Archive for November, 2014
Maya opened her laptop, then logged on to her Skype account. She is in luck! Her mother is online. She was not so sure as she had mentioned several days ago that she will be busy working on their back garden. Mommy Tessie loves to garden and it’s from her that Maya got her love of getting her hands dirty and puttering in the yard, then happily watch what she had planted grow. She prefers to plant flowers and ornamental plants, though. Her mom, on the other hand, prefers all kinds of herbs and vegetables.
“Hello Maya anak!” Mommy Tessie greeted her eldest daughter. “Kumusta ka na? Gabing-gabi na diyan, bakit gising ka pa?”
“Hi Mom! Mabuti naman po ako. I’m glad that I caught you. I thought you would be out gardening.”
“Naku, medyo napagod na ako. Heto nagpapahinga muna. Saka, malapit na rin namang matapos. I can do it tomorrow.” Mommy Tessie said as she moved a bit to make herself more comfortable. “Heto habang nagpapahinga, nagbayad ako ng bills online and was about to check a gerdening website when you called.”
“Mom, rest din ikaw. Hinay-hinay ha.” Maya said. “I called up po pala kasi may sasabihin po sana ako sa inyo.”
Mommy Tessie suddenly felt that what her daughter will say is something very important to her, she looks so serious and nervous. “Oh, sure, ano ba iyon, Maya anak? May problema ka ba? Sabihin mo lang kung anong maitutulong ko.”
“Mom, thanks a lot. But I don’t have a problem. In fact, ang saya-saya ko nga po! Mom, kami na po ulit ni Ricky.” She said happily.
“Ricky? You mean si Richard, iyong boyfriend mo dati? Ha, paanong nangyari ‘nak eh you suddenly stopped mentioning him nga to us shortly before you left for Kabul eight years ago. You know, he visited me after you left. But that is a story I want to tell after you tell me how you and Richard ended up together again. Though, I must say, I’m not surprised it happened, just that why did it take this long for it to happen! We just chatted last week. Wala ka namang nabanggit about this.”
Over the next hour Maya told Mommy Tessie how she and Richard became boyfriend and girlfriend again. At times, Maya got teary-eyed in her narrative. Her mother also cried, especially when Maya told her that Richard’s baby died, and for what her daughter went through.
“Maya, anak, I’m so happy that despite everything you and Richard went through, you still found each other again.” Mommy Tessie said, drying the tears from the corners of her eyes. “Para talaga kayo sa isa’t isa. You know what. I told Richard when he poured his heart to me that if something is meant to be, it will be. Ganyan talaga, anak kapag destiny mo and kapag talagang love mo.”
Mommy Tessie took a deep breath and continued. “I never told you about Richard’s visit because I was waiting for you to say something about whatever you were going through that time. Noong wala kang sinasabi sa mga e-mail mo at tawag, naisip ko na baka gusto mo na rin lang kalimutan ang lahat and makasama pa kapag inungkat ko. Ayaw ko nang masaktan ka pa.”
“Mom, sorry for just keeping everything to myself at that time. I thought that was for the best. Kung alam mo lang, Mom, the pain I felt when I read online that Ricky got married, tapos ang layo-layo ko pa sa inyo.” Maya said. “Pero after ilang years, my heart healed and I, sort of, move on, pero hindi pa rin nawala ang feelings ko for him.”
“Ganyan talaga, anak when love is true. It endures.” Maya’s mom told her.
“I know, Mom. I love Ricky very much and he said he will make it up to me.” Maya added, and her mother can see the love for Richard shining in her eyes. “By the way, Mom, Ricky said he will give you call tomorrow. Would that be okay?”
“Of course, I want to hear from him also. Kailangan niyang i-promise sa akin na hindi ka niya sasaktan ulit!” Mommy Tessie told Maya, half-jesting, half-serious.
“You know what, Mom. That is one of the reasons he told me why he wants to give you a call.”
“Talaga, anak! Nakakatuwa naman.” Mommy Tessie smiled, then asked, “Teka, sabi mo reasons,’nak, may iba pa daw ba siyang dahilan sa pagtawag?”
“Oh, I don’t know about the others, kasi sabi niya ‘among other things’ lang, Mom.” Maya replied.
By then, Mommy Tessie’s motherly intuition kicked in and she has a pretty good idea on why Richard wants to call her. Looks like, he is really making up for lost time, fast!
“Okay, anak! I will just wait for Richard’s call.” Mommy Tessie said.
“How’s Nikki and Luke, Mom?” Maya’s siblings are both in high school. Luke is in his senior year.
“They are okay. They are doing good. I hope you can be here for Luke’s graduation ha.”
“I will try, Mom. Alam niyo naman po itong work ko. Minsan kung saan-saan na lang ako nakakarating. Saka, we have this project with Mrs. Lim, di ba?”
“Hpw’s Richard’s mother nga pala Maya? I read that his father just died recently.”
“Mrs. Lim is a very nice lady. I forgot to tell you earlier. The reason why Ricky and I met sooner than we expected was because of her talaga. I think she wanted to matchmake between us. Speaking of which, I forgot. I don’t think alam na niya na kami na ulit ni Ricky. Mom, iyong expression niya nang malaman niyang magkakilala kami ni Ricky, priceless!”
“Talaga, anak. Mukhang magkasundo naman pala kayo ni Mrs. Lim. I’m glad.” Mommy Tessie said cryptically.
“Yes, Mom. We do. Nakakatuwa and nakaka-amaze minsan ang mga idea ni Mrs. Lim for her charities. Saka hands-on talaga, especially after Ricky’s dad died.” Maya answered. “Mom, I have to go. Super late na. I need to wake up earlier than usual kasi Ricky will pick me up again tomorrow.”
“Sinusundo ka ni Richard? Eh di ba sabi mo earlier sa BGC siya nakatira and their office is in Ortigas and you work in Makati. Okay lang ba sa kanya, anak? Hindi ba nakakapagod, considering CEO na siya ngayon!”
“I told him about that already, Mom pero makulit and mapilit. He has a driver naman. Saka, alam mo Mom the first time he invited me to dinner, he did it by sending almost 3,000 roses to the house, para raw sa bawat araw ng mga taon na hindi niya ako nabigyan noong roses na ibinibigay niya sa akin na nagsimula noong nagtatrabaho pa ako sa hotel.”
“Oh my! Maya anak. grabeng bumawi sa iyo si Richard ha. I have to say this, anak, kinikilig ako.” Maya’s mom told her happily, and teasingly. “Sabihin ko nga sa Daddy Mark mo at ng magka-hint matagal-tagal na akong hindi nakakatanggap ng flowers from him, hahahaha.”
Maya laughed. “Oh by the way, Mom. You can tell this to Daddy Mark. I’m sure he will be happy for us too. Kasi, I think he liked Ricky a lot when I brought him home for that Thanksgiving dinner!”
“Okay I will. O matulog ka na. Good night anak. I love you.”
“I love you, Mom. Hugs and kisses to Nikki, Luke and Daddy Mark.”
Mother and daughter signed off. On the way to the bathroom, Maya saw her phone blinking. There was a message from Ricky. Good thing it was just sent several minutes ago.
Good night, my love! See you in several hours. I love you!
Good night, my Ricky. Sorry for the delayed reply. I just finished talking to Mom. More on this tomorrow! I love you too, very much. Sleep well.
Richard was at Maya’s house several minutes before seven o’clock the following day. Upon seeing him waiting for her by the car again, Maya thought that she will never get tired of looking at her handsome boyfriend like this.
When Maya was walking towards him, Richard thanked his lucky stars again that he has been given a second chance at this, looking at his beautiful girlfriend with a loving and sweet smile for him every morning.
They exchanged a sweet good morning kiss.
While inside the car, Maya told Ricky that she mentioned to her mom that he will give her a call. Maya suggested that the best time probably is in the evening. Anyway, she said, her mother will just be home today. So is her Dad who just got back from a business trip.
“Oh good! I’m looking forward to that. Thank you, Maya.” Richard said, happy at the turn of events! “By the way, is it okay if we have dinner this evening sa family home namin?”
Maya was surprised at his request. “Oh, is there a special occasion? Birthday ba ni Mrs. Lim? Or baka naman family dinner iyon, Ricky! You don’t have to include me. I can just take a cab home.”
Richard smiled at Maya, then cupped her chin lovngly! “No, my love. I want to us to have dinner with Mama, only her, so we can tell her we are in a relationship na ulit.”
“Oh!” Maya’s eyes rounded and she felt her heart skipped a beat in hearing that. Then smiled sweetly, a bit shyly at Ricky. “Would that be okay? We just started again.”
“Maya, I’m 101 percent sure that it will be okay. Besides, my mother is probably dying to know what happened after she left us in BGC, but is waiting for me to say anything. Actually, I think she will be ecstatic. Don’t you have the feeling that she was trying to match us up together? I’m also thankful to Mama, if not for her, probably we would have not seen each other yet dahil hahanapin pa lang kita sana.”
“Or maybe, yes we would, since I knew you are her son and I was determined to have a closure.” Maya said smiling. “But I ‘m really thankful to your mother.”
“So, it is a go? I wil give her a call to say that we are coming for dinner, okay?”
Maya nodded, and they spend the ride chatting about the stuffs they needed to do for the day. Like yesterday, Richard gave Maya a paper bag when she got off the car.
“Thank you! I love you! Have a great day, Ricky!” Maya said then gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
Richard grinned. “With that to fortify me for the day, I surely will. Can I have one more, please!”
Maya giggled, but gave him another kiss. She entered her building, still smiling.
“PDA kung PDA lang ex-roomie!” Emman greeted.
“Emman!!!! What are you doing here? This is a nice surprise!” Maya ran to her friend and gave him a big hug.
“Bessie, two weeks ago lang tayo huling nagkita ah. Parang miss na miss mo na ako kaagad.” Emman remarked. “May client meeting ako sa building mo, pero mamaya pa. Na-move kasi. I was informed when I was on my way here. Hayun, I was about to text you, when I saw you got off the car and kissed that guwapong-guwapong guy na parang hindi naman si Rafa! Nag-wish ka ng boyfriend sa fairy godmother mo and granted agad-agad! The last time, I know you were still pining for you-know-who’ kahit hindi mo sinasabi sa akin!”
Maya grinned at Emman. “But Emman, bes, that was ‘you-know-who’ I was kissing earlier!!!!”
“Sino…..si….si…Richard iyon? Boyfriend mo na ulit siya? Ayieeeeee!” Emman screamed. People started looking at them. Emman noticed, turned red and said, “Sorry, sobrang kilig lang po. Pero, Mayabels, paano nangyari? Kailan? Saan? Di ba na-hurt ka niya ng husto? Hindi mo man sinabi sa akin ang nangyari. I knew that you must be kasi ni ayaw mong pag-usapan and hindi mo binabanggit ang name. Tapos ang mga nanliligaw sa iyo, dedma, pati na rin si el hombre muy guapo Rafa!”
“Emman, it’s a long story. Halika since na-move ang meeting mo. Late’s share the coffee and pandesal that I’m sure are inside this paper bag. Doon na lang tayo sa office ko,” Maya said as they walked towards the elevator banks.
Maya greeted her colleagues who were as early as she was when they entered their area. Then she and Emman proceeded to her office.
“Emman, could you please take out what’s inside. I will just get an extra mug for you.” Maya said as she directed Emman to the small coffee table she has by the corner of her office.
Emman did that and said, “Oh wow” as soon as he opened the paper bag. He saw the beautiful rose with the note. He also saw a coffee tumbler and as Maya guessed several pandesal.
“Heto, ang note. Hindi ko binuksan ha.” Emman said as he handed Maya the note and the rose. “Talagang iyang Prince Charming mo, wagas. After eight years, mahilig pa ring magbigay ng notes and roses sa iyo. Sa kanya galing ang mga ito, di ba?”
Maya smiled. She forgot about the rose and the note. She put the rose in the vase on her table, joining the other one from yesterday! “Yes, he is.” Then she opened the note and smiled goofily.
My beautiful love. Huwag magpagutom! I love you!
“Hay, ang in love nga naman. Ang ngiti raw nakakapunit din ng labi.” He teased.
The two friends laughed. While drinking their coffee and eating the four pandesal with cream cheese that Richard gave Maya today, Maya gave Emman a condensed version of how she and Richard met again and now having their second chance at love. She left out the things that only Ricky and her should know.
“Grabe roomie. Iyon na pala ang pinagdadaanan mo noon, hindi mo man lang binanggit sa akin nang nadamayan kita.” Emman said as he touched Maya’s hand as if to comfort her. “Pati rin pala ang mga pinagdaanan ni Richard noon, grabe. You two, deserve to be together again. I’m so happy for the two of you.”
“Sorry Emman, ang gulo kasi ng lahat noon. Saka sinarili ko talaga. Even Mom didn’t know.”
“Oh! Pero ngayon nasabi mo na rin ang lahat ng ito kay Tita Tessie? Alam na niyang boyfriend mo na ulit si Richard?”
“Yes, I did. I chatted with her on Skype last night. She also told me that Ricky visited her after I left.” Maya then told Emman what her mom told her of Richard’s visit.
“Hay ex-roomie, sa dami talaga ng pinagdaanan niyo niyang Prince Charming, isa lang ang patutunguhan niyan, happy ever after!”
“Sobra ka naman, Emman, kaka-start pa lang namin ulit.” Maya protested, but at the back of her mind, she wants her and Richard to end up together for the rest of their lives.
“Hay naku, basta, dapat bridesmaid ako ha.” Emman finished with a raised eyebrow and a bridesmaid pose. “Saka dapat ang partner ko si El Guapo Rafa ha.”
“Ikaw talaga, Emman.” Maya laughed.
“O siya, siya, bessie. Chika tayo ulit. Bababa na ako at malapit na rin naman ang meeting ko.” He gave her a beso. “Hello to Richard.”
Maya worked on the project proposal for Richard’s mom after Emman left. It took her until lunch to finish it the draft. With the other paperworks that she attended to after that, the rest of the day passed like a blur. Richard picked her up at past six o’clock in the evening. Soon after, Mang Lem parked the car in front of a stately home in one of the posh villages in Makati.
Richard opened the door for Maya and assisted her out.
“Is this where you grew up Ricky?” Maya said as she took a closer look at the elegant house.
“Yes. It has been in my family since before I was born. Papa inherited it from my grandparents.”
They walked towards the massive front door, which suddenly opened and they were welcome warmly by Donya Esmeralda.
“Maya, welcome to our home. I was very happy to know, when Ricky told me that you and him are coming to dinner.” Donya Esmeralda said as she gave Maya a beso.
“Good evening po, Mrs. Lim. Thank you for having us, kahit short notice.” Maya said formally.
“Hija, no more Mrs. Lim. Di ba sabi ko naman sa iyo noon na Tita Esmeralda na lang. Lalo na siguro ngayon. Feeling ko may sasabihin kayo sa akin ni Ricky.”
“Ma, ikaw talaga. Paupuin mo muna kami ni Maya.” Richard laughing.
Donya Esmeralda laughed. “Ay oo nga, son. Sorry Maya, excited lang. “Come, let’s have dinner na nga muna. Naka-ready na.”
“Sige na nga, Ma, sasabihin na namin ni Maya at baka hindi ka makakain ng maayos sa anticipation.” Richard teased his mother.
Richard held Maya’s hand, intertwined it with his. “Ma, kami na po ulit ni Maya.” He said then looked at Maya lovingly.
“Oh my, oh my, really!!! Sabi ko na nga ba! Maya hija, Ricky son, I’m so very very happy. Sabi ko na nga, unang kita ko palang dito kay Maya, alam kong bagay kayo. Little did I know na pinagtagpo na pala kayo ng tadhana before.” Donya Esmeralda hugged Maya then her son.
“We will tell you about it Ma after dinner. Gutom na ako. Let’s eat na.” Richard said smiling.
“O siya, siya. Let’s eat na muna.” Donya Esmeralda said, still with a big smile on her face. She led her son and Maya to the dining room. “Fe, ready na ba ang lahat. Fe, heto nga pala si Maya, girlfriend ni Ricky. Maya, itong si Fe ang yaya ni Ricky noong bata siya.”
“Kumusta po, Ma’am?” Manang Fe greeted Maya.
“Maya na lang po, Manang Fe.” Maya smiled at the old lady. “Finally, na-meet ko kayo. Madalas po kayong ikwento sa akin ni Ricky noong nasa New York pa kami.”
“Dati? New York?” Manang Fe asked before she can stop herself.
“Opo, doon po kasi kami nagkakilala nitong si Ricky, eight years ago.” Maya answered.
“Manang, doon ko unang naging girlfriend si Maya. Mahabang kwento po. After dinner, Maya and I will tell you and Mama what happened kung bakit hindi kami nagkatuluyan the first time. Sabay na po kayo sa amin.” Richard invited his old nanny, to sit beside him and Maya.
“Oo nga naman Fe. Huwag ulit tatanggi. Special occasion ito.” Donya Esmeralda added, and patted the chair beside her. “Dito ka na ng makapagkwentuhan tayo ng maayos lahat habang kumakain.”
“Sige po. Thank you.” Manang Fe agreed as she wanted to get to know better the woman her alaga loves a lot. Ito siguro ang dahllan kung bakit malungkot si Ricardo, ang paghihiwalay nila ni Maya noon at ang hindi nawawalang pagmamahal dito, she thought.
Richard regalled his mother and Manang Fe of his and Maya’s adventures in New York the first time they met while they were having dinner. He also told them how the two of them met. He looked at Maya , from time to time, with a very loving expression as they reminisced their wonderful time together in New York, before everything turned bad.
They moved to the lanai for their coffee and dessert and that was where Richard and Maya told them what happened to their beautiful love affair in New York. They just left out the details that was just for the two of them. Manang Fe and Donya Esmeralda were both teary-eyed after they were finished telling their story.
