Posts Tagged Beyond Forever
“Do I look okay, sweetheart? Is this okay for the dinner with your parents?” Maya asked Ricky as she walked towards where he had been waiting for her as she got ready for the dinner with his parents. She was wearing a beautiful, violet shift dress, clutching a small black beaded evening bag, paired with her favourite black designer shoes. Her hair was in a chignon. Her makeup, understated.
Ricky who have been playing a game on his mobile phone while sipping the coffee that Manang Fe served him 30 minutes earlier, looked up upon hearing her voice. He smiled at his very beautiful, but obviously, very nervous girlfriend. “You look very beautiful, sweetheart. You always are. But this evening, you look radiant. And you are perfect and beautiful no matter what you wear. It is you and the way you carry yourself!”
Ricky stood up and walked towards Maya. Then cupping her chin, he kissed her lightly on the lips. “You don’t have to worry a single thing. My father already loves you and I’m sure my mother will. In fact, I think she already does. I told you, di ba, she had been badgering me to bring you to dinner ever since she heard about you.”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence, sweetheart. I just want your parents to like me. Last week they were expecting you to marry Lorraine, and now, out of the blue, there’s me!” Maya admitted. It occurred to her that it might be what Ricky’s parents have been thinking as everything happened so fast and sudden, kahit pa may history ang grandparents nila!
“Oh, sweetheart, please don’t think about that. And please, please, let us forget about Lorraine. She belongs in the past.” Ricky said, caressing Maya’s face. “Come let’s go. I’m sure my parents are counting the minutes until they meet the love of my life. They were so looking forward to this evening.”
Ricky took Maya’s hand and intertwined it with his tightly. They went to the kitchen and said goodbye to Manang Fe.
“Manang Fe, please don’t wait up for me po. I have susi naman.” Maya told her old nanny who looked teary-eyed, seeing her old ward so beautiful, with the man she loves.
“Sige, mag-iingat kayong dalawa sa biyahe. Enjoy your dinner.” Then as if she can’t help herself, she went to Maya, and touched her face. “Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo, Maya anak! Masaya akong makita kang ganito kasaya. Ricky, ikaw na ang bahala sa dalaga namin ha.”
“Maraming salamat po, Manang Fe.” Maya said, hugging the old lady. “Sige po, aalis na kami ni Ricky.”
“Manang Fe, huwag po kayong mag-aalala. I’ll make sure that Maya is home safe after the dinner with my parents. I’ll take good care of her, always!” Ricky assured the old lady.
Hand in hand, Ricky and Maya walked towards Ricky’s car. They put the bouquet of roses that Maya bought for Ricky’s mother, and the box of blueberry cheesecake she got from Cafe Arts in the back seat. Ricky mentioned that his mother and her friends have been to the cafe several times and that cake was their favorite.
“Sweetheart, anong oras pala ang arrival ng parents mo on Tuesday?” Ricky asked Maya as he navigated the main road just off Maya’s house. Traffic was getting heavier as people had started hitting the streets after the offices closed down for the day. It was also payday Friday!
While they were having their wonderful lunch at the cafe’s garden, Maya excitedly told Ricky that her parents are going home earlier than expected and that she was very much looking forward to seeing them again, and introducing him to them. She also mentioned that she had told her mom about them and by that time, Maya was sure her father also knows about her daughter having a boyfriend.
Ricky was happy to know that her parents are coming home soon. He would like to meet them the soonest time possible, and asks for Maya’s parents’ blessing in proposing to her. Ricky knew it would seem a lot to ask of his prospective in-laws on first meeting but it was something he want to do very much and the soonest. He is also a bit nervous in meeting them as they may not approve of him for their daughter, just like his father initially did. But he will cross the bridge when he get there, so to speak, he told himself. He is holding on to his and Maya’s love to see him through that. In the short time they have been together, they have already hurdled a lot.
“I don’t know yet, sweetheart. I forgot to ask Mom actually sa kakakwento naming dalawa about us.” Maya said sheepishly. “But I can find out from Manong Dindo kung anong oras sila nagpapasundo, or I can call Mom again. Bakit mo pala naitanong?”
“Wala naman, I just want to know. I’m looking forward to meeting them.” Ricky said, then smiling, he added, “If you are nervous about meeting my parents, I am too, in meeting your Mom and Dad. At least, ikaw nga na-meet mo na si Papa.”
“Sweetheart, you nervous!” Maya looked at Ricky, surprised at his admission. He is the epitome of confidence! “I can’t believe it. You, Mr. Confidence himself!”
“Siyempre naman, they only got to know about me today, and besides, I’m your first, AND only boyfriend ha, ever, and I’m sure by now, they have a pretty definite standards on the person they wish you who would end up with.”
Maya laughed, then touching his arm, she said, “Sweetheart, like you told me earlier, there is nothing to be nervous about. My mother likes you already and she has not yet met you ha, what more kung makilala ka na nila in person. My dad naman is a softie. Besides they only have a couple of things they require from the person they want me to be with.
“Such as…?” Ricky asked, wanting to know very much.
“That my boyfriend would love me very much, that said boyfriend will make me happy, take care of me always, and put me and my welfare first! But most importantly that I love this person very much. And I love you very much naman, more than life itself.” Maya finished, then caressing Ricky’s arm, she added, “See, nothing to worry about as you passed those criteria, Mr. Lim.”
Ricky smiled at his girlfriend. “Thanks so much, sweetheart. I just want everything to be okay. And for the record, I love you more than life itself too and I would do anything and everything to make you happy, always.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. Everything will be okay. Kayang-kaya nating dalawa iyan. See, wala pa naman tayong hindi kinaya, basta magkasama tayo.”
The two of them shared a beautiful smile, full of love for each other. The rest of the trip from Quezon City to Makati, Ricky and Maya talked about their planned visit Ricky’s grandmother. Soon after, they arrived at the Lims place.
“Ready, sweetheart?” Ricky asked Maya as they entered the building. Hands interlaced, they walked towards the private elevator that would take them to the penthouse unit of the Lims.
“Yes, sweetheart! This is it!” Maya smiled tremulously at Ricky.
Several minutes after, the elevator opened to the private foyer of Ricky’s parents’ place. Ricky pressed the bell.
“Good evening po, Sir Ricky, Ma’am.” Cynthia, the Lims long-time housekeeper greeted them warmly. Donya Rosemarie earlier told Cynthia that her son Ricky was bringing his girlfriend to dinner. Cynthia thought she would have to endure another night serving that snooty Lorraine. Donya Rosemarie corrected her when she mentioned her name and told her Ricky is bringing his new girlfriend Maya, much to her surprised. Looking at her Sir Ricky’s new girlfriend, she can sense that she is way much different from Lorraine. Mukhang mabait at magalang, she thought.
Maya greeted Cynthia with a warm, friendly smile. “Hello po. Magandang gabi po, I’m Maya Dela Rosa.” With that, Cynthia was completely won over by the beautiful lady holding hands with her guwapong amo.
“Cynthia po, Ma’am Maya. Welcome po.” Cynthia said smiling. “Sir Ricky, nasa sala po ang Mama at Papa ninyo.”
“Thank you, Cynthia.” Ricky said as he guided Maya towards the living room of the penthouse apartment, carrying the cake and the flowers.
However, before they can reach it, Rosemarie Lim,met them halfway. Ricky’s mother had a big smile, excitement on her face.
“Son, so great to see you.” Then she looked at Maya and gave her a warm smile. She didn’t wait for her son’s introductions. “Hello Maya, I’m so happy to finally meet you. I’m Rosemarie Lim.”
“Good evening po, Mrs. Lim, I’m very happy to meet you din po, finally.” Maya smiled at Ricky’s mother, feeling relieved at her warm welcome. “Para po pala sa inyo.” Maya gave Ricky’s mother the flowers and the cake.
“Naku, hija, thank you very much. How beautiful, and oh, this is the cake I like from your cafe! By the way, call me Tita Rosemarie na lang, o kaya naman Mama. I think Mama is better.” Rosemarie Lim told Maya as she hugged her, then Ricky. “Welcome to our place, Maya. Hello again, son.”
“Iyan din ang sinabi ko kay Maya when I met her, pero she insisted on calling me, Tito Richie.” Richie Lim said as he approached his son, wife and his son’s girlfriend. It seemed he too, can’t wait until they reached the living room. “Nice to see you again, Maya. How about calling me Papa na, hija?”
Like his wife, Richie Lim also gave Maya a hug as Ricky looked on happily. His father nodded at him by way of a greeting.
Ricky was amazed at the ease his parents and Maya were with each other! Life is just so great. He couldn’t ask for anything anymore.
“Thank you po, Papa, and also Mama, for the warm welcome.” Maya said shyly, still getting use to calling Ricky’s parents Papa and Mama. She felt very happy at their warm welcome.
The elder Lims smiled at Maya happily.
“Naku, Ricky, Maya, let’s go the living room na nga. Sorry at in my excitement di ko na talaga nahintay na ihatid kayo roon ni Cynthia.” Rosemarie said.
Rosemarie ushered everyone into to the living room. They chatted for several minutes before Cynthia approached Rosemarie Lim and told them that dinner is ready. Everyone trooped to the dining room set elegantly that evening.
It was a very enjoyable and laid back dinner in which the Lim family made sure that Maya is completely at ease with them. They told her stories of Ricky when he was a boy and a teen. Maya laughed at some of their stories. While Ricky on the other hand, protested at his parents telling Maya of his youthful shenanigans!
The Lims also asked Maya about her parents. Richie Lim mentioned that he actually know his father by name as one the Lim companies have used their cargo business. However, he and her father, or her mother haven’t had the chance to meet in person. Maya mentioned that her parents were abroad but would be home in several days.
“Well, when they are settled here again, maybe we can have dinner with them.” Rosemarie Lim suggested.
“Sige po, I will tell Mom and Dad.” Maya said.
“That would be great, hija!” Richie Lim said. “Maybe your Dad and I can play a round of golf also one day. Naggo-golf ba siya?”
“Yes po, Papa.”
The four of them also talked the journal and about Ricardo and Maya’s love story and their meeting in Ilocos. From the journal, the conversation also shifted to vacations in Ilocos and all the beautiful places to see there. By the time dinner ended and they were having dessert in the sitting room, Maya felt that she had known Rosemarie and Richie Lim a long time. Ricky was very happy as well at the way the evening has turned out.
“So, son, tuloy na kayo ni Maya sa Lola mo sa Sunday?” Rosemarie asked her son and Maya as they enjoyed freshly brewed Batangas coffee from the Valderama farm and the cheesecake that Maya brought.
“Yes, Mama, we will definitely visit her on Sunday! I called Lola this morning and told her that we are definitely coming for a visit. She said be there before lunch so we can all have lunch at the farm.” Ricky replied, holding his cup of coffee in one hand and the other one, intertwined with Maya’s.
“Great, great!” Rosemarie said. “And Maya, don’t be nervous okay, I’m sure Mama will like you very much also, like Richie and I do. In fact, I think she would be happy to see you and that finally, the grandchildren of Papa Ricardo and your Lola are continuing their aborted love story. Di ba, Richie?”
“Of course, of course, Maya. In fact she is looking forward to meeting you. I think Ricky mentioned to you that I have been to Batangas the other day.” Richie said. “You have nothing to worry about.”
“Thank you very much po, Mama, Papa. Gusto ko rin po siyang makilala. I’m looking forward to our trip to Batangas.” Maya replied happily, gazing at Ricky with so much love.
They shared a look and for a moment, they forgot that they were with Ricky’s parents. The older Lims looked at them indulgently. Now, more than ever, having met Maya, they know why their son has fallen so hard in such a short time. They can see the palpable love between their son and the beautiful lady he was holding hands with. In a way, they also understand how Ricardo Lim must have fallen like a ton of bricks upon seeing Maya’s grandmother. If she is anything like the present Maya, then it was inevitable, really!
Several minutes after, they realized that they have gone into a world of their own. They smiled sheepishly at Ricky’s parents. They smiled back, gesturing that they understood. They continued chatting as they enjoyed their coffee and cheesecake. They barely noticed the passing of hours. When the clock chimed the hour, Ricky looked at his watch and was startled to discover that it was already midnight. He put down his cup.
“Papa, Mama, I think it is about time Maya and I get going.” Ricky said. “I need to work pa tomorrow, err, today na pala since it past midnight na to make up for my vacation. Maya also needs to be at the cafe early.”
“Oo nga po, Papa, Mama. I need to be at Cafe Arts early kasi nasa hospital pa po iyong friend ko and business partner. Na-dengue po kasi siya.” Maya added. “Thank you very much po for inviting me. I have a very wonderful time.
“I hope your friend gets better, soon, Maya.” Rosemarie said, then going to Maya, she held her face with her two hands, “And the pleasure is ours, hija. Please see us again soon. Ricky please bring back Maya again the soonest. I will go your cafe again, with my amigas. We really like the place.”
“Yes Mama I will bring her back soon.”
“Please let me know po Mama if you will go there, and we can have coffee at my private place in the back.”
“Yes, Mama, you should see that beautiful place. Doon ako sinagot ni Maya.” Ricky said, grinning.
“Oh really! Then I really need to see that place, hija. I’ll text you.”
Maya hugged Ricky’s mother again, then went to his father. “Thank you po again, Papa,” she said.
Richie Lim patted her back and smiled. “Basta para sa inyo ng anak ko, Maya. All I want is for him is to be happy. You have made him so happy, I can see that.”
Ricky and Maya left the Lims soon after. While on the road, they talk the dinner with the elder Lims.
“See, there was nothing to worry about, sweetheart. My parents love you.” Ricky told Maya, touching her chin with his thumb and forefinger while they were waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
“Yes, you are right sweetheart. And I love them already.” Maya grinned happily. “My parents will be like that with you, sweetheart. I’m just so happy that our parents are okay with our relationship. While we are old enough not to need their approval, I do want it.”
“Me too, Maya. Kaya nga I was so happy when Papa changed his tune so fast and imagine ha, complete turnaround pa. Kinausap pa si Lorraine!”
“That’s true. You know what your father told me when I thanked him for talking to Lorraine?” Maya asked. She and Richie Lim were left alone in the living room for a time as Ricky went to the toilet, and his mother went to the kitchen to ask Cynthia to serve the dessert and coffee in the living room.
“You managed to talk to Papa, about it?”
“Yes, when you went to the toilet and your Mama went to the kitchen. He assured me that Lorraine will not bother us and he also said sorry for sending her to Ilocos. I thanked him, and he told me that it was the least the could do, after unwittingly sending Lorraine to you. He also said that he wanted nothing to mar our relationship from now on. It was really so nice of your Papa to do that.”
“I’m glad too. So, that’s what you were thanking Papa for before we left. Tatanungin ko nga sana sa iyo, what was it all about.” Ricky said, smiling, then he teased his girlfriend. “See, you have completely won him over sweetheart with your charm, wit and beauty!”
Maya grinned. Feeling at the top of the world at that moment.
They arrived at Maya’s place an hour after they have left the Lims.
‘Won’t you come in, sweetheart?” Maya asked Ricky as she opened the gate of her family home.
“Hindi na, sweetheart. Gabi na. Go get some rest. Maaga ka pa rin bukas, or mamaya na pala iyon.” Ricky said. “Just rest early when you get home from the cafe. Maaga pa tayo for our Batangas trip. I wish we can have dinner tomorrow, err, mamayang gabi pala, but I don’t know what time I will be finished at work.”
Maya put her hands around Ricky’s nape, smiled at him sweetly. “Yes, sweetheart, of course! Ikaw din ha, huwag masyadong magpapagod and eat on time. Baka makalimutan mo na sa dami ng work mo.”
Ricky grinned at Maya. “Yes po, Ms. Dela Rosa, I will eat on time and will rest as soon as I get home. I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow. Dream of us!”
