I can’t lose her again! I can’t lose Maya, again! I will not allow it! I will do everything so we can be together forever, this time!
“Ricky…! Ricky….Ricky, are you okay, hijo?”
His mother’s voice shook Ricky out of the trance-like state he found himself into. Where did those words come from? Again? He hasn’t lost Maya. They just started!
“Yes, Mama, I’m okay.” Ricky looked at his worried mother, then took her hand. “Have you been calling my attention long, Mama?”
“Well, for a minute or so. I was getting worried na nga. You just went off tangent while sitting there, after your Papa left.” Rosemarie Lim said. “Maybe, you need to rest a bit, son. You just arrived from Ilocos this morning, di ba? Baka pagod na pagod ka na.”
“Yes, Ma! But don’t worry, I’m okay. I had little sleep, that’s true pero okay naman ako. I wanted to see Maya kasi kaagad kanina dahil baka may sinabing hindi maganda si Lorraine sa kanya kahapon. It’s a long story Ma. I’ll tell you about it some other time. Then, I was surprised at how Papa acted, earlier. I was not expecting that. I expected that you and him will not like the fact that Lorraine and I have broken up, not about Maya’s family!”
“Ricky, hijo, let your father be in the meantime. Please talk to your Lola Sandra.” Rosemarie Lim told her son. “She is the best position to help you with that, I think, since baka alam niya ang pinanggagalingan ng Papa mo. Whatever had happened in the past, I’m sure she had known about it. Besides, for sure your grandmother can talk sense into your Papa.”
“But do you have at least an idea why is Papa like that Mama? Ang tagal na noon, I was not even born then! Siya naman, how old was he when Lolo died, 15 di ba?” Ricky asked, brows knitted, as for the life of him he can’t understand his father’s irrational behavior! “Wala ba siyang nabanggit sa iyo in the past regarding Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura?”
“Wala akong malala, and I don’t understand either, where your father is coming from. But I have a feeling your grandmother will be able to help you. Give him time rin, Ricky. Maybe he is like that also because he was all set to have Lorraine as his daughter-in-law. You know your Papa. Lorraine can’t do wrong in his eyes. And Lorraine never showed her bad side to your father. She did something really bad, isn’t it? Kaya kayo nag-break?” Rosemarie Lim probed.
“You have an idea, Mama?” Ricky looked at his mother in surprise, it seemed like the afternoon was full of revelations he hasn’t really thought of at all. “Of what she was up to?”
“Not the whole story! I think unless you tell me about it or Lorraine does, then it stays between the two of you. But I have heard stories about her in the theatre circle, though there was no proof. She was into drugs, isn’t it? I dismissed it since she of all people should know the effects of taking drugs. I thought what happened to Bettina hit her hard too!”
“I thought so, Ma.” Ricky started saying, deciding to tell his mother a bit of it. “But I caught her in my place, doing drugs, with another guy.”
“Oh, you mean….” It was Rosemarie Lim’s turn to be surprised.
“Yes, Ma! And that was all I can say in the matter, forgive me please.” Ricky said. “The rest is between Lorraine and me. You know, Ma it was not really what broke us up. It was just the last straw.”
“Thank you for telling me, hijo.” Rosemarie Lim said. “While you were telling me and your Papa that you have broken up with Lorraine, after I got over the initial shock of hearing it, I knew that there must be a very compelling reason why you did that. I know you, you are a very cautious person and you don’t do impulsive things. It must have been something terrible, for you to end your engagement like that.”
“Thank you Mama for the support and for believing in me.” Ricky said. “Promise, Mama, you will like Maya very much. She is the woman for me. My forever! I just met her, but it felt like I have known her all my life. She is also beautiful inside out.”
“I love you son. I defer to your father in most things since I don’t want discord, you know that. But I would like to meet your Maya soon. She sounds like an exceptional girl, the way you stood up for her, and the way you described her now. I haven’t heard you speak like this.”
“She is Mama. I’ll introduce you to her, soon. I hope Papa will come around. But if not, so be it. I love Maya and I am of age, I’ll fight for her.”
“He will, son. Despite all his faults, your Papa is okay. Talk to your Lola soon. Do you want me to call her and ask her to talk to your Papa?” Rosemarie Lim offered.
“No need, Mama. Thank you. I will just bring Maya to her as soon as I can arrange it. Maybe, she does know why Papa acted like that. That is, if it is okay with you na kay Lola Sandra ko muna ipakilala si Maya.” Ricky asked his mother. “Maybe, if Maya’s business partner and friend is okay by this weekend, we can go to Batangas to visit Lola Sandra.”
