Night settled over the Chep Lap Kok departures area in terminal two. Many of those with flights going out in the morning stretched their legs out over the length of the metal benches and prepared to hunker down for a bit of restless sleep. Others waited in line to buy a last snack at the 7/11 before they would return to their luggage and assume the same positions as their compatriot flyers.
Sandra Carlos was one of the people waiting for her flight out in the morning. She had finished working as a domestic helper like many other Filipinos in Hong Kong this was the first time she was going to see her family after being in Hong Kong for four years. She had all the trappings of a Filipino living abroad. Designer handbag, a new pair of running shoes, a touch screen smart phone and lastly she had her brand new laptop that she had bought to keep in touch with relatives back in the Philippines. Cold from the frigid air conditioning, Sandra sat in relative comfort locking her knees together to form a sturdy base for her laptop. By her side was a bottle of orange juice, which she sipped on while her computer, hooked up to the free airport Wi-Fi, loaded up her instant messenger so that she could start her scheduled conversation with her husband and daughter back in the Philippines. After a few minutes the computer loaded up the screen and the happy smiling face of her husband greeted her.
“Hi dear,” he said cheerfully while waving for the webcam.
“Oh it’s been so long since I got to talk to the both of you,” she said almost choking up on tears of joy.
“So how has work been? I hope your client hasn’t been working you too hard.
“No he’s been fine. They have such a wonderful family and the kids are adorable. They’re so obedient.”
Her husband smiled more out of relief rather than out of approval. He had heard lately on the news of reports of domestic helpers being abused by their clients and some of them even being forced to have sex.
“Thank God that you got one of the good families,” he said, “When does your flight leave?”
“It the first flight leaving tomorrow morning sweetie.” The idea of going home made her heart leap out of her chest. She could finally provide for her family for a while and do all the things that she had been planning on doing with her husband and daughter. It was going to be a special treat because they were going to take their daughter to Star City, an amusement park in Manila. She just couldn’t wait to be back in the Philippines. Back at home with the people she loved.
“Is asleep already?” Sandra asked her husband hoping, just a little bit that her daughter hadn’t already nodded off.
“No, no she’s in the living room watching television.” For a few moments her husband went off screen.
“Regina, Regina. Mama wants to speak to you,” her husband called, his voice slightly distorting because of the connection. After a few seconds the husband returned to the computer.
“She’ll be up in a minute, dear.”
They were about to start talking once again when Regina appeared in the doorway. She looked to be in some kind of distress, wiping her tears away with one hand. Regina rigidly held up her other hand begging for her father to walk over and take a look at it. Naturally his fatherly instincts caused him to move quickly over to where his daughter was. He hunched over Regina, craning his neck to get a look at the wound from all sides. A look of shock and fright washed over Sandra’s husband as he held the wound in his own hands.
“Hun, what is it? Is Regina hurt?”
“Looks like it.” Sandra’s husband turned over to Regina, “Where did you get this bite? Did you get too close to the neighbour’s dog again?”
She shook her head, “I went to get my shoes from outside because I didn’t want them to get dusty. Then, Mr. Lacson was running down the street and tumbled into me, then he bit me.”
Regina did her best to hold back her tears but then let out a long wail of pain again. Her arm looked like it had been bitten pretty badly with the swelling being visible from the computer. However, there was another side effect off it. Even from the computer she could see it as clear as day. Regina’s was deathly pale and she walked in the room slowly with an unflinching stare. Both her parents were at a loss for something to say and both just stood there staring right back at her.