiting for the sound of her footsteps on the stairs. But she did not go home that night. I must have dozed off in the early morning for when I was awaken by several voices talking in the living room, the light outside the windows was already bright. I noticed I was alone in the bedroom. I got up quickly with a thundering heart. I thought I was too late to warn Chona.
I went downstairs in the living room and find the boys looking disappointed but still laughing naughtily among themselves. I saw Analyn and the landlady in the terrace sitting closely together in a serious conversation. Analyn was crying.
I looked at the boys inquiringly.
” It was her. Analyn. She was the one who took the landlady’s money and your ring. She pawned your ring.” One of them said, as if wishing otherwise.
” She got scared hearing our plans last night and confessed. Who would have thought.” The oldest one among the men added dejectedly
Analyn was forgiven but was asked to leave after paying for what she had stolen. I didnt hear any plans of punishment for her from the young male boarders. Chona only laughed when she heard about what the boys were planning to do to her when she finally arrived at around noon. She playfully slapped the boys in the head for being naughty but continued to hang out with them. I left that boarding house the very next day.