Richard parked his car infront of Maya’s house. Taking a deep breath, he got out, opened the back seat, and grabbed the flowers he had bought earlier – sunflowers for Maya and white roses for Mommy Tere. When he asked Maya, she told him that her mom’s favorite are white roses. Maya told Richard that white roses were what her dad gave her mom when he started courting her. Richard also brought a box of cigars for Maya’s dad.
Maya, radiant in her floral maxi dress, opened the door for Ricky.
“Hi sweetheart. Ang aga mo. Teka, take, hmmm.” Maya said as she pretended to inspect Richard closely. “Parang doble ang guwapo mo ngayon, sweetheart ah. You want to make a good impression ‘no? Don’t worry, sweetheart, papasa ka sa parents ko. Todo build up na nga ako. Saka dagdag mo ba ang number one member ng fan club mo, si Manang Fe.”
“Ikaw talaga, sweetheart.” Richard said, grinning at Maya. She really never failed to make him laugh.
Maya, seeing her love’s lopsided smile, tiptoed and gave him a sweet kiss. “O hayan, pa-good luck ko pa sa iyo.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I think I need more of that, kasi kailangan ko ng maraming pang-good luck this evening.” Richard teased her by making an exaggerated kissing gesture, which made Maya laughed and earned him a series of pinches on his side. “Okay, okay stop na, please. By the way, flowers for you.” He handed her the sunflowers.
“Oh, thank you sweetheart. You’re so thoughtful talaga.” Maya smiled at her boyfriend lovingly. “Halika na. Mom and Dad are waiting. We can have drinks first while Manang Fe and Sabel are putting the finishing touches to our dinner.”
They entered the house with hands intertwined, which didn’t escape the notice of Maya’s parents.
“Mom, Dad, my boyfriend, Ricky…Richard Lim.” Maya formally introduced Ricky to her parents, her love for him evident in her voice. “Ricky, meet my parents, Arturo and Teresita Dela Rosa.”
“Good evening, po Mr. Dela Rosa, Mrs. Dela Rosa.” Richard respectly and politely said. “It is an honor to meet you. Para po sa inyo.” He gave Maya’s mom the flowers and the cigars for Maya’s dad.
“Oh, thank you very much. Nag-abala ka pa. We are also happy to finally meet the man who captured our daughter’s heart.” Mommy Tere asked. “Please call me Tita Tere na lang and itong si Arturo, call him Tito Arturo.”
“Siya nga naman, Richard, call me Tito. Thank you for the cigars.” Daddy Arturo added, then patted Richard in the arm. “Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of your dad. How’s your mom?”
“She’s doing okay po. She is coping. It was very difficult for her, in the beginning, to accept that Papa is gone. Kasi po, they were inseparable when Papa was alive.” Richard said. “Ngayon po. little by little, she is doing better. She is focusing her time and attention on the charities she is sponsoring. I guess it is her way of coping.”
“We saw how closed your parents were when we met them in Beijing. Your dad was part of the business delegation with the President. Your mom was with your dad all the time when he was not attending meetings. They were very sweet.” Mommy Tere said. “Kapag naman busy itong mga husband namin, kami ng mommy mo ang magkasama sa shopping.”
“Talaga po. Mama mentioned to Maya nga po that you know each other, when we had dinner with her. Actually, Mama wants to invite you nga po Mr….errr, Tito Arturo, Tita Tere to dinner while you are here.” Richard said as he took a sip of the wine Maya handed to him while her mom was talking. “That is if you have some free time po. I know that this is the first time you have been home for quite sometime, and baka you have other plans already.”
“ No, it is okay. We would like to have dinner with Esme, di ba Arturo? It would be nice to see your Mama again. I really enjoyed our time in Beijing.” Mommy Tere asked her husband. “Is next Friday okay with you? How about it, Arturo.”
“Sure, sure.” Daddy Arturo replied. “Please tell your mom, we are glad to accept her invitation.”
“Sige po, I will tell Mama so she can make all the arrangements. I know this is something she will look forward to. Matutuwa po iyon.” Richard replied as he looked at Maya, and smiled. He is really glad that his mother and Maya’s parents will have the opportunity to see each other, a plan is forming in his head, again.
Manang Fe appeared soon after and informed them that dinner is ready. Richard escorted Maya to the dining table and Daddy Arturo did the same to Mommy Tere. Dinner was a lively affair. Maya’s parents observed first hand the loving interaction between their daughter and her boyfriend, and they loved what they saw. They are very happy for their only child. Both thought earlier that the best thing they can wish for their daughter, at this stage in her life, is for her to find a man who will love her with all his heart, and take care of her. They confirmed, upon seeing how Richard was to Maya, that she had found him.
