Heart to heart
Maya saw Richard right away when she got to the top. He was sitting on one of the rattan chairs in the gazebo. He didn’t notice that she was there. He was just staring into space and unconsciously tapping his fingers on the glass table, his coffee, untouched.
“Ricky.” Maya called softly.
“Maya!” Richard said, very surprised to see her standing at the entrance of the garden. He smiled brightly, especially when he realized that Maya called him “Ricky” and not “Sir”! He is so happy at the moment. At last, he will have his chance to explain himself and apologize to Maya.
Richard stood up, went to Maya, hold her on the elbow and guided her to the chair beside his. He asked her what would like to drink. Only then that Maya noticed her surroundings. Her heart was beating so loudly that she felt dizzy for a moment. The whole place is really beautiful, and looks so peaceful. There is also a small bar in one corner of the garden.
“No, thank you, Ricky.” She replied. “This is really a beautiful place. It looks so peaceful with all the flowers in bloom, and the plants. I didn’t know that there is a garden here, on top of our building.” She continued conversationally to calm her nerves.
“Not many people have been here. My mother had it built for Papa. He liked to garden during his leisure time. Mama thought it would be a stress reliever for him to come up here from time to time. Even if he can’t garden here!” Richard said by way of explanation. He too, felt the need to chatter, to steady his fast beating heart. He was unsure if he will start the conversation on the issue hanging between them. He opted to wait for Maya to say something.
“Ricky, thank you for the flowers. Ang dami ah. Also for the framed photo yesterday, and the coffee and muffin.” Maya said as she looked intently at Ricky’s handsome face.
“Maya, about the notes, I meant every word I have written.” He replied.
“R-ricky.” Maya said, then she asked him the question that has been in her head since he ‘disappeared’ from her life in Stockholm. “Why did you leave without even saying goodbye? I mean, you are free to come and go, wala naman talaga tayong commitment, but didn’t I deserve a goodbye, even as a friend? Then added to that, you didn’t tell me you are connected to Lim Corporation, or that you are one of the Lims of LC!”
“W-what?” Ricky exclaimed, surprised at Maya asking why he didn’t say goodbye. “Maya I left you a note, explaining that I had a family emergency. I left it at the front desk of your hotel! Didn’t they give it to you?”
“You, did? Wala naman silang ibinigay sa akin! I waited for you at the lobby the following evening, pero nang hindi ka dumating, I got worried. I called your phone pero out of reach siya. Nahiya naman akong tumawag kay Rafi , and hanapin ka. The following day, I waited for you again, pero wala pa rin. Then the third night as well, and that was when I realized then that you were gone. I will admit, nasaktan ako ng sobra, kasi I thought we were okay. We were more than okay when we parted after our trip to the botanical garden.” Maya said as she looked at Ricky, getting teary-eyed.
“Maya, sweetheart, please don’t cry. I can’t take that. I’m so sorry for everything – for the miscommunication, for not saying to you my connection to LC! You don’t know how sorry I was for not admitting to you my connection to the company you work for. I was planning to come clean that Monday evening where we were supposed to see each other again. After our trip to the botanical garden, it was very important for me do so. I didn’t want a lie between us. I believed we have started something beautiful. I was hoping then that you also felt the same feeling I was feeling after the kiss we shared. But I should have not left the telling to another day, as something very urgent came up the following day. I needed to take an urgent trip to the Philippines. I tried calling you, pero you were not answering. I guessed you turned off your phone during training, kaya there was that note I left. Let me explain fully, please.” Richard appealed as he held both of Maya’s hands.
Maya looked at him and nodded.
Richard took a deep breath, then looking deeply into Maya’s eyes, started his explanation.
“I think I better start from the beginning. My father sent me to Harvard. He wanted me to learn everything I could about running a business. He wanted to groom me as his successor. I returned to the Philippines full of ideas, and very eager to implement all I have learned in my studies in America. I wanted to be with him in making our company grow more. However, the reality was far from my idealistic take on things. Yes, my father gave me a key management position which suited my qualifications. But most of my ‘modern ideas’, he disgreed with. I will take a step forward and then he will send me two steps backward. He didn’t have enough confidence in me. He was just too traditional when it comes to business. Yet I persevered, thinking that he was just slow to change, being old school, but it didn’t change as months and years passed by. I love the company, our employees, and I love my father too, and my mother, so I stayed, even if there were times, I wanted to quit. However, things came to a head when he insisted that I marry one of his business partner’s daughter. I had enough of him not trusting me to make my own decision, prove my worth, and help in the running of the company. He wanted to manage my personal life too, saddle me with a girl I didn’t love, that I didn’t even like!
I submitted my letter of resignation and I told him I accepted a job in England. He told me that I can’t expect any support from him. I said I can manage. I said sorry to him then packed my bags and moved to London. I cut ties with LC and went on my own. It was a nice feeling also to be just ‘Ricky Lim’, not ‘Richard Lim’ of Lim Corporation. I was just a bit sad at how my father and I parted. It made Mama sad too.