“Of course, hijo. Okay lang. Do what you think is best. I’m behind you. Basta para sa kaligayahan mo. Bayaan mo dahan-dahanin ko rin iyang Papa mo. Mahirap lang salubungin ang init ng ulo niya. You know he does not see reason kapag sinabayan mo siya. I’ll do what I can do.” Rosemarie Lim assured her son, touching his face affectionately. “Dito ka na mag-dinner. I haven’t seen you in a while.”
“Mama, sorry, can we do it tomorrow? I have promised Maya I will have dinner with her. Baka kasi nasabihan na niya ang mga kasambahay niya.”
“Okay, tomorrow then! Huwag kang mag-aalala, wala rito ang Papa mo. May usapan sila ng Tito Robert mo na pupunta sa isang gallery exhibition tomorrow night.”
“But I can stay a bit, medyo maaga pa naman po sa usapan namin ni Maya. We can have tea.”
“Oh, good. Sige, magpapahanda ako kay Cynthia.”
Rosemarie Lim stood up and then went to the kitchen, leaving Ricky alone in the sala. Ricky sighed tiredly, still unable to understand his father and his action. It caught him blindsided. His father is usually an amiable person. He may not be the warmest father, but he knows that he loves him. He thought everything would be smooth sailing as far as his and Maya’s relationship is concern. But not only there was Lorraine, there was his father too!
While he was growing up, Richie Lim was not a very hands-on father. He was busy with the business that his great-grandfather had built. He had been managing and growing it with his uncle, Jose, his grandfather Ricardo’s only brother. However, when he has time, they do father and son bonding, even if it was in the form of him teaching him the business at a young age. Ricky never thought that it was not out of the ordinary.
His father was his hero and followed his wishes as far as his career was concerned. He never thought of rebelling. He also planted the seed in his head about courting Lorraine when he saw how close they were getting after Bettina died. He thought he had a good father, if not the best father. He can be forceful at times, get bad-tempered, but he didn’t stay mad for so long.
He saw his mother carrying a tray, so he stood up to help her.
“I can manage, Ricky.”
“Nasaan si Cynthia, Ma, bakit ikaw pa ang nagdala niyan?”
“I forgot inutusan ko nga pala siya sa deli sa kabilang street. I need some cold cuts and some cheese for tomorrow, may bisita nga pala ako, but that’s for merienda. So we are on for dinner ha. Come son, let’s eat na.”
Ricky poured the tea for his mother, then poured one for himself. Then he and is mother enjoyed their tea, catching up. Ricky told her how he met Maya, and about his grandfather’s journal. Rosemarie Lim said she was not aware of the journal, but she too like the painting that Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura did. She also pointed out that his grandmother could have not been affected by the whole thing since she had kept the painting.
Ricky was about to say something more, when his phone beeped. It was Maya saying that she will leave the hospital soon and she will see him at her home as they have agreed on earlier. He remembered that he was supposed to get wine before he goes to her house. Besides, he would like to change for dinner as well.
“Mama, I’m sorry, I have to get going. Maya just texted. She is on her way home. I would like to go to my place first.” Ricky said, putting is tea-cup down, then standing up.
“Okay, hijo. Until tomorrow then! Come at 7PM please.” Rosemarie Lim said, standing up and offering her cheek for her son to kiss. “Enjoy your evening, and tell Maya that I look forward to meeting her.”
“I will, Mama. Thank you. I love you.”
“Love you, too, hijo.”
Half an hour later, Ricky entered his place, carrying two fresh bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine he bought on the way. Whistling, he dropped everything on the coffee table in the living room, then he took a quick shower. Before he left his room, to go to Maya, he remembered their grandparents’ journal.
Ricky stared at the journal for several minutes, wanting to continue reading it in light of his father’s reaction, but he didn’t have the time. He would just ask Maya if she can just copy the journal into a flash drive so he can read it later. He went to his office at home and looked for one.
He was out of his house several minutes after. He navigated the early evening traffic, crossing EDSA to the entrance of Maya’s village at Mckinley Road. He was asked by the guard where he was going and he mentioned Maya’s name. The guard nodded. Maya told him in her text message that she will inform the guard about his visit.
Ricky double-checked the address that Maya gave him, then easily found the street where her grandparents’ house is. He stopped in front of a beautiful bahay na bato inspired mansion.
So, this is where my Maya lived with her husband and daughter!
Ricky blinked. Where that thought came from? Before he can think about it in detail, Maya came out of the house.
“Ricky!” She greeted, then gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Ricky hugged her and then kissed her lightly on the lips. “I miss you!”
Maya smiled at that. “Kanina lang tayo naghiwalay ah.”
“Well, I do, sweetheart. Now that I have found you and that we are together, there is a part of me that does not want you out of my sight. Parang baka mawala ka sa akin ulit.”