“I hope I will. Good night, sweetheart. Thank you again for a wonderful evening. I love you very much.”
“Good night, sweetheart.” Ricky said softly. “I love you very much too.”
Ricky and Maya gazed at each other with all the love they were feeling. Ricky lowered his head, and his lips met Maya’s for a searing kiss under the moonlit night. Long after Ricky had left, Maya was still at the veranda, enjoying the beautiful night, feeling so happy. How can she sleep with all the happiness inside her!
Several decades ago, in the exact spot, another beautiful lady stood and watched the beautiful moonlit night. But instead of feeling happy like her beloved grandchild, she felt extreme sorrow.
Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura was consumed by a very intense longing for the love of her life. She felt him calling her name in the middle of the night. It was what woke her up. It was so vivid. It shook and unsettled her. She can’t sleep anymore so decided to get a glass of milk and stay for a while in the veranda. She felt very sad at that moment, and she can’t explain why.
Unknown to Maya then, it was the day Ricardo Lim died.
The ringing of her mobile phone woke up Maya. She groped for her phone, feeling very sluggish, as she and Ricky parted late the night before. Due to the wonderful night they had, it took her a while before she fell asleep.
“Hello. Good morning, Maya here.” Maya managed to say, yawning, not really checking who was calling her. She felt very sleepy, her eyes refusing to open fully.
“Maya, anak? How are you? Did I wake you up? I’m so sorry if I did. I thought you will be up and about by now. Na-miscalculate ko yata ang time difference!” The woman on the phone said in rapid succession.
“Mom? Mom, it’s you!” Maya was suddenly very much awake.
Maya looked at the clock, and noticed that it was already past 8 o’clock in the morning. She really overslept! But she still have time before she is needed at the cafe and the gallery. She hasn’t been in touch with her parents since her return from Ilocos. She had been meaning to give them a call at some point, but so many things had happened since she returned to Manila!
“I missed you very, Mom. How’s Dad? Yes, you woke me up but it’s perfectly fine. Hindi ka nagkamali ng time. I had a late night lang with Ricky so late na ako nakatulog. Dapat nga kanina pa ako bumangon!” Maya said, not realizing that she had mentioned a guy’s name, something that really grabbed her mom’s attention.
“Ricky?…” Marina Ventura-Dela Rosa asked her daughter, curiously and with a voice tinged with hope. She had been wishing that her daughter would find a guy she would like a lot to have a relationship with. For some reason, her daughter has been very picky. She knew she dated but after a date or two, the guy is either history or would just become her friend. As if, her daughter was waiting, looking for a specific someone!
“Oh…” Maya realized that she had mentioned Ricky’s name! She also had been vacillating between telling her parents about Ricky over the phone or when they finally get home in a week or so. She thought of just playing it by ear when she gets to talk to them.
“Errr, Mom, sorry, but I’m planning to tell you naman about him. That’s Ricky, Ricardo Lim III, my boyfriend. Bago lang po kami, Mom.” Maya told her mother.
“Talaga, anak? Kailan pa? Wala nga ngang nabanggit noong huli tayong nagkausap, just before you went to Ilocos. Matagal mo na bang kilala iyang si Ricky?” Marina asked her daughter, wanting to know more about the guy who finally made her daughter take a risk and enter into a relationship.
“Just several days pa lang, Mom. But we met each other while I was in Ilocos. Kanila lang iyong vacation house beside ours.” Maya said, leaning against the headboard to be more comfortable as she tells her mother about Ricky. “Mom, he is the one for me. I love her very much kahit sandali pa lang kami nagkakilala and sobrang bago pa lang ng relationship namin. He was the one I have been waiting for.” Maya said with conviction and so much emotion. She also told her mother about hers and Ricky’s adventures in Ilocos and the fact that he followed her back in Manila.
Marina smiled at the way her daughter said the name of her boyfriend, the way she described her feelings for him and the way she told her of their adventures in Ilocos. Indeed, she sensed that her daughter is very much in love for the first time in her life! She is very happy for her. Magkakaapo na rin sila ni Antonio sa wakas!
“I’m happy for you, Maya.” Marina said. “I’m sure ganoon din ang Papa mo. Good news talaga. Akala nga namin tatandang dalaga na ang unica hija namin.”
“Ma, naman. Wala naman akong intensyon na making old maid by choice! Choosy lang. Di bale nang walling boyfriend kaysa naman napilitan lang. See, there is the right guy for me talaga and tama iyong sabi ni Lola Maya sa journal niya, remember I told you about it, malalaman mo agad ang guy for you when you meet him! Noong unang kita ko palang kay Ricky sa Ilocos, iba na talaga ang pakiramdam ko. Would you believe, napagkamalan ko pa talaga siyang multo.” Maya smiled at the memory. Hers and Ricky’s meeting is really for the books! It was something to tell their children. Whoa, Maya Dela Rosa, children agad, she told herself. But come to think of it, it would be great to have a little boy who looks like Ricky a lot and a girl who is a spitting image of her! She grinned goofily. Then her mother’s voice cut into her daydream.
“Talaga, anak, napagkamalan mo pa talagang multo ang boyfriend mo!” Marina laughed, shaking her head at her daughter’s story.
“Talagang-talaga, Mom! Lola’s journal that I asked you about, it was actually, originally, Ricky’s Lolo Ricardo’s journal. Kasi nga siguro, I was so concentrated on that and the pictures I found inserted into that. Mr. Ricardo Lim and Lola Maya had a beautiful but very sad love story.” Maya replied, feeling a bit sad, remembering again. “You should really read it, Mom, when you get back.”
“I think I really should. Bakit nga ba kasi nawala sa isip ko na balikan iyon at basahin!” Marina said, then suddenly, she remembered something when Maya mentioned the name of Ricky’s grandfather, something her mother had said on her deathbed. “Maya, anak, Ricardo ang pangalan ng Lolo ni Ricky? Tama ba ako?”
“Yes, Mom, the third si Ricky, kasi ang junior ang Dad niya si Mr. Richie Lim. Bakit Mom, may business ba kayo ni Dad sa family ni Ricky. You know them?” Maya asked, curious at her mom’s question.
“I know of them. Pero wala akong maalalang dealings namin ng Dad mo sa mga Lim. Baka sa isa nilang subsidiaries, pero I haven’t met anyone of them in person, I’m sure of that.” Marina said, then she continued. “I asked you kasi I remember something. Noong maysakit na si Mama, and I was the one watching over her, she kept saying a name. She kept saying the name ‘Ricardo’ when she was delirious. Hindi ko naman malaman kung bait she kept mumbling that name. I didn’t tell Papa or asked him about it. I thought then, just to let it be. Although, I was very curious kung sino ang tinatawag niya! Iniisip ko kasi na baka masaktan pa si Papa kapag nalaman na may ibang name na tinatawag si Mama. Saka, I was not sure nga kung sino si Ricardo dahil wala naman akong alam na naging boyfriend niya or kaibigan with that name.”
“Oh, I think Lolo Jaime knew, Mom, that he was not the love of Lola’s life. I think so. I think he had read the journal. Lola continued the entries after Ricky’s grandfather died. The times you probably saw her holding that journal, I think kamamatay lang ni Mr. Ricardo Lim noon. Manang Fe also mentioned that Lola got a visit from Ricky’s grandmother one afternoon. It was her who gave the journal to Lola.”
“Nasa school siguro ako noon. Maya, I never had any idea that Mama had loved another. Okay naman sila ni Papa sa pagkaalala ko. Not outwardly very affectionate towards each other but they got along well naman, and we were happy as a family. I thought na ganoon lang talaga sila! Though, may times nga na parang melancholy si Mama.”
“Mom, Lola wrote about it in the journal. Mom, I really felt the love for Ricky’s grandfather coming out of the pages of that journal. Parang feeling ko nga ako si Lola. Ramdam ko lahat ng saya, lungkot and love na nasa pages ng journal.” Maya said passionately. “Kaya nga noong nakita ko si Ricky, akala ko talaga siya si Ricardo Lim. Magkamukhang-kamukha kasi sila Mom! There was a photo of them among others in between the pages of the journal.”
Hearing that, something clicked in Marina’s brain, and before she can stop herself, she started, “Maya hindi kaya…. but that’s impossible…ah never mind, anak!”
“I know what you almost said Mom. Hindi kaya reincarnation kami nina Lola Maya at Lolo Ricardo!” Maya put into words what her mother was hesitant to say.
“Yes, but as you know I don’t really believe in those. Pero both of you were born after they were both dead and sabi mo, kamukhang-kamukha ni Ricky iyong lolo niya. Ikaw naman, spitting image ng lola mo. Kapangalan niyo pa pareho! Tapos pinagtagpo pa kayo sa lugar kung saan sila nagkakilala at na-in love.” Marina said. “Hard to believe, pero parang you sought each other in this line time para madugtungan ang love story nila na hindi nagkaroon ng realization before.”
“Looking at it that way, Mom, hindi farfetched di ba? Especially as sometimes, Ricky also felt some things na parang na-experience na niya, a deja vu! If it is like that, then I am so very happy, Mom that Ricky and I found each other again and that our love story is progressing quite smoothly. He is the love of my life and like what I have said, the one I have been waiting for. But I do believe rin that Ricky and I are our very own person. Whatever it is, masaya ako na siya that we met and fell in love. In such a short time, we have so much and parang sobrang kilala na namin ang isa’t-isa.”
“Me too, Maya anak. Kahit ano pa ang dahilan, reincarnation o hindi. Masayang-masaya ako para sa iyo and also para kay Ricky. I’m sure wherever your Lola is and also Ricky’s grandfather, masaya rin sila for the two of you. I love you anak and hangad lang naman ng Dad mo ang happiness mo.”
“Thank you, Mom. I love you, and Dad too, very, very much.” Maya said, missing her parents very much. “I’ll introduce Ricky to you as soon as you get back. This evening nga pala, we will have dinner with his parents. Then on Sunday naman, we will visit his grandmother, the one who gave Lola Maya the journal. Pupunta kami sa Batangas to see her.”
“Really, ipapakilala ka na niya sa parents niya, and also to his grandmother?” Marina was happy to know. To her, it means that Ricky Lim is really serious about her daughter and it completely erased whatever lingering fear she had at the back of her mind due to the speed they have entered into a relationship. Yes, she trusts her daughter’s judgment, and the feelings she has for this guy, but she is a mom and worries about her child, no matter what.
“Yes, Mom! I actually met his Dad the other evening. Then Ricky said when his mother found out that his Dad met me na, she had really insisted on meeting me and having dinner at their home.” Maya said, then admitted, “I’m kinda nervous at meeting his mother. This would be the first time I will be seeing her. Besides, this would be my first dinner ever at a boyfriend’s house. Iyong sa lola ni Ricky, for some reason, hindi ako kinakabahan soon. In fact I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“I’m sure it would be great, Maya. Huwag kang nerbiyusin. I’m sure pasadong-pasado ka sa magiging biyenan mo.” Marina assured her daughter. “Ricky’s lola seemed to be a nice lady. She even went out of her way to see Mama and gave her that journal. Not many wives will do that. In fact, baka nga the opposite pa!”
“Mom, mother-in-law to be talaga! Ricky and I just started.” Maya said, laughing. “And yes, I agree with you, tungkol kay Mrs. Sandra Lim. She is also Ricky and me’s last link to Lolo Ricardo and Lola Maya kaya I really want to meet her in person!”
“Hay naku, Maya anak, base pa lang sa kwento mo, that love is for keeps and I’m sure serious iyang si Ricky sa iyo kasi imagine, this early, ipakikilala ka na niya sa parents niya, and also his grandmother who knew about the past. Sabi mo naman siya ang the one mo! Saka don’t worry, basta handa kang ipaglaban ni Ricky sa kahit sino, then wala kang dapat ipangamba, anak.” Marina assured her daughter.
“Tama ka doon, Mom. I know that Ricky loves me very much, and that he would fight for me always. Napatunayan na niya sa akin iyan. I’m so lucky to have him, Mom. I’m sure you and Dad will like him too. By the way, nasaan pala si Dad? Can I talk to him after you?” Maya asked.
“He is out with one of his college friends, nanonood ng basketball sa Madison Square Garden. Iyong paborito niyang team ang naglalaro. But I will tell him that we talked and about your good news. Anyway, before I forgot the reason I called up, eh, we will be home this coming Tuesday. Natapos na namin ang lahat ng kailangan naming asikasuhin dito and medyo tinatamad na rin kaming mag-ikot, so uuwi na lang kami.” Marina told her daughter. “I’m looking forward to seeing you, meeting your wonderful young man, and being home again!”
“Talaga, Mom! I’m so happy to know. I will tell Ricky too.”
“See you in a couple of days.”
“See you, Mom. And by the way, do you want me to pick you up from the airport?”
“Thank you, anak pero magpapasundo na lang kami kay Manong Dindo. Di ba mag-isa ka pala ngayon sa cafe. Manang Fe mentioned na na-dengue si Emman when I called up when you were in Ilocos. Kumusta na pala siya?”
“He is doing well, Mom. I think makakalabas na rin siya ng hospital in several days.”
“That’ s good to know. O, paano, Maya, anak, I will see you in several days okay. Stay ka muna sa bahay ng several days, please para naman makapag-bonding tayo ng husto. Pakisabi pala kay Manang Fe, I said hello.”
“Sige, Mom, I will stay with you. I will tell Manang Fe that you called. Take care and looking forward to seeing you and Dad. I love you, both, very much.”
“We love you very much too, anak.”
Mother and daughter ended the call.
Maya sighed, thinking it would really be good to see her parents again. She is very close to them, being an only child and not having much of cousins as her mother is an only child and her father’s two brothers have settled in different parts of the world. Her five cousins with them most of whom she seldom sees are also much older than her.
Maya was about to get up and take a bath when her phone beeped. She has an idea on who it is. She smiled when she saw the message.
Good morning my lovely girlfriend, the love of my life! Dinner with my parents later ha! Sorry, sweetheart, ang kulit ko ‘no. I’m just excited for you to meet them, and also my Lola Sandra this Sunday.
Yes po, Mr. Lim, my handsome, and also the sweetest, boyfriend in the universe! I’m looking forward to meeting your mother, chatting with your Dad again, and especially meeting your Lola Sandra.
Great, sweetheart. I’ll pick you up from your place, as we agreed on, sweetheart, at 6 o’clock. How about lunch later? I think I can manage it today as well!
I would love that. But are you sure sweetheart, di ba, you told me last night that you have a lot of meetings scheduled today?
I can manage, sweetheart, really. My lunch one got cancelled, yes! 🙂 I was really happy it got canceled as I really wanted to have my lunch with my pretty girlfriend.
Okay, okay, my handsome boyfriend. I can have something prepared for us at the cafe’s garden so that you can go back to your office fast. Di ba you told me that you have another one at 2PM?
That’s great, sweetheart! I love that place and it will always be special to me. That was where you made me the happiest guy in the world. I love you very much. See you in four hours!
I love that place the more also sweetheart, because of our already beautiful memories there. I love you too, Ricky. See you, sweetheart!
Maya put the phone down with a huge grin on her face. She was very happy and her heart, so full. Everything was just so wonderful. She hoped it will continue to do so, especially now that she will be meeting Ricky’s family and the situation with Lorraine seemed to have been resolved!
Ricky told her about what his father did the day before, without his knowledge, when he picked her up at the cafe late afternoon. They had a romantic dinner at a wine restaurant, somewhere in the neighbouring city, that offers not only a wide selection of wines, but very good food, and then spent the rest of the evening, just chatting, relaxing and cuddling up at the veranda of her house. They didn’t notice the time and only realized how late it was when a car backfired in the quiet of the night. They reluctantly parted for the night, and that was after the several intense kisses they shared.
