“Son, good thing you are already here!” Donya Esmeralda Lim rushed to greet her son as soon as she saw him getting out of his car.
“Good afternoon, Mama!” Richard kissed his mother on the cheek. He visits his parents Sunday afternoons and stay for dinner whenever his schedule is free. This day, he arrived earlier than usual since he came from a lunch with Ryan and Ivy in Greenbelt. Instead of going back to his place in BGC, he decided to go straight to his parents’s house in Quezon City. “Bakit, Mama, you need my help with something? Where are Joma, Doris and Sabel?” Richard asked after their driver and two househelps.
“Sana, son. Can you go with me to S & R please, I forgot to get some things when Sabel and I went there the other day. I need those for our dinner this evening.” Donya Esmeralda asked her son. “Doris is out with Joma delivering my Christmas gifts to some friends. Sabel naman asked for a day-off. Mamaya pa babalik iyon, before dinner. I can’t wait for them. For sure, mamaya mas marami ng tao sa S & R.”
“Sure, Ma. Let’s go.” Richard said. “Si Papa baka gustong sumama sa atin.”
“Naku, your Papa is not here yet. He went out this morning to play golf pero hindi pa umuuwi. I think he is with Probo. Nakalimutan na naman akong i-inform. You know how he is. Let’s go, son. For sure being a Sunday and so near Christmas, baka hindi lang maraming tao roon, jampacked pa!”
“Can’t you just buy the things you need from another supermarket Mama? There is also a good one nearby, isn’t it? I think that shop has a lot of stuffs you don’t normally find in a regular supermarket din.” Richard suggested.
“No, no, please son, I want to go to S & R. This is the only place where I saw those stuffs. May iba pa rin akong bibilhin.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.
“Okay, Mama. It is okay with me, wherever you want to go. I just thought na baka mahirapan ka with that shop kasi parating maraming tao doon on a weekend sabi ni Ivy.”
More than an hour later, mother and son were inside the huge membership shopping store, so were tons of people doing their Christmas shopping or families just wanting to eat pizza and hotdogs at the store’s food court.
“Ricky, let’s just meet later. I will just call you when I’m done. Go around on your own, para hindi ka mainip. Saka I want to go on my own din.” Donya Esmeralda suggested while taking hold of the big pushcart that Richard got for her.
“Ma, are you sure? Eh parang ang bigat na nitong pushcart, wala pang laman.” Richard asked. He does not fancy going around the big store, but for his mother, he will do it.
“I’m sure son.” Donya Esmeralda insisted.
Donya Esmeralda forged on and disappeared among the throng of holiday shoppers. Richard, at first, just stood near the entrance playing a game on his phone. But he got tired of doing that. He thought of eating something, but seeing the long line at the food counters, he changed his mind. He decided to walk around and check the store’s merchandise.
Richard was looking at a Spalding NBA basketball when he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down and saw a cute little boy, tugging it, wanting to call his attention. He crouched until he was eye level with the boy. It was then that he noticed that there is something familiar with him.
“He can’t be……” He thought. But he looks like him, he thought. The little boy tugging at his pant leg looks like Maya’s son from the gondola ride! He is not completely sure, though, as his focus was on Maya and the guy beside her on the gondola at that time.
“Hello!” He greeted the little boy with a friendly smile.
“Mister, please help me, please. I can’t find my Dad!” The little boy told Richard calmly. Richard has to admire the kid’s composure and alertness. Based on what he have seen before, lost kids usually cry when they get separated from their parents.
“What happened? I’m Richard Lim, I will help you. Can you tell me your name and your Daddy’s name.” Richard asked gently.
“My name is Pocholo Macavinta, but you can call me Cho po. Iyon po ang tawag sa akin nag Mommy at Daddy ko, pati na rin nina Lolo and Lola, Tito Lino and Tita Ninang.” The little boy said, which made Richard smile. “My Daddy’s name is Jeff. Tumingin lang po ako doon sa Matchbox cars, tapos paglingon ko wala na ang Daddy ko.” He pointed to the toys at the other side of the shelf where Richard was checking the basketballs.
“Oh. Di bale Cho, I will help you look for your Daddy. For sure, hinahanap ka na noon. Kayo lang bang dalawa ang nagpunta rito?” Richard asked as he got hold of the little boy’s hand and they started walking.
Richard was thinking of positioning themselves near the exit so Jeff Macavinta can see his son when he exits. It is very difficult to go around the store and look for him as there were tons of people and there was even a traffic of pushcarts. He told Cho of his plan. The boy nodded. Then Richard thought of something.
“Cho, would you know your telephone number at home para makatawag tayo o kaya ang cellphone number ng Daddy mo.” He asked, though the chance of the little boy knowing that is pretty slim.
“Hindi po Tito Richard eh.” Cho replied.