“Oh my, Ricky, Maya. what you two went through! I’m so happy that you managed to overcome that and still ended up together. You two are really meant for each other.” Donya Esmeralda said as she stood up and hugged, first Maya and then her son. “Now I understand completely what your Papa was trying to tell me on this deathbed. He was asking for your forgiveness, you know. Hindi ko lang masyadong maintindihan and in my grief, nawala na isip ko. Naalala ko lang when you told me doon sa lunch natin sa BGC that Maya was your girlfriend in New York.”
“Talaga po, Ma. He also wrote to me, pero when I found the courage to reply to it, wala na si Papa.” Richard finished.
“Maya, Ricardo, masayang-masaya ako para sa inyo.” Manang Fe also said. “Ganyan talaga mga anak ang tunay na pag-ibig. Pagyamanin niyo na at huwag niyo nang papayagang muli kayong mahiwalay sa isa’t-isa.”
“Opo Manang. Hinding-hindi ko na talaga pakakawalan itong si Maya.” Richard said as he gazed lovingly and meaningfully to Maya, who turned crimson and self-conscious with his statement.
“Ricky ikaw talaga…..” Maya said looking at Richard lovingly.
” O di ba, tama ang instinct ko sa inyong dalawa.” Donya Esmeralda said.
“Ma admit it, tama ang hula namin ni Maya, di ba. Nagma-matchmake ka sa amin noong isinama mo ako sa lunch mo with her. Kaso hayun nag-backfire sa iyo, ikaw ang na-surprise.” Richard said with a big teasing grin to his mother.
“Hahahaha, guilty son!” Donya Esmeralda said. “I’m so happy for both of you. And son, you really deserve to be happy. Ikaw rin Maya. Pasalamat ka rin Ricky at walang nakitang kapalit mo itong si Maya.”
“Mahirap yata ang akong palitan, Ma.” Richard said, jesting, which earned him a loving pinch from Maya. “Owww, masakit Maya. Biro lang, my love.”
They all laughed. Their little merry group broke out at around 10 o’clock in the evening. Richard told his mother and Manang Fe that he needed to take Maya home as they have work tomorrow. Besides, he wants to be sure that he will catch Maya’s mom at home.
“Thank you po ulit, Mrs…errr, Tita Esmeralda for the dinner.” Maya said when they were leaving.
“Maya hija, thank you for giving my son another chance.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Saka dalasan mo ang pagpunta rito, hija. Iba naman iyong mga meeting natin sa project ha.”
“Sige po, I will. Good night po. Sa inyo rin po Manang Fe.” Maya went to Richard’s old nanny and gave her a big hug too.
“Mag-iingat kayo, Maya, Ricardo. Magandang gabi.” She said.
Richard drove Maya home himself, having sent Mang Lem home earlier, and Joma, the Lims’ other driver is on vacation.
When they were in front of Maya’s house, Richard took hold of Maya’s hand, then kissed it lightly. “I love you, you are the best, the most beautiful and the most loving girlfriend in the whole world.”
“Thank you my love, you are, too, the most wonderful boyfriend in the world.” Maya replied. then asked, “And what brought this on, Mr. Lim?”
“Wala lang, I’m just so, so very, very happy.” Richard said gazing at Maya with so much love. “Everything is coming together and us together, is simply amazing!”
They shared a loving look, then they both moved, angled their faces for a kiss. As soon as Richard’s lips touched Maya’s, they both felt the fire, they kissed hotly. Maya opened her lips to let Richard’s tongue in. Richard explored Maya’s mouth, kissing her thoroughly, hotly. Maya responded and before they knew it, they were at each other, touching, kissing and exploring.
“Maya, my love….” Richard muttered as he dove into Maya’s mouth again, at the same time touching the underside of her breast.
Maya felt that she was on fire too. “Ricky, you make me feel so good….”
They continued kissing, until a sound from a car, backfiring, and then a headlight interrupted them. They looked sheepishly each other, catching their breaths and at the same time they realized where they were.
“Good night, Maya.” Richard said softly, caressing Maya’s face. “I love you.”
Good night, Ricky. Drive carefully.” Maya replied, her lips thoroughly kissed, her hair in disarray, and her blouse untucked! “I love you too.”
Seeing her like this, all mussed up and the evidence of passion still visible in her face, Richard thought, she is the most beautiful girl in the world and she is his as he is hers. Hopefully, together forever soon.
Be Careful With My Heart will always live in the hearts of all of us it has touched, who has imbibed the lessons/learnings/inspirations/values the show imparted for more than two years, and whose lives became richer, happier, and more meaningful because of this wonderful and phenomenal series.
Thank you Be Careful With My Heart from the bottom of my sad, but very grateful heart. In it, you live forever, walang ending!
Ricky’s courtship version 2014
Maya was about to go up to her room after her and Ricky’s prolonged farewell for the night when she noticed the long-stemmed rose he gave her earlier and the note attached to it. She forgot to open that. She backtracked, grabbed the rose, smelled it, then brought it with her to her room. She sat on the bed, happy with the way her day turned out. Then, she opened the note.
This is to mark day one of being with you again. I will always be grateful and thankful for you coming back to my life. I can’t wish for anything anymore!
I love you very much! I will show you how much, everyday of our lives from here on.
Maya’s heart melted anew with that message. She kissed the note and put it in her tin can. She stood up with the intention of taking a shower, but before she could do so, her phone beeped.
Home, my love! I forgot to ask you earlier if you have a ride tomorrow. I can pick you up. What time do you usually go to work?
Ricky, thank you very much pero huwag na. I can manage. Nandiyan naman ang MRT. Your office is in Ortigas, mine is in Makati and I live in Quezon City. It’s too much for you! You have a lot of responsibilities pa at work. Since I have never gotten around to learning how to drive, I’m used to taking cabs and the train.
Maya, don’t commute please. I will worry about you. I have seen on the news na ang hirap mag-MRT ngayon. Mahaba ang lines. Besides, I have a driver at my disposal. If you will just commute, I will pick you up Is 7AM okay? Say yes, pretty please! Besides, it will be our ‘Ricky and Maya time’ too.
Maya didn’t have the heart to say no, when he put it like that.
Okay, okay, Mr. Lim, you won. Seven o’clock is okay. Thank you very much.
Yes!!! Good night my love. See you tomorrow.
Good night, my Ricky. Sweet dreams!
Of course, since I will dream of you! Love you! 🙂 😉 😉
Ditto, my Ricky ! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Maya put down her phone smiling.
The following morning, Maya was up bright and early. Dressed in a wrap blouse tucked in a pencil skirt, adorned with a skinny waist belt, and wearing her favorite pumps, she went down to have coffee and pandesal fifteen minutes before Richard’s arrival.
“Good morning Ma’am Maya. Ang ganda naman ng outfit of the day natin ngayon! Iba na talaga ang in loveeeee!”
“Ikaw talaga, Sabel! Ang aga-aga, nang-aalaska!” Maya laughingly scolded her irreverent househelp.
“Ma’am Maya, masaya lang po ako talaga for you. Kitang-kita ko kasi ang mga kislap sa mga mata mo ngayon. Kaya pala parang malungkot ka dati dahil kay Sir Richard.” Sabel said seriously, giving Maya an analysis of her own love life! “I’m glad talaga na nagkatagpo ulit kayo ni Sir Richard. Tadhana lang talaga ang peg!” Then she added, “Hay, sana ako rin! Kami sana ni Jerry magkatagpo pa rin!”
“Sabel, may boyfriend ka rin dati? Jerry ang pangalan?”
“Naku, wala Ma’am. Naisip ko lang magandang pangalan ng magiging boyfriend ko ang Jerry. Malay mo Ma’am, tadhana ko rin!”
“Ha, ha, ha, Sabel! Ikaw talaga, wagas!” Maya said smiling, then seriously she said, “Pero malay mo nga rin naman, Sabel, di ba? Basta wait for the right guy for you. Iyong mahal na mahal ka talaga at mahal mo rin. Darating iyan kapag nakaukol. By the way, maiba ako, I’m going to Mindoro on Thursday, may bilin ka ba for your Nanay and Tatay!”
“Talaga, Ma’am Maya! Tamang-tama! Okay lang po bang may ipakidala ako sa inyo na gift ko sa pamangkin ko, birthday niya kasi sa susunod na linggo.”
“Oo naman. Sige, ilagay mo na lang sa room ko para kapag nag-empake ako maisama ko na agad.”
“Naku, thank you po.”
Maya was about to take another sip of coffee when the doorbell rang.
“Ooops, si Ricky na iyan. Sabel, I will get going. Pakidala na pala sa church itong mga rose. Itira mo lang ang nasa coffee table. I-donate natin, sayang naman. Alam na rin ni Ricky. I can’t keep them all. Teka pala, I will take photos lang, souvenir.”
Maya took out her phone, took several photos of the roses, looking very beautiful in her living room, hastily said goodbye to Sabel, then walked very fast to the gate.
“Wow!” Was all she managed to say, when she caught sight of Ricky, leaning against a shiny BMW. Her heart beat faster, seeing him so handsome with big smile only for her. He was wearing a pale blue business suit, with a white shirt inside and a maroon tie.
“Good morning, Maya!” He greeted Maya with his lopsided smile, followed by a light kiss on her lips. “How are you this morning, my love?”
“Good morning, my Ricky. Sorry it took me a while to come out. May last minute pa akong ibinilin kay Sabel. I’m good. I slept well again!”
“No worries, Maya! Maaga pa naman. My first meeting is at 10AM,” Richard said as he opened the door for Maya. He followed her in and sat beside her.
“Maya, this is Mang Lem, longtime driver ni Papa sa office.” Ricky said, introducing the kind, older guy in polo barong sitting on the driver’s seat. “Mang Lem, si Maya po, girlriend ko.” He said by way of introduction.
Maya felt the kilig, hearing Ricky said that. “Good morning po, Mang Lem.”
“Good morning po Ma’am Maya!” The driver greeted Maya.
“Mang Lem, doon po muna tayo sa office ni Maya sa Makati. Maya please tell Mang Lem na lang the exact address.”
Mang Lem nodded, when Maya told him the address, indicating he was familiar with the area, and then, they were on their way. Richard and Maya sat close, held hands on the way to Makati and chatted. They also made plans for their trip to Mindoro. Before they reached Maya’s office, Richard extracted a promise to Maya that they will have dinner that night.
“Maya, this is for you.” Richard gave Maya a paper bag when she got off the car. “Have a great day! Love you very much.”
“Thank you, Ricky. Ikaw talaga, everyday may ganito.” Maya smiled. From what she could see, there is another long-stemmed red rose inside the bag.
“Of course, di ba sabi ko manliligaw ako.” Richard grinned,”Part iyan ng Ricky’s courtship version 2014!”
They smiled and exchanged a quick kiss before parting for the day. Maya felt she can do anything that day. She felt like dancing in the middle of Ayala Avenue from sheer happiness! Richard felt the same, despite his heavy workload. He was on the phone all the time from Makati to Ortigas. He also opened his laptop so he can make headway of what he needed to do that day. The earlier he finishes everything the better, so he is sure to make it on time for his dinner with Maya.
When she reached her office, Maya opened the paper bag. In it, aside from the rose, she found a coffee tumbler from a popular coffee shop, with her favorite brew and several pieces of pandesal. She checked for the note, found it attached to the rose.
For my one and only! You need to fortify yourself. Breakfast is the most important meal of the dayI asked Sabel what do you usually have for breakfast! Have a wonderful day. Love you a million times!
Maya was touched by his thoughtfulness. She sent him a message to thank him again. Then she sighed happily. Life could really change for the better when you least expect it. She still have a hard time believing that this is happening. But she better be! This is as real as it could get! She shook herself from her daydreaming, took sips of the coffee, ate the bread and proceeded to made headway on the work she needed to finish today.
The day flew fast and then it was already evening. Richard arrived at Maya’s office at seven o’clock. They opted to have dinner in one of the restaurants in Greenbelt 5. They had a wonderful dinner, catching up on how their day have been, in between courses and drinking the wine they ordered with their food. They both agreed that it was like New York all over again.
Maya and Richard were walking near the park, with Maya holding on to Richard’s forearm, when someone called Maya from one of the outdoor tables.
“Maya, Maya….” She looked, then checked ,and saw Rafa waving at her, trying to call her attention.
“Rafa, nice to see you here! I thought you will be in Bangkok!” Maya exclaimed happily. “Ricky, this is my very good friend Rafa, Rafael Rodriguez. Rafa, Richard Lim, my boyfriend!” Maya made the introduction, not realizing that she just dropped a bomb on Rafa, as he didn’t know about Richard.
Rafa swallowed hard, then schooled his features, offered to shake hand with Richard. “Hello Richard, please to meet you.”
Richard smiled at the other man. He saw his initial reaction when Maya mentioned that he is her boyfriend. If his heart skipped a beat when she mentioned the word ‘boyfriend’, Rafa’s must have gotten kicked hard, judging by his expression.
“Please to meet you too, Rafael.” Richard simply said.
“Rafa, who are you with?” Maya asked, looking around.
“Oh, I was just with some fellow Spanish expats, having some drinks before we go home. My flight was moved to tomorrow afternoon.” Rafa replied looking at Maya, wanting to ask her when all of these happened, that she has a boyfriend. But in the scheme of things he is just a friend and he does not want to pry also. Besides, she already asked him if they could just be friends. But still, there was a part of him that was hoping she would change her mind.
Maya also realized that she just blurted out to Rafa about Richard being her boyfriend. He didn’t know that Richard was the same person whom she had told him about one December evening. The situation was getting awkward. Maya promised to herself that she will call Rafa as soon as she gets home. Well, not only Rafa, her mother too. In all her excitement about being with Richard again, she just forgot!
“Oh, sorry for this.” Richard said, as his phone rang while Maya was trying to find a way to say goodbye to Rafa. “I’m just expecting a very important call. I forgot about it, Maya. So, sorry! Excuse me please, Maya, Rafa.” Richard moved to a secluded and quieter part of the place to answer his phone call.
Rafael and Maya both said at the same time. They looked at each other, and smiled.
“Go ahead, Maya, please.”
“Rafa, sorry for just blurting out to you about Richard.” Maya started after taking a deep breath. “It happened very fast and I still feel I’m dreaming that he is back in my life and that we are together again. He is the love of life. No matter how hard I tried to forget about him after getting hurt. Ricky and I had a long talk the other night and have cleared all the unfinished business from our past.”
“Oh, so I am right in thinking earlier, that he was the guy you told me about one December evening!” Rafael remarked. “No worries, Maya. I was just surprised. I’m happy for you. I know you loved this guy very much in the past. And you two, lucky to find each other again. Yes, I have feelings for you and you know that, but I also know that you don’t love me that way.”
“Oh, Rafa. I wish I could! You are a very good person and a very good friend.” Maya said, touching his arm. “Friends, still, mi amigo?”
“Of course, Maya!” He, then proceeded to give Maya a big hug. “Be happy, okay. And if he hurt you again, he will answer to me. Tell him that.”
Maya smiled and gave Rafa a friendly hug too. “Thank you, I value your friendship too much too loose you. I’m very happy, Rafa. I wish you will also find a love like this.”
The two friends hugged each other one more time. Richard saw all of this as his phone call ended a couple of minutes ago. He purposely delayed his return so they can talk. He walked towards them. Rafa saw him and extricated himself from Maya’s embrace. They looked at each other man to man and had some sort of silent communication. He nodded.
“Maya, Richard, I will get going.’ Rafa said, then shaking Richard’s hand said, “Please take good care of Maya. She is a very precious lady!” He conveyed, as if saying to Richard not to hurt her again.
“I know, and I will. I promise you that, too! Thank you for being a very good friend to Maya. I hope we can be friends too!” Richard offered Rafa the olive branch as if wanting to assure him that he is still welcome in Maya’s life, in their lives.”
The Spanish guy smiled, appreciating the gesture. ”Of course, and I better be one of the godfathers of your firstborn.” He teased. “Call me Rafa too. All my friends do.”
“Rafa!” Maya, laughed, protested, blushing a bit. “Ricky and I are just starting again.”
“Well, I’m just saying, so two know when the time comes.” He said with emphasis. “Bye you two.”
Maya and Richard said goodbye to Rafa and wished him a safe flight. They walked hand in hand to the place where they asked Mang Lem to pick them up.
“So, that was my karibal!” Richard remarked when they were inside the car, teasing Maya, then putting his arms around her.
“Nagselos ka ba?” Maya asked, smiling, knowing that Richard is not like that, but she never know, he might have been.
“Welllll, not this evening, pero kung una ko nakita ang picture niya sa wall mo, yes. I thought baka too late na ako para suyuin ka ulit.” Richard admitted candidly. “Noong kausap mo siya sa phone, I felt a pinch my heart. But I believe in our love, in us so, I set it aside. This evening, knowing how lucky I am to have your love and I feel bad for Rafa, I delayed my return so you two can talk. I sensed it kasi by his initial reaction when you introduced me as your boyfriend.”
“Yes, I forgot that he didn’t know. Ikaw kasi.”
“Ha, bakit ako?”
“Mula nang magkita tayo ulit, wala na akong ibang naiisip.” Maya said, then pinched him lovingly. “Hindi ko pa nga pala nasasabi kina Mom and Dad na tayo na ulit. I will do it this evening.”
“Pareho lang naman tayo, my love. Hindi nga ako maka-concentrate sa mga meeting ko. Buti na lang super efficient ang secretary ko.” Richard said. “But I’m glad that you will tell your mom. I would like to call her tomorrow, if it is okay with you?”
“Of course, sure. But why?” Maya asked, curious.
