Richard was in a very happy mood when he entered his place, the penthouse unit of one of the upscale high-rises in Bonifacio Global City, remembering his and Maya’s heated moment earlier that night. He opened the lights and took a sweeping look at his place. Will Maya like it here, he asked himself? The place suits him, even if it is too big for one person. He likes the view and the fact that he can just come and go. He does not need to cook as there are a lot of restaurants in the area and a cleaning lady comes daily to tidy up the place and takes care of his laundry. If he craves for a home cooked meal, all he need to do is drive himself to his mother’s house, and for sure, Manang Fe has his favorite food waiting for him when he arrives.
However, ever since he and Maya got back together, he is imagining her there, in his place, them sharing it, having a quiet and enjoyable time together every evening, sitting in the big sofa by the floor-to-ceiling window that offers a wonderful view of the city, talking how their day have been, cuddling and doing what couples do, spending the night together and waking up beside each other in the morning.
Richard went to the fridge, took a cold can of San Mig light, took a sip, then while half-staring at the quiet night, initiated a call to a long remembered but unused number. He took a deep breath and told himself, this is it. He was glad that Maya laid the groundwork for this call, thought she was completely unaware on why he really wanted to call on her mother.
Richard did not have to wait long. The call was picked up after three rings.
“Hello good afternoon, Tessie Winters here.” Maya’s mother automatically said when she picked up the phone. She was about to make herself a cup of coffee when it rang.
“Hello po, Mrs. Winters, good afternoon, this is Richard Lim, calling from Manila.” Richard greeted Maya’s mother formally.
“Richard, kumusta ka na anak!” Mommy Tessie warmly greeted Richard. “Masyado ka namang formal. Di ba, I told you to call me Tita Tessie the last time you were here. Maya mentioned nga last night that you will call me.”
“I’m good po, Tita Tessie. I’m actually more than good, the best po, especially now that Maya and I are back together. I couldn’t be happier that she has given me a second chance and that we are back together! I think she mentioned it the rin po sa inyo last night.”
“Yes, she did. Tumawag nga siya and we chatted for an hour, I think.” Mommy Tessie said, then took a deep breath and plunged in. “Richard, I will speak frankly na ha.”
“Yes po, Tita Tessie, please go ahead.” Richard said, knowing what is coming, he had prepared for it.
“Thank you, anak. I want you to know that I’m very, very happy for you and Maya. You two deserve to be happy after what you have been through. However, I don’t want Maya to be hurt like the last time, please. I know you have gone through your own hell in what happened, pero siyempre bilang ina ayaw ko rin namang nakikitang masaktan, or in this case, nalaman na nasaktan ng husto ang anak ko. The extent of what she endured I only found out last night.”
“Ipinapangako po sa inyo, hinding-hindi ko na po sasaktan si Maya. I have learned from the past. Saka, hindi po lahat ng tao, nabibigyan ng ganitong chance ulit gaya ko, namin, kaya hindi ko po ito sasayangin. Kaya nga po ako tumawag sa inyo, to assure you that I will not hurt her again and it will be my goal in life to make her happy for the rest of our lives.” Richard finished passionately and with so much conviction that Maya’s mom readily believed his sincerity and intention towards her daughter. She was not wrong with her first impression of Richard years ago.
“You mean….?” Mommy Tessie asked, though she has an inkling what Richard meant with that statement.
“I want to marry Maya po, Tita Tessie if she will have me. I love her very much and she is my life now. She is the one and only woman I have ever love. Iyon din po ang main reason why I decided to give you a call. I wish I can be there in New Jersey at the moment to ask you this in person, kaso po kababalik ko palang po kasi ng Pilipinas. Hihingi po sana ako sa inyo ng permission to propose to your daughter. Pangako ko po sa inyo, I will cherish and love Maya.”
Even if she knew it was coming, Mommy Tessie still got very emotional with what Richard said. “Richard, anak, thank you for asking my permission, even if you don’t have to. Of course, for me welcome ka sa pamilya namin. I know that you are a good person and that you love my daughter very much, and that she loves you very much too, for her to let go of what happened and take another chance with love, with you. But of course, si Maya pa rin ang makakapagdesisyon diyan.”
“Thank you po, Tita Tessie. Importante po sa akin ang blessings niyo. I will do my best so Maya will say yes to a future with me. I know we just got back together, but we have already have wasted eight years, ayaw ko na pong marami pa kaming masayang na sandali. We have waited long enough to be together.”
“Kailan mo balak mag-propose kay Maya?” Mommy Tessie asked, teary-eyed, very happy for her daughter.
“Pagkagaling po sana naming bumisita sa San Nicolas. I want to meet your mother first and ask her also for her blessings since she is also a very important person in Maya’s life.”