While they were having coffee at the veranda, Manang Fe informed Maya that Emman is on the house phone, having failed to reach her through her cellphone. Maya excused herself, not surprised at Emman’s call since she knew that if there is something in her friend’s head, he had to let it out. He is a bit obsessive-compulsive and Maya understands her friend. She went with Manang to the living room. After she left, there was a bit of a lull in the conversation between the three occupants of the veranda, but it didn’t last long, with Richard breaking the silence.
“Tito, Tita, may talk to you po. Kung okay lang po sana?” Richard asked, as he looked at Maya’s parents, then taking a sip of his coffee, as if to fortify himself with what he will say next.
Mommy Tere and Daddy Arturo looked at each other, curious, and then both nodded, one after the other, and gestured to Richard to proceed.
“Of course, hijo.” Daddy Arturo finally said. “Ano ba iyon? Please go ahead.”
“I would like to ask your permission po sana if I could propose to your daughter.” Richard said, straight to the point. “I love her with all my heart, and I know that she is the only one for me. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, if she will have me.”
Mommy Tere suddenly hold on to Daddy Arturo’s arm, getting teary-eyed. She had an inkling this is coming, but maybe, not this soon. But soon is also okay with her, Mommy Tere mused. She looked at Richard and his earnest expression, waiting for their reactions. He is really a very nice young man, so polite and well-mannered, despite his status in life, and so in love with my daughter, she thought.
“Hijo, I think we are not surprised about this anymore. It was in the way you and our daughter were with each other this evening, so loving. Added to this, it was in the way Maya spoke of you during our phone conversations.” She finally said. “Of course, you have our permission, di ba Arturo. Thank you for asking us, even if you don’t really need to. You and Maya are both of age and I guess, both pretty independent, having lived on your own abroad. We do appreciate you asking us. Thank you.”
“Yes, Richard. I agree with Tere. Thank you, hijo, for asking us.” Daddy Arturo added. “Welcome to our family. Take care of our unica hija, ha.”
“Opo, Tito, Tita. Makakaasa po kayo. She will be my number one priority.” Richard promised his future in-laws. “Thank you very much din po sa pagtanggap.”
Mommy Tere stood up and hugged Richard. Daddy Arturo shook his hand.
“When are you planning to propose to her?” Mommy Tere asked, as she took a sip of her coffee again.
“I would like to do it po, sana while you are here.” Richard said, relieved, and very happy now. “If it is okay with you, kasabay na po ng dinner with Mama? I will finalize all the details and then inform you. Saka, I want to surprise Maya po with it, if it is okay. I want to give her a proposal to remember when we are old and gray, and something we can tell our children repeatedly.”
Maya’s parents smiled at what Richard said and it was what Maya saw when she returned to the veranda. They seemed to have agreed on something, what is that kaya, she thought.
“Mom, Dad, Ricky, sorry for taking so long. Ito kasing si Emman, may personal problem. But no worries, he is okay naman na po.” Maya said as she sat beside Richard. “So, what have you been talking about while I was in the sala?”
“Errr, nothing much. Your parents and I are just chatting.” Richard quickly replied. Good, that he had finished talking to Maya’s parents before she returned, he thought.
Mommy Tere looked at her daughter with a big smile, embraced her and then kissed her on the forehead, while Daddy Arturo looked at them, smiling. He thought, time flies really fast. Parang kailan lang his Maya was a little girl. Now she is about to enter another chapter in her life.
“I love you, Mom, and you too, Dad.” Maya said as she embraced her mother back. She was a bit puzzled why her mom suddenly hugged her like that, but she thought, maybe she just missed me!
“I love you too, anak.” Mommy Tere said.
The four of them chatted until late night. Richard said his goodbye, so happy with his evening with the Dela Rosas, closed to midnight. They asked him if he would like to stay instead in their guest bedroom, but he declined. He just told Maya he will pick her up tomorrow. Maya said she can just drive herself to work since he would be going home late, but he insisted on picking up Maya.
Maya and Richard, with their hands, intertwined, holding cups of coffee, boarded the elevator going to their floor, shortly after 8 o’clock the following morning. Someone greeted them as soon the elevator doors closed.
“Good morning Maya, Richard, hi.” Anton greeted them with a big smile, while holding a box of chocolates and a bouquet of red roses. “I’m actually on my way to see you, Maya. Sorry for not calling ahead. I was prepared to wait in your office, in case you have a meeting or will report for work late today.”
“Oh, hi Anton.” Maya said as she also looked closely at Anton.
“Good morning, Anton.” Richard greeted Anton politely, at the same time, taking note of the flowers and the box of chocolates. But he didn’t say much.