Maya smiled and flushed anew as she remembered sitting on Ricky’s lap, lips tingling and feeling so thoroughly kissed, and more, realizing the effect of those too on Ricky’s body. They had looked at each other ruefully, grinning. He teased her about forcing himself to move, even if he didn’t really want to, as Manang Fe might run after him with a broom. After one more kissed, they parted for the night.
Maya got out of bed, still smiling. She got some clothes, and while singing the lines of a beautiful love song, she went to bath to start her beautiful and momentous day, very much looking forward to her lunch with Ricky and dinner with his family.
“Ricky!” Richie Lim hailed his son as soon as he saw him entered the lounge of the place where they agreed to meet for lunch the following day. His son, however, continued on with a smile on his lips. He didn’t notice him!
Ricky was oblivious to his current surroundings and Richie Lim had a pretty good idea why, or rather, who was on his mind at that moment. He decided to just walked to his son, and gently tapped him on the shoulder.
“Pa!” Ricky said with a smile, seemingly realising where he was. “I didn’t see you when I came in! Saan ka ba nakaupo?”
“Son, kanina pa kita tinatawag pero hindi mo ako narinig.” Richie Lim told his son with a teasing smile. “Malayo ang iniisip mo and parang alam ko na kung bait, and kung sino!”
“Pa!” Ricky laughed, and reddened a bit. His father got him. He was actually remembering Maya and their goodbye in front of her house the night before. The goodbye lasted several long minutes due to the heated kisses they can’t help but exchanged, as if they haven’t seen each other in a long time!
“Halika na nga, kain na tayo!”
“What would you like, son? And how long can you stay? I know you have a lot to do since you just got back.”
“I can stay as long as you can, Papa. I managed to do a lot of work this morning. Maaga ako pumasok. The office is running well kahit nawala ako ng medyo matagal and biglaan.”
“Good, good to know. How about some steak for lunch?” Richie Lim asked as he ushered Ricky out of the lounge and into the restaurant where they will have their lunch. “I always love the steak here.”
“Sounds good, Pa. Medyo gutom nga ako. I only had a light breakfast.”
The two of them chatted as they walked the short distance to the restaurant. The waiter seated them at a table which offers a bit of privacy. While waiting for their food, Ricky decided to say what he had been meaning to say to his father ever since he invited him to lunch. In turned out, he was not the only one who would like to say his piece.
“Pa, thank you sa….”
“Ricky, son, sorry sa…”
Father and son looked at each other and laughed.
“Pa, go ahead please.” Ricky said, teasing his dad, he added, “Seniority, you know! You are The Second and I’m The Third!”
“Okay, son, if you say so.”
Then taking a deep breath, Richie Lim, continued. “First, I would like to say that I’m sorry for the way I acted when you told us about you and Maya. Mali naman ako doon. Hindi ko dapat sinisi si Maya sa anumang akala ko kasalanan ng Lola niya sa family natin. Even that aspect, after all these years pala, mali rin ako! You see, son, I know about Papa’s journal. I have read it too. I went to see your Lola Sandra yesterday.”
“Really, Pa! You did? How come? And alam mo pala iyong journal ni Lolo! Maya and I are planning to see her this weekend nga rin. I would like to introduce Maya to her and at the same time, ask her why you acted like that. Sabi kasi ni Mama, Pa, baka si Lola ang makapagsabi sa akin ng dahilan.”
“Well, your Mama was right. Your Lola told me na mali ang akala ko all these years! She told me some truths that made me realized how wrong I was about your Maya and Papa’s Maya. But I would rather she tells you about the whole thing since you will see her in two days time.” Richie Lim said, smiling. “If not for the gallery opening last night, I would have invited you to dinner and make amends. Pero mas mabuti na rin siguro son, na una kami nagkakilala ni Maya bago mo siya ipakilala ng formal sa amin. I saw how she interacted with people last night and it just reiterated my belief that she is the right girl for you, in a way that Lorraine is not. Besides, I know you have your reasons, very valid ones, I believe in ending your engagement with her.”
“Pa, what can I say, except to say thank you, thank you much, for accepting Maya and my relationship with her. That was what I was going to say to you earlier. I was so happy seeing you and her, talking and having a wonderful time last night. What a beautiful surprise that was. I know I don’t really need to seek your approval to love her and fight for her, but I would like that, Papa. I love you and Mama and I hope you will be happy for me.”
“You have it, Ricky, you and Maya. And like I have said last night, I’m happy for you and her, my son. I’m sure your Mama is.”
Then as if speaking alone, his mind elsewhere, Richie Lim, continued. “Sometimes, no matter what happens or what the circumstances are, love will find a way. And when one sees it, fight for it, embrace it, as you may never find it again or that it would take another lifetime for you to find it, and that is, if you are lucky. Otherwise, you will just exist and not really live at all, and that is sad, so sad.”
Ricky stared at his father. He never thought he would hear those words from his normally pragmatic father.
Richie Lim shook his head as if clearing his brain from that serious thoughts, and wanting to return to the present. “It is true son. Just be happy son with the love of your life. You and I, we are so lucky to have found love. I may not be overly demonstrative about it, and it may not started that way, but I love your mother very much.”
“Thank you, Papa.” Ricky managed to say, so very happy that he was having that conversation with his father. He never thought that their lunch would turn out like this and they would be clearing the air like this, especially after their disagreement the other day.
Father and son looked at each other, then nodded, understanding each other and feeling so much lighter, now that everything has been clear between them. It was at this moment that their server arrived with their food. The two of them enjoyed their lunch, with Ricky regaling his father of his version of what Maya had told him the night before about their trip to Ilocos. He also mentioned something about what Lorraine did that had his father shaking his head in disapproval. He also apologized for inadvertently telling Lorraine where Ricky was. Ricky assured his father that it was okay and to forget about it as he didn’t know that they have broken up and he was remiss in telling him and his mother about it.
They were having coffee, when Ricky brought out the subject that has been in my head the past several days.
“Papa, I’m planning to propose to Maya, soon.” Ricky said, feeling very nervous and very excited to be finally saying it aloud, and to his father.
“Really, Ricky! That’s great news! By the way, alam na ba ng Mama mo that you are planning to propose to Maya?” Richie Lim said with a happy smile as he took another sip of this coffee.
If Ricky had doubts about his father’s acceptance of his and Maya’s relationship, his obvious happiness and reaction to his statement completely erased it. He thought his dad would have at least ask why so soon, even if he is very accepting of his and Maya’s relationship.
“I haven’t told her Pa. Ikaw pa lang ang nakakaalam.” Then he admitted, “Frankly I’m nervous, kasi this is different, way different from my proposal to Lorraine.”
“Oh! Thank you for telling it to me, son. I would like to know that I’m happy for you and Maya. Salamat naman at magkakaapo na kami ng Mama mo. Don’t worry, son, you can do it.”
“Pa, salamat talaga. Pero, Pa, really apo kaagad? Hindi pa nga ako nagpo-propose and malay mo, hindi pa ready si Maya na magpakasal! Baka nga hindi mag-yes!”
“Naku, son for sure na iyan. Maya will say yes. I believe so. Sa pinagdaanan ba naman ng love story ninyo in such a short time, kapag hindi pa naman iyan naging okay, ewan ko na lang. Basta let me and your Mama know kung engage na kayo so we can plan the wedding. Sabihin mo lang kung ano ang kailangan naming gain and our part ha. Hasta lahat ng maitutulong namin, gagawin namin.”
“Thank you very much, Papa. Kapag sinagot ako ni Maya, balak ko po sana na mamanhikan tayo sa parents niya. Maya said they are in the States at the moment pero babalik na rin yata ng Pilipinas in a week or two.”
“Sure, Ricky, sabihin mo lang kung kailan. And I think it is very good idea para magkakilala ng husto ang mga pamilya natin. With the history between our families, it is about time na happy naman. I’m sure your Lola Sandra will be very happy with this development.”
“Oo, son Di bale, I’m sure she would be very happy when you finally introduce Maya to her.”
“This Sunday, Pa!” Rickt replied, then ask his father. “Would you like another cup of coffee, Papa?”
“No more, son. Thank you, I’m good. Baka kailangan mo nang bumalik sa office? I also have something to take care of after this, before I go home to your Mama. And don’t worry, not a word to her about your plans. Just bring Maya to dinner please, the soonest.”
“Okay, Pa. I will talk to Maya later about it and give Mama a call. If she is free tomorrow, and you and Mama are okay with, then tomorrow evening, I’ll bring Maya to your place.”
“Sure, son. Let us know. I’m sure pwede kami ng Mama mo bukas.”
Ricky paid for the bill and father and son parted ways at the entrance of the Polo Club. Ricky waited until their old family driver arrived before driving back to his office, whistling. He was just very happy with the way things are moving.
While waiting for the light to turn green at an intersection, Ricky’s mind wandered on the proposal he was planning. He smiled, goofily, hoping Maya will find his proposal romantic enough and one thing they can tell their children and grandchildren. He hopes she would not think it too soon. His beautiful thoughts was interrupted with the honking of cars behind him. The traffic light had turned green without him noticing!
Richie Lim, as soon, as he got into the car, pulled out his phone and made a call, then instructed the driver to go to an upscale housing complex at Bonifacio Global City.
“Lem, I will not be long.” Richie Lim told his driver as he was about to get off the car at the lobby of the complex. “Just look for a parking space nearby.”
“Sige po, Sir. Meron naman pong malapit dito.”
Several minutes later, Richie Lim arrived at his destination.
“Tito Richie, please come in.” Lorraine greeted Richie Lim with a big smile as soon as she opened the door to him. “Good thing you have phoned. I was about to go your house and see you and Tita Rosemarie.”
“You were about to see us?…” Richie asked inquiringly as Lorraine led him to her sitting room.
“Yes, Tito! I was just going to tell you about what Ricky did. He left me to fend for myself in Ilocos! He treated me badly. Me, his fiancée!” Lorraine said, sighing dramatically.
“Lorraine, that is why I’m here….” Richie Lim started, trying to pick his words carefully. “You see I know now what happened in Ilocos…”
“Talaga, Tito. Di ba, ang bad ni Ricky. Pagsabihan mo please, Tito. Of course, patatawarin ko naman siya and our wedding will push through.” Lorraine said fast, getting agitated. She very much wanted for Ricky’s father to believe him to salvage what was left of their relationship one more time.
“ Lorraine, Lorraine, please calm down!” Richie Lim said softly, seeing Lorraine working herself into a lather. “Please, stop this. Stop whatever it is. Listen to me. Enough of this please. Kaya nga ako nandito para kausapin ka ng maayos. Ricky told me what happened, what really happened in Ilocos.”
“ You mean….” Lorraine started, gathering her thoughts, trying to recover from what she just heard. She was so surprised. She never thought that it was what she was going to hear when her Tito Richie phoned earlier and asked her if he could see her as he has something to discuss. She thought it would be to assure her that hers and Ricky’s wedding will still push through.
“Yes, Lorraine! I’m sorry. Someday, you will find the right guy for you. The love that is for you!” Richie Lim said, trying to comfort Lorraine. “Thank you for loving my son. I hope you will move on now. Enough of ruining Ricky’s relationship with Maya. That is not you. I know.”
Lorraine felt so tired and defeated at that moment. Without Ricky’s father’s support, all was lost to her, she realized. She looked at Richie’s Lim and just nodded.
Soon after, Richie Lim said his goodbye and as soon as she had closed the door on him, she screamed in rage and frustration! She grabbed the first thing she saw and threw it on the wall. It was too late when she noticed that it was the very expensive Lalique vase that her mother inherited from her grandmother! Ah, she thought, that the least of her problem, explaining the destruction of the vase. What she needed to get ready for, would be her parents disappointed reaction when they find out that she let Ricky escape from her grasp. She can’t bear another disappointing her parents again and not living up to their exalted expectations!
Lorraine grabbed her purse, with the intention of going to Ricky’s office and trying one more time. She stopped when she was at the door. She happened to look at herself in the mirror. She looked deranged! It was then that some rational thought managed to penetrate her foggy brain. She realised that what she will do and what she was doing, is some kind of desperate move to hold on to something that had already escaped her grasp. She does not want to be this pathetic! She went back to her living room, slumped on the sofa, and stared out of the window, but not seeing the view. She lost big time, and it was her fault!
That Maya is a very lucky girl, she mused, very envious, feeling a very great loss.
Ricardo Lim II, Richie to family and friends, stared at the beautiful, poise woman circulating among the art patrons looking in awe at Santiago Ocampo’s stark but beautiful landscape paintings. He was nursing a glass of red wine that his friend Bobby gave as soon as they entered the spacious gallery displaying his son’s latest work. She had a ready, sincere, and seemingly genuine smile for everyone. She is the spitting image of her! As beautiful and it seems as charming as her grandmother. Everyone greeted her with warmth, even people he had known to be quite reserved and haughty, if he may say so.
He thought he was seeing a ghost, a ghost that he had believed for so long haunted his family long before she died and joined his father wherever he is now. He never expected he would see the granddaughter, his son’s new girlfriend, that evening! It turned out, she and her gallery organized Santi’s exhibition. He had seen Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura, her grandmother, several times when he was in his late teens. He was curious to know about her ever since he had stumbled upon his father’s journal one year before he died.
Richie Lim remembered that moment so clearly. He saw his father with a glass of his finest Scottish whiskey staring at the painting on his study with a sad expression on his face one evening, a blue journal opened before him. His father took one gulped of his drink, then put the journal inside the secret drawer, not so secret to him anyway, a drawer in his study. When his father went to bed, he snuck into the study and opened the drawer, his curiosity well and truly aroused as he felt it would answer some things that had been puzzling him.
He spent most of the night reading the journal and understanding some things that had been puzzling him, like his parents looking like a normal couple on the surface, not very demonstrative of their feelings, which he thought was because of their natural reserve and that it was just the way they were. Him, remembering the exact time, when his father got sick for a week after he had been on a trip and that he whispered for him to get well. He was about five years old at that time. His mother seemingly sad at times, when she thought no one was looking. He attributed it to the fact that they were in a strange land, but it turned out it was because his father was in love with someone else. He never loved his mother the way she should have been loved!
In Richie Lim’s young mind, he came to believe that his father may have not gone and committed adultery, but Maya Dela Rosa was very much the third person in his parents’ marriage. His father was unhappy because he was obviously pining for her, and his mother, equally so, because her husband does not love her, but another. Probably, his mother sensed it. Women, according to his female friends, insisted that they have an internal radar when it comes to those things.
When his father died, and his mother uprooted them again, to go back to the Philippines, he wondered if his mother had discovered the journal as it was not at the hiding place when he checked before closed the house in San Francisco. He was not sure whether it was his father who moved it, sensing that someone else’s read it or it was his mother. He never thought of asking as it his question might open a can of worms that would hurt his gentle mother. He wanted to let that secret die with his father.
However, he was unable to help himself, he sought the woman who made his parents unhappy for completely different reasons. The first time he saw her was in a gallery show like the one he was attending at that moment. It was not her painting on display, but an artist friend who was a friend of one of his friends parents. She seemed nice, he admitted to himself, but then he remembered his unhappy parents and his animosity towards her surfaced. He barely stopped himself from going to her and lashing out. The fact that, liked her granddaughter, she seemed so regal, so well-liked and so nice, stopped him. Besides, despite their reserves, his parents raised him well, especially his mother.
When Ricky told him and his wife Rosemarie about his and Maya’s relationship, he reacted without thinking, everything he thought belong to the past surfacing forcefully. He hated that it created a rift between him and his son. His wife, when he went home the night before, told him he acted rashly. Normally, Rosemarie, just let him be but last night, she was really annoyed at him. He almost called up his son the night before, but he stopped himself. He needed to think. He dreamed about his father, telling him things were not what they seemed, while they were sitting in a park in San Francisco. Later, he remembered that it was their last outing before he died.
