Posts Tagged It takes two to tango
Richard Lim scanned the area where he was supposed to meet Seth Dela Rosa for a drink, looking for a parking space. It was difficult enough driving in the city after being away for several years. It turned out, looking for a parking space was more challenging, especially on a Friday night, at the current ‘in’ watering hole of yuppies and the idle rich kids.
He was about to call Seth to suggest a new place, when suddenly someone left, and a parking space right in front of the bar got freed up. He parked his father’s BMW carefully. He knew he would not like it if even make a tiny dent on his beloved car. He still have not gotten around to getting his own car even after several months back in the country. Anyway, his father has several cars so Richard didn’t see any need to immediately acquire one of his own.
Richard was really planning on making a life in America after his studies, and he had started to, when his father asked him to return. He wanted to groom him as his successor. He told him he is the future of the company. Richard thought it was exciting. It was a challenge he wanted to sink his teeth into, so he packed his bags and left a promising career in Wall Street to return to the land of his birth.
However, his expectations and ideals were turning to be different from reality. He had discovered that his father’s management style and business practices were completely opposite of his. But since, it has just been several months, he still would like to give his father the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. He hoped that he and his father will find a common ground soon. Otherwise, he would be left with only one option – go back to America and forge his way into the business world on his own.
Deafening music and loud conversation assaulted Richard when he entered the popular bar. It was his first time there. He rarely went out since his return as he got busy with Lim Corporation. He only goes out when Seth persuades him. He had already declined him twice in the week. But since that night was a Friday, and he sensed a desperation in Seth, he had said yes.
Seth Dela Rosa is a childhood friend. His best buddy! Their mothers were childhood friends in Negros. They went to the same boys high school and both of them went to a university in California for their business degrees, and Harvard for their post-graduate studies. While Richard stayed in the States after their studies, Seth returned to the Philippines to manage his family’s business. He would have liked to have stayed in America like Richard, but his father would not have it. As an only boy – though he has a sister who is ten years younger than him, and which Richard hasn’t met yet – his father, like Richard’s would like him to take over the family business when he retires.
Richard scanned the huge, dimly lit bar, unaware of the interested stares he was getting from the ladies. He found his friend sitting at the bar, with his arm slung over the shoulders of a skimpily clad girl. He thought his friend would be alone. He said he wanted to sound him off on something.
“Seth bro, I’m here.” Richard said tapping his friend’s shoulder to call his attention over the din of the current rave music shaking the place.
Seth looked at Richard with glassy eyes. “Ricky, bro! I’m glad you are here. Have a seat. By the way, this is….” Then he stopped, lost for words. “What is your name again, honey?”
The girl who looked like she had a bit of a drink too, pouted. “Awww, Seth, sweetie, you forgot already. It’s Giselle!”
“G-giselle….Beautiful name, honey, meet my friend Ricky, my best buddy, my bro.” He slurred. “Ricky, this is Giselle. She is a dancer, right darling, on TV? On that popular show, can’t remember the name, sorry sweetie!”
Giselle looked at Richard, noticed how extremely good-looking he is, and his uninterested gaze. She deemed it a challenge to make him react to him like most males she met. Instead of accepting his proffered hand, she hugged him tight and gave him a smack on the lips. “Nice to meet you, Ricky, so very nice.” She said in her kittenish voice, but there was no reaction from him.
“Giselle, baby girl, I thought I am the love of your life this evening.” Seth complained, kissing Giselle on the neck, which made her giggled, in what Richard would describe as a grating manner!
“Of course, darling boy, you are. Just want to be friendly, also with your handsome friend. In fact…” Giselle gestured for Seth to lowered his head. She whispered something to him which had him smiling naughtily. He nodded.
“What?” Richard asked his friend, his brows knitted. He had taken an instant dislike on that flirty girl with Seth. He had his share of conquest and one night stands when he was into clubbing in New York, but he lost the taste for it when he returned to the Philippines. He had read her type right away.