“Wala naman. I just want to talk to her myself, para naman I can assure her that I will not hurt her daughter again, among other things.” Richard said seriously. Of course, he has another reason for wanting to call Maya’s mom.
“Oh Ricky. Thank you. I think my mother would like that too. Thank you also for extending the olive branch to Rafa. He is one of my good friends!” Maya said, touched by Richard’s gestures. “You are the best boyfriend in the whole world!”
“Silly.” He said smiling. “Anything to make you happy, Maya, I will do. I love you very much!”
“I love you very much, too, Ricky. I’m so happy!” Maya said as she leaned against Richard’s chest to get more comfortable and closer to him.
They cuddled in the car, quietly enjoyed their moment all the way to Maya’s house. When they reached Maya’s gate, Richard declined to come in as it was already late. He and Maya agreed on the pick-up time for the following day. They shared another sweet kiss before temporarily parting for the night.
Note: My therapy!
Richard and Maya slowly and reluctantly broke apart after the sweet and gentle kiss that they just shared under the big tree. The sound of other people, mostly families, having a fun time at the park penetrated their senses. They gazed each other with all the feelings they have for each other.
“I love you very much, Maya!” Richard repeated as he caressed Maya’s face gently with the back of his right hand.
“I love you very much too, Ricky.” Maya said softly, lovingly, with the sweetest smile on her face.
“So, my love, does this means, tayo na ulit? You are my girlfriend again?” Richard asked Maya with a big smile, just like a kid who can’t believe that he got his most fervent wish from Santa Claus.
Maya smiled at the love of her life, “Hmmmm, may isa pa yata akong condition!”
“My love, kahit ano pa iyan and even though I haven’t heard it yet, yes, yes, yes and a thousand yes na kaagad ang sagot ko.” Richard said promptly. He felt he can do anything as long as he and Maya are a couple again.
“Rickyyyy, ikaw talaga. Yes agad-agad!!!Hindi mo pa nga naririnig ang kondisyon ko. Paano pala kung ang condition ko, maglangoy ka ng ilang laps diyan sa La Mesa Dam o kaya i-try mo iyong giant trampoline at kailangan maka-one thousand bounce ka.” Maya teased Richard.
“Maya, my love, anything. Basta I know that you love me and tayo na, kakayanin kong lahat iyan.” Richard said lovingly, unfazed. “But I know you love me and I know you will not subject me to a penitensya kind of kondisyon naman.”
“Well, tama ka naman diyan, Mr. Lim.” Maya said, smiling. “All I want is manligaw ka pa rin ulit. Gusto ko talagang makita iyang ang Ricky’s courtship version 2014.”
Richard grinned. “Sure na sure, Ms. Dela Rosa. That I have promised you already even before you said you love me still. Be ready to be captivated by my charms and my moves.” He finished teasingly.
“Confident much, Mr Lim! Siguraduhin mong makaka-captivate ako ng charms and ‘the moves’ na iyan.” Maya bantered back.
“Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, the one and only love of my life. You are in for the ride that would last a lifetime. Promise, cross my heart!”
“Ha. ha, ha, ha, parang bordering on the cheesy na ang lines na iyan ha.” Maya quipped, just happy.
They shared a laugh, then hugged each other again, before sharing another kiss. The loud sound of a thunder from a distance interrupted their moment.
“Oh no, I think it is going to rain soon!” Maya remarked, looking up. “Maybe, it is better if we head home now.”
Richard agreed with Maya’s assessment. He also noticed that the wind got a bit stronger, making the huge trees sway more than the usual. They walked with hands intertwined to the parking lot.
More than an hour later, they were in front of Maya’s house. By then the sky had gotten darker.
“Ricky, would you like to come in for coffee and some cookies since we didn’t have snacks in the park.” Maya asked Richard as soon as the car stopped.
“Okay. That would be great. Besides, I want to spend more time with my girlfriend!” Richard said smiling, teasingly.
Maya teased him back, “Mr. Ricky Lim, remember my condition for that to happen.”
They ran, laughing, to the house as big droplets of rain started to hit them, when Maya was unlocking the gate. They barely made it inside. Then, the deluge started as soon as they closed the front door, leaning against it, their faces with droplets of rain on it.
“Saved!” Maya said happily, wiping her face with her hand, then Richard’s. “Come Ricky, please have a seat first. I will just ask Sabel to make coffee for us.”
Maya lead Richard to the living room, then proceeded to the kitchen to look for Sabel. The house seemed unusually quiet to Maya. When she entered the kitchen, she noticed a note pinned on the refrigerator door. It was from Sabel, saying that she went to the supermarket. She said the kasambahay at their neighbor and the driver were going, so she hitched a ride since they needed some stuffs too. She smiled at Sabel’s last line saying that she didn’t text her anymore at baka maabala niya pa raw ang date nila ni ex-ex boyfriend.
Maya put some ground beans in the coffee maker, started it, then looked for the cookies that Sabel made the day before. She arranged everything in a tray and when it was ready, returned to where she left Richard. He was not there. She noticed the opened door that leads to the covered patio.
“Nice place to watch the rain, di ba?” Maya said by way of announcing her presence. Richard’s back was to her and he seemed to be so engrossed in watching the rain steadily falling on the plants in her garden.
Richard turned and gave her his lopsided smile. “I agree. I always like to watch the rain as it hits the ground. I find it relaxing.” He helped Maya with the tray.
“Me, too! Very peaceful din, di ba?” Maya said smiling. She led Richard to the wicker chairs in the corner. They sat side by side on the big one. She gave him a steaming cup of coffee and offered the cookies.
“Thank you, Maya. This is perfect for a rainy afternoon.” Richard said. “I like your patio a lot! It is very inviting, with a wonderful view of your garden pa.”
“This is my favorite place to do my rain watching. This is also the one place where I do my ‘Maya time’! That is, when I just wanted to relax, read or when I am mulling about something. It’s very inviting kasi, di ba, with the view and the plants. That’s my favorite spot naman to do it.” Maya pointed out to a cocoon wicker rattan swing chair/hammock with purple soft cushion in the corner of the patio.
“I agree wholeheartedly. It does look inviting.” Richard said as he took sips of his coffee and ate some of Sabel’s delicious cookies.
When they were done with their coffee and snacks, Maya stood up and held out her hand to Richard. “Come, let’s go to my favorite spot to watch the rain and continue our kwentuhan. Dali, baka it will stop na soon, ma-miss ko ang moment.”
“Okay, my love. May pagka-impatient ka rin pala like this.” He teased. “Teka, kaya ba tayo niyan?” Richard asked after noticing that only a big hook is holding the wicker swing to a suspension stand.
“Have faith, Mr. Lim, matibay iyan. Na-try na namin iyan ni Nikki noong bumisita sila nina Mom dito after I got the house.”
“S-sure? Eh mas magaan sa akin si Nikki!” He quipped.
“Sure na sure ako, Mr. Lim.” Maya smiled, sat on the cocoon swing, then patted the space beside her and motion for Richard to sit down. After he did, she made the swing moved, laughing.
Richard fell backwards, but then laughed at her playful teasing. They settled more comfortably in the chair as they silently watched the falling rain amid the beautiful garden planted with all kinds of flowers.
“You really have made a home in this house, Maya. This is so nice.” Richard remarked after a while. “How long have you had this house?”
“Yes, this is really home. I have been living here since I moved back to the country permanently in 2009. I mean, when I decided that I want the Philippines to be my home base. I still travel a lot for my work. But I want a house to go home to. Nakakapagod din ang parang nomadic existence after a while. Dito, after every assignment, I have my house to come home to, to recharge my batteries, so to speak, and breath.”
“Good for you! I’m glad you did and that you made the Philippines your base. Nagkita tuloy tayo ng mas maaga! Before we saw each other, that lunch with my mother, I was really planning on looking you up, kahit saang panig pa ng mundo ako umabot! Actually I should have done that a long time go. See, so many years have passed and got wasted!”
“Ricky, I’m glad to know that. And no dwelling na in the past na negative, please. We found each other and here we are, iyon naman ang mas importante.” Maya admonished lightly. “Di bagay sa iyo ang mala-Heathcliff na character. Papangit ka. Guwapo ka pa naman. That’s something that didn’t change through the years, Mr. Lim. Pang-GQ pa rin!” She finished wanting to make him smile again.
Richard smiled hugely at that. He knew Maya was trying to lift his spirits. “Thank you, my love. You never fail to make me smile. You know what? I will really be forever thankful that we found each other again and to you, for all your wisdom and forgiveness. Okay, no more dwelling on the past like that. Let’s enjoy the rain and our moment.”
Richard put his arms around Maya and they half-reclined on the cocoon swing as they made it sway gently. They were perfectly content to do that. Maya sighed, content. Richard moved a bit and gazed at her lovingly.
“This is so perfect. I love you,” he said.
“The best, my Ricky!” She simply said. “I love you too.”
They moved towards each other. Their lips met for a kiss that started innocently but became much more.
They sighed against each other’s mouths before their lips fused into another hot kiss, followed by caresses as they moved closer to each other in the cozy confines of the swing, as if the fire they have banked for eight years suddenly erupted.
Sabel was about to enter the patio when she noticed the couple in the swing. She retreated abruptly. In the process, she banged her shoulder against the door.
“Ay, aray!” She muttered to herself, trying to stop herself from complaining about the pain, hoping that she didn’t disturb them. She tiptoed back into the living room, then to the kitchen.
Lucky for Sabel, the rain drowned out the sound she made. However, soon after, Maya and Richard slowly and reluctantly broke apart, but not before giving each other a quick kiss again. They knew Sabel might come home soon. They both tried to catch their breaths after those kisses.
Then Maya, all of a sudden, pinched Richard lovingly in the face.
“What was that for, my love?” Richard said smiling.
“Wala lang, baka kasi nanaginip pa rin ako!” Maya said cheekily.
Richard chuckled at that, but he too, would sometime feel like blinking and shaking his head to check if he is not dreaming, that Maya is really back in his life. “I feel like that, sometimes, too.” Then teasingly, “I think I want my proof another way!” He then gave Maya a short, quick, but very hot kiss that left them breathless.
“Well, I guess, we both are not dreaming! I surely felt that!” Maya said lovingly, her lips now showing signs of being thoroughly kissed.
The ringing of Maya’s phone interrupted their idyll. Maya ignored it at first since she was not expecting any call. But it rang again.
“Maya, better answer it na. Baka importante.” Richard prodded Maya.
“Oh, sayang ang moment!” She complained teasingly, but even before Richard said that, she was thinking of picking up the call, baka nga importante.
Richard assisted her out of the swing. She went back to where she dropped of her bag in the living room, got the phone and all Richard heard, was that, her, saying hello to Rafa!
Rafa again, he thought! Who is that guy really in Maya’s life? Richard does not think Maya will say that she still love him and allow these ‘dates’ they are having, if she is committed to another person. But still he felt another pinch in his heart, having an inkling that Rafa is also someone important in Maya’s life. The guy is even going with her to visit her Mamang.
Maya was gone for around 10 minutes and Richard patiently waited for her, looking pensive while he was staring at the garden, newly-invigorated by the rain.
“Ricky, I got us coffee again!” Maya said when she returned carrying two fresh cups. “Sabel was back na pala. Hindi na raw niya tayo inabala when she arrived, kasi busy tayo. I think she saw us kissing in the swing.” Maya said, coloring a bit, but smiling.
Looking at her, so lovely and with a loving gaze only for him, he decided to concentrate on what they have, and forget about Rafa and his place in Maya’s life.
“Thank you, Maya! Remind me to thank Sabel too, for not interrupting us earlier.” He said naughtily, teasingly.
“Ikaw, talaga, Ricky Lim!” Maya pinched him on the side, lovingly. Then she sat beside him. “That was my friend Rafa pala. He told me he can’t go with me to Mindoro with me this coming week kasi he needs to fly to Bangkok for a meeting.”
“Oh!” Richard said, but inwardly, he was glad that Rafa is not going with Maya to Mindoro. Then gathering his thoughts while taking a sip of his coffee, finding the opportunity, he asked Maya about Rafa, trying to appear nonchalant about the whole thing. He just want to know, he insisted to himself. “How long have you known Rafa?”
Maya knew this question is coming as she noticed him looking closely at her and Rafa’s photo in her small gallery before they went out to dinner the night before. As soon as she had finished her conversation with Rafa, she decided to tell Richard about her friend, not that she really need to, as Rafa is just a friend, but she wants to assure and make it clear to Richard that he is the only man in her life. Hence, the new cups of coffee.
“Let’s see.” Maya started as she too, took sips of her coffee. “I have known him for more than five years, I think, maybe close to six years. We met in Geneva. He is from Barcelona and is a doctor working for WHO. We would see each other from time to time, here and there. through the years Then when I moved back here, he also lobbied for an assignment here. He is one of my closest friends. Rafa knows there was someone very special in my past. I sort of, started telling him about you, not by name, one December evening when I was feeling so sad and had a bit of wine.”
“Maya……” Richard felt guilty anew.
“Ricky, don’t feel guilty, please. I’m just telling this to you so that everything is clear between us.” Maya said, then continued.
“Rafa started courting me over a year ago. I thought of saying yes to him several times, but there was something stopping me. I realized later that it was my feelings for you. Despite what happened, I still love you and even if we parted ways and a lot of years had passed, I can’t seem to commit to another person. It felt disloyal to you to do that and at the same time, I felt like I will be short changing Rafa as I can’t give him my 100 percent, not even a quarter of me, actually. Like you, I purposely did not try to find out anything about you, in the beginning, as I was afraid that what I would discover, like your wedding, that will hurt me again. I wanted to move on. But as the years passed, my heart and my hurt healed and I was able to look at our time together and remembered the good times.
I tried to forget you, really, with work too, but ayaw ka talagang mawala dito sa puso ko. That feeling was reinforced when I read the article that you were coming back to the country, and there’s your mom nga and our project. Even before we met each other again, I already told Rafa that it is best if we remain friends. And yes, Rafa was the guy in the picture you were looking at yesterday.”
“Maya, my love. Thank you, thank you. I love you very much. Promise, it will be my life’s goal to make you happy, and I will not make you cry you anymore.” Richard promised fervently and wholeheartedly.
“Ricky, I love you very much. You are worth everything. This is worth it. Maybe what happened, happened for a reason. Maybe, we needed that to be stronger, to build a more lasting relationship. Let’s just move forward.” Maya said.
“Yes, we will Maya. I promised you that. I want a forever with you this time.” Richard said as he cupped Maya’s face, and gave her another kiss.
They stayed in the covered patio until it got very dark. Afterwards, they had a very enjoyable dinner. It was a mere coincidence that Sabel cooked kare-kare again. Maya told Richard of remembering him, when Sabel cooked that dinner the day she arrived back from Bangkok. Richard told Maya, that he had the same feeling when he went to dinner at his mother’s house, that same evening. They realized then that they were at the airport at the same time!
“See, as if fate is really working on making us meet, after all those years!” Richard remarked happily as they went back to the patio, just to continue chatting as they had too much coffee already.
“I agree!” Maya replied.
“My love, I have something to ask.” Richard said. “When are you exactly going to Mindoro?”
“Well, I’m planning to leave Manila on Thursday, then meet with the community leaders on Friday, the whole day. Then on Saturday, I’m going to Mamang.” Maya said, then asked, “Why are you asking pala?”
“Well, would it be okay, if I join you in visiting your Mamang? I want to meet her. She is your family here and you have told me a lot about her naman.” Richard answered. “I can leave Manila early Saturday morning and be in San Nicolas before lunch. I want to join you nga rin sana sa community na pupuntahan mo, but I just returned and LHI is demanding too much of my time these days. But I can manage the weekend. I want to, very much!”
“Sure, that wouldn’t be a problem. It would be wonderful. Pero unahin mo na muna ang LHI. I’m sure, marami kang kailangang ayusin and your officers are also looking to you for direction now that you are the CEO.” Maya replied. Her heart actually beat faster with the way Richard was looking at her when he asked if he could go to Mindoro with her. She felt happy with the thought that he wants to meet her grandmother, and they will finally meet. “Simon and I will just pick you up from the airport para hindi ka na maghanap ng bahay ni Mamang.”
“Great. Thank you very much, my love.” Richard said, then he stood up. “I think I better get going. May pasok ka pa bukas.”
“Ikaw din. Halika, ihahatid na kita sa labas,” Maya started walking towards the front door.
“Dito na lang, Maya. I will just lock after myself.” Richard stopped Maya by touching her arm. “Thank you for today. The best day ever. I love you, Maya, so very much.”
“I love you very much too, Ricky. You have made me so happy again.” Maya said as she touched Richard’s cheek, then wrap her hands around his nape, tiptoeing, she gave him a sweet kiss. Richard returned the kiss, and it took a while before they stopped.
Note: Feeling sad, sigh! I really made the effort to finish this, hoping to lift the spirit! Sorry if I have typos. I will check it again after posting.
Richard and Maya both spoke at the same time. They gazed at each other, then without words, as if they were in a trance moved towards each other and hugged each other tight after their emotional talk, as if both of them wanted to feel the need to connect physically, to fully feel that it was real, that they have met again after all those years apart, of sadness and loneliness, and that they managed to not only to clear the past, but bridged it to the present so they can both move forward, perhaps towards a future together. How long it will take and where they are going exactly, they are not sure yet. The only thing that Maya and Richard were sure of at that moment is that they still love the other very much.
“Maya, thank you again for giving me another chance.” Richard said after a while, gazing at Maya as he can’t believe that they did it, they found each other again after eight long years.
“Ricky, we are giving each other another chance.” Maya smiled at the love of her life. “This is a new beginning for us. Now, we can go from here.”
Maya may have not say it yet, but Richard is getting more optimistic of a future with the only woman for him. Surely, after what they have been through, they deserve to be happy. At that moment, Richard was completely at peace. Maya felt the same as if the dark clouds that has been in her life for so long was replaced by a rainbow.