“Okay, di bale, let’s just wait by the exit.” Richard said. “Huwag kang mag-aalala. I’m sure hindi naman aalis ang Daddy mo nang hindi ka nakikita.”
“Thank you very much po, Tito Richard. Saka baka mauna rin pong lumabas si Tita Ninang, kasama namin siya ni Daddy since my Mommy is sick.” Cho chattered on. “Magkakaroon po kasi ako ng kapatid. Malapit nang lumabas.”
Richard smiled at the kid’s chattiness. He also can’t help himself. Cho gave him the opening he needed. He just want to be sure, so he asked. “Cho, anong pangalan ng Mommy mo?”
“Cristina Rose Macavinta po!” The little boy replied.
So, it is not him I saw in Macau with Maya three months ago! Richard thought. Richard move on, he admonished himself. You promised yourself you will.
Richard took a deep breath, then after texting his mother where he would be, he and the little boy started walking towards the exit.
“Cho…..Cho….Pocholo!” A lady was hurrying towards Richard and Pocholo. She was so concentrated on Cho, and the face of the guy holding his hand didn’t register at first.
While Richard on the other hand, lost his breath and his heart beat so fast, when he realized who came running to hug the little boy. “Maya…..” He muttered under his breath, but she didn’t hear him amid the noise at the shop. It was a good thing they were walking by the side, there was not so many push carts there.
“Cho, kanina ka pa namin hinahanap ng Daddy mo! Thank God, you are okay.” Maya said as she hugged her nephew. Jeff was very worried when he can’t find Cho. He called Maya and they decided to comb the store from one side to the other to look for him.
“I’m okay, Tita Ninang! Nagpatulong po ako kay Tito Richard.” Cho said, smiling. “Richard Lim po ang buong name niya Tita Ninang, sabi niya, di ba Tito Richard? Tapos papunta na nga po kami sa exit para doon namin kayo abangan ni Daddy. ”
The name Cho said finally registered in Maya’s brain. Richard Lim! She slowly looked up from where she was crouching, then got up and when she is eye level to the man who helped Cho, she lost her breath, her heart galloped. Before her, gazing at her meaningfully and with a big smile on his face, for he heard Cho referred to her as Tita Ninang, is the man who created such an impression on her poor heart, that it was never the same since that night seven years ago.
“Richard…..Mr. Lim of Lim Corporation!” Maya managed to say. She was so breathless and felt there was no air going to her brain at that moment. She felt lightheaded.
“Ms. Maya Dela Rosa, how are you?” Richard said, giving Maya a lopsided smile that overworked her poor heart more. It can’t beat much faster or she will faint already!
Richard felt so overwhelmingly happy at that moment. Maya remembered him too, judging by her stunned expression. “Kumusta na ang Miss Mindoro 2007? And please call me Ricky!”
Maya was surprised and felt giddy that Richard Lim remembers her too after all these years. “Mr. Lim, errr, Ricky you still remember that! Amazing that you still remember me and that night!”
“You are very difficult to forget Maya!” Richard blurted out, then thinking that his statement may sound too forward as they just met again. “ Errrr, I mean, you missed the party after the pageant and Rebecca Bermudez said it was because of a family emergency.” He said, a bit flustered. Him, flustered! Only this girl can do that to him! “Then, I heard later,” Richard continued, “that your grandmother died just after the pageant. My condolences, Maya. It must have been a very sad and difficult time for you.”
“It was, Ricky. I grew up with my Mamang kasi. Thank you.” Maya said, but before she can ask how did he find out about that as it was not common knowledge, Jeff arrived.
“Maya, you found Cho!” Jeff said relieved. “Cho, anak, I’m glad you are okay.” He hugged his son tight. Then looked up and noticed the tall, very god looking, chinito guy beside Maya.
“Kuya Jeff, sorry, hindi pa kita natawagan kaagad na nakita ko na si Cho. This is Richard Lim pala. Cho asked for his help when he realized he was lost. Ricky, this is my Kuya Jeff, husband ng cousin ko na si Cristina Rose at Daddy nitong si Cho.”
“Thank you, thank you, Mr. Lim for taking care of my boy.” Jeff shook Richard’s hand hard, expressing his gratitude.
“You’re welcome, Mr. Macavinta. You have a very bright and alert boy. He has presence of mind for one so young.” Richard said, smiling at the guy who he thought was Maya’s husband in Macau! Asawa pala ng pinsan niya! Kasi naman Richard Lim, jumping to conclusion ka kaagad! But who wouldn’t, presented with that image, he asked back! “Please call me Richard. I’m glad to see Maya after all these years!”
“Call me Jeff, please. Maraming salamat ulit.” Jeff said, then got puzzled with Richard’s last statement. “You know each other from way back?” He asked.