“Well, my girl just offered to make us happy, together at my place.” Seth said, grinning. “You know….”
Richard stared at his friend and the girl with a coquettish grin besides Seth. “No, I’m not interested and I’m not into that. You had so much to drink, Seth. Come, I think it better to take you home.”
Richard got off the bar stool and was about to escort his friend out of the bar, when Giselle stopped him. “I’m going home with him. Di ba, darling boy?” She said in a determined manner, then kissing Seth on the lips.
“Yes, Ricky, she is going home with me. When did you enter the priesthood?” Seth taunted Richard. “You used to be so much fun. Now, you are prig and a prude.”
Richard let it passed. He knew that his friend was not in complete control of his faculties and this was not the first time this thing happened since he returned. He also had an idea on what set off his friend again. Not wanting to make a scene, he offered to drive Seth and his lady friend for the night to his place. It was the best he could do. At least, he will be safe home, to indulge in whatever he wanted to indulge with that evening.
Several minutes after, they have arrived at Seth’s building. It was a relief to be there as Seth and his lady friend had started to make out at the back seat of the car. The girl’s giggling was already giving Richard a headache. Seth drunkenly thanked him when he and Giselle got up. While Giselle on the other hand, tried again to persuade to go up with them. He looked at her with a stern face and told her an emphatic NO.
That was the last he saw of Seth for two weeks. Until one evening, when he received a frantic call from him, asking him if he could stay in his place. He agreed.
Several minutes after he got into his place in BGC, Seth spilled the beans. He was in trouble, big, big trouble. Giselle, in turned out, is the mistress of a powerful and notorious businessman who had entered politics in the last election. He told Richard the name, and even he agreed that Seth dug a big hole for himself by tangling with that guy. The guy found out that Giselle spent days with him and he was fuming mad. He dragged Giselle out of his apartment and threatened to kill Seth.
In the beginning, Seth told him, when nothing happened several days after that incident, he got confident and went on with his life until one evening when he got of the bar they have been to in BGC, a group of guys mauled him. They also told him it was just the beginning as their boss does not forget any insult or slight done to him. The evening he called Richard, he saw the same group of guys outside his building.
“Bro, maybe it is better if you lie low for a while. Why don’t you go to Negros? At least, that guy can’t touch you there. You can manage the business from there also, di ba?” Richard suggested to his friend as they drank beer at the balcony of his place.
“I don’t like to do that, bro even if I can do that easily. You know my father and all his impossible expectations. At least, when I’m in the Manila office, I can avoid him.” Seth muttered, sighing and drinking his beer fast. It was his fourth for the night to Richard’s second.
“But what do you prefer, end up in a ditch or lie low for a while?” Richard told his friend bluntly. “You know the reputation of that guy. I hope he will meet his match soon, but not at your expense.”
Seth nodded. He told Richard he would think about it. The following morning, he asked Richard to book a ticket to Bacolod for him. Richard also took him to the airport, just to make sure that nothing happens to him.
For a month, he didn’t hear from Seth. He would have love to talk to him over several bottles of beer also as his father was driving him nuts with his stubbornness. He wanted to get away from him, even for a while. He just needed some time to himself to think things through. He never thought that salvation would come from his mother.
“Son, why don’t you go with me to Negros?” Esmeralda Lim suggested one evening after he had dinner with his parents and he and his father ended up in an argument again. His father retreated to his study. He stayed with his mother and had coffee with her. “You haven’t been there since you were a kid. Come samahan mo na ang Mama.”
“Why are you going to Negros, Mama?” Richard asked. She hasn’t mentioned any plans of going there before. His mother also seldom go the family home there. She was busy playing hostess to Roberto Lim’s numerous parties and business luncheons.
“Oh, I will attend a birthday party. Maya will have her debut in several days! She is the daughter of your Tita Tessie and Tito Arthur, remember. She is like a daughter to me also. Di ba, Seth is there also? Tessie mentioned that he is working at their main headquarters there. You can catch up with him. Take a week off from work. Maybe things will be better between you and your Papa when you return.”