Richard loosened his embrace, stood up and went to the kitchen after telling Maya that he will just get something. Maya nodded. When he returned, he was carrying two flutes of champagne. He handed Maya one and offered another toast.
“To second chances. To us!” Richard said, gazing with Maya with all the love he was feeling.
“To us, and new beginnings!” Maya replied, looking at Richard and feeling warm all over with the heat of his gaze at her.
Richard and Maya drank to that, then settled comfortably on the sofa, at first content to watch the twinkling lights, and enjoy each other’s company. After a while, they continued chatting until it was already the wee hours of the morning. The quiet night and the empty restaurant became a backdrop to the chat that flowed freely between then. They felt like they needed to catch up on eight years they have been apart in a single night!
Maya accidentally noticed the time during a break in their conversation. “Oh! Ricky it’s already very late! How about Mang Mario and your chef? Napuyat na rin sila ng dahil sa atin!”
“No worries, Maya, I sent them home earlier, when I went to the kitchen to get the champagne. It is just the two of us here.”
“Oh, good!” Then realized what she said, that her reaction could be construed for something else.
“What I mean, errr, good that they don’t have to wait for us to…..” She trailed off, her complexion, turning red. Her loose tongue, must be the wine or just the fact that she is with Richard again. She felt intoxicated and unable to think clearly beyond him and his presence!
Richard grinned at Maya. She really looks cute flustered. He is glad to know that Maya has remained unchanged this way through the years. How he missed her and their moments like this.
“Huwag kang mag-aalala, I will be a gentleman.” He teased a bit.
“Ricky, I know naman.” Maya replied, pouting a bit prettily at his teasing.
“Saka, manunuyo pa ako. Liligawan kaya kita ulit.” There he said it.
“Really!” She grinned.
“Yes naman, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. So be ready for Ricky’s courtship 2014 edition.” He bantered.
“Ha, Mr. Lim, that I have to see.” Maya quipped getting into the mood of the moment. “Eh what moves naman kaya will you make that you haven’t shown me before!”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out and see, Ms. Dela Rosa.” He grinned happily and little naughtily.
They smiled at each other, then Maya, unable to help it, yawned.
“Oh, you are sleepy na! Sorry to keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, Maya!”
“It is okay, Ricky. I’m glad for this evening, and this moment. I never thought this will not happen na. All the times, I envisioned seeing you again, it never occurred to me that it could be like this.”
“Me, too, Maya. Me too. Come, I will take you home.” Richard stood up and held out his hand to Maya.
The two of them turned off all the lights in the restaurant, put their coffee cups and the flutes in the kitchen, then headed towards the elevator, holding hands. Going down to the basement, they sometime shared a look, and a sweet smile towards each other. Maya’s heart was aflutter.
More than an hour later, they were at the gate of Maya’s house.
“I will see you inside.” Richard said as he unbuckled his seatbelt and was out of the car before Maya can say that she can manage from there. He opened the door for her.
“Thank you, Ricky. I will be okay from here.” Maya said. “Sobrang late na rin. Ilang oras na lang, umaga na.”
“I’ll wait until you are inside before I drive off.” Richard insisted.
Maya fished her keys from her bag, then opened the gate. “Good night Ricky. Drive carefully.”
“Good night, Maya. Thank you again for this evening.” He smiled, then moved forward, lowered his lips and gave Maya a gentle kiss on the cheek like he used to. “Go inside na. Sweet dreams.”
Maya looked at him. Her senses reacted to that light kiss. It has been too long. Then she went inside, floating with the wonderful feeling she was experiencing at that moment.
Sabel left a light for her, and a note, saying that she didn’t wait up for her since she was with her Prince Charming. Reading the words, Maya was reminded of Emman and his use of the same while they were sharing an apartment in New York. Emman, bes, if you only know what happened to me this evening, she mused!
She went through her nightly rituals and was about to get into her bed, when her phone beeped.
Home safe and sound, Ms. Dela Rosa. Good night again. Sweet dreams, my one and only love of my life.
Maya grinned happily and her heart skipped a beat, well skipped several beats with that statement.
Good night, Mr. Lim. Sweet dreams too. Not bad for a start. Looking forward to more of Ricky Lim’s moves [wink, wink, wink!]
Richard was chuckling as he walked through the darkened living room of his condo unit, having read Maya’s reply to his text message. He didn’t bother turning on the light as he knew he can find his way to his room on the second level of the unit. He was so very happy. He felt so alive again.
Both of them went to bed very happy that dawn, looking forward to their next meeting.
It was the beeping of her phone that woke Maya up after several hours. She groped for her phone groggily, disoriented.
“Grabe, ang aga naman nito.” Maya grumbled. She tried to focus and read the message. It was from Richard. Suddenly, she felt very much awake.
Rise and shine, sleepyhead. Sayang ang araw. Spend the afternoon with me please. Tomorrow we have work na.
“Ha, kakahiwalay lang namin ah.” Maya smiled goofily at his message.
Okay! See you. Saan tayo magkikita?
Instead of a message alert tone, Maya’s phone suddenly rang.
“Good morning Ricky!”
“Good afternoon, Maya!”
“Ha, afternoon? Bakit anong oras na ba?” Maya asked, then checked the time. “Oh my God, 12:30PM na pala! Ang haba ng tulog ko!”
“Hahahaha, true, me too. One of the best sleeps I had in years. Must be because of the wonderful night I had.” Richard said. “Kagigising ko lang din. This is what I did first! Haven’t had my coffee fix yet.”
Maya smiled at that, her heart melted. “Ako rin, Ricky, I slept like a babe. Teka, I better get moving na pala. Hindi na nga tayo nakapag-breakfast, late pa tayo makakapag-lunch. Saan tayo magkikita?”
“I will pick you up in an hour or so! Would that be okay?”
“Yes, but can you give me an idea where we are going so I know what to wear.” Maya said.
“Hmmm, I don’t have anything in mind, I just want to be with you.” He simply said. “How about lunch in one of the restaurants in the Timog area and then we take it from there? I have something in mind after that, something I’m sure you and I haven’t done in a long time. Just wear comfortable clothes!”
“Okay, I’ll see you.” Maya said, getting excited with her trip with Richard.
Maya went down more half an hour later, dressed in casual clothes that still looks lovely on her despite its simplicity.
“Ma’am Maya, good morning, este, good afternoon na pala!” Sabel greeted her when she saw her going down the stairs. “Hindi na kita ginising agad. Parang feeling ko, sobrang late ka na nakauwi. Sandali po at ipaghahain na kita. Iinitin ko lang itong breakfast mo na tanghalian na ngayon! Coffee?”
“Sabel, coffee lang and pandesal, please.”
“Ha, diet ka Ma’am? Ala una na ah!” Sabel asked, surprised.
“Naku, hindi. I’m waiting for Ricky kasi. We will go out.” Maya said.
“Labas ulit?” Sabel asked. “Kayo na ulit ni ex-boyfriend?” Sabel asked before she can stopped herself. “Ooppps sorry….,” then she grinned sheepishly at Maya.
“Hahahaha, Sabel, I know you! You are dying to know.”
Sabel scratched her head, “Ma’am Maya naman, suspense pa talaga, ganon.”
“Well…..” Before Maya can finished whatever she wanted to say the doorbell rang.
“Naku, ito namang si Sir Richard, wrong timing.” Sabel said jokingly. “Sandali nga, Ma’am, pagbuksan ko na si Prince Charming.”
Sabel opened the gate. Ang guwapo talaga, she thought. Richard was wearing a white casual, dress shirt, sleeves folded a bit, and a well-worn pair of jeans.
“Good afternoon po, Sir. Tuloy po kayo. Nasa sala na po si Ma’am Maya.”
“Good afternoon din, Sabel. Thank you.” Richard said, then followed Sabel to the living room.
“Hi Ricky! Ang bilis and ang aga mo. Wala pang an hour.” Maya greeted Richard with a big smile, while Sabel on the other hand, excused herself and went to the kitchen.
“Hi Maya! Yes, wala kasing masyadong traffic, being a Sunday and medyo alanganing oras pa for malling.” Richard said as he leaned forward and gave Maya another kiss on the cheek.
Like the kiss last night, or this morning, Maya was startled with this one as it also brought back wonderful memories. She felt herself colored a bit.
“By the way, for you.” Richard said as he handed Maya one long-stemmed red rose, with a note.
“Ha, another one, not that I am complaining. Heto pa ang mga rose na ibinigay mo kahapon. Hindi ko na nga mabilang.” Maya made a sweeping gesture.”If it is okay with you, except for some, Sabel and I would like to donate it to the village church.”
“Sure. Those were for the eight years I have not given you one, like I used to!” Richard said looking at Maya lovingly, then teasingly said, “Hmmm, let’s see, 8 years multiplied by 365 days more or less, maliban sa may leap year, then you get the number of roses. And this new one is for today.”
“Oh, Ricky!” Maya was suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion. “It is a very nice, grand gesture. Thank you.”
“For you, Maya, because I love you still, you know.” Richard suddenly said, suddenly needing to say it again. “Hindi na ulit kita pakakawalan, Ms. Dela Rosa!”
“Ricky….”Maya started, then took a deep breath, but before she can say anything anymore, Richard stopped her for some reason.
“Maya, like I have said last night I just want you to know, no pressure, no hurry. I will never get tired of saying it to you, though, and proving it to you.” Richard said as he put his finger on Maya’s lips to silence her. “Come on, I’m getting very hungry. It looked like, you haven’t managed to drink your cup of coffee yet, because of me.”
Maya set aside whatever she wanted to say for another time. She is getting hungry too. The perfect time will come.
Thirty minutes after, Richard parked his car in front of an old house in a quiet street in the Timog area that has been converted into a restaurant offering very nice food, according to his secretary Liza. He called her earlier to ask for a nice place in Quezon City where they could eat.
Richard and Maya opted to dine at one of the nooks of the house-turned-restaurant upstairs. Richard helped Maya up with a hand on her elbow. The friendly waiter led them to a room which looked like the living room of a house, complete with comfortable sofas and a coffee table in the middle. The place was partly lit by the glass opening in the ceiling and it looked so relaxing. They had a wonderful lunch.
Maya and Richard were on the road again after having coffee and dessert to finish their very filling lunch. Liza was correct. The restaurant was the best. They went towards the direction of Commonwealth Avenue, and after driving a while, they arrived at their destination.
“La Mesa Ecopark!” Maya said. Richard never fail to surprise her in all the time she had known him. She never thought that they would end up here today. But she likes this a lot. It reminded her of their trips to Central Park.
“Yes, I hope you might like this, than strolling through the shops and restaurants in Bonifacio High Street.” Richard said with a smile. “I have been meaning to check this park ever since Ryan mentioned it.”
“I agree. This is so much nicer.” Maya said excitedly, getting out of the car without waiting for Richard to open the door.
They went inside with a map of the park and chose which side of it they would like to explore first. The place is cool with all the big trees around. It sooths the senses and one’s weary spirit. They decided to rent bikes after a while and went around in those, chatting, and then looking around, just enjoying nature. When they got tired, they rested against the trunk of a big tree.
“Does this remind you of something?” Maya asked while leaning against Richard’s chest, in between his legs as he supports the two of them by reclining against the tree.
“Hmmm, Central Park? Our first picnic.” Richard smiled, remembering their wonderful time.
“Yes. This is really nice.” Maya remarked, then turned and looked Richard in the eyes. She just felt that the moment is right. “Ricky….” she started, heart beating fast.
“Yes, Maya.” He said, giving her his lopsided smile she loves.
“Ricky, I want you to know that I love you still, too.” Maya said simply. “I never stopped.”
“M-maya….” He stuttered, surprised at her declaration, his heart somersaulting hearing the words. Then he smiled in wonder. “Oh Maya! I love you, I love you very much!” He managed to say, overwhelmed!
Richard hugged Maya tight, then loosened his embrace to gaze at her lovingly, caressing her face. Then he lowered his lips to hers, and they shared a sweet, gentle kiss.
“Coffee, Maya?” Richard asked as he led Maya to the big sofa by the window at the other side of the private dining room of LHI after their very nice dinner. This section was designed like a living room, with comfortable sofas and low tables, perfect for having coffee, chatting informally in the case of LHI clients and business partners, or for just enjoying a quiet evening.
“Yes, please.” Maya said as she sat on the sofa facing the big window. Richard sat beside her, signalling to Mario to come to where they were.
“Mario, coffee please and some of that strawberry cheese cake that Chef John makes, if it is available.” Richard requested, and then thanked Mario.
“Sige po, Sir. We have it today. Chef knew it is your favorite.” Mario said, smiling at his boss. Ibang-iba talaga itong si Sir Richard kay Sir Roberto, he thought. “Sandali lang po, kunin ko. Excuse me, Sir, Ma’am.”
“I really, really like this place, Ricky. Mabuti dito mo naisipan na mag-dinner tayo. I’m not much into crowded places nga.” Maya said, filling the silence between them all of a sudden.
“I’m also very glad that I made the right choice.” Richard looked at Maya. She looked relax and happy, while his stomach is starting to churn. “I know you don’t like noisy places. I still remember that. Like my preference for quiet dinners, I think like me, yours had not changed either in all the years we have been apart.”
Maya’s heart started beating fast. It felt like this is the opening they both needed to revisit the past. She took a deep breath. However, before she can say anything anymore, Mario returned with their coffee, water, and cheese cake.
“Thank you, Mario. Please tell Chef John, thank you very much for a wonderful dinner. You and him can take a break na. Maya and I will not be needing anything for now.”
“Sige po, Sir Richard. Nasa kitchen lang po kami kung may kailangan kayo ni Ma’am.” Mario said.
“Thank you po, Mang Mario.” Maya added.
“Walang anuman po, Ma’am. Sige po, Sir, Ma’am.” Mario walked back towards the kitchen and Maya and Richard were left alone again.
Like what she used to do before, Maya automatically started putting sugar on Richard’s coffee and stirring it well before giving it to him.
“Thank you, Maya!” Richard said, gazing at Maya warmly before taking a sip of his coffee. “This feels like old times. Pati iyong coffee mo tasted the same. Masarap ang timpla and lasa. Nothing beats this.”
Maya stopped putting sugar in her coffee, midway, with that statement. She was suddenly hit by a strong recollection of the past, the good and the bad. She took a deep breath to calm herself and steady her hand that started to shake a bit. She put sugar in her coffee, sttirred it slowly, took a sip, looked at Ricky with stricken face. She just can’t help the strong emotion pulling at her.
“What happened to us, Ricky?” Maya asked with a voice not so steady, despite her best effort to control her emotion and to be rational about this talk.
Richard’s hand stilled with that question! He can hear the quiver in Maya’s voice when she asked that. He flinched a bit as he knew he was the cause of that. He put down his coffee cup, looked at her intently, seriously and with an expression that seemed to ask for understanding.
“I want to know, please, Ricky, everything. Don’t leave out anything, even if it will hurt me. Just like what I have read recently, ‘harsh reality is better than false hope’ . True, di ba? Maybe after this, you and I will be both in peace and can move on finally and completely.” Maya pleaded. “Don’t sugarcoat things for my sake. I think, one thing I realized through the years, is that it was what you did in the past. I may not knew your motivations then and what exactly happened, but I knew that you were not a cruel person and that our love was real. I would have been able to take everything in then, no matter how bitter the pill was. I can surely take it now.”
Richard took a deep breath. He wished he was drinking something stronger than coffee at that moment.
“Okay, I will tell you everything, Maya. At the end of this, even if you can’t forgive me, I will just ask for your understanding.” Richard said, gazing at Maya sadly, expecting the worst. He didn’t dare hope. He felt he had no right to do so.
Maya just nodded. She can’t speak. It felt like something was stuck in her throat.
“When you left that evening, I felt like running after you, and begging you not to leave as I felt it would be the last time we will see each other. I had that strong feeling all of a sudden. But there was Alexandra and the baby. She was already a bit unstable, even before knowing about you. If it was just her, I can manage, but there was the baby to think of.
What I said to you was true. We broke up in September, a month or so before I left for the States. That was the nth break-up we had, but it was the final one in my book. I just can’t take the relationship we had anymore. We were mismatched and I realized whatever affection or attraction I felt for her in the beginning was erased by her actuations. What I didn’t know was that she had stopped taking pills months before in an effort to have a baby, something she can hold on to, and something she can hold over me, which she did. Maya, when she came to the apartment, one evening, she threatened to have the baby aborted if I don’t marry her!”
Maya gasped at that. “Ricky, oh my God….” For her such action was unthinkable. Why would a woman deliberately set out to harm her unborn child!
“I was not so sure she will not push through with it. She even sent me her schedule at a clinic. I was really at my wits end then. I love you very much. It was a feeling I didn’t feel with Alexandra or any other woman before you. I was buying time, trying to reason out with her. At the same time, I deliberately kept you out of it. I didn’t want to burden you, or for you to get hurt if Alex found out that I am very much in love with you. My friend Tim, when I told him about the situation when it got too much and I was just walking aimlessly around, trying to find a solution, advised me to tell you. He said you will be burdened but it was better than not knowing. I finally decided to follow his advice and saw and opportunity to do so when you come into my apartment to cook kare-kare. However, all hell broke loose even before I was able to do that.
Things went from bad to worse after you left. Alexandra threatened to kill not only the baby, but herself too! I had to pacify her. She was uncontrollable. She didn’t want to leave my apartment. She thought the first instance she does, I will come running after you. I called Tita Cecille, her mom. She and Tito Martin arrived two days after. I had to call Rafi too, and asked her to bring clothes for Alexandra, also to talk her into eating something for her and the baby as she refused to do so.” Richard paused, then took a sip of his cooling coffee. Remembering the harrowing days.