“Iyon na nga, Kuya Jeff, kaya hindi kita natawagan kaagad. Nagkagulatan kami nitong si Ricky.” Maya said with a bright smile. “Siya iyong Chairman ng Board of Judges sa Miss Mindoro contest na sinalihan ko years ago.”
“Really, small world naman! Of all people, Richard, ikaw pa talaga ang na-approach ng anak ko.” Jeff said smiling. “Di ba seven years ago na iyon. Amazing that you still remember each other.”
“Well, that was the one and only time I was a judge at a beauty pageant. It was actually my mother who was supposed to be there, but she got sick and sent me instead. I’m glad that she did. Maya was pretty amazing that night. She was obviously the most beautiful, the most poised, the most talented as she danced to the swan’s dying moment from Swan Lake, and most intelligent of all the candidates that night. I still remember your reply to my question, Maya.” Richard told Jeff and Maya while gazing at Maya in a way that make her heart beat faster and her face suffused with heat.
“Ricky, you still remember all those!” Maya said blushing while gazing at Richard too.
Jeff looked at his cousin-in-law and the guy who is looking at her with admiration, and suddenly, he put two and two together. Now he understood why no one managed to make Maya’s heart beat faster all these years. It must be because of this guy. He felt a strong vibe coming from the two of them. He also thinks they are close to forgetting that he and Cho are there.
The moment was interrupted by the ringing of Richard’s phone.
“Excuse me please, I think it is my mother.” Richard said as he fished his phone from his pants pocket. “Yes Mama. You are done? Okay, give me 10 minutes I will be there. See you!”
“Maya, Jeff, I need to go. I just accompanied my mother here. Apparently, she is done.” Richard said apologetically.
“Okay. Thank you again Richard.” Jeff said, shaking Richard’s hand again.
“Tito Richard, thank you po ulit.” Cho said then gave Richard a big hug.
“Don’t do that again, Cho. If you want to see something, magpaalam ka muna sa Mommy and Daddy mo. Huwag ka ring hihiwalay sa kanila sa public places. You got lucky this time.” Richard told the little boy as he ruffled his hair affectionately. He is so thankful for this little boy. He is like an angel sent by fate so he and Maya can meet again.
“Promise po, Tito Richard. I stay na with my Daddy and Mommy, also with Tita Ninang.” Cho promised.
“Ricky, thank you again for helping Cho out.” Maya said, happy to see him and she hopes that she will see him again but she was a bit shy to ask for his number. “It is great to see you again after all these years.”
“I’m glad to see you too, Maya, very much.” Richard said, giving Maya another lopsided smile that made her heart skipped several beats. “Maya, may I have your number please, so we can catch up more one of these days? If that is okay with you!”
Maya felt giddy with that. She nodded. Richard opened his iPhone and waited for her to tell him her number. After Maya gave him the number and he saved it, Richard called it.
“There, you got my number as well.” Richard said happily.
They smiled at each other, unmindful of all the people around them, especially a grinning Jeff. Sabi na nga ba! He thought.
Maya and Richard said goodbye reluctantly, with Richard promising to give Maya a call within the next couple of days.
On the way to the parking lot, Jeff was humming…Love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Ohh, love sweet love/Mmh, hmm, yeah…. then looking at Maya with a teasing expression.
“Kuya Jeff! Ikaw ha.” Maya said smiling.
“Hahahaha, little sis, tell me if I’m wrong.” Jeff said, but didn’t say anything anymore.
Maya understood what he meant. She just smiled brightly. She was so happy. It is really good to be home!
Richard felt very happy too, and humming a love song while he navigated the road going back to his parents’s house.
“Parang bakit biglang sobrang saya ka, son.” Donya Esmeralda asked, puzzled. She hasn’t seen her son like this.
“Mama, someone just made me very, very happy.” He suddenly stopped the car and hugged his mother. “Thank you for dragging me to S &R, Ma.”
“Oh, okay, son. I’m glad that you are very happy.” Donya Esmeralda said, getting more puzzled by her son’s action. But she decided to let it go for a now. For sure, her son would say something more about this at the right time. She can find it out from him, anyway.
When they arrived home, Richard grabbed a beer and sat at the veranda while waiting for dinner. He got his phone and looked at Maya’s number. On impulse, he texted her.
Maya, it was really great to see you again. Have a great evening.
Maya’s phone beeped while she was helping her Ate Cris cook dinner. A big smile wreathed her face when she read the message.
It was great seeing you also, Ricky. Have a nice evening.
Simple words exchanged, but it made both of them very happy and giddy with anticipation on meeting each other again, and making up for the lost years.
Note: Hayan, super happy weekend na to all of us. 🙂 After this chapter, pwede na ako mag-BCWMH rewind marathon. 🙂