“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! 🙂