“Your families know each other well, then?” Maya asked Richard while he was gathering his thoughts. She didn’t have an idea who Alexandra is. While living in Manila, her focus was her in her studies and didn’t pay much to other things, especially the going ons in the Manila social scene. Her main focus was to study hard and get the highest grades so she can get into her dream job with the United Nations.
“Yes. Her father and my father were business partners. The Coronels, at that time it happened, was in the process of pouring more capital into one of LHI’s business ventures. I met her in one of the parties thrown by my parents for their business associates. I was initially attracted to her. I thought she was what I wanted. We started okay, but everything changed after I proposed to her. She partied more frequently, wanted me to be at her beck and call. I can’t do that. I was just starting my career at LHI. I had a lot to prove to people, especially because I am the son of the CEO! The relationship turned tumultuous and volatile, until our final break-up.
When Tito Martin and Tita Cecille arrived, I thought everything would be okay, that they would reason out with Alex. However, they too, insisted I marry their daughter. They insisted that they can’t have her pregnant with no husband, and appear in Manila society. They didn’t want to be fodder to society gossip. Image was apparently very important to them. Alexandra told them about you. I told them to leave you out of it. The problem was compounded by my father’s arrival two days later. Tito Martin called him to force my hand.
My father was a hard man and he could be ruthless. He also insisted that I marry Alexandra for the sake of our families, our businesses, and the life of the unborn child. He was told about you. He subtly threatened me that you will get drag into the mess. I don’t know how he was planning to to that, but knowing him, nothing was impossible. He said love is an overrated thing and a commodity I can’t afford. He needed the Coronels. I didn’t want him to go after you Maya. He can be very ruthless when there is something standing in his way. I told him to give me time. I felt so closed in, Maya, with no solution in sight and time was running out, as you were leaving. I was also thinking what kind of thoughts you have of me already when days passed and I didn’t get in touch with you like I have promised to do!
I thought of calling you several times during those hellish period. But what can I say. What can I offer you! You were just starting your life. You were so happy. I didn’t want to drag you into that ugliness. I was actually outside your apartment the night before you left for Kabul. I just didn’t have the courage to see you. I left thinking that it was for the best we didn’t see each other and that even if it was very painful, to make an incisive break like that. I was prepared for you to think the worst of me.
I felt like a part of me, died when I went home that night. I thought it was better for you to suffer one big time, instead of putting your life on hold, live with uncertainties with me. At that time, when everyone except my mother was sort of ganging on me, I saw no other recourse but to marry Alexandra for the baby. I insisted on the marriage taking place in New York so it would be easier to dissolve. My plan was to wait out until the baby was born, then ask her for a divorce and fight her for custody of our child. Privately, I also stressed to Alexandra that the marriage will be in name only. My plan was to look you up after everything settled down, and see if you will still have me.
Having made that decision, I felt like I was a walking dead. I found myself in your home in New Jersey, talking to your mother. I just missed you so much that day. She was surprised to see me. I poured everything to her. I just felt comfortable talking to her. Your mother listened intently to me all the while I was talking. Then afterwards, she was silent for a while, and then told me she knew something was not right since you looked so sad prior to you leaving for Kabul. She didn’t want to pry into your affairs and she knew that if you want to unburden yourself, she will just be there.
Tita Tessie, yes, she asked me to call her that, said, she can’t exactly advise me on the best course of action as it seems there was really no win-win solution in the situation. But one thing she stressed to me is that she does not want you to be hurt more than you already were. You were young, just starting out your life and does not deserve all the heartache. She also pointed out that I have an obligation to my unborn child as she or he can’t fight for himself/herself in this situation. She also mentioned that I was the first person, aside from friends that you have brought home to meet them. Your mom also said, when things are meant to be, it will be.
I married Alexandra in a simple civil ceremony in New York in January, 2007. It felt like a prison sentence, no matter how temporary it was in my head. We returned to Manila and stayed at the house bought by our parents for us as a wedding gift. The marriage was as volatile as our relationship. Alexandra continued to party in the early months of the pregnancy, until she started showing. She had mood swings, big time. I was not really helping by being moody and morose, pining for you, wondering how you were faring, missing you so much.
I buried myself in work, in an effort to forget you, and all the hurt I have caused you, also forgot the hostile home situation I was in. I just made sure that Alexandra does not harm our baby, in a fit, to get back at me. By then, I was praying for the baby to be okay despite the circumstances of her/his conception and the situation we were in.
But everything was not meant to be. The baby was stillborn. I grieved and grieved, seeing my beautiful angel, yes she was a girl, so pretty, so still, not given a chance to live, unable to even utter a cry when she came out of her mother’s womb. We named her Gabrielle.” Richard’s voice broke at this, unable to continue. He took a sip of water that Mario brought with their coffee.
Maya touched his hand, to comfort him, tears flowing from her very expressive eyes. “Ricky, oh God! I’m so sorry for you, the baby, and even Alexandra. You don’t have to tell me everything if it is still so painful to you.”
“No, Maya, I want to tell you everything. I’m okay.” Richard assured her, then continued.
“I went through some sort of a crisis, in my grief, I thought that maybe Gabrielle didn’t want to be born anymore because of her parents’ situation. Alexandra, sort of, ‘woke up’ and ‘grew up’ after that. She also grieved for the baby that she took for granted and used as a commodity. She was inconsolable, kept saying everything was her fault, that she was being punished with all the bad things she did. I guess she realized when she saw our beautiful dead daughter, that there was really another very innocent human being in all she had done. Her parents took her quietly to a facility in Europe to help her heal and process everything. She wouldn’t allow me to visit her. She returned more than six months after, then asked for a divorce. She said, she is setting me free, said that was the least she could do to atone for all the wrongs she had done. She moved back to her family home. We divorced quietly and it became final in late 2008, and we had been on our separate ways since then. She went to live somewhere in Europe after the divorce and is now married to a minor nobility there, according to my mother.
I moved back to New York in early 2009 for LHI and buried myself in work, to forget, to heal, and to stop myself from looking for you. After what happened, I thought I didn’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve you after what I have done. Maybe, my daughter just gave up. What kind of home she would grow up to! I thought by then, you must still be very hurt, and very angry, by what I did, just disappearing like that from your life. And besides, it has been almost two years since then. Ayaw na kitang guluhin. You had led a life away from me already.” He finished, looking at Maya. “Please forgive me, Maya for all the wrongs I have done, for all my past actions, for not believing enough in you. My only excuse then was I loved you too much. But in an attempt to spare you, I ended up hurting you a lot. Sometimes, when loneliness and sadness hit me, I asked myself if I could have done things diferently. Maya, if you can’t forgive me, all I ask is for your understanding.”
“Ricky, I was not mad at you. Yes I was very, very hurt. When I read about your marriage, I felt like I died, as if a giant hand squeezed my heart until nothing was left. It was the first time I cried and cried, grieving for our dead relationship.
But Ricky, I have forgiven you a long time ago. I accepted that things were not meant to be. I have seen too much of human suffering to dwell on my broken heart. Compared to what people experienced in where I have been, it was nothing, not that I was belittling what we had. It was the world to me. I needed to be strong too, to move on little by little, one day at at time. I still need full closure because I wanted to understand what had happened. I didn’t doubt your love for me, but why did you suddenly just disappeared from my life? Why did you not talk to me to explain things? Everything is clear now. Thank you.
Hearing you like this, I now know you suffered much worst than I did. My broken heart was nothing compared to what you went through, losing your child. I may not be a parent, but I think losing ones child is the ultimate grief a parent can suffer.
With the passing of years, I remember more of our good times than the sad ending of our relationship. I thought to myself, maybe I got lucky already, finding a love like that so early in my life, even if didn’t turn out the way I wanted it, the way I wished it to be. At least I was able to experience a love like that. Some people went through life, not being able to.” Maya said eloquently, emotionally. “Now I also understand why my mother didn’t ask after you anymore. Ricky, I also don’t want to live in bitterness. It may take me a while to love again or not all, but at least I am moving on.”
“Maya, you do have a heart of gold. Thank you.” Richard said, his emotions overcoming him. How he so love this beautiful woman, inside out. “After I have put you through, you still have this in you.”
“Ricky, we can’t change the past anymore. We acted in the way we thought was the best, but in hindsight, we wonder if things could have been different if we did another course of action. But no matter how we analyze things, we can’t do about it anymore except remember the lessons we learned and avoid the mistakes we did in getting repeated in the future. We are humans and to live, sometimes, we need to go through a whole gamut of emotions.
“I agree with you, Maya. I know that. I went through all that, but in the end it didn’t serve any purpose.” Richard said, then continued. “I don’t want to live in regret too, the way my father did until the end. He actually wrote me an e-mail a week before he passed away asking for my forgiveness for what he did, meddling in my life. I set aside replying to his e-mail as it opened the wound in my heart that I thought had healed already. But by the time I did, it was too late. He was gone the same day.
“I have accepted that I can’t change the past either and that I do need to live through and accept the consequence of my actions. But in all this, since I am being completely honest with you and baring all, I would like you to know that I have not forgotten you, Maya, no matter how hard I tried. You are still here, in my heart, the only one. I still love you. Sometimes, I would see a girl who looks like you in a crowd, my heart would beat faster, thinking it was you, but sadly she was not. The last incident was at the airport several days ago, when I arrived last Wednesday. I spent the night thinking about you and before I fell asleep, I was resolved to look for you, no matter long it takes and see if I can still correct what I did eight years ago.”
“Ricky….!” Maya’s heart galloped with that. Richard still loves her!
“Maya, you don’t have to say anything. I know this is a lot to take in. I told you because I would like another chance with you. If I can still. If I am not too late. Can you give me another chance to prove my love for you and prove that I’m really worthy of your love? ”
Maya looked at Richard, her heart full of undefined and unsorted feelings, heart beating so fast! She simply nodded. Richard smiled like he just hurdled Mount Everest.
“Thank you, Maya.” He looked at Maya with so much love in his eyes. “You will not regret giving me another chance.”
Maya smiled at the only man she ever love. A new beginning! It looks like the two of them are lucky to be given another chance at love.
Note: The ‘harsh reality’ quote is from Downton Abbey. Have a nice weekend everyone! 🙂
“Ma’am Maya! Ma’am Maya!” Sabel shouted as she knocks excitedly on Maya’s door.
Maya opened the door, still half-asleep. “Sabel, bakit? May emergency ba? Di ba, you know naman that I like to wake up late on Saturdays?”
“Naku, Ma’am Maya, pasensya na po. Alam ko pong Sabado ngayon at gusto niyo pang matulog pero kailangan niyo po talagang bumaba sa sala.” Sabel said, trying to hold her excitement.
“Bakit?” Maya asked puzzled.
“Basta po, Ma’am, baba ka na please. Mahirap i-describe.” Maya’s kasambahay told her, all smiles.
Maya nodded, closed her bedroom door, and walked towards the stairs, the corridor after her bedroom offers a view of the whole living room.
“Oh, my God! What happened? Bakit naging giant flower shop ang bahay natin?” Maya exclaimed as she saw vases and vases of long-stemmed red roses on every available surface in the sala.
“Iyon nga po! Sabi po noong nag-deliver, halos 3,000 stems daw po iyan ng red roses! “Sabel said. “Kinailangan nga daw po nilang mag-order ng extra sa supplier nila dahil sa dami ng order ng special client nila and particular pa sa klase ng roses na kailangan niya.”
“Ikaw talaga, Sabel, at na-interrogate mo pa nung lagay na iyon ang delivery guy!” Maya teased.
“Siyempre, Ma’am. Di ba naman kakaiba itong admirer mo na ito! May kakumpitensya na si Sir Rafa. Dali, Ma’am, tingnan natin kung kanino galing.”
“Eh, paano ka namang hindi nakasiguro na hindi kay Rafa galing ang mga ito?” Maya asked, hand on her waist.
“Ma’am, sa tagal namang nanliligaw sa iyo ni Sir Rafa, ngayon pa ba siya bobongga ng ganito. Dapat noong una pa lang, nagpakitang-gilas na siya ng bonggang-bongga. Saka, di ba, white roses ang ibinibigay noon sa iyo.” Sabel reasoned out seriously.
“Ha, ha, ha, Sabel. Ikaw talaga. May tracking ka pa ng lovelife ko ha.”
“Sige na po, Ma’am. Don’t kill me with suspense. Sige ka mawawalan ka ng kasambahay!”
Maya smiled. Sabel is really priceless. She never fails to make her laugh at her antics. “Sabel, I think I know kung kanino galing ang mga ito. Saan mo inilagay ang card? I’m sure iniabot na lang sa iyo ng delivery guy.”
“Doon po sa may coffee table, Ma’am.” Sabel pointed to the small envelope lying on Maya’s mosaic coffee table which also has two vases of roses.
Maya retrieved the card, opened it and then her face was wreathed in smiles after reading the message. To Sabel, she looked different. In all the years she had known her, this is the first time in years she had seen Maya with that happy expression.
Maya touched the card, lovingly, then re-read the message again.
For all the years I was not able to give you one. I hope the roses remind you of our wonderful time together.
Will you please have dinner with me this evening if you are free? If not, then let’s do it another time. Let me know.
Maya knew that Richard is not just inviting her to dinner. If she agrees, then she is sure they will have their long-delayed talk.
She was not surprised with the invitation as it has been two days since she and Richard parted in front of that Italian restaurant in BGC. She was, sort of, expecting a call from him from that time on. But she never expected his grand gesture that touched her heart. She was surprised and her heart galloped upon seeing the roses. She knew who sent them right then and there.
The roses took her back to that hotel room in New York where she met Richard. She had saved all the notes he gave her and saved some of the petals of the flowers he had given her. She didn’t have the heart to throw those mementos away. The mementos were in the tin can she carried everywhere she got posted.
“Ma’am, sino na nga po ang nagpadala? Pwede po bang malaman.” Sabel asked smiling, very, very curious.
“Naku, Sabel, ikaw talaga ang nosy mo. Kundi lang kita kababata, napingot na kita.” Maya said exasperated, but smiling. “PInadala iyan ng ex-boyfriend ko.”
“Ha, may ex-boyfriend ka??? Buong panahon na nakilala kita wala naman akong na-meet na iba. Ito ngang si guwapong-guwapong Sir Rafa, kakalyuhin na sa panliligaw, hindi mo ba sinasagot. Pero in fairness, bonggang-bongga itong si ex-boyfriend na magparamdam ah. Kabog na kabog!”
Maya laughed.”Sabel, enough na. I need my coffee fix! Sige na, magre-reply pa ako kay Ricky!”
“So, Ricky pala ang name. ‘R’ din!” Sabel remarked to herself as she went to the kitchen to make Maya’s coffee.
Maya got her phone. She sent Richard a text message.
Hi Ricky! Good morning! Thanks for the tons of flowers! Akala ko nalipat na sa loob ng bahay namin ang Dangwa! Yes, I can have dinner with you. Where do we meet and what time?
Richard was drinking coffee and was wondering if Maya had already received his flowers, when his phone beeped. He jumped and almost scalded himself. His heart beat faster. He hopes it is from Maya and that she is saying yes to having dinner with him! He got his phone from his pocket. He smiled hugely after reading her message.
Good morning. You should have seen the expression of the flower shop owner when I placed my order. Maybe she thought I’m one crazy dude! Thank you very much, Maya for saying yes to my invitation. I will pick you up from your house at 6PM. Would that be okay?
When Sabel returned to the sala with Maya’s coffee and her favorite pandesal with butter, she saw her grinning while staring at her phone. She decided to let her be and didn’t tease her anymore. She is happy that Maya is this happy again.
“Thank you , Sabel.” Maya said absentmindedly, then resumed tapping on her phone.
Six o’clock is okay with me, Ricky. See you.
Great! Looking forward to seeing you again, Maya! I’m counting the hours and the minutes until then! Enjoy your morning!
Maya took a sip of her coffee and a bite of pandesal as she ponders the unexpected turn of events in her life. She hopes that this is it, the closure that she needs. One thing is certain, even if it happens, she can’t say yes to Rafa. She only likes him as a friend. She is sure of that now. Her heart still beats for only one person, despite all the heartaches and even if they can’t be together anymore, she is not prepared to try loving another.
Richard finished his coffee, took a deep breath, and walked to the floor-to-ceiling window of his condo unit and just stared out. Several more hours and everything will be out in the open. He hopes Maya will still talk to him afterwards.
The doorbell of Maya’s house rang at 30 minutes before six o’clock. Maya earlier told Sabel that she was expecting a guest. She told her Ricky is coming to pick her up so she went to the gate to open it. She had to find her way around the flowers still all over the living room.
“Good afternoon! I’m looking for Maya. I’m a friend of hers. Richard Lim. She is expecting me.” The tall, handsome, chinito guy with glasses, and wearing a dress shirt and jeans that just looked divine on him greeted Sabel with a lopsided smile. “Sorry, napaaga ako. Wala kasing masyadong traffic sa nadaanan ko.”
“Errr, g-good afternoon din po.” Sabel said, unable to speak coherently. Kaya naman pala walang pag-asa si Sir Rafa! Grabe ang guwapo naman ng ex ni Ma’am Maya na mukhang magiging ex-ex boyfriend na! “Tuloy po kayo, Sir Richard. Nagbibihis lang po si Ma’am Maya. Sabel po. Kasambahay ni Ma’am Maya.”
“Hello, Sabel! Are you also from Mindoro?” Richard asked as they walked towards the house. He likes Maya’s house designed in Japanese minimalist style and the view must be wonderful from the second floor which is all glass. The house looks very inviting and airy.
“Opo. Kababata po niya ako roon.” Sabel replied. Pati iyon, alam niya tungkol kay Ma’am Maya ha, she thought.