Richard looked at his mother in surprise.
“Son, why look so surprised? I know what has been going on with you and your Papa.” Esmeralda Lim told her son. “Come, it will do you good to relax a little bit.”
Staring at his mother’s beautiful garden, Richard continued sipping his coffee. His mother has a point. Besides, he hasn’t taken vacation or a break in months. He sometimes work weekends too just to keep up with the demands of his father and watch over his actions. Maybe he can also take this time to think, on whether he will continue working for LC or going back to the States.
“Okay, Ma. I will go with you. When do we leave? Where are we staying?”
“We will stay at the family home. I already asked Fe to call the caretakers to open the house. And we leave on Thursday. The party is on Saturday. I will ask my secretary to book us flights. Kasama natin si Fe! Pagkakataon na rin niyang makauwi ang mabisita ang pamilya niya!”
“When are you and Manang Fe planning to return, Mama?” Richard asked, thinking fast.
“Well, I was originally planning on staying a week. But I think I would like to stay longer, around two to three weeks. How about you son?”
“I think I will stay as long as you are, Mama. I can spend sometime with Seth and also check on our office there. I think that would be okay with Papa. That way, wala na rin kaming masyadong maging argument.”
“That’s great son! Meet your Papa halfway please. I know that he could be a difficult person, but just be patient with him. He had been under tremendous pressure from his board to deliver.” Esmeralda implored.
Richard sighed. “I’m trying, Mama. You know how hard I’m trying.”
“I know son. I know.” Esmeralda tousled her son’s head, like she used to do when he was a little boy. “You are a good son, Ricky.”
“Thanks Mama.” Richard placed his cup on the table. “ I should get going Mama since we are leaving in two days, I need to finish all my pending work, meet with Papa on this, and pack.”
“Okay, son. I’ll call you tomorrow for our flight details.”
Richard drove back to his place after saying goodbye to his mother and talking to his father about the trip. To his surprise, he readily agreed to it. He said, he will e-mail him a list of what he needs to do at their Bacolod office.
Early Thursday morning, mother and son, with Esmeralda Lim’s assistant Fe landed at the Bacolod Airport. They were picked up by a company driver and taken to the family home in Talisay. The caretakers where waiting for them by the driveway.
“Salome, Isidro, good to see you again. How are you? How’s everything here?” Esmeralda Lim greeted her family’s long-time caretakers warmly. They have been with the Valderama, her mother’s family since they were newly weds, decades ago. “It is really good to be back.”
“Magandang umaga po Donya Esmeralda, Senorito Richard. Natutuwa po kami at napasyal kayo ulit dito sa Talisay. Medyo matagal-tagal na rin mula ng naparito kayo.” Manang Salome said.
“Naku, oo nga, Salome, masyadong busy. Lalo naman itong si Ricky. Bata pa ng huling mapunta rito. Tingnan mo ngayon, binatang-binata na. Magte-trenta na, ayaw pa akong bigyan ng apo.”
“Mama, ikaw talaga. I’m still too young to get married. I’m just enjoying life muna.” Richard said, smiling. “Hello po Manang Salome, Manong Isidro. I remember you taking care of me when I was young, Manang. It’s good to be back po.”
“Hay naku, hijo, feeling ko may tungkod na ako bago ako magkaapo sa iyo.” Esmeralda Lim quipped. “Tara na nga sa loob at ng makapagpahinga.”
Richard chose the room towards the back of the house. As soon as he got settled, he called Seth, who was very happy to hear from him. They talked for a while. His friend seemed happier in Negros even if he was working alongside his father. They agreed to meet the following day, around dinnertime, in the Fernandez ancestral house, Tessie Dela Rosa’s family’s home for generations.