He woke up early the following morning, that morning. He found himself driving towards the direction of Batangas, to find answers from the one person he thought could give him those. His mother was surprised to see him! But after spending several hours with her, he had a clearer mind and his perspective have shifted. He went back to Manila in a better frame of mind. He found the answers! Had he not promise Bobby that he will attend this exhibit he would have sought out his son and try to repair the damage that he caused with his outburst! It is time to close the past, and as his mother had said, some things are meant to be no matter what! It is something that he was sure would make his father happy wherever he was!
Robert Ocampo, Bobby to family and friends, waved his hand in front of Richie Lim to call his attention one more time.
Richie Lim looked at his friend, his mind still in the past, started to apologize but stopped as he noticed his compadre was not alone.
“‘Padre, are you okay? Sorry, it took me a while to get back to you!”
“I’m okay, I’m okay. Hindi mo naman ako kailangang samahan, all the time! Just be with your son, Bobby!”
“No, no, I brought you here. Besides, my son is busy with his friends and potential collectors of his work.” Bobby Ocampo said, then looked at Maya. “This is Maya Dela Rosa, the owner of this gallery and a good friend of my son since college. Maya, this is my good friend Ricardo Lim II, Richie to family and friends.”
He is Ricky’s father! It was the first thought that entered Maya’s head when Bobby Ocampo made the introduction. At first she does not know how to react, having met him unexpectedly and knowing that he had some objection to hers and Ricky’s relationship. But the manners and poise that has been drilled into her by her mother took over.
“Please to meet you po, Mr. Lim.” Maya said politely, respectfully, deciding to keep it safe and simple. She gave the older Lim a friendly smile and offered her hand. Ricky and his father do not look alike, though there are similarities, on a closer look. Richie Lim must have taken after Mrs. Alexandra Lim. Though, when she caught him staring at her earlier, she thought he looked familiar.
Richie Lim stared, for several long seconds, at the hand extended to him, then took her proffered hand. This is an unexpected but propitious, he thought to himself!
“Please to meet you, Maya. Ricky told us about you.” He said with a neutral, friendly smile. He didn’t know if Ricky mentioned something to her. But he had an inkling that he did and that Maya knows about what happened at their home the day before. He hopes everything would still be okay. “Is Ricky coming too? He didn’t mention when I saw him yesterday.”
It was Bobby Ocampo’s turned to be surprised. Before Maya can react and answer Richie Lim’s question, he asked, “Told you about her? Maya, do you know Ricky also?”
“Errr…” Maya groped for words! She was not expecting that Ricky’s father will acknowledge her like this.
“What Maya means is that, Ricky is her boyfriend, ‘Padre.” Richie Lim said simply, looking at Maya, wondering if Ricky had mentioned to her his reaction to knowing that she is his son’s girlfriend.
“Oh, you didn’t mention that, ‘Padre, when I asked you earlier how’s Ricky, but I’m happy to know that he and Maya are together now!” Bobby Ocampo told Ricky’s father, then looking at Maya, he added teasingly. “Kaya lang talagang wala na palang pag-asa ang anak ko Maya. Hindi na pala kita magiging daughter-in-law!”
Maya blushed at that. Tito Bobby always teases her like that when they see each other. Yes, it was true that Santi courted her when they were in college but she told him that they were better off as friends. “Tito Bobby, talaga! Love naman kita kahit friends lang kami ni Santi.”
“Pa, kinukulit mo na naman ba si Maya.” Santi said, from Maya’s left, another guy was with him. “Matagal ko nang tanggap na basted ako sa kanya.”
“Wala ka na talagang pag-asa pala, hijo.” Bobby said. “As your Tito Richie just said, Maya is Ricky’s girlfriend.”
“Really, Maya! Kailan pa? I thought Ricky is getting married to….” Santi exclaimed in surprise, then trailed off. “Oh sorry! Butt I’m happy for you and Ricky kahit masakit for me.” He said while clutching his heart in an exaggerated fashion while smiling at Maya.
“Ikaw talaga, Santi. Incorrigible!” Maya said, flushing. She is not used to being put on the spotlight like this, especially it is the first time she is in a relationship.
Richie Lim looked at Maya Dela Rosa and seeing her flushed face, he felt guilty at just blurting out hers and Ricky’s relationship like that. He was caught off guard and he never realized that it would snowballed. His intention was just to acknowledge hers and Ricky’s relationship in his own way. He felt bad, really, at the way he reacted the day before.
“Pa, Tito, Richie, I would like you to meet pala Tristan Miranda. He is with the magazine Arts and Artists. He will feature me in their next issue.” Santi said. “Maya, of course, you and Tris know each other, I presumed.”
“Yes, we chatted earlier and Tristan and I have known each other for years.” Maya said, smiling warmly at Tristan, who at some point also tried to court her. Tristan just smiled, because like Santi, Maya ‘friend-zoned’ him not so long time ago!
Bobby and Roberto shook Tristan’s hands, they chatted a bit until another guest caught Santi’s attention, and also Tristan’s. Then Bobby’s attention was called by one of his friends as well, leaving Maya and Richie Lim alone.
“Mr. Lim, gusto ninyo po ng….?
“Maya, I would like to say….”
Maya and Richie Lim spoke at the same time. They looked at each other and shared a tentative smile.
“Go ahead, please Maya.” Richie Lim said. “And please call me Tito Richie or Papa!”
Maya looked at Ricky’s father in surprise! She never expected him at all to say that after what Ricky had told her of his reaction to them being in a relationship. He had been surprising her since meeting him this evening. “Oh, thank you po. I would like to ask lang po sana if there is something I can get you, food, coffee or more wine?”
Richie Lim saw Maya’s reaction to his offer of calling him Papa or Tito Richie before she can school her expression, which confirmed that his son did mention to his girlfriend about his reaction. He had said it on impulse. He decided to be direct about the whole thing and clear the air. He had a feeling that Maya will end up as his daughter-in-law and that she is the love of his son’s life.
“Maya, may I be direct?” Richie asked, and when Maya nodded to express her agreement, he continued. “Ricky might have mentioned something to you, about my reaction to your relationship, and I would like you to know that I am sorry for my initial reaction. I am just happy for you and Ricky. I would like to get to know you better also. Would that be okay, hija?”
“Of course, Sir…” Maya started and when Richie Lim started shaking his head, smiling, she corrected herself. “Errrr, Tito Richie, yes po! I would like to get to know you better also, and I’m looking forward to meeting Mrs. Lim as well.” Maya managed to say. She can’t seemed to get her to say ‘Papa’ yet as she just met Ricky’s father. She also feels glad that he was over to whatever objection he had to her and Ricky’s relationship.
They smiled at each other in silent understanding. Since everything seemed to be going well, Maya invited Rickiy’s father to sit at the coffee table at a side of the gallery. They chatted a bit, mostly about she and Ricky’s trip up North, also the funny way they have met, which had Ricky’s father chuckling. Richie Lim found himself liking his son’s new girlfriend very much. He smiled a lot, so caught up in her vivid description of the places they have been.
It was this scene that Ricky saw when his gaze finally found Maya and his father! He decided to go to the gallery after he had found out from his mother that his father would be here! He would just like to check on Maya. Instinctively, he knew that his father will not deliberately snub Maya or do something bad to her, but he would like to know how they fared upon meeting each other, as he knew that they were bound to meet each other. He was surprised to see them chatting and smiling at each other.
“Maya, Papa….” Ricky said, calling their attention.
Both of them looked at him in surprise!
“Ricky!” Maya said with a big smile, love in her eyes. “I thought you have a dinner with your mother!”
Richie Lim was surprised to hear that as his wife didn’t mention that their son was coming to dinner. “Son, nasa bahay ka pala! Sana isinama mo ang Mama mo rito so she can also met Maya.” He said smiling fondly at Maya.
On the way to the gallery, Ricky thought of several scenarios that he would see, but he never thought or imagined that it would be this, his father and Maya getting along very well.
“Pa, I’m glad that you and Maya got to meet each other.” He said neutrally. “Maya, sweetheart, I just need to come. I hope that is okay.”
“Of course, Ricky. I did invite you. But you should have brought your Mama. Didn’t you have dinner with her.” Maya said, gazing at Ricky with love. She was just happy to see him.
“Mama was a bit tired and told me she will go to bed early. Of course, she would have loved to come and meet you, Sweetheart.”
“Well, maybe, you both can come to dinner this Friday.” Richie Lim asked both of them. “And son, can we have lunch tomorrow at the Polo Club?”
“Yes, of course, Papa!” Ricky said. “And for Friday, dinner, Maya?”
“Yes, we would love to come to dinner, Tito Richie.” Maya said with a smile.
Richie Lim grinned. “That’s great! I will leave you two, and see where Bobby is. I would like to buy your Mama a painting too. It was great meeting you, Maya. I’ll see both of you on Friday!”
With that, Richie Lim was gone, leaving Ricky staring with disbelief at what he had just witnessed. His father being very warm to Maya after his angry outburst the day before and Maya calling his father Tito Richie which he knew was because his father asked her to.
“Was that really my father, sweetheart!” Ricky asked bemused. Then looking at Maya, he said. “When I found out from Mama that this was where my father would be, I just need to come sweetheart and check on you.”
“I know, Ricky. I was also surprised to met him here. He is a friend of Tito Bobby pala. I didn’t make the connection until I was introduced to him. Of course, I noticed him staring at me. But after Tito Bobby introduced us, he was the one who told them that I am your girlfriend! He had been very nice to me. He asked me to call him Tito Richie or Papa!”
“Really! I’m happy to know that. I’m sure I will learn everything about at our lunch tomorrow. But whatever changed his mind, I am just so happy.”
“I am too.” Maya said simply, touching Ricky’s hand and caressing it.
“You looked very lovely tonight, sweetheart.” He said softly, looking at her wearing a black sheath dress that hugged her every curves. She had a light make-up on and this was the first time he saw Maya made up and looking very sophisticated. “I’m glad I came by after all. I missed you, sweetheart!”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I’m also happy that you are here and that everything is well with your father. I miss you too.”
Ricky looked happily at his girlfriend and mouthed an “I love you”, then after checking if they were quite alone in their little corner, he stole a quick but very intense kiss.
Maya grinned happily, flushing and then said ‘I love you’ back, caressing his face and wiping the lipstick that smeared his lips with her thumb.
Unknown to them, someone saw their very sweet moment. It was Ricky’s father and he had a big smile on his face.
Ricky stared at the painting. It was like looking at himself in the mirror. Except for the clothes and the haircut, it could have been him on the canvas before him! He felt himself shivered. Maya who was sitting beside him on the couch while Manang Fe held the painting before them, sensing his reaction, squeezed his hand gently.
Manang Fe took them to the library after their sumptuous dinner. Ricky felt very happy and so at home at the house he had been to for the first time, for some unexplainable reason. It felt like there was a happy spirit welcoming him to that place. When he entered the library he was very nervous and at the same time had this feeling of anticipation at what he and Maya would see. True enough, he was not expecting the feeling that surged through him upon seeing the painting he and Maya never thought existed. It was bittersweet, seeing the image of his grandfather. He was happy at the love that he was seeing leaping from the canvas, at the same time, sad at the circumstances when the painting was done.
His grandfather was painted with extreme happiness on his expression. He was smiling, a smile that reached his eyes. It was a beautiful portrait of a grandfather he wished he had met. It was a painting done with love. It was obvious in each stroke of the brush that was used in that oil painting of Ricardo Lim, as if Maya’s grandmother wanted to commit something for eternity, wanted to remember by his grandfather like this, so full of life and happy.
Ricky thought at that moment, that he would have done the same, if God forbid, he lost Maya, he would have wanted to remember her as someone who was full of life, who loved life, and if he could paint, he would have painted Maya the way her grandmother painted his grandfather. He can feel the canvass speaking to him across the decades.
Maya was also looking at the canvas, seemingly mesmerized.
It was so painful. It felt like her heart would burst and stop functioning with the grief she was feeling as she filled the canvas with the image of her beloved. She had been painting him nonstop since that morning. She wanted a to remember him so full of life and happy. She wanted a painting of him the way she still remembers him, and that when her memory fades, she will have that to look to. It still hurts so much, she still misses him so much after all these years, but she must continue on for her daughter’s sake….
“Maya…? Sweetheart…?” Ricky said softly, seeing, that, she had gone inside her head and was staring into something only she can see, like she was not with him and Manang Fe anymore.
Maya blinked several times before the image of her grandmother painting like crazy, and what were probably in her thoughts while doing the painting, retreated from her consciousness. She became aware of Ricky and Manang Fe looking at her with concern.
“Sorry, Ricky, Manang, for a while I can imagine seeing Lola Maya painting that picture in her studio, wearing a painter’s smock over her white blouse and black leggings, her hair in a bun. It was so vivid that it felt like I was there, like I was the one putting colors on that canvas! I don’t know how to explain it, but I thought I felt what she was feeling while doing the painting.”
“Maya anak, iyan ang paboritong suot at ayos ng lola mo kapag nagpipinta siya. Baka nakita mo iyan sa isa sa mga larawan niya. Lolo mo ba, Ricky, ang nasa painting?” Manang Fe asked. She was almost sure kasi magkamukhang-magkamukha sila ng painting. “Siguro rin na-imagine mo kung ano ang nasa damdamin niya habang ginagawa iyan.”
“Opo, Manang. Si Lolo Ricardo po ang nasa painting. I believe nagkakilala sila ni Mrs. Ventura sa Ilocos noong bago sila ikasal ni Mr. Ventura.” Ricky replied, still looking at Maya with concerned. He had a pretty good idea on what Maya was experiencing earlier.
“Oh, kaya pala, anak! Kung si Maya, kamukhang-kamukha ng lola niya. Ikaw naman ng iyong lolo.” Manant Fe looked closely at Ricky and indeed, the resemblance is uncanny. She shivered.
“Manang, noong una nga po kaming nagkita nitong si Ricky, ang akala ko multo siya ng lolo niya.” Maya looked at Ricky, smiling and she started telling her old nanny about her and Ricky’s meeting. Then, she also told Manang the content of the journal.
“Napakalungkot naman ng kwentong iyan, Maya. Kaya pala ang lola mo parang nag-iba mula nang makita kong hawak-hawak niya iyang journal na iyan at nakatingin lang sa bintana matapos bumisita si Mrs. Alexandra Lim. Naalala ko nga na ganoon din ang hitsura niya noong bumalik siya ng Maynila pagkagaling sa Ilocos noong maysakit si Sir Jaime. Ang akala ko nga noon baka nag-aaalala lang siya sa kondisyon ng lolo mo Maya. Kaya pala mula noon parang may nawalang kinang sa kanya.” The old lady sighed, feeling for her old alaga, shaking her head as if wanting to dispel the extreme sadness she was feeling at that moment. “Kumusta na nga pala ang Lola Alexandra mo, Ricky?”
“Mabuti naman po siya, Manang. Sa Batangas na po sila naka-base ni Lolo Victor, her second husband. Ipapakilala ko nga po sa kanya si Maya this weekend.”
“Ganoon pa, naku nakakatuwa naman.” Manang Fe said with a smile, thinking na mukhang seryoso na ang relasyon ng alaga niya at ng apo ng lalaking minahal din ng kanyang lola. Ang tadhana nga naman, she thought to herself. “O sige, maiwan ko na muna kayo rito, tawagin ninyo na lang ako kung may kailangan kayo.”
“Sige po, Manang Fe, magpahinga na kayo. Kayo nga ang kagagaling sa sakit. Ako na po ang bahala rito.”