“Ikaw iyong isa sa mga kalaro niya sa San Nicolas, with Simon and Cristina Rose, di ba?!” Richard remembered Maya telling him about her vacations in San Nicolas and them kids learning traditional Filipino games from the elders. “Naglalaro kayo ng piko, tumbang preso and taguan, among other things.”
“Naku, Sir, pati iyon pala, nakwento sa inyo ni Ma’am Maya at tanda ninyo pa!” Sabel exclaimed, liking Richard instantly. Ay katuwa naman itong ex ni Ma’am Maya. “Sir, upo po muna ako kayo. Teka po, hawiin ko lang itong ilang vases.”
“Wow, ganito pala karami ang mga flower!” He said. Maybe, he overdid things, but Maya seems to appreciate his gesture so he is happy.
“Korek ka diyan, Sir. May natira pa kayang roses sa Dangwa sa ginawa niyo!” Sabel said before she can stop herself. Ooops, ay baka akala niya ang tsismosa ng kasambahay dito. “Errr, excuse me Sir, kuha ko lang kayo ng maiinom! Ano po ang gusto niyo, coffee, juice or Coke?”
“Thank you Sabel. I’m good. I will just wait for Maya.” He gave her a big smile.
“Sige po, maiwan ko muna kayo. Sabihan ko lang po si Ma’am Maya na nandito na kayo.”
Before Richard can reply, Sabel was up the stairs fast, calling Maya. Richard smiled at Sabel’s departing figure. She is funny. Maya told him before that aside from Cristina Rose and Simon, her other playmates were his Mamang’s neighbors’ kids, named Sabel and Adrian.
He sat on the sofa and looked around. He saw pictures of Maya on one side of the living room wall. It seemed like this wall was dedicated to pictures of her, not only with her family, but in the places she had been.
He saw photos of Maya from different parts of the globe – from Afghanistan to Nigeria to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Timor and so on. There were heartwarming photos of her with children of all sizes and nationalities, Maya with smiling villagers, and her colleagues at the UN. One picture caught his attention more than the others. It was of Maya and a good looking European guy, cheek to cheek, smiling and mugging for the camera. They seemed so happy and carefree. Looking at the photo, Richard felt like a hand squeezed his heart. Is he too late?
“Ricky, sorry natagalan ako.” Maya called him from the base of the stairs. She saw him looking at her photos. “Ang dami na, di ba?”
“Yes, and it looked like you have been all over!” Richard said, mustering a smile, which turned into an expression of admiration, seeing Maya in a form-fitting, classically-cut dress that reaches mid-thigh, exposing her shapely legs a bit, wearing pumps. She wore minimal make-up but she looks so beautiful in Richard’s eyes. “You look very lovely, Maya.”
“Thank you, Richard.” Maya smiled at Richard. “You are not so bad yourself. Shall we get going?”
“Okay.” Richard replied. He wanted to ask Maya about the guy in the photo, but he had no idea how to go about it. He does not want to appear to be prying into her private life.
They were about to leave the house after saying goodbye to Sabel, when Maya’s phone rang. She checked who is calling. Oh! She better pick this up.
“Richard, please excuse me, I just need to pick up this call.” Maya said. “Hola, Rafa! Buenas noches! ?Que tal?”
Richard felt another painful squeeze to his heart, hearing Maya talking to a guy, obviously a Spaniard, judging by her greetings. He had a s strong feeling that it was the same guy on the photo.
Maya switched to English, halfway through her conversation with Rafa. “Really, you will go with me to Mindoro? How about your work? Oh! Okay, then. I will tell Mamang to expect us. I have to go now, I’m going out with a friend. And no, you don’t know him. Hasta pronto! Feliz al fin de semana!”
Maya ended the phone call, then smiled at Ricky, barely noticing that he had a serious expression this time and seemed to be deep in thought. “Ricky, let’s go. Sorry about that! Rafa will just keep calling if I don’t pick up the phone.”
Richard was dying to ask Maya who is Rafa in her life. He can’t gauge. Maybe, not her boyfriend since they didn’t exchange endearments during their phone conversation. But maybe it was just Maya who didn’t as he didn’t hear the other guy, anyway. He sighed. Maybe this is another consequence of his action that he needed to live with. But as long as she is not married, he has hope, no matter how small.
He escorted Maya to his waiting car. An hour later, they have arrived at the LHI Head Office in Ortigas Center. Richard parked his car at his parking slot. He got out of the car to open the door for Maya.
“Maya, I hope it is okay that we dine here.” Richard said as he escorted Maya to a private elevator. “We have a private restaurant on the top floor. Papa had it built so we have a place to meet and dine clients and business partners.”
“It’s okay, Ricky.” Maya simply said. She had mixed emotions at that time, as hers and Richard’s moment of truth is getting nearer.
The elevator led to an opened area, with floor-to-ceiling windows and the view is simply amazing.
“Good evening, Sir Richard, Ma’am!” A tall elegant lady greeted Maya and Richard.
“Good evening Ina! Thank you for this. Maya, this is Ina Ruiz. She is in charge of this place. Ina, this is Maya dela Rosa, we go a long way back.” Richard said.
“Please to meet you Ms. Dela Rosa.” Ina smiled at the lovely lady beside her boss. This is the first time he brought someone here and the first time he requested a special dinner. “Sir Richard, Ma’am Maya, please follow me.”
Ina led Richard and Maya to probably the best table in the whole place, in front of one of the floor-to-ceiling windows with a beautiful view of the metro’s night lights. The table was beautifully set for two, with long stemmed red roses in the center and rose petals on the table cloth. Richard pulled the chair for Maya, solicitously sitting her before he sat on the chair in front of her.
“Mario will be your server, Sir.” Ina said as she beckoned to a serving staff standing nearby. “I will just check what the chef had prepared for you and I will be on my way. Enjoy your night.”
“Thank you, Ina.” Richard said, then turned to the server. “Mario, Maya and I would like to have drinks muna. What would you like, Maya? Red wine, white wine or juice?”
“White wine, please.” Maya said.
Several minutes later, Mario came with a bottle of one of the restaurant’s best vintage, poured a generous serving in Richard and Maya’s glasses. He left after to start to start serving their several-course dinner.
“To new beginnings!” Richard said, offering Maya a toast. “Thank you for this opportunity Maya!”
“To closure!” Maya said, startling Richard a bit. Closure! Does that means moving away from him after this? But he did clink his glass with hers.
Mario returned with their salad and soup.
“This is a very nice place, Ricky. How long have LHI had this restaurant? The view is amazing!” Maya remarked as they started eating.
“Since 2009 I think. I haven’t been here much before I left for the States several years ago. And since I came back, this is the first time.” He said.
Maya and Richard chatted about their respective work the past several years as they enjoyed the food prepared by LHI’s chef, which Don Roberto hired away from one the best hotels in the country. As if they had an unspoken agreement, they avoided the topic of their separation as they ate their dinner, leaving it for later.
That aside, Maya was enjoying her dinner with Richard. Richard was the same. He temporarily set aside thoughts about their serious discussion and opted to enjoy the dinner first.
It felt like they were back to the time when they used to try different restaurants in Manhattan, early on in their relationship. Richard hopes that this will continue after their talk. He hopes this is not his last dinner with Maya.
Maya, as she chatted with Ricky like they have never parted ways like that, is feeling more optimistic about the outcome of their clearing of the unresolved issues in their past.
Note: ‘The talk’ next chapter. I will try to post it tomorrow. Have a nice evening everyone! 🙂
Through the years, from time to time, when Maya allowed herself to dwell on the past, especially around the holiday season, which was not her favorite time of the year since that heartbreak she suffered eight years ago, she envisioned seeing Richard again somewhere, but it was always in a nebulous way. Their lives have diverged so much that she can’t imagine where their paths would cross again. Besides, she switched her thoughts to other topics when she started doing this as lingering on it was painful, especially during the first couple of years after it happened. But as the adage goes, time heals all wounds and she sort of, accepted that their love was not meant to be.
Ever since she met Mrs. Lim, and since she had read the online article about Richard, Maya knew that they would definitely meet but she never imagined it would be this soon! Maya stared at the one and only man who made her heart beat faster, who still make her heart skips a beat with his mere presence, with his intense gaze, that seem to look into her soul. Richard is as handsome as ever and his looks, unchanged through the years, except that there seemed to be a sadness in him.
“How are you, Maya? Are you based in Manila now! Since when?” Richard threw the questions rapidly as he gazed at Maya intently. She is more beautiful now, with her shoulder-length hair, erect and confident posture. She used to wear it longer when they were together. She is more poised too and carries herself very well. It was evident when they were together, but the years had turned the lovely girl into a very beautiful, confident woman. He missed those doe-shaped eyes, shining with intelligence and love for him when they were together. “It’s so great to see you again.” He almost went to her to hug her and kiss her on the cheek like he used to, but he stopped himself at the last minute. He does not have the right to do that anymore.
Maya strived to find her equilibrium, regain her composure after seeing him again, so sudden, and so unexpectedly. “Yes, for now I’m based here. I came back to the Philippines late 2009, but sometimes I traveled to other Southeast Asian countries in between.” She explained after she took a deep breath. Her palm suddenly felt sweaty. How come he still have the same effect on her, after all that had happened!
“That’s good to know. Late 2009? That was after I moved back to New York.” Richard said, trying to see if Maya will react to his mention of New York, the place where he experienced the happiest and the saddest chapter of his life. It took him a while to go around the city again and all the places he had been with Maya after he returned to NYC early 2009 to manage LHI’s international operations from there.
Maya’s heart skipped a beat when she heard Richard said New York. The memories started coming flooding back in a rush. She looked at Richard meaningfully. Oh, how she had loved this man. Seeing him again, she had the answer to one of her questions after she read that article. Nothing has changed despite the heartaches, the time, the distance and the passing of years.
New York! Thankfully for her broken heart, she was not required by UN to live in the city again. She just went there to report for several days and then she was off to various part of the world where her services was needed. She also sold her apartment to Emman, and during the times she needed to be in the States, she stayed with her parents. Her mom didn’t ask after Richard. Sometimes she wondered why, finding it strange, but most times, she just shrugged it off and think that her mom just wanted to spare her feelings, having an inkling that they had broken up. Maybe, she was just waiting for her to say something. But in those instances, it was just too painful for her to tell her mother about what happened. She bottled it all in, spilling it one evening to Rafael, after they had a bit of a drink.
“Oh, that was where you have been!” Maya remarked. She actually had a lot of questions for Richard. The answers to them, she believes, will finally laid the past to rest and then she can move on completely. But that moment was not the time and the place for it as she suddenly remember Mrs. Lim and their meeting.
Donya Esmeralda was observing intently the interplay between her son and Maya. She noticed the looks they have exchanged earlier and the seemingly unsaid words and emotions between them as they seemed to have forgotten her presence. Maya and Richard obviously knew each other in the past and by the looked of it, the relationship was much more than friendship. Her motherly intuition said that Maya was someone important to Richard at some point in his life. At the same time, she remembered her husband Roberto’s dying words which didn’t make complete sense at that time. He was asking for his son’s forgiveness for what he did eight years ago and his role in his son’s unhappiness. She never gotten around to telling it to Richard as it sounded unintelligible to her. In her grief, she had forgotten about that.
“So Maya, you know my son Richard?” Donya Esmeralda asked Maya as she remembered mentioning Richard to Maya before in an attempt to matchmake between the two. But it looks like she does not need to do that anymore.“Since when kayo magkakilala, Ricky? Small world, di ba son?” She looked at her son intently.
“Mrs. Lim……” Maya started, but Richard beat her in replying.
“Ma, Maya was my girlfriend in New York in 2006.” Richard said, surprising Maya and his mother with his statement. “She is the love of my life.”
“Ricky……!” Maya blurted out. She never thought that Richard would say that and he spoke in the present tense. Does that mean….? She refused to speculate, but her heart somersaulted hearing that bold declaration.
“Really, son!” Donya Esmeralda, with that confirmation managed to connect another set of dots from the past. She remembered her husband muttering about Richard’s stubbornness in refusing to marry Alexandra despite the fact that she was carrying their child, according to her parents, Martin and Cecilia. Roberto even said that there was another girl involved in the equation. She did tell Roberto that there must more to the situation than what they knew, and maybe he shouldn’t meddle. But he didn’t listen to her, apparently. It looked like her son was indeed in love with someone else then, and that person was Maya. Her heart went out to her son, and also to Maya, as it seems they are still both in love with each other judging by their initial expressions earlier, before they were able to mask their feelings. But with that statement of her son, it looks like he still loves Maya and is planning to do something about it this time. It does seem like these two have a lot to talk about.
“Yes, Mama.” Richard replied. “But please, leave it at that.” He simply said. He wanted to have a heart to heart talk with Maya the soonest time possible. He hopes she will be able to forgive him and that they can still pick up the pieces, no matter how fragmented they are, so to speak. He is prepare to do everything to get her back. He knew before this that he made a gargantuan mistake in the past when he just gave up. He had wasted eight years of their lives together. He is praying that it is not yet too late for everything.
“Okay, I’m with you on that. You two can catch up later.” Donya Esmeralda said. “Maya, what would you like to have, hija? Let’s have lunch first and do the discussions afterwards. Ricky, you can pass the time inside the Mind Museum or at the park there after lunch if you want while Maya and I discuss our project.”
“No, Ma. I will stay with you and Maya. Let’s have lunch first. Then I will leave you too with your projects. I brought and iPad with me.” Richard said. “What would you like Maya? I can see some of your favorites in the menu.” He chatted on, as if they were just having one of their dinners.
Maya got flustered a bit. “Ah errr, I would have the pasta marinara please and mango juice.” She managed to say. “Kayo po, Mrs. Lim?”
“I’ll have pasta Alfredo. And you Ricky?” Donya Esmeralda asked her son, still marveling at the scene that had unfolded before her.
“I’ll have the same as what Maya is having.” He simply said, hoping that it will trigger another good memory of their time together for her, instead of all the heartache he caused.
Maya remembered that that they had the same food the first dinner they had. Uncle Bobby was not as subtle as her mother. He asked about Richard the first she was back in New York after her posting in Kabul, and was having dinner at La Signora with Emman.
Donya Esmeralda called the waiter and they told him of their orders. Maya and Donya Esmeralda opted to chat about their literacy campaign for a community of children in a remote community in Mindoro while waiting for their lunch. Since the area is so far from the town, and the families so poor, the children were unable to go to school. It was not just a priority if one was barely making a living. Donya Esmeralda and LHI Foundation will sponsor a six-month education program in the area to be handled by UNICEF. They are also planning to set up a livelihood program for the residents. Maya will set up everything. In fact, she was traveling to Mindoro the following week to talk to the officials there about the project.
“Is the place close to where your Mamang lives, Maya?” Richard asked when there was a break in the discussion between her and his mother. So, he was listening to everything, hmmm! The iPad forgotten.
“Your family is from there, Maya? Who are still there? You told me your family are now base in New Jersey.” Donya Esmeralda remarked.
“Yes po, my family is from there Mrs. Lim. But only my Mamang, my grandmother, still lives there.” Maya replied, then looked at Ricky. “It is an hour away I think fromm Mamang’s home.”
“Oh, not so far then. You can also combined a visit. Di ba, you liked staying there when you were a kid. Kumusta na pala ang mga cousin mo, sina Cristina Rose and Simon.” Richard asked, not realizing, his mother was not privy to what he was saying, and that he had taken over the conversation.
Maya was surprised that Richard remembers her cousins! “Well, Simon is still single. Ate Cris naman is married. She got married to her childhood sweetheart, Jeff and they have a son, Cho.”
“Good to know that. How’s Emman naman? Is he still in New York?” He asked.
“Wait, son, this is my meeting.” Donya Esmeralda told her son, smiling, teasing him, and then also Maya. “Naku, Maya, sagutin mo na nga itong anak ko nang tumigil na.”
“P-po, sagutin?” Maya stuttered.
“I mean, sagutin mo na ang tanong niya, hija at di ito titigil. Sobra ka yatang na-miss. Ewan ko ba naman, bakit pinakawalan ka!” Donya Esmeralda said bluntly. “Oh, sorry for being nosy. I will stop na.” She smiled, though, unrepentant.
Maya and Richard both turned red. They gazed at each other, then looked down.
“Errrr, Emman is actually here. He returned last year. He is now working at a public relations firm.” Maya said after she had regained a bit of her composure again.
“Maybe, we can all get together one evening.” Richard suggested, hoping that this way, Maya will not shy away from meeting him again.
“I will tell him.” Maya said simply, noncommittally.
“So son, my turn na ha.” Donya Esmeralda said, smiling. Then said, “Maya, can you e-mail me the documents for this project. I think everything is a go. Please let me know how your trip to Mindoro turns out. Then you and I can be there at the start of the project. If we are successful in this one, we can duplicate this in other parts of the country. I’m also looking into building a school in our target area, long term.”
“Talaga po, Mrs. Lim! That would be great po.” Maya smiled brilliantly at Donya Esmeralda, a smile that lit up her whole face and made Richard’s heart beat faster. He was captivated, just like the first time, he had seen it. She was like that when she was about to start her career at the UN. She lit up like a neon sky.
“Can you and your team make a projection for this additional project. Tell me about it in our next meeting. Now, enough of work, let’s relax na. Tamang-tama, here’s our lunch na.” Donya Esmeralda said as she saw the approaching waiter.
The three of them had good lunch. In between bites and sip of her drink, Maya was conscious of Richard’s gaze. She was not so sure that this went unnoticed with Richard’s mother. They talk about general stuffs, with Maya contributing a bit about her life living in areas where the UN has its presence. They were having coffee when someone called Donya Esmeralda.
“Esmeralda Lim, nice to see you here!” The newcomer said brightly. She was about the same age as Donya Esmeralda.