Richard spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was very nice to be not doing anything for a change. He just enjoyed the quiet. Mostly, he read a book in his room. He loves to read, but lately, due to the demands of his father on his time, he had neglected it. Manang Salome and Manang Fe prepared a feast for dinner with they enjoyed very much.
The following morning, he woke up early. He was having breakfast with his mother when she received a call. She excused herself and returned several minutes after.
“Ricky, that was your Tita Tessie…” Esmeralda Lim started, then forged on. She had an inkling that she needed all her persuasive powers with the favor she will ask of her son. “Errrr, she would like to ask you a favor, a very big favor and she would, and me also well, will be eternally grateful if you will say yes, hijo!”
“What favor, Mama? Of course, if there’s anything I can do for Tita Tessie.” Richard likes his Tita Tessie and he remembered her cooking lots of delicious Filipino food when she visited Seth and him in Boston. She is also his mother’s bestfriend.
“She is asking if you will be one of Maya’s 18 roses ceremony. Nagkasakit kasi iyong isang kaibigan na lalaki ni Maya.” Esmeralda Lim looked at her son beseechingly. “Do it for her na son, please, and also for Maya.”
“Mama, I’m too old na for that. Bakit kasi kailangan pa ng ganyang seremonya!” Richard protested. “Mama, ibang favor na lang please, hwag lang iyan.”
“Ricky son, kasama mo naman si Seth. Hindi lang ikaw ang older guy na nandoon. Kasama rin ang ibang older cousins and mga tito ni Maya. And of course, your Tito Arthur will be a part of it as well.”
“Mama, no….” Richard said stubbornly. “See, dapat tanggalin na lang that 18 roses, wala naman pala siyang makuhang magpa-participate in that.”
“Son, please, please….” Esmeralda said, touching her son’s face with both hands. “For me, please…”
“Okay, I will do it.” Richard admitted defeat. At the back of his mind he also thought, ang arte naman ng Maya na ito!
“Thank you, son. I’m sure your Tita Tessie, and Maya also will be happy.” Esmeralda Lim hugged her son.
He was annoyed but he didn’t have the heart to defy his mother and say no. Besides, it may not be as difficult as it could be if Seth will be there. At least, they were the same age. They can surely indulge his little sister. He resigned himself to dancing with Maya Dela Rosa.
“Mama, I will just go for a walk.” Richard told his mother. He just wanted to get out of the house for a while.
Richard left the house via the stairs in the back. However, when he got to the garden, he was at a lost on where to go. He looked around and saw a path that leads to a small gate in the back. He walked that way and realized that it connected to the ancestral house besides theirs. He remembered that this is the Fernandez’s ancestral house. He forgot that they were connected. When he was a kid, the other house seemed so far from theirs!
On impulse, he approached the house, thinking of checking if Seth has not left for work yet. Maybe, he can just ride with him to Bacolod as he was at a loose end. He knocked on the thick front door, but there was no one. He saw a bell and pressed it, but still no reply. He decided to go around the house as he knew from memory that like their house, there is an entrance there.
Richard ended up at the stairs going to the veranda or rather the azotea of the house. The place was beautiful and very inviting. It was full of plants. He called, but still no one reply. He climbed and when he reached the top, he saw a girl sitting on the day bed there, holding a book. She was wearing a simple blouse and a long skirt. She was engrossed in what she was reading and didn’t notice him so he had moments to observe her.
The first thing that struck Richard was that even in a profile she was a very beautiful girl. She had long, shiny hair, a pert nose, and a slender build. She suddenly looked up and his throat constricted. Suddenly, he can’t seemed to breathe as his heart galloped. Yes, he was right, she was beautiful with her heart-shaped face, long lashes, pouty lips and very expressive eyes. She gave him a gaze that touched his very soul. He hasn’t felt like that before.
It felt like time stood still. It was only them and that moment. Everything else faded in the background.
While Esmeralda Lim was informing Tessie Dela Rosa that her son Richard agreed to her daughter Maya staying with him in his place in Makati, the subject of their conversation was sitting at the azotea of the family’s ancestral house in Talisay, Negros Occidental, drinking coffee, and deep in thought.