“Pati si Nanay!” Mommy Tessie smiled at that. “Richard, anak, kapag hindi ka pa naman sinagot ng anak ko sa gagawin mong iyan, ewan ko na lang. Saka kapag ganoon ang nangyari, ako na ang magiging padrina mo.” She teased.
Richard smiled at that, and finally, he can breath. He admitted, he was very nervous when he made the phone call.
“Thank you po, basta asahan ko po ang back-up niyo kapag hindi nag-yes ang anak niyo kaagad.” Richard bantered back.
“Sure, anak!” Mommy Tessie laughed. “Kailan pala kayo pupunta sa Mindoro? Maya forgot to mention that in our chat last night.”
“Maya will travel po to Mindoro on Wednesday for the project she is working on with my mother, then I will follow her on Saturday. She is finished with that, by then so we can both see and visit her Mamang. I really wanted to meet din po your mother since Maya mentioned her a lot before.” Richard said.
“Naku, I’m sure matutuwa sa iyo si Nanay, and for sure papasa ka doon, anak.” Mommy Tessie said smiling. Her mother, for sure, will like Maya’s handsome, young man.
“Tita Tessie, may I speak din po with Mr. Winters. Nabanggit niyo na rin po ba sa kanya na kami na ulit ni Maya?” Richard asked tentatively, “That is, if he is not busy.”
“Oo, I did, kagabi noong dumating siya. Maya requested me to tell him. He is very happy that Maya is happy. Para na rin kasing anak ni Mark iyang si Maya. He also said that he had a good first impression of you, and since you are Maya’s only boyfriend as far as he know, you must be a very wonderful guy. He said, he trust Maya’s choices and instinct and that couldn’t be wrong if she still loves you after all the years that have passed.” Mommy Tessie said, recalling some of what her husband said upon learning that Maya is with Richard again. “Sandali lang ha, I will call him.”
Richard waited for a minute or two, then the line was picked up again.
“Hello Richard! Glad to hear from you. How are you? Tessie said you wanted to talk to me?” Mark Winters said as he settled in the couch vacated by his wife. “Oh, and I’m happy to hear that you and Maya are back together.”
“Yes Sir, I wanted to talk to you as well, not only to Maya’s mom.” Richard started, then forged on. “The reason I called your wife was to ask her permission to marry Maya. I would like also to ask yours as well as you are Maya’s dad now.”
“Oh, thank you for asking me too, Richard. It is a very nice thing to do, and I’m so very glad. But like Tessie has surely said to you, it is up to Maya. But I’m happy for both of you and I do wish she will say yes to you. I will of course, would gladly welcome you to our family. I may not know what happened to separate you two in the past, but all I want is Maya’s happiness. She is like a real daughter to me.”
“Like what I have promised Tita Tessie, Mr. Winters, I will love and cherish Maya for the rest of our lives. I will take care of her until we are old and grey.” Richard promised Maya’s stepdad.
“That’s very good to hear, Richard. And please do call me Mark.” Maya’s stepfather offered. “Good luck on your proposal.”
“Thank you, Mr….errr, Mark.” Richard said, happily.
“No worries, Richard.” Mark Winters said. “Would you like me to hand the phone to Tessie again?”
“Yes, please, and thank you.” Richard said. He heard Mark talking a bit to Tita Tessie and then she came back on the line.
“Tita Tessie, thank you very much po to you and Mark.” Richard said gratefully, happily.
“Richard, wala iyon. Masaya kami na magiging bahagi a ng pamilya namin. I know you will love and cherish Maya. Saka, knowing my daughter, hindi iyan pipili ng hindi niya mahal ng buong-buo. Di ba pa nga sa tinagal-tagal na nagkahiwalay kayo, hindi nakuha or napilit ang sarili niya na magmahal ng iba. I wish you both all the happiness in this world. Basta last payo lang Richard, open communication ha, importante talaga iyan sa isang couple. Huwag mong i-shield si Maya to protect her if the going gets tough. Give her a choice in the matter.” Tita Tessie said, not able to stop herself from saying that. “Sorry ha, napahaba na ang advice ko.”
“Thank you po, Tita Tessie, very welcome po sa akin iyan. I know po and I will do that.” Richard said. “Good night po.”
“Good night and good luck, anak.” Maya’s mother ended the phone call, cradling it after Richard had said goodbye, a happy smile on her face. “My Maya getting married soon,” she said. She does not have any doubt that her daughter will say yes to Richard.
Richard, on the other hand, let up a whooping sound after he put the phone down. He felt very happy at that moment. One more very important person in Maya’s life to talk to and he can propose to her. He know just the place to do that, the place to ask her to be with him forever.
The following morning, the day before Maya leaves for her trip, Richard woke up early. He prepared for another day at work. But before he left the house to pick up Maya, he made another phone call.