When they reached their floor, Richard, with Anton in tow, accompanied Maya until the entrance to her office section, as he had been his practice every morning. “I’ll go ahead, sweetheart. Have a great day. Let’s have lunch, upstairs.” He said as he gave Maya a kiss on the cheek, then waved goodbye. “Anton, I’ll go ahead.”
“Okay, sweetheart. See you. I love you.” Maya said, waved at Ricky, ushered Anton to her office, then asked Anton to sit on the chair infront of her table. “What brought you here Anton? Do we need to talk about new projects? May nakalimutan ba ako na usapan natin?”
“Wala, Maya. Actually, I’m here to say goodbye.” Anton said. “By the way, these are for you.” He handed her the flowers and the chocolates.
“Thank you! Pero what’s the occassion, di ko naman birthday ah?” Maya asked, curious.
“Oh, call it a parting gesture. I know I can’t give you those anymore to court you, as I know you are taken.” He said with a voice, tinge with sadness. “I was too late.”
Maya thought, so Ricky is right! “Oh, Anton. You know you are a very dear friend to me, and that’s about it.”
“I know that Maya. Richard is a very lucky guy. Congratulate him for me.” Anton said. “Don’t worry, staying abroad for a while will cure my broken heart.” He said with a smile this time, as if to reassure Maya not to worry, about what he said.
“You are going abroad? How long? How about your NGO here? ” Maya asked.
“My cousin Celeste will handle our operation for a while. I will be gone for a couple of months. I enrolled for a graduate course in Boston. I think it will be good for me in the long run, especially now that I have plans of expanding our work to other Asian countries.” Anton said. “I already told Celeste to call you to finalize the details of our other projects.”
“Good luck on your studies. I will just have Minerva schedule a meeting with your cousin.” Maya said. “Thank you Anton for everything.”
“Thank you too, Maya. I hope we can still be friends.” He said, as he stood up. “Would that be okay?”
“Of course, and I hope, somewhere out there is a girl for you, Anton.” Maya said, as she went to where Anton is, then shook his hand. “Sa guwapo mong yan, hardworking pa, and very nice, for sure, hindi ka mahihirapan.” Maya teased him. “Kaya lang, not me talaga. I love Richard with all my heart, and I was so lucky to have find my great love. Sana ikaw din.”
“I hope so, Maya.” Anton smiled. ” I want something like you and Richard have. I can see naman that you two are very much in love with each other. Kaya heto, poporma pa lang ako, alam kong basted na, kaya nga hindi ko na itinuloy.”
Maya and Anton laughed. Maya is glad that everything went well with Anton. She said goodbye to Anton and then proceeded to work on the papers on her desk. She was finished before lunch. She told Minerva she will have lunch with Richard.
Maya went to the garden at exacly 12NN. The first thing she noticed was the beautiful table setting. Then she saw Richard, and smiled.
“Hi sweetheart.’ She greeted him with a big smile, and a kiss. Then she looked around closely. “Wow! Are we celebrating something?”
“Hello sweetheart, you’re just in time.” Richard said with a big smile. “Wala naman, I just want to do something extra nice for my sweetheart today. Come, let us eat. I’m hungry.”
The two of them had a very enjoyable lunch. Maya offered to make coffee afterwards, which Richard quickly agreed to. She gave a steaming cup of coffee for Richard, then settled back on the seat beside his, with her cup.
“Sweetheart, I know you want to ask me something. Spit it out.” Maya told Richard with a smile.
“Ha, wala kaya.” Richard, trying to appeal nonchalant, as he sips Maya’s delicious coffee. Truth be told, he was curious why Anton was here. But he didn’t want to ask Maya as it might appear that he wanted to grill her. That didn’t even enter his head. He trusts Maya completely. But he does want to know why Anton visited her.
“Hahaha, anong wala, curious ka ‘no. I can tell.” She teased him. “Sige na nga, I will tell na lang. Well, he went to my office to say goodbye kasi he is going to the States to study.”
“Talaga? For how long? How about his NGO? ” Richard asked, never expecting that Anton was there to say goodbye. “Eh bakit pala may chocolates pa and roses?”
“I was gonna get into to that. Sure, you are not jealous, sweetheart?” Maya asked with a smile.
“Nope.” Richard said emphatic. “I trust you kaya 101 percent and more.”
Maya smiled and touched his cheek affectionately. “Thank you, sweetheart. I love you. Well, he said those were his parting gesture to me since hindi naman siya makakaligaw na since I am taken na. He also told me to tell you that you are one lucky guy, Mr. Lim for having me in your life.”
Richard grinned, then interwined his hand with Maya’s, and looked at her deeply, lovingly. “I know that sweetheart. I’m so ever thankful to God, for sending you to me. I love you very much.”
Richard and Maya gazed at each other lovingly, then because they can’t help it, sealed their affirmation of love, with a long, sweet kiss that promises more.