“O siya, sige, anak, magpapahinga na ako. Pero kung may kailangan ka, tawagin mo lang si Fely. Nasa kwarto lang naman iyon at nagko-computer. Ewan ko ba sa batang iyon, late na natutulog.” Manang Fe said with a smile. “Good night, Ricky!”
“Good night po, Manang Fe. Maraming salamat po ulit sa masarap na dinner! I’m happy to have finally met you.”
“Walang anuman, Ricky. Ako man, natutuwa na nakilala kita at natutuwa akong malaman na may nobyo na itong alaga ko. Akala ko eh tätanda na rin siyang dalagang katulad ko. Masyado kasing pihikan! Madami nang nabasted iyan!”
“Manang, naman!” Maya said, laughing, objecting to her nanny’s statement good-naturedly! “Choosy lang Manang. Saka hinihintay ko talaga itong si Ricky.” She joked, but realized that it was so true. All her life, it had seemed that she was looking or waiting for something or someone. Now that she had met Ricky and that he is now her boyfriend, she felt complete.
“Thank you for waiting for me, sweetheart.” Ricky whispered softly while they held hands, watching Manang Fe’s departing figure. “I’m so happy you did.”
“Ricky, all my life, I felt like I was looking for something or someone, and now that I have you, I realized, I feel complete. I’m so glad that we have found each other.” Maya said, touching Ricky’s face.
They shared a quick kiss, then hand in hand, they returned to where they were sitting earlier. They found themselves staring at the painting as they enjoyed their coffee.
“Maya….” Ricky started, remembering Maya’s trance like state earlier. “What exactly happened earlier? I saw you shivered while in a trance like state?”
“Ricky….” Maya hesitated a bit, then took a deep breath and continued. “Para kasing I was there, in the past, when my grandmother was doing the painting, feeling all her emotions, lahat-lahat. It was so vivid that it hurt so much. Sorry, ang hirap niya kasing ipaliwanag! Parang ako siya! Do I make sense?”
“Yes, Maya, you do. Recently, I have been having those ‘spells’ as well, especially this afternoon after my father reacted negatively to knowing that you were Maya Dela Rosa-Ventura’s granddaughter. Though I was not sure if it was completely due to that or the fact that it was a surprise to him that I’m not marrying Lorraine. But don’t worry about it.”
“He does not approve of our relationship?” Maya put her hands, on top of Ricky’s, suddenly worried.
“Not exactly just about us, I think. But the fact that our families have a history. Don’t worry about it. My mother said my Lola Sandra might help shed light on the whole thing. Kaya we will see her this weekend. If that is okay with you.” Ricky said, wishing that he didn’t tell Maya about his father’s objection. But he wanted to be honest with her. “Don’t worry about my father, okay? It will be okay. He is not a bad guy. I’m sure, if he also get to know you, he will be quickly converted and smitten.”
Maya seeing Ricky’s earnest expression, didn’t want to add anymore to his worries, so she nodded. She and Ricky can face anything together. For sure, it will be resolved at some point.
“Thank you, Maya. I love you, sweetheart. And I completely understand about feeling that we are reliving the past. Kanina pagpasok ko sa house ninyo, the thought that this was where my Maya lived with her husband and daughter entered my head! Parang feeling ko, ako si Lolo Ricardo! This is the house where your grandparents lived, di ba? Ang saya-saya rin ng pakiramdam ko and parang there was an unseen someone welcoming me to this place. Hindi lang dahil sa warm welcome ni Manang Fe, ha.”
“Yes, dito sila tumira. Ikaw rin pala nakaramdam ng ganoon! Iyong parang nasa past ka! Ricky, hindi kaya totoo na tayo ang reincarnation ng grandparents natin? Both of us are experiencing deja vu! We got attracted and we fell in love because we are really them? That we just found a way to continue a love story that was not meant to be the first time around?”
“I don’t know, Maya. Mahirap ipaliwanag, and there are things that we can’t really explain, and that we may not find the answers to those questions. But you know what, sweetheart, the important thing is the present. We were lucky to find, and fell in love with, each other. And that unlike our grandparents, we have a beautiful shot at the future. Iyon na lang ang pinanghahawakan ko. If we are them, then I’m happy that we found each other again and that our story has a happy continuation. But I do believe that we are what we are, Maya and Ricky, two different individuals from them, shaped by our period, fated to love and be happy like this.”
“Tama ka naman, Ricky. I’m happy also kung sino man tayo. Yes, we will never know. But like you, I would rather concentrate on the present we have and honor our grandparents’ love for each other, by loving each other.”
“I completely agree, sweetheart. Let us work on a having a future together. I think that would make them very happy. I love you very much, Maya.”
“I love you so very much, Ricky.”
Maya and Ricky sealed this promise with a tender kiss. Then they continue chatting while they arms around each other on the big comfortable couch.
“What are your plans tomorrow evening, sweetheart?” Ricky asked after a while, playing gently with Maya’s hair. “I’m just thinking that maybe, you can join me and my mother for dinner. She would like to meet you also.”
“Sweetheart, I would love to, but I have an exhibit at the Gallery Arts that I have to supervise tomorrow evening! Emman was supposed to handle it while I was in Ilocos, but he got sick nga. I’m going to ask you nga rin sana if you would like to attend with me.”
“Hmmm, maybe I can call my mother and I will just reschedule our dinner the day after tomorrow. Then I can go with you to that gallery thing.”
“No, no, Ricky, just go and have dinner with your mother. I’m sure she misses you very much. Please tell her I’m also looking forward to meeting her.”
“Okay, I hope your gallery exhibition is a success.” Ricky said, then he started getting up from his comfortable seat reluctantly. “I think I will get going, sweetheart. Para pareho na tayo makapagpahinga!”
“Oo nga, especially ikaw, magdamag ka pa namang nag-drive.” Maya stood up, then arms around each other, she walked Ricky to his car. “Drive carefully, and please text me when you get home!”
“I will. Good night, Maya! I’ll drop by the cafe for lunch the day after. I think I’ll just eat lunch at work tomorrow. For sure, marami na akong kailangang gawin. Would that be okay?” Ricky asked, gently caressing Maya’s chin with his thumb.
“Of course, Ricky. We can have lunch at the garden again.” Maya said, then she stood on tiptoe, giving him a quick kiss. “Good night!”
Still reluctant to leave, even if Maya can see from Ricky’s face how tired he already was, he lowered his lips, capturing hers for a quick kiss. Maya reciprocated his kiss, and it turned into something more. It went on and on until Ricky put a stop to it, while he still can. He wished then that Maya and him does not have to part for the night like when they were in Ilocos.
Maya and Ricky shared another kiss before he boarded his car. Maya stared into the night long after Ricky’s car disappeared from the street corner with a big, happy smile on her face.
By the terrace of the house, an old man smiled while sitting on the rocking chair there, observing the whole thing. So, they have found each other again, he thought! He was glad. Had he known and if it was within his power, he would have release her from their engagement to be with the one she loves. He only found out the whole thing when he stumbled upon the journal.
Maya stared at her grandfather’s rocking chair on the way back to the living room. She thought it moved a bit when she passed by. But she thought, that maybe, it was just the wind! She went inside, unconsciously humming the lyrics of an old long song, song that she didn’t realize, she was not really familiar with. She was looking forward to seeing Ricky again. She went to her room, then plopped herself down her big bed with a big smile. She only realized that she had been staring at the ceiling with a dreamy expression for a while when Ricky texted, saying that he was home.
Home now, sweetheart. I do wish that I am with you, just like in Ilocos.
Maya smiled, then texted back.
I wish that too! You will be in my dreams. Good night. I love you!
He replied quickly.
I love you too, more than life itself! And you will be in mine! Good night. See you soon!
Maya and Ricky put their phones down with big smiles on their faces. They seemed to be perpetually smiling these days! Both of them are looking forward to seeing each other again. Both of them strongly believing that their love can weather everything that would come, and that unlike their grandparents’, their love story will indeed have a happy ending, despite the fact that Ricky’s father has something against the Dela Rosa women!
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.
“What are your plans this afternoon, sweetheart?” Ricky asked, as he and Maya were enjoying their coffee and dessert after the delicious food he had.
“Depending on the load here at the cafe, I’m planning to see Emman. I was there this morning but he was sleeping. I also missed the morning ICU visiting hours. One of my day shift staff is absent. But two others will come for the late afternoon to evening shift, so I think I can still make it to the next visiting hours in the hospital.”
“I can drive you there, then we can have dinner later, if you want.” Ricky offered, wanting to be with Maya as much as he could, as the following day he needed to go to back to work as he was already in Manila. For sure, a lot of paper works are waiting for him at his office.
“Don’t you need to rest pa? Halos wala ka pang tulog, Ricky! I can manage naman. I have my car with me.” Maya protested. She really thinks Ricky needs to rest. Ang haba rin kaya ng biniyahe niya pabalik ng Maynila. Besides, hindi pa nga niya nakuhang mag-rest from their Ilocos trip where he did all the driving!
“No, I’m okay, Maya, really. I want to do this. I’ll just rest this evening.” Ricky insisted. “I will go and see my father for a bit, then I can come back for you later in the afternoon. Would that be okay?”
“Sure, but baka kapusin ka sa oras kung may pag-uusapan kayong importante ng Papa mo!”
“I don’t think it would take long. Hopefully, my mother is home as well, parang isang kausap na lang sa kanilang dalawa. I will just tell them that Lorraine and I have broken up almost a month ago, and that there would be no wedding. It is for the best. It is up to Lorraine to tell her parents, but I want my Papa and Mama to learn about it from me.”
“I think it has to be done, immediately, Maya, especially now that we are in a relationship. I want to tell them also about us.”
Maya suddenly felt very nervous, hearing Ricky’s plan, for some reason. “Do you think it will be okay, Ricky? Your family and Lorraine’s very much wanted the marriage. Maybe, they will not take things lightly. Baka it is too soon to tell them about us. We are just started naman. Maybe you can just tell them that you have broken up with Lorraine and saka na about us.”
“No, Maya, I want them to know immediately. I want to neutralize whatever else Lorraine is planning, if ever. Besides, I don’t want my father unwittingly giving out information to her again. My father has always had a soft spot for Lorraine. She is like the daughter he never had, especially after my cousin Bettina died. He was the one who told Lorraine about the beach house.”
“Okay, it is up to you, Ricky. Do what you think is best.” Maya acceded reluctantly. “How about your grandmother, what if she finds out that I am the granddaughter of the Maya Dela Rosa that her husband loved? Would that be okay? She knew about it, I think, as she was the who gave my grandmother the journal. My grandmother wrote about your grandmother’s visit to her. She didn’t say much, though. Her entries were mostly about the extreme sadness she felt at your grandfather’s passing and her love for him, also her narrative of the events that your grandfather had written.”
“Don’t worry about anything, Maya! I’m sure it will be okay. I’m not sure if my grandmother really knew. But I wouldn’t be surprise if she did. But my Lola Sandra is a very nice lady. As for Papa, and also Mama, though Mama does not care much for stuff, really, except her music, they just need to get used to the fact that Lorraine and I can’t be. It is my life, Maya. I’m sure they will come around, especially, when they meet you in a couple of days time or sooner if I can arrange it”.
“Soon? You will introduce me to your parents that soon?” Maya asked, a bit surprise how fast things were happening.
“Yes, I would like to, if it is okay with you. I want to tell them that you are the woman I love very much. I want you to get to know them better too, and I want them to know my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend! Don’t worry about a thing.” Ricky said. “Would that be okay? You can also meet my grandmother, you know. We can go to Batangas one weekend, when Emman is better and spend time with her, and my Lolo Victor.”
“S-sure, Ricky!” Maya managed to say, overwhelmed. “I’m sure my Mom would like to meet you as well, and my Dad when they find out that I already have a boyfriend.”
“I would gladly meet your parents anytime. I want to, very much, actually. When are they coming back from their business trip?”
“I think in two weeks time. Manang Fe said, Mom called and told her several days ago, they might extend their stay in the States and visit some relatives in the East Coast.”
“Okay, just let me know when we will have dinner with them. By the way, our grandparents journal is at my place. I brought it back with me. It was a good thing I put it in a safe place before we left for our road trip as Lorraine stayed in my room while I was away with you!”
“She had assumed too much, Maya.”
“But do you think she will stop now?” She asked.
“I hope so. I think so, but the way she was acting, I am not sure, honestly. But I will not let her bother us anymore, Maya. That I promise you, sweetheart. I’m really sorry I came into your life with this ‘baggage’, this problem. I really wish she would see reason and let us be!”
“Ricky, please do not think about it anymore. It does not matter how you came into my life or if you had a ‘baggage’ with you as you said, the important thing is you came, and you are in my life now, and I’m very happy because of you. The past is over and done with and we have the present and a possible future together to think of, okay?”
“Okay, sweetheart. I will just concentrate on working on our future together and enjoying the present with you. I love you very much.” Ricky gazed at Maya.
“That’s the spirit, sweetheart!” Maya said, with a big smile. “Speaking of the journal, if you would like to continue reading it, you can keep it for a while. I have been meaning to tell you that I have scanned it also, and has made sa PDF copy pala for my iBooks app. I can also send that to you if you would like to have a soft copy.”
“Yes, I would like to have one, Maya. Thanks. I would like to continue reading it, especially the part that you told me, the one that was the same as my nightmare. I think, I will be okay reading that now. Just give me a copy of the PDF file please. I will return the original. I’m nervous keeping the journal with me as I may misplace or damage it accidentally. I will feel better if it is in your safekeeping.”
“Okay, I will just e-mail it to you. Just bring the journal the next time we see each other.” Maya said with a smile. She was about to ask Ricky if he would like another cup of coffee, when Jocelyn approached them, looking frazzled, and asked for Maya’s help.
Jocelyn said there was a sudden influx of customers at the cafe, a coaster of foreign tourists, wanting their coffee and tea and snacks after looking at the gallery upstairs, and she and Henry got swamped. Ricky insisted on helping out, even if it was just to bring the drinks and the food to the customers.
When everything had settled down, Ricky and Maya went back at the garden, drinking their second cup of coffee.
“That was fun, Maya!” Ricky said, happy to have helped Maya. “But I guess with lots of customers, tiring. Good feel tiredness naman.”
“True, kahit nakakapagod, fulfilled naman. Thank you for your help, Ricky.” Then she remembered that Ricky was supposed to see his parents.” Di ba you are going to see your parents pa! Are you not late yet? Huwag mo na akong ihatid sa hospital para makausap mo na sila. Where do they live? Malapit lang ba? We can have dinner at home. Magpapahanda na lang ako ng food! I’ll give you the address! That way, I can drive my car home also.”
“Yes, malapit lang naman dito!” “Ricky said. “Okay, sounds like a plan. What time do I go to your house?“
“Maybe, around 7PM? Is that okay with you?” Maya said, then handed Ricky a piece of paper. “Here’s the address! Just bring the journal some other time, it does not have to be this evening, so you save time.”
“Okay, thanks sweetheart. I better get going if I want to catch Papa at home. I haven’t called, but usually, he does not go out this time of the day.” Ricky said, standing up. “Thank you for the food and I’ll see you later. I love you.”
“See you later, sweetheart.” Maya also stood up. “I’ll text you if there is an adjustment in our dinner schedule. I hope everything goes well with your parents.”
“Thanks, sweetheart. It will. Don’t worry.” Richard kissed Maya one more time, grinning, he said, it is for luck. Then he was off.
Maya sat down on the bench again and took a sip of her coffee. She was feeling a little nervous about Ricky’s parents reaction, especially it was so soon after breaking his long-standing engagement to Lorraine. But she trusts Ricky, and she leaves it up to him. She finished her coffee, then went back to her paper works. She also called Manang Fe and told her they have a guest that evening.
By the time Maya was deep in her paper works, Ricky was sitting in the living room of his parents penthouse unit in a very upscale and very private condominium building. Luckily, his parents were both at home, just like he predicted.