“Ricky, son, napatawag ka. Ang aga pa ah.” Donya Esmeralda greeted her unico hijo. “Thank you nga pala for bringing Maya to dinner. Then sa good news niyong dalawa. I’m so happy to know na kayo na. Im so looking forward to all my apos!”
“Ma! Ikaw talaga, advance na advance ah.” Richard said, laughing.
“O, eh doon naman iyon papunta. Sa tinagal-tagal pa naman ng hinintay niyong dalawa.” Donya Esmeralda pointed out.
“Well, Ma, kaya nga po ako tumawag sa inyo this morning, I would like you to know that I would like to settle down with Maya soon. I’m planning to propose to her po.” Richard said happily.
“Oh my, that’s a wonderful news son! It’s about time. Kailan mo balak?” Donya Esmeralda couldn’t be happier.
“Basta, Ma, secret. Malalaman mo soon after.” Richard said. “I know just the place to do it.”
“O siya, siya, hindi na ako mangungulit. Good luck, son!” Donya Esmeralda said. “Bring Maya again to dinner after she had said yes. I’m sure she will.”
“Thank you, Ma.” Richard replied. “By the way, Ma, di ba you have a friend who designs engagement and wedding rings. Can I have her contact number and can you put in a word for me, kasi this is going to be a rush job.”
“Oh my, oh my. That soon, son! I’m so excited!!” Donya Esmeralda said, very happy at that moment. “Sige, I will send you her number after this, and then I will call her for you too. Of course, sasabihin ko na i-prioritize niya ang aking only son.”
“Thank you, thank you again, Ma.” Richard told his mom. “I love you. You are the best.”
“Son, I’m just so very very happy for you and Maya. You deserved to be happy after all that had happened. My first apo, Gabrielle, must really be your little angel in heaven. She sent happiness your way.” She finished, suddenly remembering the baby, her first grandchild, they have mourned a lot.
Rchard smiled at that, remembering his beautiful angel. It is not so sad and painful now to think of his little girl. Speaking of, he would like to visit her before his trip to Mindoro. He has not visited her grave since he got back.
Mother and son said goodbye. Richard left his place to pick up the love of his life. Donya Esmeralda, on the other hand, went to her room, held the framed photo of her husband that she keeps there.”Roberto, our son has found the happiness that has eluded him years ago. He is happy now. I hope you will find your peace too, my husband.” She said teary-eyed, then kissed the photo before getting ready to go to Lim Foundation.
Richard arrived at Maya’s house before seven o’clock, just like the previous days. Soon after, they were on their way to Makati. While they were were cuddling in the back seat of the car, Richard asked Maya if she can take a vacation leave that coming Monday.
“I guess, I could. I haven’t had a leave this year. ” Maya said after Richard asked her. “Why?’
“Well, I want to stay one more day in Mindoro. May dadaanan lang tayo before we go back to Manila. Would it be okay to go there Sunday afternoon, after we visited your Mamang, then we return to Manila on Monday afternoon?” Richard asked, his plan firmed in his head. “Malapit lang actually iyong lugar na iyon sa San Nicolas.”
“Okay, with me.” Maya asked, getting a bit puzzled, but thought that they might be just visiting a friend of Richard’s. “How about you? Okay ka lang bang mag-leave ka, so just got back, di ba? I know you are the boss, pero for sure, marami kang work.”
“Hmmm, I think I can take one day off. I will just ask Liza to reschedule all my meetings to Tuesday onwards.” Richard assured Maya. “By the way, I called your mother last night.”
“Really, you did na? O anong sabi ni Mom sa iyo?” Maya asked, as she moved a bit so she can look at Richard fully.
“She said she is happy for us. She also told me not to hurt you again, and I assured her that I will not do so. I promised her to love and cherish you for the rest of our lives.” Richard finished with a loving, secretive smile.
Hearing those words, which strongly hints of a forever between them, made Maya’s heart jumped with joy. “Thank you for making the effort, Ricky. Mom, may have been living in the States a long time, but she is still a Filipino at heart. For sure, she really appreciates your gesture.”
“Maya, my love, lahat ng importante sa buhay mo, importante na rin sa akin. Lahat ng mahal mo, mamahalin ko rin.” Richard said as he hugged Maya closer to him. “I also chatted a bit with your Daddy Mark, and he is also happy for us, too.”
“Oh, that is good to know! I told Mom nga to tell him.” Maya said, then teased Richard, “Para kang magko-courtesy call sa parents ko, ha.”
Richard grinned at that. Maya, my love, if you only know, Richard thought, so looking forward to Sunday. But all he said to Maya with a heated gaze was that he loves her very, very much, then gave her a kiss on the forehead. Just like the previous days, Maya went to work, very, very happy, like she is on top of the world. Unknown to her at that time, the happy ever after that had entered her consciousness lately will materialize sooner than she ever expected.