Maya was plotting her next move in the escalating battle of wills with her parents. It was the first thing she thought of doing after her parents rejected her latest plea. But her next move really, and everything for that matter, would really depend if that ‘SSS’ will let her stay in his place. Before she can execute her next move, she has to know if he had agreed to it. She hoped not. Why would he, as the one and only time they were together, they fought like cats and dogs. Maya was so sure that the ‘SSS’ still harbours a grudge towards her after all these years. He never bothered to get in touch with her, though why he should since she is just a family friend and the sister of his friend. He also begged off from going when her parents invited the Lims to spend the holiday with them in Barcelona one summer.
However, despite that and because it happened a long time ago, when she and Richard were both younger, her in her late teens and him in his late 20s, Maya knew that she shouldn’t call Richard that acronym she coined for him many summers ago, but she can’t help it. Towards the end of that long ago summer, before everything has fallen apart, she had taken to calling Richard Lim, ‘supladong sungit na singkit’ behind his back!
I wonder how he looks like now, after all these years? Maya tried to imagine. Hmmm, maybe, hindi na siya super guapo. Maybe he has started losing his hair, may beer belly and gained a lot of weight. I-Google ko kaya? Bakit nga ba hindi ko man lang siya na-check online. I’m sure there will be entries on him, having taken over the reins of the family corporation.
Maya was about to stand up to get her laptop from her room, when she saw their kasambahay, Sabel, approaching her, like a girl with a very important mission.
“Señorita Maya, tawag po kayo ng Mama ninyo,” Sabel said, then hesitating, she added, “Saka ngayon na daw po as in now na! Sabi po ng Mama ninyo huwag na kayong mag…mag…mag-dilly-dally, kung ano man po ang ibig sabihin nun. ”
Maya knew why her mother insisted on relaying that through Sabel. Teresita Dela Rosa knew that her daughter will try to procrastinate, not wanting to discuss their latest discord. She sighed. “Okay, Sabel. Nasaan ba si Mama?”
“Nasa sala po, Senorita Maya.” Sabel said promptly, relief in her voice.
Maya walked to the living room through the dining room of the beautiful old house that her mother inherited from her parents. When they returned to the Philippines several months ago, they opted to stay here than his father’s family’s house in Bacolod. The house in Talisay was much more beautiful, comfortable and quieter that his father’s family home which was situated neat the main street of the city. Anyway, it just takes several minutes to drive to Bacolod.
Maya found her mother by the small table near the window, sipping coffee. Her mobile phone was beside her.
“Mama, Sabel told me you were looking for me.” Maya said simply, not sure what mood her mother was in at that moment. It has just been several hours since she and her mother had their latest argument on how she should live her life.
“Please have a seat, Maya.” Tessie Dela Rosa told her daughter. And when Maya did as she told, she continued. “Katatapos lang naming mag-usap ni Tita Esme mo. Sabi niya, you can stay with Richard while you are taking that special Spanish course. Pumayag na raw si Richard.”
Maya was surprised that Richard Lim agreed to having her stay with him. She really thought that he would decline. All she managed to say was, “Really, Mama!”
“Yes, he did, so it is final you will stay with him.” Tessie Dela Rosa looked very satisfied with the outcome of her chat with her best friend.
“Mama, hindi ba talagang pwedeng payagan ninyo na ako ni Papa na….” Maya started again, despite the fact that her plea had fallen on deaf ears several times. She just needed to try one more time.
“Maya, hija, please, pagtatalunan na naman ba natin ito.” Tessie sighed, with a closed expression on her face.