“So, what brings you here, Ricky?” Richie Lim asked his son, while his mother sat beside him, not saying much. His Mom has always been like that, just deferring to his father. But Ricky know it is just her way of pacifying her strong-willed husband. She hates discord. But if she needs to, she can also assert herself. “I thought you and Lorraine are on a vacation. Sinundan nga niya sa Ilocos di ba? Where is she? Bakit hindi mo siya kasama ngayon?”
“Papa, the last time I heard, Lorraine returned to Manila this afternoon. Pinahatid ko siya sa airport.” Ricky said at the same time realizing that Lorraine hasn’t called her father and hadn’t told him what happened. It was a good thing. He wouldn’t put it pass her to run crying to his father and making him believe that she was the aggrieved party.
Manang Auring had texted him while on his way to his parents to say that Manong Sonny had brought Lorraine to the airport in Laoag. “I’m not sure if her flight has arrived here yet.”
“Not sure? Pinahatid? You mean to say, naiwan si Lorraine sa beach house sa Ilocos! You did that? Why Ricky? Why did you leave your fiancée there! First you disappeared without a leave by, then this? What is happening Ricky?”
“Papa, Mama, that’s why I’m here, to tell you that Lorraine and I have broken up, almost a month na po. That’s why I went to Ilocos. She wanted me back, and her been bugging me at work and at home all the time. I thought it was best that I went away for a while. I thought of the beach house in Ilocos. Her trip, the one she told you about was her last-ditch effort to get me back.”
“What….? Bakit ngayon lang namin ito nalalaman ng Mama mo, Ricky! Halos kumpleto na ang preparations sa kasal ninyo.” Richie Lim asked his son. “Sabi naman ni Lorraine, nagkaroon lang kayo ng kaunting tampuhan.”
“Oo nga, hijo.” His mother added. “Does Lorraine’s parents know since the last time I saw her mother, which was several days ago, wala naman siyang nabanggit sa akin.”
“Mama, I don’t think they know. I think the reason why Lorraine wanted to patch things up is because she was afraid of what her parents reaction would be, and not because she loves me.”
“Iyon naman pala, Ricky. Willing naman siyang makipagbalikan eh. Baka you two can still work on your relationship. Ganyan naman talaga, minsan, walang relationship na smoot- sailing parati.” His father insisted.
“Papa, Mama, I’m really, I can’t. Please don’t let me go into details, except that she did something that I can’t forgive. Sa amin na lang ni Lorraine ang details of what happened. It is not reparable. I don’t love her at all, the way two people who will spend forever together should love each other.” Ricky said. “I hope you will understand.”
“But, why Ricky? Isipin mo na lang ang effect nito! The Tans are our close family friends. You and Lorraine suit each other.” Richie Lim told his son, raising his voice about, then turned conciliatory. “Hijo, why don’t you think about it first.”
“Papa, please, there is nothing to think about. Lorraine and I are over….”
“Richie, let our son be….” Mrs. Rosemarie Lim, started, only to be cut by her husband.
“No, I want to put some sense into your son.” Richie Lim said, losing his cool again.
“Papa, nakikiusap ako, just accept it. I don’t love her, period, I realized that ng maaga pa. I think it is the same with Lorraine. Hindi naman niya talaga ako mahal, just the idea of me and because of our families! I know that now since I met the woman whom I love with all my being. ”
“In more than three weeks after you have broken up with someone you have been together for five years, you have fallen in love! That’s implausible! Maybe she is the reason why you broke with Lorraine, in the first place.”
“No Papa, she is not. Matagal na kaming wala ni Lorraine nang makilala ko si Maya by accident. Leave Maya out of this, please.”
“Maya…?” Richie Lim suddenly asked. He never thought that he would hear a name like that again. “Do we know her?”
“Maya Dela Rosa, Papa. I love her very much. I met her in Ilocos. Her family owns the beach house before us.”
“So the past is intruding to the present eh! Correct me if I’m wrong, related siya kay Maya Dela Paz Dela Rosa! Apo? Pamangkin?”
“How did you know about her, Papa?” It was Ricky’s turned to be surprised. “Actually, granddaughter po si Maya ni Mrs. Dela Rosa-Ventura.”
“I know a lot son, but one thing I can tell you, walang magandang dinala sa pamilya natin ang pamilya na iyan. I think you better cut your ties with her, hanggang maaga.”
“Papa! Why are you like that? You are being unfair! Saka kung ano man ang nangyari sa Lola ni Maya and kay Lolo Ricardo, it was in the past. Sobrang tagal na noon. Hindi naman sila nagkatuluyan, ah. If you can only read Lolo Ricardo’s journal.”
“I have, and that is why I don’t think it is a good idea.” Richie Lim stressed. “And that’s all I would say in the matter, please excuse me son, I have an appointment.” Then looking at his silent wife, he said, “Rosemarie, talk some sense into your son!”
Ricky’s father left the house several minutes after. Ricky just sat there in his parents living room, stunned, he never thought that his afternoon would turn out like this!
Somehow, he needed to make his father see reason. It has been five decades or so since his grandfather fell in love with Maya’s grandmother, and the way his father was acting, it seemed like it had happened recently! And where was his resentment coming from? He can’t give up, Maya and he will fight for her.
“I love you very much, Maya!” Ricky whispered to Maya, in between their heated kisses. “Finally we are together again! That was the longest 24 hours of my life!”
Framing his handsome face, and looking at him with all the love she was feeling, she said softly, “I love you very much too, Ricky. I’m so happy that you are here in Manila now!”
Ricky, at first, thought that he just imagined it, or misheard her, then finally it registered what Maya had just said, catching him unawares as he was not really expecting to hear it at that moment. “Maya… you mean…that you…you….?” He had to ask, not really believing he just heard the words he had been wishing he would hear from Maya’s lips soon.
“Yes po, Mr. Ricky Lim. Mahal din kita.” Maya said, giving Ricky a sweet, happy smile, caressing his face gently, and looking at him with all the love she is feeling for this wonderful, wonderful guy!
“Maya, sweetheart, you made me the happiest guy in the whole universe!” Richard hugged Maya tight, then rained in little kisses all over her face, then he swung her around suddenly, laughing as he twirled her around!
“Hahahaha, put me down na, Ricky.” Maya said laughing, her heart full of joy! “You are making me dizzy. Baka tayo ma-fall!”
“Matagal na akong na-fall, Maya!” Ricky said, grinning, teasing her, then he slowly put her down and cupped her beautiful face, kissed again! “I’m sorry, Maya. I got carried away! I’m just so happy. I never expected to hear those beautiful words from you so soon. I wished, of course, very much, often! But I also thought that Lorraine had done something that will make you rethink about loving me and being with me.”
“Ricky, nothing that she will do will change what I feel for you. I almost admitted it to you when you took me home yesterday. Had we had that dinner last night, I would have declared my love for you then, I think!” Maya said with a smile. “I’m just so happy too that you are finally here. And that was the longest 24 hours of my life too. I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“Thank you again, Maya.” Then looking Maya in the eyes, he said, “You know, when I jumped into my car last night to follow you in Manila, my only goal was to be with you, but this is so much better and very wonderful. I didn’t know then what kind of lies Lorraine had fed you! I know you will not believe her, but I just want to be completely sure that we are still okay. Besides, Ilocos was not the same without you! I missed you terribly.”
“I didn’t give much credence to her words, really!” Maya assured Ricky again. Then brows knitted she asked, while still in Ricky’s loose embrace,“Did you get my long message? I have sent you one when I was unable to reach you, explaining everything, about why I needed to return to Manila promptly, and that you shouldn’t worry. I even said, I will just call you and that you can call me when you see my message.”
“Maya, we better sit down, while I explained to you what happened when I got home from the hospital.” Richard said, taking a deep breath. He remembered what Lorraine did and he was still annoyed at her action! He never thought really that she would sink that low!
“Okay, we can sit on the bench over there.” Maya said, pointing to a two-sitter wooden bench at the other side of the small garden, with a matching driftwood table. “Sandali lang, Ricky, I will get you something from the cafe. Coffee, pastries, pasta? What would you like to have! Nag-breakfast ka na ba?”
“Coffee is okay Maya, and some food if it is not too much trouble.” Ricky replied, then sheepishly, he admitted “I haven’t had the chance to drink coffee or eat anything this morning as I wanted to be here as soon as I have rested a bit. Nagbaka-sakali nga lang ako na nandito since sabi ni Manang Miring, may sakit si Emman.”
“What time did you leave Ilocos? And what time did you arrive?” Maya asked, carrying her coffee and flowers to where Ricky and her would sit.
“Well, a little past 10PM, I think, and I arrived home at around 5AM!” Ricky replied, cupping Maya’s elbow and guiding her while they walked the short distance to the bench.
“Five in the morning! That meant you drove all the way, no stopping at all?” Maya looked at Ricky in surprise.
“Well, I stopped just twice for a toilet break and to stretch my legs! I wanted to get back here fast, and before the morning traffic in all the towns I’ll be passing by. I only slept a bit when I got home. I don’t want to look like a fright when I finally get to see you! But I can’t keep still, until I see you again. So here I am. But don’t worry, I’m okay. I don’t feel tired.”
“Oh, Ricky!” Maya felt overwhelmed with Ricky’s gesture, and the fact that he thought of her first instead of food. He even managed to bring her that beautiful bouquet. “So, go and sit, please, and I will get you something to eat.”
“Thank you, Maya.” Ricky taking hold of Maya’s right hand before she went back to the cafe, then giving her one of his devastating smiles that never fails to make her heart beat faster. “I love you.” Then he kissed her hand softly.
“No worries, Ricky. I’m happy to do it. Thank you for loving me. I love you too!” Maya said softly, felt herself flushing, as she is still getting used to the fact that she is exchanging ‘I love yous’ now with Ricky! She touched his face and then she was off to the cafe.
“Ma’am Maya, ang guwapo guwapo naman, and parang ang bango-bango ni Sir! Oh my God, sana ganyan din ang maging boyfriend ko!” Jocelyn blurted out giddily as soon as she saw Maya entered the cafe. “Saka Ma’am ang pa-flowers, ang bongga.”
Maya smiled at Jocelyn. “So tama ang hula ko na ikaw ang kakutsaba ni Ricky sa surprise na pagpunta sa garden.”
“Guilty, Ma’am!” Jocelyn admitted sheepishly. “Pagdating kasi kanina rito ni Mr. Lim, hinanap ka. Papaghintayin ko lang sana sa loob ng cafe, crossed my heart Ma’am kahit gaano siya ka-guwapo sa paningin ko, tapos I will inform you, pero he explained that he came all the way from Ilocos to see you. Eh di ba doon ka galing? Saka Ma’am, in fairness, di ba naman napaka-romantic noon. Parang tinawid ang pitong bundok para sa iyo, makita ka lang. Then, he asked nicely naman if he can surprise you. Kaya hayun, sabi ko nandoon ka sa garden. Abswelto na po ako, Ma’am?”
Maya laughed. “O siya sige, oo na. But please bring Ricky a cup of coffee also, then a blueberry cheesecake and our mushroom truffles pasta.”
“Right on, Ma’am. Balik ka na po kay Sir, and ako na ang bahala.”
“Thank you, Jocelyn.”
“Basta sa love life mo Ma’am, 101 percent ang support ko.”
“Ikaw talaga, para ka nang si Emman magsalita.”
“Basta Ma’am, kapag kulang ka ng bridesmaid, pwede ako. Baka sakaling ako ang makasalo ng flowers mo.” Jocelyn quipped.
“Hahahaha, eh how sure are you na kami na?” Maya teased Jocelyn. She really likes the girl and she is used to her being familiar and her irreverent teasing like this.
“Naku Ma’am, feeling ko na naman kayo na talaga. Tapos kung not ‘yet’ naman, medyo malapit na iyon sa ‘yes’. Isang letter lang kaya ang difference nun, Ma’am.”
“Jocelyn, ang mga napupulot mo talaga diyan sa kaka-online mo! O sige please make Ricky’s food na. Thank you. And please you can still call me kapag na-swamp kayo ni Henry, since absent si Marigold. I’m sure Ricky will not mind me pitching in sa cafe while he is here.”
“Surely Ma’am Maya. I’m really happ for you. Imagine, may napili ka na rin. Maraming magiging miyembro ng Team Sawi kapag nalaman nilang taken ka na!” Then seeing Maya’s mock angry expression, Jocelyn raised her hand, “Okay na talaga Ma’am, last na iyon, off to the kitchen na ako!”
Maya was still grinning when she returned to where Ricky was waiting for her.
“O, why are you grinning!” Ricky asked Maya when she sat down beside him on the bench.
“Ito kasing si Jocelyn, kung ano-anong kalokohan ang nasa ulo. Kaya yata sila nagkakasundo ng husto ni Emman.”
“Jocelyn? The nice girl who told me where you are.” Ricky smiled. “I told her I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, she did admit as much. And you are such a wonderful surprise! I thought medyo matatagalan pa talaga bago tayo magkita ulit. I was getting worried na nga rin na hindi kita matawagan. I called up Manang Miring to get Manang Auring’s number kanina. Then she told me na nagpunta ka nga raw sa bahay! After talking to her, medyo napanatag na ako.”
“Maya, I’m sorry if you got worried. Good thing, that Manang Miring explained everything to you! I thought of texting you while I was on the road, na-drain naman ang phone ko.”
“It is okay Ricky. Manang even called up Rosario when I was unable to reach you still. Then si Manang Auring din tinawagan niya when Rosario was unable to tell her kung saan ka pumunta, and nalaman ko nga na on the way back to Manila ka na. Sobrang thank you ko nga kay Manang Miring, sobrang resourceful. I thought nagpapahinga ka pa. If you haven’t gotten in touch with me by lunch, I was planning to call you again.”
“I have to thank her as well, Maya. I’m really sorry for what had happened, especially with Lorraine! Did she say bad things? Nabastos ka ba niya? After what she had done last night, I would have not put it pass her! Really, Maya, sobrang mali ng pagkakilala ko sa kanya.”
“Well, she was a bit antagonistic towards me, pero hindi naman siya outright na nambastos, or anything. She was, how to put it, indifferent and uncooperative, as if she knew something that I don’t know and she had that over me.”
“I think, my phone! She knew I have left it behind and that you were calling. That was not the only thing she did, Maya! I never thought she would sink that low! But she did!”
“Bakit, what did she do ba?” Maya asked, wanting to know at what extent Lorraine went to, just to get back Ricky, one more time.
“Well, when I got home, I was really surprised that she was there! Naputol lang ang usapan namin noong naaksidente si Manong Tunying. Then I rushed him to the hospital. When I returned after I have been to your house and Manang Miring told me that you went to my place, I asked her what did she tell you. She actually denied at first that you have been there! Then I got my phone to check if you had called or left a message. I was puzzled na wala kang message. Then, wala ring missed calls. I checked my call logs and it was cleaned. Wiped out!”
“Really, but Ricky, I sent you a long message!”
“I know Maya! Lorraine when she was cornered admitted that not only she wiped out my call logs, she also deleted your message! Maya, I barely held on to my temper. But in the end, I realized that it was a waste of energy to get mad at her. Mahirap siyang makaintindi. I packed my bags and just left. I just arranged for Rosario to stay in the house. Kahit paano naman kasi may pinagsamahan kami and she is a friend of the family.”
“She did that! That’s so terrible!” Maya said, and admired Ricky for his patience and concern for Lorraine despite the bad things she did. “But bayaan mo na nga lang si Lorraine, Ricky. I’m sure she will eventually get it. No harm done naman when we met.” She was about to ask something when she saw Jocelyn approaching them.
“Kain ka na muna, Ricky. Jocelyn is here!”
