June 20, 1966
I woke up bright and early the following day despite the fact that it was already past two o’clock in the morning when I managed to fall asleep. I dreamed about Maya, that she and I were in a beautiful garden. We were sitting in a swing in the middle of the garden filled with all kinds of flowers and there was a nearby meadow. It looked like how I imagined paradise would be. We were so happy and so in love! We kissed and held hands as we marveled at the beauty around us and enjoyed our private moment. I woke up with a big smile. My heart sang! I felt exhilarated, like I was on the top of the world, like I have climbed Mount Everest and was marveling at God’s amazing work before me! The fact that I will see her again that day, aside from the beautiful dream I had, made me feel that way.
I didn’t have to wait long. Maya arrived one hour later, bringing breakfast with her. With a lovely smile, she told me it was the least she could do for the help I gave her the day before, and for the dinner. She brought champorado and tuyo, which she told me, she cooked herself, as well as fresh fruits, and coffee in a big thermos. She admitted that she too, woke up early despite the fact that, like me, she was unable to sleep promptly the night before. I remarked that maybe, she was not used to the quietness of the place, or the roar of the waves when the wind was very strong. She just looked at me, unable to answer, but I can see that she was blushing. I guessed, I was not the only one who was unable to sleep because of our meeting and the wonderful time we had. I really wished then that she had dreamed about me, too.
Maya and I set up the breakfast at the veranda overlooking the beach that our properties shared together at the moment. Our houses were the only ones there. The nearest neighbors were around two kilometers away on the East side, or before Maya’s family’s beach house. It was a beautiful, quiet morning. It felt like she and I were in our own private world, with the vast blue sea to look at.
In between enjoying our very nice breakfast, Maya and I talked about our families and common interests. We had a lot in common, we found out. We both like to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, reading books, watching movies. She loves Audrey Hepburn, and I on other hand, likes Alfred Hitchcock movies, Sean Connery and his James Bond films, among other things. We both like movie musicals. I also told her I don’t mind watching romance films, like the ones Hepburn had starred with. She was happy to know that. She also prefers her company than attending parties.
I asked Maya how she got started as an artist. She told me that it was just a hobby for her, really. She had learned from a family friend. She told me that she felt like she was in a different world when she holds a brush and put paints on her canvas, translating her imagination into vivid colors, shapes and images. She transports there whatever she feels in her heart. I told her that she had a very wonderful talent, and I can say that, even if I have only saw one of her works, so far! She blushed and thanked me softly. She asked me what I would like to do in my spare time. I told her my life revolves around the family business and that takes most of my time. However, I also found myself confessing to her that I would like to write novels, short stories, poem, the likes. She encouraged me to do, and I just smiled at her, for that dream, at that moment was beyond my grasp. Duty to the family rules my life, especially at that time that my father was in poor health.
We continued talking most of the morning. Manong Berting and Manang Felicing had arrived from the market, but seeing, that, I was already having my breakfast with Maya, they told me that they will just be in their kubo at the edge of the property. I gathered that they wanted to give me and Maya privacy. We took care of the dishes, despite my insistence that the caretakers can take care of those afterwards.
Instead of painting that day, Maya and I just took a walk at the beach, chatting and at times, silently staring at the vast, blue sea. We returned to the beach house when it got too hot. Manang Felicing made a very sumptuous lunch for us, local dishes, which she told us with a big smile, we must sample. While we were eating our lunch, I asked Maya if she would like to take a short trip to the nearest town with me, climb the bell tower and the lighthouse there, as well as go inside the beautiful centuries-old church. She said, she would love to. I told Manong Berting to get the car ready. He offered to drive us, but I told him, I can manage. He just gave us directions. I wanted to spend the rest of the day alone with Maya. We stopped by her house to inform Fe where we will be, and to drop off Maya’s painting and painting materials. Fe said she will prepare dinner for us, and I must sample her cooking too.
It was a lovely afternoon spent with Maya, something firmly etched in my mind, like the many photographs in my head of the beautiful moments I have spent with her. In town, we also found a photo studio, and I asked her if we can have several photos, as a memento of our time there, and she agreed. The photographer promised to send us the copies of the photos, or he said, I can have Manong Berting pick it up in several days. We returned to Maya’s beach house as twilight was setting in. Fe prepared a feast for us. She had left us alone after serving us dinner.
We had coffee in the veranda after our wonderful dinner. Maya’s family’s house looks more inviting than the one my father had built. It was made of hardwood, narra and some others I couldn’t identify right away, and the design was similar to the beautiful bahay na bato we have seen in town earlier, but more open and airier. It had a nice, lived-in look, which is strange as like ours, it was only being used, Maya said, as a vacation home.
It was already late at night when I returned to my house. While about to get into the car, I told Maya softly that I had a wonderful time with her again. She told me that also had a great time. We gazed at each other. There were only us and that moment, no past, no present, and yes, no future. We existed only on our awareness of each other. I felt my heart skipping several beats. I can’t help myself, I touched and caressed her lovely face as I said good night and sweet dreams to her. She looked at me with her very expressive eyes and gave me a smile that lit up her whole face as she bade me good night, touching my hand as well. I smiled back at her, not wanting to part with her yet. Yes, we have been together practically the whole day, but I felt like the day passed like a blur. I savored my every moment with her!