“Hindi ka ba napapagod. Hindi ka ba naaawa sa amin ng Papa mo. Why can’t you understand that we just want you safe. You know naman kung bakit ayaw ka naming payagang mag-isa sa Maynila. Ikaw na nga lang ang anak namin ng Papa mo. Paano kung mangyari rin sa iyo ang nangyari sa Kuya mo. Hindi na namin kakayanin!” Tessie Dela Rosa continued, getting agitated. “Kung hindi nga lang kailangan ng Papa mo na i-manage ang family business ng Lolo Francisco ko, was gusto ko na lang sana na doon tayo sa Europa. Mahirap maging safe sa bansang ito!”
Maya held her mother’s hand, seeing that she was getting distressed. “Mama, please calm down. Nothing will happen to me. We all grieved for Kuya Seth pero we have to live Mama. Hindi naman dahil babalik ako ng Maynila, may mangyayari na sa akin.”
Her mother was about to say something, but Maya pleaded with her with her eyes to let her finish.
“Ma, I’m almost 26 years old and yet, I still live with you and Papa kahit noong nasa Spain tayo. We have to move forward. I want a life. Hindi naman sa ayaw ko kayong kasama ni Papa, but please let me find my way in the world.” Maya’s voice was a bit hoarse with the emotion it took to plead her case again. “I can’t exist in a bubble. Marami na naming nagbago sa Pilipinas in the past several years we were abroad.”
“I know that, anak. But please, pagbigyan mo na kami ng Papa with this. You will be staying with Richard and that it final.” Tessie stressed. “That is the only way we will allow you to go to Manila for two months.”
Maya looked at her mother’s mulish expression and know that she will not win. It is no use appealing to her mild-mannered father as he usually defer to her mother. Since her Kuya Seth died when she was 19, it has always been like this in this family. Now, the only option left for her is to execute her plan B. She said a silent sorry to her mother, and also to Richad Lim, for what she will do.
“Okay, Mama.” Maya said, sighing. “I will just stay with Richard.” The best thing to do is get herself to Manila first.
“Good, I know you will see it my way.” Tessie Dela Rosa said, completely unaware of what her daughter was plotting. “I will call back Esme and tell her that you will be at Richard’s place in two days time. I have your flight details from Doris. Just go and pack your bags.”
Doris is her father’s secretary. She made all the arrangement for her trip.
“Hmmm, why don’t I call Richard and arrange with him.” Maya suggested, as there was a part of her that is curious to know how Richard’s voice sounded after all these years.
“Esme said she will just do it herself. She just needs the details.” Tessie told her daughter. “Wala ka nang dapat intindihin.
“Muchas gracias por tu ayuda, Mama.” Maya just said, lapsing into Spanish, seeing that her mother was so insistent on controlling everything about her trip. What can she do except thanked her for all she did so that she has a place to stay in Manila even if it was not what she wanted.
“De nada, mi hija. I was happy to do it for you.” Tessie replied, then taking a sip of her coffee, she looked at her beautiful daughter. “Bakit ka nga ba kailangan pang mag-aral ng Spanish eh fluent ka na naman? You speak it so much better than some people I have known who practically lived in Spain most of their lives.”
“Mama, di ba I told you and Papa that the course I am going to take is for Spanish language teachers. I need that so I can teach Spanish here as a foreign language. Hindi naman kasi ako language major sa Spain, di ba. I majored in English Studies.”
“Kasi naman if me and your Papa had our way, gusto talaga naman namin na business course ang kinuha mo so you can take over our business, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Kuya mo and you are our only child. Ikaw naman lahat ang magmamana nito.”
“Mama, I love you and Papa and I do appreciate what you have done for me, but I am not Kuya Seth. He would have been a great CEO of our businesses, but he is gone and we have to live with that. I am not a business person and I have other interests. I wish you would really let me pursue them.” Maya said emotionally, hoping that her mother will understand this time. They have been at this countless of times. She just need to try to let her see reason, her reason, every opportunity she could.
“Well, Maya hija, we did let you pursue the degree you want to take. And now we are allowing you to take that course, for what, just to teach Spanish at some school!” Tessie countered. Really, sometimes, her daughter’s head is in the clouds.
