“Rickyyyyy! OMG!!! Why does this always happen to me when it comes to you! One blooper after the other! Arrgh!” Maya wailed, her face red, but smiling.
“Hahahahaha, Maya, wala nang bawian iyan ha.” Richard said, grinning ear to ear.
“Ha, ang alin?” Maya asked, deadpan.
“Eh di iyong pag-amin mo na ako ang…..” He said, not finishing, mirth in his voice.
“Ha, iyon na ba iyon? I mean, manligaw ka kaya muna. Hindi pa ibig sabihin noon, sinasagot na kita, ha. Nanliligaw ka na ba kasi, paramdam ka lang naman ng paramdam.” She said, smiling, seeing the humor in the whole thing.
“Maya, kung hindi mo pa nararamdaman, ipaparamdam ko ng husto sa iyo. For sure, sasagutin mo ako dahil magiging ramdam na ramdam mo.” Richard said teasing.
“Ha, that’s remains to be seen!” Maya retorted, teasing Richard.
“Watch out, Ms. Maya Dela Rosa!” Richard said smiling, but determination on his face.
“I will, Atty. Richard Lim!” Maya vowed, getting into the spirit of things.
They smiled at each other, really enjoying their banter, then they resumed eating.
“Coffee, Maya?” Richard asked when they have finished their dinner. “Masarap din ang desserts nila rito.”
“I’m stuffed, Ricky. Thank you. I don’t think there is room pa in my tummy for dessert. Coffee na lang siguro. The food is really the best! Thank you for bringing me here. I haven’t realized that there is this place here so near EDSA and all the buses, cars and the train line that pass by!” Maya said. “Feeling ko nga we are having dinner in a garden in an island, so quiet and peaceful pati.”
“Okay, coffee it is.” Richard called Paulo and they ordered coffee. “I agree about the place. I, sort of, fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I took a wrong turn one day and saw some people walking towards this direction. I thought there might be a restaurant here dahil parang lunch time iyon. Since I was hungry na rin, I followed them and ended up here. Since I have discovered this place, there are only three people I have brought here – my parents and you.”
“Oh! Thank you Ricky.” Maya said, glad to know. “You mentioned you are staying with your parents in the meantime? Do you have plans of moving out soon?”
“Yes, for now I’m living at the family home. I actually have a place in BGC even before I left for the States, but it is still being redone. Hindi pa natatapos. I bought the adjacent unit kasi so the contractor is turning it into one big one. I never gotten around to doing it since I bought the other unit several years ago. Mahirap din naman with me being in the States at that time. Besides, hindi ako decided if I will stay here for good so I let it be muna when I left. Usually rin I took short stays here lang when I visit the parents.”
“Oh, was your old one small for one person?” Maya asked, curious.
“The old one was more than adequate for me, in fact, maayos naman. There are only two units on the floor of the building where I’m staying. When my cousin Rafi got married, she wanted to sell hers since she and her husband are moving into a house in the same village as my parents. She offered it to me first, and suggested to turn it into one big unit since I like living in high-rises anyway. Saka baka raw mas gusto ko na solo ko iyong space. I took her up on that offer, partly so I can have the whole place to myself nga, and besides, I will not always be alone naman.” Richard finished, looking at Maya meaningfully. “Though, a lot will depend on the person I would end up sharing it with, on whether she likes to live in a condo or a house. You?”
“Me?” Maya was startled with the question. But she does not want to assume anything again. Ayaw na niyang madagdagan ang mga blooper niya.
“I mean, do you like living in a condo or a house in a village?” Richard clarified.
“Hmmm, depends.” Maya thought, mabuti nagtanong siya. See, baka naman in general nga ang question ni Richard. “I can live in both. For now, I live in a house nga. Iyong kung saan mo ako inihatid. But I don’t mind living in a high-rise too. The view must be lovely from up there.”
“It is. Do you live ba with your parents in that house in Bel-Air?” Richard asked as they sipped the coffee that Paulo served as they chatted.
“Hmmm, sort of. It is our family home, but my parents are not staying there much. When my dad retired from the bank three years ago, he and my mother moved back to San Nicolas, Mindoro. Pareho nilang hometown! Ayaw na raw nila ng city life. Hayun, my dad is now a gentleman-farmer. His family owns several hectares of land there which my parents have converted into an organic farm. They have started supplying some restaurants with the produce. Now, they are even planning on opening a small cafe beside at the entrance of the farm.”
“You mean, you are alone in that big house? I know it is a well-guarded village, pero hindi pa mahirap ang mag-isa?” Richard asked, concerned. Of all the things Maya mentioned, that was the one that registered first in his head.
“No. I have Manang Fe naman with me. Iyong yaya ko dati. She is like a mom to me na rin. Tapos she has a pamangkin na pinag-aaral niya, nakatira rin sa amin kaya hindi naman talaga ako mag-isa. Otherwise, I think my parents would not let me live alone. May pagka-protective ang mga iyon.”