“Hello po ulit, Mr. Lim, Ma’am Maya.” Jocelyn said as she put down Ricky’s tray on the table.
“Hello, Jocelyn. Thank you very much again for earlier, and this.” Riky said, gesturing to the food. “I’m sure these are masarap.”
“Talaga pong masarap iyan, Mr. Lim. Recipe po ni Ma’am iyong pasta.” Jocelyn said. “Sige po maiwan ko na kayo.”
“Thanks a lot, Jocelyn.” Maya said. Jocelyn nodded and with a final wave of her hand, she went back to the cafe.
“Really, sweetheart, this is your recipe?” Ricky said, the endearment just slipping in, naturally.
“Sweetheart…? Maya said, smiling, feeling giddy with the endearment.
“Yes you are, my sweetheart? Bakit ayaw mo ba, sige palitan na lang natin. Anong gusto mong itawag ko sa iyo? Huwag lang darling ha!” Ricky said, giving Maya another of his bone-melting smiles.
“No, Ricky, ‘sweetheart’, is fine, more than fine!” Maya said, softly, then flushing she admitted, “I just have to get used to it. I haven’t called anyone ‘sweetheart’ before, and no one has called me that before, you know.”
Ricky grinned, his love for this wonderful girl, overflowing, taking hold of both of her hands, and slowly caressing them! “Then, get used to it, sweetheart. I’m really a very lucky guy to have you.”
“I’m lucky to have you, Ricky. I know that.” Maya replied, putting her left hand on top of Ricky’s hand. “O you better eat your brunch na. And yes, that is my recipe. One of the things my mother taught me.”
“Thank you, again, sweetheart,” Ricky said lovingly.
“You’re welcome, sweetheart,” Maya replied sweetly, rolling it around her tongue and she liked the feel and sound of the endearment. “Kain na, please. Ayaw ko na nagpapagutom ka.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Ricky said with a grin.
Their eyes met and locked again. Unable to help it, they shared another kiss. They just both felt the strong need to physically connect to each other like that, before Ricky finally answered the call of his grumbling tummy. They chatted in between, enjoying the beautiful morning in each other’s company.
It took several attempts before Maya managed to get out of bed the morning after she arrived back in the house that she had shared with her grandfather. It was strange not seeing her Lolo Jaime at his usual place by the veranda. Even late at night when she goes home from manning the cafe, he was there, waiting for her. She was not yet used to him gone forever! She wondered if she will ever be. She felt extremely sad when she entered the darkened house. But she tried to snap out of it. Maybe, she was just tired, and a bit frustrated that she was unable to reach Ricky.
She checked her phone as soon as she had landed at Terminal 2. There were no messages from Richard! She found it strange since she had sent him a message and his call log would have reflected all her missed calls. That was not like him not to call or text her back! She thought of calling him again, but decided against it as it was already late. She was getting worried too, but didn’t want to think about that. For sure, Ricky is okay. She believed so. Maybe, he just got busy dealing with Lorraine. She took a taxi home. While on the road, she called up and assured Manang Fe again that she was okay and on the way home and she needed not wait up for her. The old lady was not feeling well the past several days. Her voice was still hoarse when Maya called her before boarding the plane in Laoag.
Maya just dropped her bags somewhere in her room, so very tired from her long trip. She took a shower and then plopped herself down the bed. She thought of Ricky and she hoped, before sleep and tiredness claimed her, that he had managed to straighten out things with Lorraine, and that it didn’t get ugly. She hoped Ricky was okay after his latest run-in with Lorraine! She had a feeling that Lorraine was so used to getting her own way, and that, defeat and surrender are words that are not in her vocabulary.
Maya stretched her arms, yawned big, then dragged herself out of her bed. She needed to get going early, and gear up for her long day! She will visit Emman first, then go to Cafe Arts. But before she hit the shower, she retrieved her phone from the bedside table, checking again if Ricky had phone. Still no messages from him! Ano kayang nangyari roon, she muttered, getting really worried. She decided to give Manang Miring a call. Why didn’t she think of it earlier!
“Good morning po, Manang, si Maya po ito! Nandito na po ako sa bahay sa Makati. Nakarating naman po ako ng maayos. Hindi ko na po kayo na-text kagabi. Medyo gabi na kasi, baka tulog na kayo.”
“Ma’am Maya, mabuti po at maayos kayong nakauwi at mabuti rin po at napatawag kayo. Nagkausap na po kayo at ni Sir Ricky?”
“Hindi pa nga po. Medyo worried na nga po ako. Tanong ko nga po sa inyo kung pwede ko makuha iyong cellphone number ni Manang Auring. Baka po kasi alam niya kung nasaan si Ricky. Baka kasi may nangyari sa kanya. Kahapon ko pa po siya hindi ma-contact! Hindi rin po siya tumatawag or nag-text. Hind po kasi ganoon si Ricky, Manang!”
“Okay naman po siguro si Sir Ricky, Ma’am Maya, kasi dumaan pa nga po siya rito kagabi, hinahanap kayo, mga halos dalawang oras po siguro simula noong umalis kayo.”
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano po ang sabi niya? Kumusta naman po siya?”
“Okay naman po siya Ma’am. Mukha lang pagod na pagod. Hindi pa po siguro nakapagpahinga mula sa biyahe ninyong dalawa. Mangyari po, dinala nila ni Manang Auring si Manong Tunying sa hospital kahapon pagkauwi niya sa bahay. Naaksidente po si Manong Tunying habang naglilinis ng alulod, sabi ni Sir Ricky!”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang! Kumusta naman po si Manong Tunying? I hope maayos naman po ang condition niya!”
“Sabi naman po ni Sir Ricky, maayos na si Manong Tunying. Kailangan na lang daw pong ma-confine pa ng ilang araw sa hospital. Iniwan na raw po niya roon si Manang Auring. Dito nga po dumiretso si Sir, galing sa hospital kasi nga raw po, may usapan kayong magdi-dinner sa bahay nila.”
“Naku, good to know naman Manang na okay si Manong. Sayang nga lang po, hindi kami nag-abot ni Ricky.”
“Iyon din po ang sabi ni Sir. Hindi niya rin po pala kayo natawagan kai naiwan daw po niya sa bahay iyong phone niya nang isugod nila si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Kaya po pala hindi ninyo siya ma-contact, Ma’am!
“Oh! Kaya pala, Manang! I’m glad naman po na okay siya. Kaso po Manang, hindi ko pa rin siya ma-contact hanggang ngayon.” Maya said, at the same time, she realized that Lorraine was not very forthcoming with her when she went to Ricky’s place. In fact, she concealed this information from her. What else did she didn’t tell her?
“Ma’am Maya, sandali lang po. Para mapalagay ang loob ninyo, mas mabuti po, tatawagan ko si Rosario, iyong anak nina Manong Tunying at Manang Auring. Siya po kasi ang nandoon sa bahay nina Sir Ricky ngayon habang nasa hospital ang Tatay at Nanay niya. Nabanggit po sa akin ni Manang kanina nung tumawag ako at nangumusta sa lagay ni Manong!”
“Sige nga po, Manang, please. Tatawag po ulit ako, maliligo lang ako.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya. Tawag po ulit kayo.”
Maya proceeded to take a shower. But as soon as she got out of the bathroom and got dressed, she called back Manang Miring, hoping that she has news about Ricky by then.
“Ma’am Maya, good news po, nakausap ko na po si Rosario.” Manang Miring told Maya as soon as she had picked up the call.
“Talaga po, Manang! Ano pong sabi niya? Nandoon po ba si Ricky? Okay lang po ba siya? Manang pasensya na po sa mga tanong, nag-aalala na po kasi talaga ako sa kanya.”
“Ma’am, sabi po ni Rosario, hindi na niya inabutan roon si Sir Ricky. Wala na rin daw po iyong mga gamit. Umalis din daw po kaagad kagabi, gamit iyong kotse niya. Parang hindi na raw po muna babalik doon sa beach house.” Then the caretaker continued, “Bilin lang po ni Sir Ricky na asikasuhin niya kagabi iyong bisita nila at walang kasama roon, saka ipahatid sa airport ngayong umaga.”
Maya was surprised to hear that information. Ricky left last night? Did it mean, he returned to Manila too, after her? She felt her heart hammering against her chest all of a sudden! Glad of the news. Wait, Maya Dela Rosa, baka naman may ibang pinuntahan. However, malakas ang kutob niya na bumalik na ng Maynila si Ricky, kasunod niya. Pero bakit hindi pa siya tumatawag? Baka naaksidente? O baka naman pagod lang sa biyahe, Maya Dela Rosa, or nasa biyahe pa! Ikaw kung ano-ano ang pinag-iisip mo, she admonished herself!
“Ma’am Maya…?” The caretaker asked, breaking into Maya’s runaway thoughts. She didn’t realized that she had just gone silent on Manang Miring.
“Yes po, Manang, nandito pa po ako. Pasensya na po.” She said, then the last part of what her caretaker said, sunk in, as well. Ihatid sa airport! So it meant, Lorraine stayed at the beach house while Ricky left, just like that!
“Tinawagan ko na rin po ulit si Manang Auring, kasi po baka mas alam niya kung nasaan si Sir Ricky. Ipinaliwanag ko rin po na hinahanap ninyo siya. Sabi po niya, bumalik na raw po sa Maynila si Sir Ricky. Nagulat nga po siya, kasi ang alam niya magtatagal pa s Sir Ricky dito sa Ilocos.” Manang Miring said, confirming Maya’s suspicion!
“Manang Miring, sobrang thank you po, sa lahat!” Maya said happily upon hearing that Ricky, indeed cut short his trip and had returned to Manila last night, just like she did. “Hintayin ko na lang pong tumawag si Ricky!”
Maya checked the time and calculating the estimated travel time, if Ricky had left around 10PM, he should have been in Manila by around or before 6AM. She hopes that she gets to see him soon. But if had driven like he did on the way to Ilocos, then he needed his rest. Maya grinned, remembering hers and Ricky’s first meeting. Sa guwapong iyon, napagkamalan niya talang multo. It is really something to tell their children! Maya, children agad? Where did that thought come from? But still, she grinned! Just very happy with the thought that Ricky is okay and they are in the same city!
“Walang anuman po, Ma’am.” Manang Miring replied, then added, “Sana po magkita na kayo ni Sir Ricky. Para po kasing ang lungkot niya kagabi nang hindi niya kayo naabutan.”
“For sure po, Manang, magkikita kami noon. Maraming salamat po ulit. Paki-padalhan nga po pala ng prutas si Manong Tunying. Kunin ninyo na lang po iyong pamibili sa iniwan kong budget natin sa bahay.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. Magpapabili na lang po ako kay Manong Sonny paghatid niya kay Ms. Lorraine sa airport. Ipapadaan ko na rin sa hospital.” Manang Miring said. “Sana po makabalik kayo ulit dito.”
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, Manang. I will. Kayo na po muna ang bahala diyan. Kung may kailangan po kayo, i-text ninyo lang ako or tawagan ninyo rito sa bahay si Manang Fe.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Then before she ended the call, the caretaker said, and Maya can sense the smile in her voice, “Sana po magkatuluyan kayo ni Sir Ricky. Bagay na bagay po kayo!”
“Manang, ikaw talaga!” Maya said, laughing, before she ended the call from her end.
With something like spring on her feet, Maya got moving fast after the phone call. She changed into her favorite comfy clothes, ripped jeans and loose blouse, and slip-on sneakers! Then went down to greet Manang Fe and chatted with her. Manang still had a bit of a cold, but she insisted that she’s okay. She also insisted on Maya eating breakfast first before she goes to hospital and visit Emman.
Maya told Manang Fe a bit of her trip North while she was eating the omelette she had made for her. She also asked Manang if it is okay that she ask a couple of questions about her Lola Maya, later that evening. The old lady nodded. Sometimes, when Manang Fe looks at the young Maya, she felt like she was looking at her beloved Señora Maya, and even most of their mannerism are the same! It was uncanny!
Maya left for the hospital an hour later. Emman was still in the ICU but his mother said he was improving steadily. Since it was not yet visiting hours, Maya was unable to talk to him. She just told her Tita Roni that she will come back later in the day.
She then proceeded to Cafe Arts. She realized how much she had missed the place, when she gazed at it after parking her car in her usual spot. She entered the bustling cafe, greeted their regulars and then looked for Jocelyn, the staff she and Emman would like to groom as their assistant manager. Jocelyn was so happy and relieved to see Maya. Over a cup of her favorite caffe americano, Jocelyn updated Maya on how the cafe had been the past several days, when Emman was unable to report anymore due to his recurring fever and hospitalization.
“Thank you for holding the fort, Jocelyn! You did a very good job! Hindi mo na pala ako kailangan. Gawa lang ako ng checks and then babalik na ako sa bakasyon ko sa Ilocos.” She teased Jocelyn, in between sips of her coffee.
“Ma’am Mayaaaa, noooo, please!!! Baka sumunod na ako kay Sir Emman sa hospital for a different reason. Nervous breakdown ang sa akin!” Jocelyn said, smiling!
“Hahahaha, biro lang. I’m back for good.” Maya said. “Tulong na lang tayong dalawa dito sa Cafe Arts habang nasa hospital pa si Emman.”
“Of course po. Thank you Ma’am!” Jocelyn said happily. “I’m so glad you are back, Ma’am. Welcome back talaga! And with matching imaginary cartwheels iyan Ma’am.”
“Hahahaha! O sige, balik ka na sa counter. I’ll just be in the back garden, doing my paperwork. The weather is nice and I don’t want to be cooped up in my office.”
“Sige po, Ma’am. May kailangan pa po ba, kayo? More coffee with a slice of cake, or pastries?”
“Hmmm, wala na for now! But have Henry bring me another cup of caffe americano in an hour, and a blueberry cheesecake!”
“Okay po Ma’am. Ako na po ang magdadala. I’ll also bring some of the papers that need your signature. Aayusin ko lang po.”
“Thanks Jocelyn. Bahala ka na sa labas, ha! But if there are a lot of people and you need me, just holler, okay!”
“Yes Ma’am, will do.”
Several minutes after, Maya was at her special place, with her laptop, and a stack of sales reports in front of her, as well as contracts for review on some exhibits that the gallery will handle. She sat down and inhaled the late morning air. It does not feel like she is in the city, while she sits at the garden. She knows Ricky will like it there. She hopes he gets enough rest. She is also a bit excited and looking forward to seeing him again, hopefully soon! She buckled down to work, with that in thought!
She was so engrossed in the report she was reading, when a slight movement behind her broke into her concentration. Thinking that it was just Jocelyn, she didn’t look up right away.
“Is it an hour already, Jocelyn? Please put my food and coffee na lang on the table. Thanks a lot ha. Saka iyon palang mga kailangan ko i-sign, nasaan na.” She said in between jotting down a note at the edge of the current report she was reading. She didn’t notice at first that there was no reply from Jocelyn.
She suddenly looked up, heart pounding fast, when a tray was placed on top of the documents she was reviewing, and on it, aside from her coffee and cake, was a beautiful bouquet of red roses and sunflowers! And she saw what she had been hoping to see!
“Hello, Maya!” Ricky greeted Maya, giving her one of his bone-melting smiles. For someone who had traveled throughout the night, he looked rested and as handsome as ever. He was also gazing like he hasn’t seen her in months, instead of just 24 hours!
“Ricky!!!” Maya exclaimed, getting out of her chair very fast that she almost toppled down the coffee he brought, so happy to see him! She launched herself to him, without thinking, and then hugged him tight. “I’m so happy to see you.”
“Me too, Maya, me too! I’m so happy to see you!” Ricky said, hugging her tight, at the same time, caressing her hair. “I miss you very much.”
Maya loosen her hold a bit, then looked at Ricky’s handsome face, she touched it gently with both hands, not quite believing still that finally he was there. “Me too, Ricky, I miss you so much.”