“Ulit? You mean, noong hindi tayo nagkita sa Ilocos, kahapon?” Maya asked, curiously.
“No, it is more than that. I will tell you about later.”
“Okay, pasok na tayo. Nakahanda na ang dinner natin. I hope kare-kare is okay with you.”
“My favorite, sweetheart! Wait lang may kukunin lang ako.” Ricky got the flowers, the wine, and the journal.
“For you, sweetheart!” Ricky gave Maya a bouquet of red roses, then the wine. “Here’s the journal by the way! I managed to go home before going here. And this is for Manang Fe.” He added pointing to the other bouquet.
“Thank you for this, Ricky. Another lovely bouquet!” Maya said taking hold of the flowers, while Ricky carried the wine, the other bouquet and the journal as they walked to the front door where an old lady was waiting.
“Good evening po!” Ricky greeted the old lady, who had a startled expression on her face, before she recovered and offered him a smile.
“Good evening po, Sir.” Manang Fe said, still trying to recover her equilibrium.
“Manang Fe, si Ricky po, boyfriend ko. Ricardo Lim III. Ricky, si Manang Fe!” Maya made the introduction. She can see that Manang was surprised that she introduced Ricky as her boyfriend. She didn’t have the time, earlier, to tell Manang Fe. She got home a bit later than she projected because of the traffic. Labasan na sa mga opisina sa Ayala Avenue so she was caught in a bit of a traffic.
Ricky gave the flowers to the old lady. “Please to meet you po, Manang Fe. Ricky na lang po. Para po sa inyo.”
“Thank you, Ricky.”
Then she made a remark that had Maya and Ricky looking at her in surprise.
“Kamukhang-kamukha ninyo po iyong lalaki sa painting. Akala ko nga po, nakakita ako ng multo.”
“Manang, ano pong painting?” Maya asked her, surprised. Manang has not mentioned any other painting to her of Ricardo Lim, as she presumed that was what she was pertaining to.
“Noong nasa Ilocos ka, Maya, naisipan kong maglinis ng todo sa attic, kaya nga yata ako nagkasakit. Sorry, hija di ko napigilan. Sanay akong busy. May nakita akong painting na nasa pinakasulok. Hindi siya naka-kwadro ng maayos, pero nakabalot ng mabuti, nang buksan ko nakita ko larawan ng isang lalaki, kamukhang-kamukha nitong si Ricky. Nakalimutan kong banggitin sa iyo nung isang beses na tumawag ka. Sabi ko ipapakita ko na lang sa iyo pag-uwi mo.”
“Talaga po, Manang. Nasaan po iyong painting?” Maya said, looking at Ricky, who understood right away, who was the subject of the painting.
“Nandoon sa library. Ibinaba ko na nga.”
“Sige po, Manang Fe. Dinner mo muna tayo, then tingnan po natin ang painting! Tamang-tama po, related rin po ito sa itatanong ko sana sa inyo ngayong gabi, tungkol kay Lola Maya.”
“O siga, sige, mauna na ako at i-check ko lang pagkain ninyo. Iniwan ko sa kusina si Fely,” Manang Fe said, referring to her grandniece who helps her in the house, and whom Maya and her grandfather has been sending to school.”
When the old lady was out of earshot, Ricky asked Maya what was in his mind when he learned about the painting.
“Did your grandmother mention in her journal about another painting of my grandfather that she did?”
Maya tried to recall. At first, she thought none, then she remembered some paragraphs from her grandmother’s first entry. “Not directly I think, kaya nagulat din ako na may painting pang isa ang Lolo mo. Pero iyong unang entry niya she mentioned that she had dealt with the grief, by the only way she knew, and that was painting.”
“So, she painted Lolo Ricardo, again.” Ricky remarked, feeling very sad all of a sudden. Being in the house where the first Maya had lived, he sort of can feel the extreme sadness she must have felt, knowing that the love of her life was gone forever, and she was facing life without even the thought that he was just somewhere, living a life with his family.
Ricky sighed. “Maya, it seems there is more to our grandparents love affair than what we know!”
“I agree, Ricky. I feel very sad all of a sudden, hearing about the painting.”
“Ikaw rin? Ako rin! Parang ang bigat sa dibdib.”
Then cupping her face, looking deeply into her eyes, he said. “Maya, I promise you that what happened to our grandparents will not happen to us. I love you very much.”
Maya was a bit puzzled with Ricky’s statement, but decided to ask about it later. “I love you much too, Ricky and I can’t imagine my life without you.”
Still cupping Maya’s face, Ricky sealed his promise with a deep kiss. They walked to the dining room, hand in hand. They will deal fully with the past, so they can have their future together, that was what they have resolved to do.