“Good to know, Maya.” Richard felt better, knowing Maya is not alone. “Are you an only child too?”
“I have a sister, older than me. Pero she is married na. Nakatira siya and her husband sa Mindoro rin. May isa na akong pamangkin.”
“Like your parents, I think Papa and Mama would like to do something like they did, do farming, when Papa retires. Kaya nga siguro he wanted me to come back. He have been hinting that he has not getting any younger and wanted to pass on the torch to me, so to speak. At the same time naman, my mother is hinting that she is not getting any younger and she would like to be able to play with her grandchildren.” Richard with a smile, thinking about his parents pangungulit. “I told them in the past that I have not yet found the girl of my dreams. It will be a different matter if they ask me again.”
Maya suddenly took a big gulp of her coffee, then wanting to find out, asked, “And now, what would your answer be to them?”
Richard gave Maya another bone-melting lopsided smile. “Well, I can tell them that I think I did, you know, found her, pero manliligaw pa ako.”
“Oh…. Maya’s heart somersaulted at that.
Richard gave Maya another meaningful smile. “I did declare my intentions to you earlier, Ms. Dela Rosa.” Then added, “You know my Papa already, but have you met my mother?”
“Yes, once, during your father’s 58th birthday party when I just started. She seems nice. Though, we didn’t chat very long. Marami kasing bisita ang Papa mo at that time. Iyon yata iyong hindi ka nakauwi because of a big case you were handling at that time. I think it was Emman, one of my senior writers, who mentioned it to me.”
“Oh, yes!” Richard simply said, not wanting to remember that case. He shifted the topic before memory rushes back in. “They are both very wonderful people. I’m sure my mother will like you.”
Richard’s phone rang before Maya can reply to that. Richard ignored it in the beginning, but it rang again. He excused himself from Maya and answered his phone.
“Yes, ‘Ma?” He said when he saw that it was his mother calling.
“Son, are you coming home for dinner?” Donya Esmeralda asked her only son. She knows he is a grown up, a man in his prime at 35, and can come and go as he wishes, but since he has lived in the States a long time, she misses his company.
“Oh, Ma! I’m really sorry. Didn’t I text you earlier? I thought I did! I’m having dinner now at the garden place where I took you and Papa for my anniversary dinner treat to both of you.”
Donya Esmeralda sensed something different in her son’s tone of voice, so she probed gently. “Hmmm, with Rafi? Say hello to Rafi from me.”
Richard smiled, reading his mother’s ploy. “No, Ma. But yes, I’m having dinner with someone special to me. And ‘Ma I will tell you about it when I see you at home.”
“Oh, sorry, son, for interrupting your dinner. You know your Mama. Na-miss lang kita. Sige, I’m looking forward sa sasabihin mo. You owe me the whole kwento. I know it is something special. She must be someone special to you! Nakalimutan mo ngang mag-text which is unlike you!” Donya Esmeralda teased her son a bit.
“Yes, ‘Ma. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, baka kasi gabihin ako, ihahatid ko pa si Maya.” Richard said grinning, not realizing he made a slip. “Good night, Mama.”
Donya Esmeralda put the phone down with a smile. She thinks she has a pretty good idea who is her son’s date. How many people are named Maya within his son’s circle eh kababalik lang niya ng Pilipinas? In fairness, magaling pumili ang unico hijo niya. She has liked Maya Dela Rosa when she met her. She also knows her parents, Arturo and Teresita Dela Rosa.
“Sorry about that Maya, I forgot to text Mama. Naglalambing kasi iyan since I got back, always waiting for me for dinner kahit medyo late na, basta hindi ko sinabi na may pupuntahan ako, hinihintay ako noon.I indulged her.” Richard explained as he put away his mobile phone.
“Ricky, it is okay. Ganyan talaga ang mga mom. Nung nandito rin sa Manila ang mom ko, ganyan din iyon.” Maya assured Richard that it is okay. “Imagine, heto kahit 29 na ako, they want to know pa rin kung nasaan ako. It was a wonder nga that they let me take up Journalism, knowing how protective they are. Pero since that was what I wanted, and they love me, they have said yes.”
“Ganyan yata talaga ang mga magulang, no matter how old we get. My mother even said nga pala that I owe her kwento raw kung sino ang kasama ko kasi I forgot to text her.”
“Ricky you told her kaya na ako.” Maya said smiling. “I mean, you mentioned the name ‘Maya’ to her.”
“I did. Oh, noong sinabi ko na ihahatid kita.” Richard smiled at his slip. He has a pretty good idea that has mother has put two and two together already. “Sasabihin ko naman sa kanya na ikaw iyon. But knowing Mama, alam na niya na ikaw Ms. Maya Dela Rosa ang ‘Maya’ na na-mentioned ko.”