Two months ago, my Uncle Patrick, my father’s brother who was on the board of LC, started appealing to me to come back to the company. He said my father was sick. He said my father regretted our discord, but too proud to ask me himself, to come back. He said he was doing the asking on his own volition and that my father didn’t know about his calls to me. I put him off. I was not ready to come back, for fear that when my father gets well, he will be back to his old ways. I made a life where I was. Just before I came to Sweden, Uncle Patrick called me again. I told him I will think about it. I decided to take some time off, see what Rafi has to say about the whole thing.
Then, there was you. I never expected I would fall in love, so sudden, so fast, when I took that trip to Sweden. I was not really looking for love, the way things were. But from the moment I have seen you at the airport, I was attracted to you. Then, fate has thrown us together several times. The more I got to know you, the more, I fell deeper. I regretted not telling you about me and LC right away. But at the time you told me where you work, I just wanted to forget all my problems, my situation. I also wanted you to know me as me, and not because I am your boss’ son. I also didn’t know what you have heard about ‘Richard Lim’. When I got to know you better, I have decided that I will tell you the truth, and was just looking for an opportunity to do so. After our trip to the botanical garden, and I realized that I have fallen for you, I have decided to tell you the following night, and ask for your forgiveness. I hope that you can also see beyond that, and consider we had so far, together. I love you with all my heart, Maya. I didn’t intend to hurt you or leave you like that.
“Ricky.” It was all Maya can say, as she tried to reassure Richard that she understood. “What happened?”
“The following morning, Rafi and I got a call from Mama. She asked us to come home as Papa was terminally ill. He had cancer. We didn’t even know he was that sick! He didn’t want us to know and worry. Mama said that Papa wanted to talk to me urgently. We readily booked the earliest available flight that day. When I failed to reach you, I decided to leave a note for you at your hotel on the way to the airport. In it, I told you that Rafi and I were going back to Manila and that I will see you there when you return from your training. I also mentioned that I have something to tell you and that I want to tell it to you in person. I also wrote my parents’ address and phone number in the note.”
“Ricky, I wished I have known the situation you were in. I don’t know what happened to your note! I never thought it could be like that. Kaya pala, Sir Roberto was very sickly the past several months. I liked yout father, even if he was strict. He was very sincere in helping people. I was sad to hear of his passing.” Maya touched Richard’s face. “I wished I was able to comfort you.”
“You did, Maya, in a way.” Richard said and then elaborated. “The thought of you and our time together gave me strength, and comforted me as I went through the whole gamut of emotions – from guilt in not listening to my uncle, and not patching things up with my father, sadness at his passing, and regret at all the wasted time – time that I could have spent with him, instead of working abroad. But then, I also took comfort in the fact that our paths crossed because of me going abroad. Though, had I not left, I think we will also meet at some point and ended up liking each other.
“When Rafi and I arrived home, I could see how happy Papa was to see us, especially me. He asked if he could talk to me alone. And when we did, he said sorry to me for not listening to my ideas, not giving me the room to grow, and forcing someone I didn’t like to me. He told me he should have not done that. He said, he should have known better since he and my mom were a love match. What my dad didn’t know was that – Josephine was the one pushing her father to talk to my father about us marrying. She have been coming on to me quite strongly prior to that, but I just ignored her.
Papa and I talked long into the night. I told him about you. He was very happy to know that we have met. He liked you. He also said that when got to know you, he thought that if he can wish someone especial for me, it is you. He said his only regret is that he will not see us together. I told him to concentrate on getting well as I will not stop until you are my girlfriend, then we can all have dinner, and I will introduce you to him and Mama as my love.
He died in his sleep the day after that, Maya.” Richard said, his voice breaking. “It was so hard in the beginning, but I have accepted that he is with God now, free from pain that he had been feeling the past several months. Mama said Papa really changed and mellowed after I left the country and he regretted what happened between us. I really wished I had more time with him. I also came to realized, then, that life could be gone in a snap so we should savor all the moments we can with our loved ones. Tell them how we feel, and don’t waste time.”
Maya didn’t notice that there were tears in her eyes until Richard wiped it with his thumb. She hugged Richard tight to comfort him and whispered. “ I love you Ricky.” Maya realized too that life is too short to dwell on things that had already happened and that she can’t do anything about. She and Richard have both learned something from what happened. What’s important is now. Love is stronger and more enduring. They are just starting, but she want to nurture and make their love grow more and more each day they are together.
“Maya, I love you very much. Promise, I will make it up to you. I will never leave you again, and thank you, for forgiving me!” Richard said with so much loved. He cupped her face and kissed her with all the love he feels. Maya responded to Richard’s kiss, wanting to show him how much she loves him too. The rooftop garden became the perfect backdrop for their expression of love for each other.