With a promise that we will see each other again the following day, by the beach after breakfast, we reluctantly bade each other good night for the last time, that night. Just like the night before, I have dreamed of Maya and I. But this time, we were walking down the beach, hand in hand under a full moon. We kissed and professed our love for each other as the moon’s glow bathed us.
I found Maya at her usual place at the beach when I walked there the following morning, bringing with me sunflowers that I had requested Manong Berting to find for me. In one of our conversations the day before, Maya mentioned that sunflower is her favorite flower. She told me, it is her happy flower, as it always seeks the sun, the brightness, and that she felt happy by just looking at it. Maya also said that she had asked their gardener in Manila to plant those as well, even if they grow very fast and overtakes and overwhelms all the other flowers! It was funny, Manong Berting confessed to me that he had to get it from a garden of someone he knows in the barrio as he knew there is nowhere he would be able to buy it. They cut the flowers from more than ten plants, with him promising his kumare that he owes her. He returned to the house with a triumphant smile, holding the flowers. I was sure, Manong Berting’s and Manang Felicing’s heads were full of questions, but prudently, they didn’t say anything. In fact, they looked like they were happy seeing me with Maya. They didn’t know that I was not free to love Maya anymore. In Maya’s presence, I set that aside in my head, wanting to ride the heady feeling I feel when I’m with her. I never felt like this and I wanted to experience it to the fullest.
Like the first time I have seen her, Maya was engrossed at what she was doing. However, instead of an easel , she had with her a sketchbook. I called her name. She turned and gave me a brilliant smile that lit up my morning in an instant and made my heart galloped. I gave her the flowers and Maya thanked me profusely, grinning. She was so happy with her flowers. She gave me a thermos of coffee, which she said, she brewed from the beans, harvested in their farm in Batangas. She noticed, she said that I have enjoyed it the day before. I thanked her for it and for being very thoughtful and observant.
While both of us were enjoying the coffee, the cool breeze blowing from the sea in the not so hot Wednesday morning, sitting on the inabel blanket she had brought with her to sit on, we talked about all topics we could think of. I noticed again the sketchbook, which she had set on the side when she greeted me, and asked her about it. Was she planning to start another project?
Maya smiled. She told me that she would like to give me a painting of hers. But she would like to paint me, me to pose for her! I smiled and asked her teasingly, if it will be like in art school where a nude model poses in front of the students. I told her, grinning, that I don’t have the body for it.
Maya laughed, and it was like music to my ears. She has this lilting laugh that I would not get tired of hearing, even if I live to be a hundred and hard on hearing. She touched my face gently, and turned me sideways. Her innocent touch sent an electric current through me. Her hands were very soft and the way she was looking at me intently, I became self-conscious! I know she had no other intent except to look at me as an artist, but still, she had that effect on me!
She then told me, that I would certainly made a very good artist model, and she was pretty sure that all the lady students will have a hard time sketching with me before them, she didn’t intent to paint me in the nude. She continued by saying that I have a very handsome, interesting face, especially when I laugh and my eyes disappear into tiny slits and I show my lopsided smile. I smiled at her, blushing a bit. Yes, I did, blushed!
Maya asked me to pose for her by the beach. She said, it will be her remembrance to me. I actually felt both happy and sad when she said that. But at that time, I didn’t really want to dwell on the fact that at some point we will have to part or do something about our situation, with what we were feeling for each other. I wanted to bury my head in the sand. I didn’t want to dwell beyond the moment and the wonderful time I was having with her.
I posed and she sketched until the sun got intense and we sought the coolness of the beach house’ terrace. I asked Maya if I could see what she had worked on so far. She smiled but she refused to do so, said she wanted me to be surprised at the finished product. Maya and I shared a lunch again. At my invitation, she spent the afternoon at the beach house. She sketched most of the afternoon, and I, on the other hand, just read a book. We talked occasionally, but in most part, we shared a companionable silence. I felt such contentment that I had wished then that it will be like this for always!
When the sun was setting, we walked along the beach. I took hold of her hand while we were doing so, and she didn’t protest. We shared gazes and happy smiles. There was no need to put into words the happiness both of us were obviously feeling at that moment. We found a log where we sat, and watched the sun’s last burst of colors as it set for the night. When the sun was but a small disc in the horizon, I took her home. She invited me to dinner and I agreed, as I was reluctant to part with her for the night.
While Fe was preparing our dinner, Maya and I sat in the veranda, enjoyed the cooling night as we sipped a glass of white wine each and gazed at each other. Fe broke into our private world half an hour later, saying that dinner was ready. Maya and I enjoyed our third dinner together very much. It was another perfect day. I returned to my house, by the beach, humming a love song. For the third night, I felt wonderful and dreamed of Maya, but this one was different from the other ones!
Note: Chapter 5 used to be part of this Chapter. Hence the comments for that are here. Please see the Richard and Maya index under Library for the revised chapters!