Maya smiled at that, then noticed the time. “Ricky late na rin pala. May pasok pa tayo tomorrow.”
They decided to call at a night. After thanking Paulo, they walked out of the restaurant through the flower path. It was a bit dark and Maya almost slipped.
“Oops….” She exclaimed trying to regain her balance after stepping into a big stone.
“Maya are you okay?” Richard asked solicitously, holding on to her elbow.
“Yes, I am. Kamuntik lang akong matapilok. May natapakan akong malaking bato.”
“Come.” Richard said, then got hold of Maya’s hand and hold on tight to it while guiding her. Maya was surprised in the beginning to be suddenly holding hands with Richard, but she likes the feel of it. She smiled at him sweetly.
Lass than half an hour after, they have arrived in front of Maya’s gate. As soon as Richard parked the car, an old lady got out of the house and called out. “Maya, hija, ikaw na ba iyan?”
“Yes po Manang Fe. Bakit gising pa po kayo?” Maya asked puzzled. Normally, Manang does not wait up for her.
“Nag-aalala lang ako kasi hindi ka naman nagsabi na hindi ka dito maghahapunan. Hindi ka rin nag-text.” Manang Fe told Maya as she approached them, then saw a good looking chinito guy with Maya. “May kasama ka pala.”
“Manang Fe, this is Richard Lim, kasama ko po sa work and a very good friend.” Maya introduced Richard to her old nanny. “Ricky ito si Manang Fe, iyong nakwento ko sa iyo kanina, ang pangalawang nanay ko.”
“Magandang gabi po, Manang Fe, ikinagagalak mo po kayong makilala.” Richard greeted the old lady with a big respectful smile.
“Magandang gabi naman, Richard. Ganoon din ako.” Manang Fe smiled at the young man. At the same time, she sensed that Richard is not just a friend to Maya. Now she understands why her old ward forgot to text her. She smiled at the two of them. “O sige, maiwan ko na muna kayo.” She said, wanting to give them privacy.
“Ikaw din pala, nakalimutan mong mag-text!” Richard teased Maya when Manang Fe was out of earshot.
“Oo nga. Like you, I thought I did. I was thinking of other things kasi kanina.” Maya said smiling.
“Me?” Richard asked playfully.
“Hmmm, anong ‘me’? Oh you mean kung ikaw ang iniisip ko. Teka pag-iisipan ko pa. Malay mo work pala.” She bantered back.
“I think it was me and our date. Kasi that was all I thought also the whole afternoon.” Richard said.
“Ricky, ikaw ha. Baka naman masobrahan na ako sa kilig niyan, sagutin na kita.” Maya teased.
“Really? You want more?” Richard bantered. “Teka, ano pa ba ang kailangan kong gawin para sagutin mo na ako.” He continued their teasing vein.
“Hay, naku Attorney Richard Lim, tama na ang mga hirit, hahahaha. Pasok ka muna pala.” Maya offered.
“Hmmm, hwag na Maya, next time na lang ulit. Medyo gabi na. I’ll just pick you up tomorrow, bright and early.”
“Bilang pambawi sa pagsundo, please have breakfast here na lang before we go to work. I will prepare my special breakfast for you. Champorado and tuyo. Kumakain ka ba noon?”
“Yes, I do. Iyon ang one of the things I missed, actually, while living abroad. Okay. I will look forward to that. Thank you, Maya. O paano, I’ll get going na.” Richard said, reluctant as he is to end the night.
“Thank you again for a wonderful evening, Ricky.” Maya said softly, gazing at Richard.
“Thank you rin, Maya.” Richard said, looking at Maya intently, with love. Then he moved towards her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Sweet dreams, Maya.” Then before Maya could react, he boarded his car and sped away.
Maya went to the house holding the cheek that Richard kissed, with a goofy smile on her face. She didn’t notice Manang Fe who was about to ask her what she would like for breakfast. Manang Fe let her be. Her alaga is in love! That is so obvious to her.
Maya went straight to her room, put her things down and laid on her bed, happily looking at the ceiling, remembering her evening with Richard and the feeling of being with him and him telling her he is falling in love with her. She let out a scream, then hugged her pillow. She stayed like that for a while, until her phone beeped.
Good night my soon-to-be girlfriend! [wink, wink, wink] Thank you again for one of the best evenings of my life.
Ha, anong soon-to-be girlfriend. Ligaw muna, Atty. Lim. [wink, wink wink, wink too!]
You’ll see Ms. Maya Dela Rosa. Tomorrow! Be ready! 🙂
Good night my soon-to-be probably boyfriend! 🙂
Richard grinned at Maya’s last message. Both had a hard time falling sleep that evening, still too wired up from their date and the excitement of their meeting again early the following day.
Note: Happy New Year my co-adiks! Hope 2015 will be a better year for all of us. 🙂 🙂 🙂