“Hello Norma! Kumusta? Where’s Probo?” She said as she airkissed one of her longtime friends.
“Hayun, busy. Kaya heto, I decided to drop by here and have a cup of coffee and some pastries before my appointment. Oh, hello, Richard! Good to see you. Welcome back!” She also greeted and kissed Richard, then noticed the beautiful young lady sitting on Richard’r right. “Oh hello, you must be Richard’s girlfriend!”
“Oh, Norma, this is Maya dela Rosa, the Communications Officer of the UNICEF office here. Remember the project I told you about? We are doing with with UNICEF. ” Donya Esmeralda hastily answered, freeing Richard and Maya from explaining their complicated relationship to Norma who could be a bit of a society gossip. She felt her son and Maya should have ample time to sort out their relationship before it became news in the society circle they move in.
“Hello, hija.” Norma’s attention, sucessfully diverted. “I heard you are doing a lot of good work. I’m friends with Sylvia Delgado, the head of Abaya Foundation. I like the project you two did. “I’m Norma Melendrez.”
“Please to meet you po, Mrs. Melendrez. Thank you for that.” Maya smiled at the old lady, then she accepted her beso.
“Esmeralda, where are you going afterwards? That is if you are done with your meeting with this very capable young lady!” She asked Donya Esmeralda.
“Wala naman. Babalik sa bahay. Ricky drove me here, actually.” Donya Esmeralda replied.
“Why don’t you join me. I will go to my favorite spa. I’m sure, they can also pencil you in. I will call. Sige na, kailangan mo namang lumabas ng bahay. Ayaw naman ni Roberto iyang malungkot ka.” Mrs. Melendrez cajoled Richard’s mom. “My driver and I will take you home.”
“Sige na, Ma. Sumama ka na kay Tita Norma. Don’t mind me, babalik na rin ako sa condo. I just dropped everything when I went to visit you yesterday.” Richard pushed his mom. He thinks it will do her a world of good.
Donya Esmeralda looked at her son, then at that moment, an idea came into her head. She will go with Norma, and therefore gives her son the opportunity to talk to Maya.
“Okay, sige. Maya, okay lang ba hija na mauna na ako?” She asked Maya, who was quietly sipping her coffee. “You and Richard can finish your coffee. I will go with Norma. How will you get home pala? Did you drive?”
“Sige po. Don’t mind me. I will go back to Quezon City rin po after this. I’m okay po, don’t worry. I will just take a taxi back, same way I went here.” Maya said, then stood up to give the old lady a beso. “Enjoy po. It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Melendrez.”
“Naku, Ricky, son, you should take Maya, home. Medyo mahirap na ang taxi sa lugar na ito.” She told her son.
“Mrs. Lim, hindi na po. I can manage. Thank you. I’ll just e-mail you and then set another meeting with you after my trip to Mindoro.” Maya assured the old lady. She just barely recovered from seeing Richard again. Being cooped up in a car with him for an hour or so, maybe too much for her poor heart and mind to take in at that moment.
Donya Esmeralda, didn’t push it. She know her son, he would find a way to persuade Maya to be taken home. “Okay, up to you, hija. Bye. Ricky, I’ll go ahead. You too finish your coffee and pastries.” And just like that, Donya Esmeralda left the restaurant with Richard’s Tita Norma.
There was silence on the table as soon as the door of the restaurant closed, and Richard and Maya realized that there were just the two of them. Both took nervous sips of their coffee, looking at each other, trying to gauge on how to proceed. It was Richard who broke the silence after taking a deep breath to still his crazily beating heart.
“Maya, I know I’m lucky you are even talking to me after all that had happened and what I had done. Thank you.”
“I know, this is a lot to take in. I never expected I will see you this soon. I was so happy when I saw you earlier, when I just spent a big part of last night, thinking about you. I know I have a lot to explain and to make up to you with. I also know you have a lot of questions.” He said, as if wanting to let it out in one go. “I’m not sure if you can forgive me, but I need to try. Will you please give me a chance to redeem myself?”
Maya looked at Richard’s earnest expression. She feel that he genuinely want to set the past right. Besides, isn’t this what she wants to, a closure?
“Ricky, me too, never expected to see you this soon. Though, after reading the online article on you being appointed CEO of LHI, I know we would have met at some point. Yes, you are correct, I do have a lot of questions. I need to move on and you are the only one who holds the key to the big gaps in our shared past. So, yes I would like us to talk please.”
“Thank you Maya. Just me hear me out please. And then I wll let you decide from there.” Richard said earnestly, glad that Maya is not closing her doors to him despite what happened.
Maya smiled then looked at Richard regretfully. “It has to be another time, though. I have an appointment I can’t cancel. Would that be okay?”
Richard smiled back. “Of course. Here, let me know when are you free next.” He said, as he pressed into Maya’s hand his business card. “Oh wait, I will write my home number, private mobile number and my address.” He then beckoned the waiter and asked if he could borrow a pen.
Maya unexpectedly laughed at that. “Ricky, I only need one contact number, I think. Besides, I can always ask your mom.” She then handed him her business card. “O, pahiram ng pen, I will write there also my home number and address.”
Maya’s laugh was music to Richard’s ears. He missed that too. He missed everything about her. “Mabuti na ang sigurado. And thank you for this.”
They went out of the restaurant, reluctant to part, but trying hard not to show it. Richard asked Maya one more time if he can’t take her to her next appointment. She thanked him but insisted on taking a taxi. Richard sensed that Maya needed to do that, so he just flagged a taxi for her, took note of the name of the taxi and the plate number.
Richard completely understands Maya’s action. He, too, needs to process their wonderful unexpected meeting. She needs time and he will give her that, while he thinks of what he needs and can do to do to win her back, no matter how long it takes. He will not waste this rare chance given to him to make things right and be with the only woman he ever loved, still loves. He felt happier than he had been in years.
Note: Errr, double treat! 🙂 Pambawi ko sa inyo! 🙂
Richard Lim strode through the busy airport, unmindful of the people, especially women, who were taking a second look at the handsome, confident man with eyeglasses, wearing jeans and a polo shirt, in their midst. He looked serious and in deep thought.
Home! Richard mused as he waited for his luggage. It is good to be back. He had been pretty restless lately. He didn’t know if it has something to do with the death of his Papa and being the new CEO of LHI. He does not think so. The truth is, he had been restless and unsetttled for eight years. It felt like a big part of his life stopped after the painful incident that happened eight years ago. Maybe, this is better, he mused. Taking the reins of the company will keep him very busy that he will not have time to think of the unresolved issues from his past. Besides, he will at least see his mother more often, especially now that she can’t seem to get over his father’s death. There were times that he had a hard time understanding his parents’ dynamics. For him, his father was very strict and forceful, and yet his mother loved him so much until the end. His father seemed to be very devoted to his mother too. Such contradictions!
Richard was about to exit the terminal with his luggage when he saw a seemingly familiar figure. His heart skipped a beat. He can’t breath all of a sudden.
“Maya!” He muttered.
The lady turned, as if she had heard him. And with it, came another disappointment. It was not Maya, the one and only woman he loved, still loves, he admitted. When will he stop yearning? Maybe, it is about time he confront the past and his big role in hurting her. Even if she can’t forgive him, isn’t it better than this? He tried to forget, but he was unable to do so. He avoided finding out about her in an effort to forget and let her be, after what he did, after what happened, but there were times when he found it so very difficult to do so. In hindsight, he knew that there were things he could have done, but it was just in hindsight. What had happened, happened and no matter how much he wanted to go back and change it, he can’t anymore. He needs to move on. Maybe, it is time to confront the past and laid it to rest.
“Sir Richard, Sir Richard!” Joma, the Lim family driver, called Richard’s attention several times before he reacted and looked at him.
Joma rushed to Richard and helped him with his luggage. “Welcome back, Sir.”
“Thank you Joma, it is good to be home. It has been a while.” Richard got in the front seat of the car, then looked straight ahead.
If Richard had looked sideways at that moment, he would have found out that after so many years imagining seeing Maya in a crowd, he would have finally found her! At that moment Maya was also coming out of the airport. She just came back from Bangkok, meeting her UNICEF colleagues there.
“Rafael, hola! ?Que tal?” She greeted her longtime friend, Rafael Rodriguez. They met each other when they were both stationed in Geneva, in between assignments. When she was assigned to the Philippines, Rafael soon followed. He is a doctor working for WHO.
“Bien, Maya! And you, how are you? Did you have a nice trip? How’s Lizbeth and the rest of the team in Bangkok?” He asked as he took care of her luggage and guided her to his waiting car.
“It was great. We can sync our projects. I just need to meet with our private sector counterpart here and finalize our project and its implementation.” Maya told Rafa.
What she was not telling him was that, the counterpart she mentioned would bring her to the same world inhabited by the one and only man she loved, especially now that she knew he is coming back to the Philippines for good. For the past months, she had been working closely with the head of LHI Foundation who happened to be Mrs. Esmeralda Lim, Richard’s mom, for a literacy campaign. At first, she didn’t know she is Richard mom, until they got to know each other more and she told her that her only son was in charge of the LHI office in New York. Then she mentioned that her son Richard is still single. It seemed that Mrs. Lim was trying to matchmake between her and her son. Maya, at that time, didn’t know whether she would disclose that she knew Richard. She was saved by one of her colleagues who arrived and the discussion shifted on to another topic. Thankfully, Mrs. Lim has not mentioned Richard since then.
Maya asked Rafa if he would like to come in when they reached her house in a nice subdivision in Quezon City. She knew a house an impractical choice as she is not home much, but she wanted a house of her own. She came to a point that wherein she wanted a permanent base after eight years of living everywhere. She wanted to settle in the Philippines too, and not in the States. Lately, she had been thinking of leaving the UN and establishing a non-governmental organization that would help people living in the countryside, but she haven’t made up her mind.
“Thank you, Maya. Maybe another time. I have to be at the office later for a meeting.” Rafa said. “How about lunch tomorrow?”
“Oh sorry, I can’t. I’m meeting Mrs. Lim in BGC.” Maya said. “Anyway, let’s check if we are free by Friday night, would that be okay? We can go out with Emman and Edselyn.” Like her, Emman returned to the Philippines and is now working for a public relations firm. His cousin Edselyn is currently in Manila at the moment, visiting for two months.
“Hmmm, can we just go out, the two of us, I mean, on a date?” Rafa suggested. He made his intentions known to Maya, but until now, she had not given him any indication that he likes her beyond friendship.
“Rafa, about that, can we just be good friends for now? I’m not still sure if I’m ready for a relationship.” Maya said carefully.
“But Maya, I have known you for five years and all those times, I haven’t seen or known you to be with anyone. I know it is your life, but maybe, it is about time you open your heart again.” Rafa pointed out. He knew he can speak frankly with Maya as they have been friends a long time. “Give me a chance. That is all I’m asking.”
“Rafa, Rafa, please give me time. It is not fair to let you hope when I can’t give my 100 percent to you. Let’s just be friends for now, okay.” Maya pleaded.
“Okay, Maya. I respect your decision. I will get going. Take care of yourself.” He said, resigned to the fact that it seems, he is destined to be just a good friend to Maya.
“Thank you, and thank you for being a wonderful friend.” Maya said, then wave at Rafa as he got into his car.
“Ma’am Maya, welcome back!” Sabel, Maya’s kasambahay shouted from the door.
Maya smiled at Sabel. “Sus, Sabel, parang ang tagal ko namang nawala this time, para ilang araw lang ah!”
“Naku, Ma’am Maya, kapag mag-isa ka lang naiiwan sa bahay gaya ng nangyayari sa akin kapag wala ka, parang taon ang dating sa akin.” Sabel quipped. “Si Sir Rafa po ba ang naghatid sa inyo? Sayang hindi ko man lang nasilayan ang kaguwapuhan niya ngayon.”
“Yes, siya nga.” Maya replied.
“Ma’am, hindi mo pa po ba sasagutin? Aba eh, saan ka pa ba makakakita ng boyfriend-material na kamukha ni Antonio Banderas, saka nung tennis player na paborito niyong panoorin.” Sabel said. She knew she can tease Maya as they had known each other for quite a number of years na. She was one of Maya’s playmates when she visited Mamang in San Nicolas. When Maya moved back to the Philippines, Mamang asked Sabel if she would like to work for Maya. Even if Maya kept on insisting to just call her ‘Maya’, Sabel insisted on using Ma’am!
“Si Rafael Nadal! Ikaw talaga, Sabel! Halika na nga. Anong dinner ba ang inihanda mo?” Maya asked.
“Naku, masarap na masarap na kare-kare po.” Sabel replied.
Maya suddenly stopped walking. Sabel had cooked kare-kare in the past, but this time, hearing the word, the memory of her last day with Richard came rushing back. She flinched a little. Maybe the article she had read about Richard opened the floodgates of the past for her.
“Bakit po, Ma’am Maya? Ayaw niyo po ba? Magluluto na lang ako ng iba.” Sabel looked worriedly at Maya.
“No Sabel, it is okay. May bigla lang akong naalala. Halika na, ipaghain mo na ako. I will just bring my things upstairs.” Maya said.
“I wonder if he here is now.” Maya mused as she plopped down on her bed to catch her breath before she goes back downstairs.
“I wonder where she is at the moment.” Richard mused while he was on his way to his family’s home in Makati from his condo unit in BGC. He just dropped his things and decided to see his mother whom he hasn’t seen since his father’s funeral.
Since he left the Philippines in 2009 for good to head their international operations, a year after the divorce with Alexandra, he was rarely in the country. His trip got more frequent, though, when his father got sickly and he had to take over his responsibilities. He was in the country for the funeral of his father, but returned to New York the day after it, while the board was deciding if he will be the CEO or his Uncle Patrick. Ryan informed him that he was the one the board picked, several minutes after the final voting.
“Ricky, hijo!” Esmeralda Lim greeted her son as soon as she saw him walking towards the front door after parking his car in the driveway. Joma had told her earlier that he dropped off his Sir Richard first at his condo unit. He also informed her, as per Richard’s instruction, that he will have dinner in the family home and stay the night. “I missed you a lot, son.” Donya Esmeralda hugged her son tight.
“I missed you too, Mama! How have you been?” He asked.
“Heto, I get by. I still misses your Papa a lot. Pero tanggap ko nang wala na siya. Life has to go on.” Donya Esmeralda said. “I just keep myself busy, hands on na hands on ako ngayon sa foundation natin. Doon nalilibang ako and fulfilling naman ang work.”
“It is good to know, Ma. Tama iyon.” Richard was glad to know that his mother is moving on. “What’s your latest project?”
“Tungkol sa literacy! Tamang-tama, di ba, you are staying the night. You can come with me to my meeting with the UNICEF Communications Officer here, sandali lang naman iyon, tomorrow. Please, son.” Donya Esmeralda pleaded. “Di ba sa susunod na araw ka pa magre-report sa LHI.”
Richard knew that when his mother take that tone, he better say yes, so he did. Besides, he wanted to indulge his mother, especially now that he only had one parent left. He does misses his father, despite the fact that he could be exacting and that he had a hand on how things turned out differently from what he wanted eight years ago.
“Okay, Ma, I will go with you.” Richard agreed.
“I’m glad son. Come let’s have dinner. Fe cooked your favorite food, kare-kare.” Donya Esmeralda chatted on.
Upon hearing the word, Richard stopped and thought of the last night he had been with Maya. It was the food she cooked for him lovingly, and how he repaid that with what happened afterwards.
“Ricky, hoy Ricky, is something the matter son? Ayaw mo ba ng kare-kare? Di ba, tama ako, favorite mo ito.” Donya Esmeralda had to call Richard several seconds more before he reacted.
“Oh, I’m okay, Ma. May naalala lang ako.” He said simply. “Halika na. I want to see Manang Fe too. Na-miss ko rin siya ng husto.”
Mother and son went to the dining room. Upon seeing her alaga, Manang Fe got teay-eyed and hugged him. “Ricardo, kumusta ka na?”
“Mabuti po Manang. Ikaw talaga, Manang, parang ilang linggo pa lang ulit tayong hindi nagkita ah.” Richard said affectionately.
“Iba naman iyon, anak. Ngayon natutuwa ako na dito ka na ulit sa Pilipinas titira.” She said.
“Me too, Manang. It seemed right po na bumalik na ako dito.” Richard said as he pulled the seat for his mother. “Manang, sabay ka na po sa amin ni Mama.”
“Oo nga naman, Fe. Saluhan mo na kami nitong si Ricky.” Donya Esmeralda added. “Huwag nang magpaka-others.” Fe is like a friend to her, though, when she insists that she eat with her, she refused.
“Sige po, Ma’am. Na-miss ko nga ang mga kwento nitong si Ricardo.” Manang Fe finally agreed and sat across mother and son.
The three had a nice dinner. It was Donya Esmeralda who mostly talked. Manag Fe noticed Richard getting silent at times and looking at the kare-kare intently, as if remembering something. Later on, after dinner, Donya Esmeralda excused herself and said she need to make some phone calls. Richard walked to the veranda.
“Ricardo, kape o.” Manang Fe handed Richard a steaming cup of coffee.
“Thank you po, Manang. The best ka talaga.” Richard said, smiling at his old nanny.
“Naku, wala iyon. May gusto ka bang pag-usapan, anak?” She asked. Manang knew what Richard went through with Alexandra and felt that there was something he didn’t tell anyone, even to her. All the time he was married to Alexandra, she can see that he was just half-alive. Parang walang sigla sa buhay. “Napansin ko kasi na tahimik ka kanina at parang may iniisip. Naisip ko rin naman na baka pagod ka lang sa biyahe.”
“Meron nga po akong iniisip Manang, Pero saka ko na po sasabihin, Manang, kapag naayos ko na ang lahat.” He simply said. “Ikaw po and si Mama ang unang makakaalam, promise.”