They gazed at each other intently, as if memorizing each other’s beloved face, that they missed so much in the short time that they have parted. It felt like ages! It was not enough for both of them. Ricky lowered his head, and captured Maya’s lips for a searing kiss, that was followed by another, and another. They forgot where they were. Their awareness was concentrated on the fusing of their lips. It felt like they have waited for it, forever!
“Bakit kaya hindi sumasagot si Ricky?” Maya asked herself as she put her phone down on her bed. “Baka naman nakatulog! Pupuntahan ko na lang siya bago ako umalis.”
Maya went back to sorting out and putting her clothes and her other stuff in her suitcase. She needed to return to Manila. Emman is in the hospital. He has dengue. Half an hour after she returned from her trip with Ricky, and while she was enjoying the cup of coffee that Manang Miring brewed for her, her phone rang. It was Emman’s mom on the phone.
Veronica Castro told Maya that Emman requested her to call to inform her that he has dengue. Emman’s mom, Tita Roni, told Maya that his condition is serious as it took several days before Emman dragged himself to the hospital to have a blood test. He basically ignored his recurring fever. Luckily, it was not yet too late for him. He was having blood transfusion that afternoon.
Maya told Tita Roni that she would return to Manila as soon as she can arrange a flight. She went online after that and luckily, managed to book a seat on the last flight from Laoag that evening. If not, she was planning to take the bus back. She wanted to be with Emman, and she know that Emman insisted that his mother phone her, because one of them has to be at the cafe. They have a staff who can man Cafe Arts, but she is not yet capable of handling their day-to-day operations single-handedly, longer than a day. Likewise, only Emman and she, can sign checks for their employees payroll and for paying the suppliers, and it was almost the end of the month.
When she was finished packing, she looked for Manang Miring. She found the older lady in the garden. “Manang Miring, sasaglit lang po ako kina Ricky. Hindi kasi siya sumasagot sa phone. Magsasabi lang po ako na alis na ako mamaya. Dapat po kasi doon ako magdi-dinner.”
“Sige po, Ma’am Maya.” Manang Miring replied. “Okay na nga po pala iyong sasakyan ninyo papuntang Laoag. Mabuti po at hindi bumiyahe pala ngayon ang sasakyan ng pinsan ko. Pagbalik ninyo po, nandito na si Kuya Sonny.”
“Salamat po ng marami, Manang.”
Maya opted to rent a vehicle to take her to the airport instead of requesting Ricky to take her. He has already driven a lot the past several days. Then if he takes her, he needed to return pa to the beach house. It is too much for him as the trip to the airport is more than an hour from where they were, in the evening.
She walked to Ricky’s place via the beach. When she arrived at the entrance to the Lim property, she immediately saw someone sitting on the veranda, engrossed in something she was reading. Maya’s heart lurched. Even before the lady looked up and gave her an initial curious stare, she knew who she is! So, Lorraine found Ricky after all, she thought to herself!
She took a deep breath and in the most calm manner she could summoned from deep within her, she approached Ricky’s ex-fiancee. Lorraine stared at her intently as she approached. Maya saw a pretty, sophisticated, and not exactly very friendly woman, waiting for her to reach the veranda. Lorraine looked familiar. She had seen her before. Ricky’s ex-fiancee tilted her head a bit, and it was than that Maya suddenly remembers a weird play Emman dragged her to one evening. Lorraine was one of the actresses in that play she had to endure for almost three hours.
“Hi! Good afternoon! I’m Maya, Maya Dela Rosa, I’m looking for Ricky.” Maya said with a polite, friendly smile. “Nandiyan ba siya?”
Lorraine looked closely at the beautiful, poise girl before her. As she had watched her approach, she knew instinctively that she was her rival in Ricky’s affection. Most probably, she was the girl with Ricky on that nearby. She lives nearby pala! Ricky just returned and now this girl suddenly showed up here from the direction of the beach! Siguro dito sila nagkakilala.
“Lorraine Tan, I’m Ricky’s fiancee!” She told the girl, whom she now remembers was the name of Ricky’s caller earlier. “Honey is not here at the moment. Just tell me why you are looking for him and I will relay it to him when he returns.”
“Nice to meet you Lorraine.” Maya said politely, offering her hand to Lorraine which she ignored, whether deliberate or not, she was not so sure.” May I speak with Manang Auring na lang, if Ricky is not around.”
“Wala rin siya. I’m the only one here.” Then in a voice tinged with annoyance, Lorraine said, “Why can’t you just tell me what you want, anyway. I told you I’m his fiancée. Do you doubt me. By the way, who are you in Ricky’s life?” She also asked point-blank.
“Oh, I’m a friend of Ricky’s.” Maya said simply, seeing the hostility in the other girl’s eyes.
“Friend…? Really?” Lorraine asked with a raised eyebrow. “Parang hindi na naman niya nababanggit sa akin.”
Maya decided then that she does not have time for this, and all the hostility coming from Lorraine. She really needed to leave or she would be late for her flight.
“It’s okay, Lorraine, I’ll just call Ricky again.” Maya said calmly. “If he returns, please just tell him also that I dropped by. I have to get going. Thank you.”
“Yeah, just do that.” Lorraine said, sounding uninterested at Maya’s plight. In her mind, she was thinking, do that, and he will not answer you still. She deliberately didn’t tell Maya that Ricky accidentally left his phone in the house.
Maya left through the direction she came from. Lorraine saw her took out her phone again. She went inside to check. Several seconds later, Ricky’s phone rang. She smiled. She heard a beep from it after it stopped ringing. She got the phone and shamelessly read Maya’s long text message to Ricky.
“So, she is returning to Manila. Good riddance!” Lorraine muttered. She looked at the phone, tinkered with it, deleted Maya’s message. She also went to Ricky’s call logs and ‘cleaned’ it. Ha, all is fair in love and war and Ricky loved her first than that girl. She loves him despite the wrong choices she had made recently and she will fight for him to the end and no slip of a girl will get him from her, and their long history.
Maya left for Laoag with Manang Miring’s cousin several minutes after she returned to the beach house. She was a puzzled where Ricky is, especially after seeing Lorraine residing comfortably in his grandfather’s beach house, and why he was not answering his calls. At least she had left a message for Ricky explaining her unscheduled return to Manila. Baka his phone is on silent mode na naman like what happened when they were on their road trip. She is sure that Ricky will get in touch with her as soon as he can, especially since they were supposed to have dinner. Baka may pinuntahan lang na importante, or emergency, and Lorraine was just refusing to tell her. Judging by Lorraine’s attitude, mukhang di naman si Ricky ang may emergency.
Maya understand that Ricky needed to deal with Lorraine also. In the short time, she had known him, he had been honest with him. She also does not doubt what Ricky feels for her. She does not have enough proof, having known him in such a short time, but she just knows that Ricky loves her and that everything he said about falling in love in a short time is true. She feels it deep in her heart. Kampante naman siya kay Ricky. Maya said goodbye to Manang Miring and promised her that she will come back again as soon as she can.
More than two hours after Maya left for Laoag, Ricky finally was able to leave the hospital. Manong Tunying will be confined there for several days as he has concussion, broken shoulders and legs. The doctor told them that Manong was lucky because mababa lang ang kinalalagyan niya ng bumagsak and he fell on the sandy part of the garden.
He went straight to Maya’s house instead of his own, hoping that he can still catch her there. He wished that he had memorized Maya’s cellphone number so he could at least borrow a phone while waiting earlier. He does not know the landline number in Maya’s place, either.
“Manang Miring, magandang gabi po, si Maya po.” Ricky greeted the caretaker as soon as she opened the gate after he rang the bell.
“Naku, Sir Ricky, kayo po pala. Hindi po ba kayo nagkita pala ni Ma’am Maya kanina? Nagpunta po siya sa bahay ninyo para sabihin na kailangan niyang bumalik ng Maynila kasi may dengue po si Sir Emman, iyong business partner niya sa negosyo niya. Ipinahatid ko nga po sa pinsan ko sa airport para sa last flight pa-Maynila. Tinawagan niya po kayo sa phone ninyo. Nung hindi kayo sumasagot, naglakad po siya sa beach papunta sa inyo.”
“Ganoon po ba, Manang. Dinala ko po kasi si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Nahulog sa hagdan habang nagkukumpuni ng bubong.” Ricky replied, at the same time, it registered in his brain that Maya has been to the house and that she and Lorraine had probably met!
Before he can asked the caretaker for additional information, she asked worriedly. “Naku, kumusta naman po si Kuya Tunying?”
“Medyo okay naman po siya. Napilay po ang balikat at medyo masakit pa ang buong katawan. Inoobserbahan po muna siya sa hospital kasi nabagok ang ulo niya nung nahulog.”
“Naku, sana naman po, wala nang ibang epekto. Di bale po, Sir, tatawagan ko na lang si Ate Auring, baka kasi may kailangan silang mga gamit.”
“Okay na po, Manang. Pinapunta na rin doon ni Manang iyong isang anak niya to help her our and to get things for they stay in the hospital. Sige po, uuwi na muna ako sa bahay. Tatawagan ko na lang po si Maya.” He also wanted to ask Manang how was Maya when she left. Was she upset, sad or annoyed? But he felt that if would just invite more questions and curiosity on the part of the caretaker. Besides, she may not be able to tell him, anyway.
“Sige po, Sir. Talaga pong hindi umalis ang batang iyan nang hindi nakakapunta sa inyo. Baka raw po kasi maghintay kayo. Pero mamaya ninyo na po tawagan kasi po nakalipad na po siya ngayong mga oras na ito.” Manang Miring said, checking the time.
“Sayang po, hindi ko na siya inabutan. Naiwan ko po kasi ang phone ko sa bahay kanina nung dinala namin si Manong Tunying sa hospital. Sana po ako na ang naghatid sa kanya sa airport. I will call her na lang po as soon as soon as she had landed in Manila.” Ricky said, calculating the time on when he can do so. “Sige po, Manang, mauuna na po ako. Thank you po.”
When he reached his home, Ricky took a deep breath before he entered the house, as if preparing himself for another round of battle with Lorraine. He already missed Maya terribly. He also needs to deal with a Lorraine in such a way that she will finally able convinced that they are really, really over. He was not worried that Maya met Lorraine as he had told her about his ex-fiancee. He was more concerned on what kind of lies and poison, Lorraine in her current state of mind, had tried or had fed Maya. What kind of damage she tried to inflict? Was she even civil to Maya?
“Hi Ricky!” Lorraine greeted from the direction of the living room. She stood up from where she was watching TV. “Are you hungry? I made dinner. Sandali lang ha, I will just heat the food for you. Kumusta pala si Manong Tunying!” She said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Lorraine, what did you say to Maya?” Ricky asked instead of answering Lorraine’s question. “Manang Miring said she went here earlier.”
“Maya…? Maya who? And who is Manang Miring? Di ba Auring ang pangalan ng caretaker ninyo?” Lorraine asked, playing innocent, confident that she had removed all traces that Maya has been here and that she had tried to reach Ricky. “Wala naman akong narinig na naghanap sa inyo. I rested in your room after you left.”
“Really?” Ricky asked, not really believing her. Then the second part of what she said, registered. “Resting in my room? And why are you using my room? Didn’t Manang put in you in the guest room?”
“Well, why not. We are about to get married, and as if we haven’t shared a room before.” Lorraine said nonchalantly. “I told her I will use your room since that’s what we have been doing at ikakasal na naman tayo. Besides, do I need to justify my preference to her din kasi?”
“Lorraine!” Ricky said, trying to control his temper at Lorraine’s bullheadedness. “Ah never mind!” He decided to deal with her later. He looked for his phone. Maybe, Maya left a message for him.
Ricky found his phone among the things he had dropped on the sofa earlier. He checked his messages. No messages from Maya! Strange! So unlike the Maya he had come to know. No missed calls either and that kind of had him thinking as Manang Miring told him that Maya called him. He checked his call logs and found it empty. He looked at Lorraine.
“Lorraine, what have you done?” Ricky said, still trying to hold on to his temper. “I don’t want to accuse you of anything really, but I found my call logs empty! I haven’t touched that since last week. Did you mess with my phone?”
“Ha, baka, there is a virus lang in your iPhone. Nabura lahat ng call logs mo. You know naman all these smartphones, feeling nila mas smart pa sila sa owner nila!” Lorraine said, fidgeting, realizing that she made a tactical mistake when she deleted the logs.
Ricky knew then that Lorraine has not changed and will not change at all that she was lying through her teeth again. She was like that when he caught her in the act with that actor and the drugs.
Lorraine knows that tone of voice too. If she has to recover from her blunder and to get to Ricky’s good side, she needs to come clean!
“Okay, okay, that girl came here looking for you after trying to reach you. Your phone rang several times before she came through the beach. I introduced myself as your fiancée, then asked her to leave a message with me since you were not here.”
“Then….” Ricky asked, holding on the tiny thread of control he still has.
“Well, she didn’t leave any, just left.” Lorraine said. “Nung wala ka, umalis na. Wala naman siyang ibang sinabi.”
“That’s it?” Ricky asked. “It’s so unlike Maya to not leave a message or send me a text message, unless you did something bad that she is needed to run away from the situation.”
“Well, she is just returning to Manila! What’s the big deal? Sino ba kasi iyon? Don’t tell me, bago mong girlfriend. We just broke up. Ano iyon, your major rebound girlfriend?” Lorraine said, taking the agressive stance.
“Wait, wait, wait, how did you know that she was going back to Manila kung wala naman pala siyang ibang sinabi sa iyo?” Ricky asked, getting very suspicious.
OMG, Lorraine, you and your wits! Lorraine felt like banging her head against the wall with all the miscalculations that she made that evening.
“Errrr, she left you a long text message.” She reluctantly admitted. “I was jealous so I deleted it, before I deleted the call logs.”
Ricky lost it. In a very calm manner, he said, “Lorraine, how could you? You used to be a decent human being!”
Lorraine knew than that he was very angry at what she did. “Ricky, sorry! Please, I only did it because I was so jealous of her. I love you very much and I will do everything to save what we have. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Lorraine, you have lost me long before Maya came to my life and there is nothing to save! How many times do I have to tell you that. And it is not love anymore if you can’t see reason and if you are hurting other people, thinking only of yourself. I pity you.” Ricky didn’t mince words. “Feel free to stay in this place. I will arrange for your transportation in the morning. I’m really sorry it has to be like this.”
With that, he went to his room, and hastily packed his bags. He was about to leave the room, when he remembered his and Maya’s grandparents journal. Thank God, he put it somewhere safe before he went on vacation with Maya. Several minutes after, he was in the living room again.
“Wait, where are you going?” Lorraine asked, panicking a bit, seeing Ricky carrying his bags.
“I’m leaving. You should be okay here. I will send for our caretaker’s other daughter to be with you. She lives nearby. Her name is Rosario.” Ricky said, having made up his mind, he felt calmer. Despite coming there uninvited, Lorraine is still the daughter of a family friend and they had shared some good times together. But he refused to tell her where he is going. “Good bye, Lorraine. I hope you realized that this is really the end for the two of us. I love Maya, very much and I want a future with her.”
Lorraine just stood there, shocked at what she heard, and at Ricky’s tone when he declared his love for that girl. It was different, very, very different.
Ricky loaded his things into the car, took a deep breath, called Manang Auring, explained that he will leave the beach house at that moment, and requested that she send Rosario to the house for Lorraine. He also requested her to have Rosario arrange Lorraine’s transportation to the airport in the morning. He also told Manang Auring that he will take care of Manong Tunying’s hospital bills. Having done that, he got into the car and started his long journey back to Manila. He had decided to follow Maya, instead of just calling her when she reach Manila. He does not care if he has to drive all night, nonstop, just to be with her again!