It’s amazing what the human body can withstand for the sake of survival.
How our structure, molecules and metabolism adjust and adapts to the environment we were put in.
Our mind psychologically rebuilds our entire system to make sure we endure whatever it is that stands between our life and death.
We could be dying, but if it’s not the time to die yet, we’ll just be stuck in an endless, torturous loop of our body’s hard attempt at continuation.
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological disorder whereby a kidnapped victim falls pity or has feelings towards their capture. They start to see the world through the culprit’s eyes and for some reason, starts to understand and accept their captive fate. In some cases, they even fall in love with the culprit.
I, for one don’t think so. I don’t think Stockholm Syndrome is a disorder. I think this particular diagnostic is just another method of survival our brain cultivated in order for the patient to not lose their mind. I think it’s a guise to fool the sufferer so that they wouldn’t lose hope. For them to feel like there is another chance at living.
The case I had to handle left me sleepless for so many nights. It’s been more than 3 months since Cinta’s disappearance. Cinta. Love. Her name literally means love. It was nerve wrecking.
If it were up to the precinct, this case would have been closed two weeks after her disappearance. There were just no clues. Nothing. Everything was so clean. We had no choice but to conclude that she had just chosen to vanish on her own. Her mother’s cries were so clear in my head. I chose to be the one to break the news to her. I felt it was my obligation to do so, seeing how she was my roommate once back in college days. Era was a love bug back in those days. A complete romantic. Nothing short of a sweetheart. I was not at all surprised she named her only daughter Cinta. She had one of the kindest, purest hearts I know. Which is why it was so difficult to see her once cheerful, bubbly face turn pale and solemn. It was like her skin structure had turned to ashes and she just crumbled right in front of me.
“Tak, babe. No. She would never do that. She’s my baby. She would never leave her mama like that. She looks for me every morning, babe. She would pout the whole day if I disappeared early in the morning. She would never leave me like that, Nor. Never.”
All I could do was hold her.
But then, two weeks later, she received a postcard. A postcard. Who even sends those anymore?
“hi umi. Having fun hEre in meLaka. i know you’re worried aPout ME. don’t worry. i’m find here with my boyriend. he treats me so Well. he just brought me to ipoh.
I Miss You.”
The postcard was immediately sent to forensics.
“She’s a straight A student and a debater. These misspellings are a psychological attempt at calling out for help. The only letters that are capitalized spell out HELP ME. Something’s wrong. We’re reopening the case.”
“Nor, she doesn’t call me Umi. She calls me Mama. Nor please, Nor.”
Three months in, the case was a standstill. A dead end. We didn’t know what to do. Then the second postcard arrived.
It was a picture of a village.
“She’s getting weaker. Her strokes aren’t as bold. We have to do something.”
Era’s now frail body was also deteriorating fast. I could only imagine how she is taking all this. She had lost her husband when her daughter was 4. He had saved their daughter from drowning but ended up with too much water in his lungs, he suffocated on land. With the loss of her husband, her love for Cinta got deeper. She was all she got left. We started suspecting she sent the postcards herself to continue the case.
6 months in, forensics found something the cards. A trace of oil that could only come from handling a certain type of soil and wiped fingerprints. The fingerprints were wiped off good. But the oil. The oil was important.
7th month; It was detected that there could only be three places in Malaysia that had factories using that soil. Two of them were in a remote jungle area.
8th month; We raided one of the areas. It was empty. This leaves the next area.
9th month; We were dumbfounded. Both areas were raided. Nothing. There was nothing.
10th month; Another postcard. This time it was just a picture. A picture of Cinta. She was forcing a smile, a small peace sign from her left hand. The background was dark, the flash was turned on causing too much exposure to the picture. Cinta looked frail. So frail. Her eyes slightly were half closed as she tried to shield her eyes from the flash. Era fainted when she saw the picture.
2 weeks into the 10th month, we got a call from a gas station. Apparently, they just checked their CCTV footages. Roughly 3 months before, they saw the image of what looked like Cinta coming out of the toilet. The footage was sent to us, and it was confirmed. It was her. She got into a pickup truck of a man wearing a cap. She was so frail.
12th month; we managed to track down the truck. Our dogs caught Cinta’s scent through the woods behind an old house leading up to shed. We busted through the doors, and sure enough…..
“Dik.. dik.. adik ok x? Ya Allah, dik.. What did he do to you?”
“Dik, you’re okay now. We’re taking you home.”
“Dia ingat apa-apa tak? Is she responding?”
“No. And not surprising. Setahun kita cari dia. It’s amazing she’s still alive.”
She wouldn’t let go of an empty, torn McDonalds paperbag.