“O sige, basta, nandito lang ako kung kailangan mo ng kausap.” The old lady said.
“Maraming salamat po. Magpapahinga na po ako, Manang.” Richard said as he put down his coffee cup.
“Okay, sige, ayos na ang dati mong room. Pinalinis ko ng husto iyon kay Lea kahapon.” Manang said. “Good night.”
It took a while before Richard fall asleep. There were so many thoughts in his head, but it was not about work, it was about Maya.
The following day, mother and son arrived at the restaurant where Donya Esmeralda will meet the UNICEF officer she mentioned the night before.
“Naku, son, mabuti, we are early. Halika doon na lang tayo. Parating na siguro iyon.” Donya Esmeralda sat on the chair facing the door so she can see the coming and goings of people. She was ordering coffee when the door opened, she looked up and smiled.
“Mrs. Lim, good afternoon po. I think I’m a bit late this time.” The woman greeted Donya Esmeralda. “Pasensya na po.”
Upon hearing the voice, that voice, Richard suddenly whipped round to face the woman who greeted his mom. He needed to be very very sure, but he knew he couldn’t be wrong.
“Maya…..!” He said with wonder and with a huge smile on his face.
“R-ricky….!” Maya uttered, realizing who is the man sitting with Mrs. Lim, not being able to say anything anymore.
“You know each other?” Donya asked, very surprised at this turn of event. Yes, she had an ulterior motive when she asked her son to go with her. She wanted him to meet Maya. She really likes this young lady and is hoping that she can matchmake between her and her son. It is about time her son smiles again. She wants him to be happy.
Donya Esmeralda’s question fell on deaf ears as Richard and Maya only had eyes for each other. The years just fell away, and all the bad things that had happened suddenly forgotten, as they both looked at each other with longing and yes, love.
Several days after Alexandra’s visit to his apartment, Richard was still reeling from the effects of the bomb she detonated on him. He was nowhere close to finding a solution to the whole situation. Here he is, walking and walking the streets of New York after taking Maya home, trying to think clearly on what he will do next, thinking of a viable option to the mess he is in.
Richard has not heard from Alexandra since then but she had e-mailed him her schedule at a clinic in two weeks time. Despite all her faults, he never thought that she is capable of doing this, torturing him this way, and terminating the life of her baby, of their baby. He thought she loved him or they at least cared for each other when they were together, but this is downright obliterating whatever good was left of their previous relationship.
Maya, he thought, noticed his preoccupation with something. She asked him several times this evening if something was wrong. But he didn’t have the heart to tell her and mar her happy mood. She was so happy with the way her work at the United Nations is turning out. She had tons of anecdotes about her adventures in the diplomatic world. He didn’t want to ruin their night together. It was the first time they have seen each other since she started working. She just had a lot of things to do and had cancelled on their dinner the evening after she first started working.
Richard understood Maya and the demands of a new profession. They had to settle on chatting on the phone as soon as they both got home each evening. This evening, they had dinner at La Signora again. Before she went inside the apartment, Maya touched his face lovingly, and told him that she is just there to listen if he needs to unburden on whatever was causing him to stare off when he thought she was not looking. She was that intuitive and he almost told her. However, he vowed not to drag her into this situation.
He was going crazy, and he needed someone to talk to. He fished out his phone.
“Hey Richard! What’s up man? Is there a problem at work?” Timothy asked, one after the other when he picked up Richard’s call.
“Hi Tim! No, everything is okay at LHI.” Richard assured his good friend and colleague. “I know it is a bit late, but would you like to go for a drink in the bar we like, the one near Broadway?”
Timothy sensed that Richard was inviting him to something more than a drink. He sensed that Richard was preoccupied about something big the past several days, and no, he does not think it has something to do with the lady who made him happy the past month, Maya. She seemed like a very nice girl. That was his impression when he finally met her one evening at a place where she and Richard were having dinner. Besides, Richard was the happiest guy the past weeks because of her.
“Okay, give me 30 minutes. I will meet you there. I’m just at home, working on a projection for Time Airways.” He said, as he saved what he was working on and logged off his computer.
Tim found Richard at the bar, drinking vodka like it was water.
“Hey buddy, how much of this have you had?” He asked as it looked it was not Richard’s first in the last 30 minutes since he phone.
“Hi,Tim. What would you like?” He asked, evading his question. He was not yet drunk, but he is getting tipsy. “John, my friend, give my buddy Tim here a drink.” He told the bartender.
Tim asked for a beer and he knew then that he better make it last, as it looks like he will need to be sober for Richard and him.
“Have you had something to eat?” Tim asked Richard.
“Yes, I’m fine on that aspect. I had dinner with Maya earlier.” Richard replied as he took another gulp of his vodka.
“How is Maya? You had dinner with her and then here you are drinking. Did you two had a fight or something?” Timothy asked, then said, “And, maybe, slowdown on the vodka, my friend. It will not do you good.”
“No, we didn’t fight. We are okay. She does not have any idea that because I love her, I think I will hurt her.” He said sadly.
“Ha? What happened?” Timothy asked puzzled, then said gently, “I’m here to listen. You know, you have done it for me in the past and you got me through my bad break-up with Belinda.” Timothy added. He and Richard went a long way back, since they met each other when they started taking that post-graduate course in Harvard.
Richard, despite Timothy’s advice, took another drink, then started unburdening himself as Timothy gave him an encouraging gesture to proceed.
“My ex-fiancee, Alexandra is in Manhattan. She came to the apartment several days ago. She told me she is pregnant and I’m the father. I refused to marry her since she and I have been over months ago, and we are bad news together. I offered to support her and the baby. I even offered to raise the child if she does not want it. She gave me an ultimatum, either I marry her or she will have the baby aborted.
Then there’s Maya. She just started her life, a new job. I don’t want to drag her into this mess. I love her too much to burden her. I haven’t heard from Alexandra since that night, but she emailed me yesterday her schedule at a clinic near her parents’ apartment. See, isn’t enough to drive a man to drink to oblivion?” Richard finished miserably.
Timothy took a deep breath, and took a big drink. Indeed, the situation is a mess.
“Richard, in all this, have you thought of giving Maya a choice, an option? Isn’t it better that she knows the situation, that she decides for herself where she would like to stand in this situation as it also involves her? From what you told me of her, she is a very nice, sensible and understanding girl. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have fallen in love with her, isn’t it?” Timothy said. “Yes, she will be burdened, but isn’t what love is, being each other’s support in good times and especially so, in bad times.”
“I know, I thought of that. I was tempted this evening. But what if I lose her?” Richard asked. “I can’t bear it. Besides, what about the baby? It’s my child we are talking about?”
“Hmmmm, about that. Are you sure, it is yours? Didn’t you tell me that Alexandra partied a lot during the time you were together. Sorry, I just had to ask that.” Timothy said apologetically.
“For some reason, yes, I believe her on this. Though, in the beginning I had doubts. But if she is telling me the correct weeks of the pregnancy, that it is mine. She told me she stopped taking the pills at some point since she wanted to get pregnant with my child.” Richard assured Timothy as he really felt, Alexandra really wanted to hook him in whatever way she could, and she can’t do that if she just manufactured something.
“Or maybe, the question is, is she really pregnant?” Timothy asked next.
“She seems fuller when I saw her, and there is a slight bump in her stomach. Besides, I don’t think she will go to this length if she is not. She knew already that I really wanted to be as far away from her as much as I could.” Richard said. “I would like to try to reason out with her as much as I could and until my voice gets hoarse, or until she sees reason.”
“That’s the attitude! You’ll never know. Maybe she will see the light. In the meantime, you should think really hard about talking to Maya. Besides, isn’t it better that she learns this from you and not from someone else?” Timothy finished as he patted Richard on the shoulder.
“You are right. I will. I just needed to find the right time to do so. As it is, she has a lot on her plate at the moment. There is a strong possibility that she will be sent somewhere, in a remote part of Asia soon. She speaks a lot of languages among others and they needed her in Kabul.” Richard added. “Thank you for listening Tim. Let’s hope for the best.”
“Richard, anytime! We are friends.” Timothy then stood up. “Come, I will take you home.”
The two friends went home, Richard feeling optimistic again.
That same evening, Maya can’t sleep. She really felt that there is something Richard was not telling her. She had this unsettling feeling that something is about to unfold and it may not be good. She decided to see how Richard is the following evening, cook him dinner and cheer him up. She went to bed, happy with her plan.
The following night, the wonderful smell of food assaulted Richard’s senses when he entered his apartment.
“Ricky, you are home!” Maya greeted from the kitchen. “Dinner is almost ready! I hope you like kare-kare.” She said with a smile.
“Maya, what a nice surprise! So, that is why you were asking me what time I will be home.” Richard said, grinning, so happy to see Maya. He temporarily forgot all his troubles, by her mere presence. “I love kare-kare, one my favorite food! And you can cook that?
“Of course naman. Mamang thought me kaya!” Maya pretended to be affronted, but her smile ruined the whole thing. “Saka mabuti, I found the ingredients, except I am using regular meat and mabuti Emman bought a bagoong in a bottle from the Filipino store near his cousin’s place in Philly over the weekend.”
“Thank you, Maya. For this, and for just being here!” Richard said happily. “Mabuti, you were able to get away from work early.”
“Oh that. Antoine, my French superior, said I can go home early to share the news with my loved ones.” Maya replied. She had hoped to be sharing that news with Richard after dinner. “Mamaya ko na lang sasabihin. Kain na muna tayo.”
Richard suddenly felt nervous. He knew what was coming. On top of everything, the thing he had been dreading in a way, was about to happen. But he knew, all he can do is support Maya and let her fly and spread her wings. He wanted to see her soar beautifully.
Maya put the finishing touches on the table setting. Richard grabbed a bottle of wine from the fridge. He seated Maya and then sat on the chair on her left.
“Wow, this tastes good.” Richard remarked after tasting Maya’s kare-kare.
“I told you. You have no faith, Mr. Richard Lim, eh!” Maya quipped.
They smiled at each other and attacked the food with gusto. In between, they have shared how their day had been. After dinner, in synched, they clean the table and out away the dishes.
“So, what was it you wanted to tell me?” Richard asked, later, when they were sitting by the big window, sipping coffee.
Maya put down her cup, then put her hand on top of Ricky’s. “My love, I’m leaving for Kabul next week. They really need someone to relieve the one currently stationed in our office there. It was supposed to be for January, but she needed to endorse things to me and the senior staffer who will replace her. I will be along as the staffer’s assistant since I am still new.”
“Oh! I never thought that it would be this fast. But of course, I understand. You take good care of yourself there, and I will call you everyday as soon as you get settled.” Richard said, trying to overcome the extreme sadness he was feeling. He went to Maya’s side, held her gently by the shoulder and gestured for her to stand. Then, he cupped her chin.
“Maya, I’m happy the way your career is starting to take off. Please always remember that no matter what happen, I will always love you, only you.” Richard said while looking at Maya with all the love he was feeling. He then lowered his lips to her and gave her a searing kiss, pouring all he was feeling in that kiss. He decided to come clean to Maya this evening, but first he needed to fortify himself.
Maya responded to Richard’s kiss. At the same time, at the back of her mind, she was wondering what brought this on. She felt nervous all of a sudden. She was trying to fight the thought that there is something more to Richard’s impassioned statement than her impending assignment.
“Ricky, my love. There is only you. I love you very much. I hope we will be together forever.” Maya said fervently. She decided to let go of her nagging thoughts, and gave all to the kiss, or kisses she and Richard are sharing now.
“Madam, please, go back the lobby….”
Richard and Maya broke apart when they heard loud voices outside the apartment’s door. They looked at each other puzzled. A loud bang on the door followed. Richard decided to check, Maya followed him to the door, wanting to know also what was the commotion all about.
Richard opened the door and got the surprise of his life. “Alex, what are you doing here?”
“Mr. Lim, I’m very sorry. She just ran past by me while I was attending to the guests of Mr. Masters. I told her to wait, as I was going to give you a call first. I ran after her, but here we are.” Franklin said very apologetic.
“It’s not your fault Franklin. Please go back downstairs. I will take it from here.” Richard replied. “Alex, again why are you here? Didn’t I say in the e-mail to give me time!”
“Well, I can’t afford that anymore, Richard. My parents know I’m pregnant and that you are the father!” She said without preamble, and someone gasped loudly in the background.
“Oh God, Maya….” Richard blurted out, then went to a shocked Maya. She looked like she lost all the colors on her face. “My love, I will tell you about this, this evening. I was about to but….
“‘My love’, so I am right Richard Lim, there is another girl.” Alex said angrily, then looked at Maya insultingly. “Heto lang ba ang ipinalit mo sa akin.”
Richard flared up at that. “Enough, Alex, please! You don’t have to say that to my girlfriend. She much more than you are. She is the love of my life. Maya, let me explain please. Alexandra here was my ex-fiancee. I will tell you about the whole thing this evening. Honest, I was!”
But it seems, Alex hadn’t had enough, even if she can see the tears Maya was trying very hard to stop from falling. “I never agreed to the break-up, and we are having a baby. You know what will happen if you don’t marry me, especially now that my ‘holier than thou’, conservative parents know already.”
“That’s not true Alex. We broke up months ago. And I told you I will support you and the baby but not marry you. You know….” Richard countered, when he felt a hand on his arm. He saw Maya with tears she was trying to hold back, putting a brave face.
“Ricky, I will go ahead.” She said, gently, steadfastly, putting a brave front. She felt her heart would burst from all the emotions she was feeling at that moment, she can’t think straight. “I will let myself out. Here, take this. I don’t think I will be needing this.” She pressed the key he gave her in his hand, then looked at him gently, sadly, lovingly, “Take care.”
“Maya, don’t do this please.” Richard ran after a departing Maya. “I will explain. Please give me that chance. Please.”
Maya looked at Richard distressed face. So, this is what was bothering him last night. She may not know the whole thing, but she knew it was a difficult situation he was in. But at that moment, she didn’t really know what to think. She needed to process the whole thing. But despite this, she believes in Richard and what they had the past month or so. She nodded. She just can’t speak at that moment.
“Thank you, Maya. Believe in our love. I love you.” Richard said earnestly. “Take care. I will see you when I manage to make sense of everything myself.”
Maya left Richard’s apartment with a heavy heart. Richard on the other hand, had no other recourse but to let her. He needed to pacify Alexandra and deal with her, her parents and soon, he knows, his Papa as well. He does not want Maya to get hurt as she already is.
Several days after that incident, Maya jumped every time her phone beeped or rang. But none came from Richard. She was getting worried, but she was holding on to what he said. When she managed to process everything, she realized that Richard was caught into something that maybe, was not really of his own making. She believed him when he said he and Alexandra had been over months ago. She can’t explain it, but she just do. She wanted to give him time to sort everything out.
However, the trust in him was slowly being eroded by his silence as the days passed. It was the night before she was supposed to start her long journey to Afghanistan, but still no communication from him. Even her mom, whom she saw several times the past days was asking if she has a problem and had asked after Richard. She told her she was okay, and that they were okay. She didn’t want her mother to worry.
The morning of her departure, she woke up early, still no messages, e-mails or calls. Still she hoped, but waited for nothing. Before she left for the airport, tears blurring her vision of the keyboard, she wrote him an e-mail, saying goodbye. She sent it then closed her laptop.
The journey to Kabul took twice as long in her mind, with the sadness she was feeling. She numbed herself, not wanting to think or feel. She just thought of the work she need to do, including learning Pashto and Dari, the official languages of Afghanistan. She does not have time to ‘mourn’ the death of her relationship with Richard.
Soon after her arrival, what she saw was a shock to her senses at first, but she was not in Kabul to sightsee, but to work and help improve the lives of the people there caught in the political upheavals in Afghanistan. At first she refused to open her personal e-mail, for fear of not seeing a reply from Richard. However, when she did, she felt like laughing and crying at the same time as her e-mail bounced! She must have copied the address wrong as she was crying at that time. But still, there was no mail from Richard. She gave him her e-mail address too. She remembered writing it at the back of his business card when they dined at La Signora the first time.
The holiday season came and went and she was just contented to Skype with her family. Her mom, as if sensing that something had happened between her and Richard, did not ask about him. It was the loneliest holiday season she had spent, in a foreign land, away from her family and suffering from a broken heart.
If December was bleak, January was the pits. The emotion she was trying to bottle up, no matter how difficult, burst. The catalyst was a small article in the online edition of a Philippine newspaper. She clicked on it and wished she hadn’t. It was an article detailing the marriage of Richard Lim, heir to the vast Lim family fortune, and the socialite, Alexandra Coronel in New York. It also happened while she was feeling nostalgic and was listening to her ‘Rent’ album, the first show in Broadway she had seen with Richard. The album was a gift from him. She was missing him so much. Good thing it was in the middle of the night and she was alone. She just broke down and cried. The song playing in her iPod at that time was apt, very apt.
The ground thaws
The rain falls
The grass grows
The seeds root
The flowers bloom
The children play
The stars gleam
The poets dream
The eagles fly
The earth turns
The sun burns
But I die without you
Maya knew that she needed to pick up the pieces of her broken heart, alone, no matter how difficult. One thing she also knew at that time, the song was right, she felt she had died a little.
The eyes gaze
The legs walks
The lungs breathe
The mind churns
The heart yearns
The tears dry without you
Life goes on but I’m gone
‘Cause I die without you…..
She shut down her iPod when she realized the album was still playing on and on. That was the last time she listened to her ‘Rent’ album. Sleep came after an hour or so, fitful as it was, and she woke up with very puffy eyes. She looked out, the sun shining bright. She took a deep breath and forged on, as the song also said, life goes on. She will be strong and rise above this heartache, one day at a time.