“That is what I want Mama.” Maya said, patiently. She does not want to argue with her mother anymore as it will just get nowhere. She needed to concentrate her efforts in making them let her to live on their own. She just has the plan and it is a bit drastic, but she hopes it will work.
Maya returned to her place in the azotea after kissing her mother on the cheek and getting her laptop from her room. She Googled in Richard Lim of Lim Corporation and ended up with quite a bit of entries from society magazines and social media postings of some of his activities. Not by him but by others, some by employees who have apparently asked for a photo with him, and most of them women!
In fairness, mas lalo ka pang gumuwapo, Mr. Richard Lim! Maya muttered to herself as she clicked photo after photo of Richard Lim she found online. Her heart also skipped several beats as she stared at his photos. If she must be honest to herself, then she admits to the fact that there is a part of her that is looking forward to seeing him again after all these years.
But despite that, Maya was determined to make her parents see reason and let her be, and Richard Lim would have to a part of that plan. She sighed, closed her laptop and just stared out of the azotea without really seeing anything. When it got dark, she went back inside, ate dinner with her parents who reminded her again to be careful while in Manila. Before she went to bed, she packed her bags for her two months or more stay in Manila. She went to bed both excited and nervous about her trip, her adventure, on her own, at last!
While Maya was trying to quell down her excitement so she can sleep, Richard arrived back at the penthouse unit of the newest and the most exclusive address in Makati. It is what he had been calling home since he returned to the Philippines. He refused his mother’s offer of opening their house in a nearby exclusive village. It was too big and too traditional for him. He likes his penthouse place and the magnificent view of the city it offers, aside from its proximity to his office.
Richard ate a solitary dinner, left by his housekeeper who does not stay with him. He prefers it that way. After putting his empty plates in the dishwasher so that Manang Sol can clean it the following day, he poured himself a glass of Scotch and while sipping idly inspected his place.
Yes, Miss Maya Dela Rosa and I will fit here nicely! I don’t have to see her. She can have the room farthest from mine. If she does not like that, there are other rooms to choose from, as long as it is not the closest one to his room. He mused, determined to maintain his privacy even if he has to share his space with that girl….errr… with Maya.
Richard was about to hit the shower after downing the rest of his drink, when his phone rang. He looked and saw it was his mother again.
“Hello, Mama. Gising pa po kayo?” Richard said as soon as picked up the call.
“Oh, you know me son, I can’t sleep early and I know you also sleep late. How was work? Kauuwi mo lang ba? Kumain ka na ba?” Esmeralda Lim asked her son. She worries about him and what se perceived is his unhealthy lifestyle. She wished he will find someone who will take care of him, and love him of course as he deserves to be loved! Para rin magkaapo na siya, lalo na ngayong wala na ang Papa ni Richard.
“Work was okay, Mama. Tiring! As you know there are just a lot of things that needed to be done. I’m sure ganoon din si Papa dati di ba? And yes, I have eaten na and I got home an hour ago.” Richard said, walking towards his bedroom as he talked to his mother.
“Napatawag po kayo, Ma. May problema ba? But mabuti you called also kasi I need more details on Maya’s visit.”
“Wala naman, son. I called din because of Maya’s visit. Your Tita Tessie sends her thanks, by the way, also your Tito Arthur for letting Maya stay with you. Tessie said Maya will take the 11am flight from Silay on Wednesday. Sa Terminal 2 siya lalapag.” Esmeralda said, noticing that her son seemed to have resigned himself to Maya staying with him. He even stopped calling her ‘that girl’ and ‘her’! “Masusundo mo ba siya?”
“I can’t, Mama. I have an important meeting. Pero this is what I can do, I can send Joma to the airport and also Ate Liza, to pick her up. Ate Liza can also open the place for Maya. I will inform security that she will be staying with me so she can be issued a pass for the elevator as well. I will give you their contact numbers after this call, and you can give them, and mine too, to Maya.”
Richard was about to do that when he realized something. “Teka Ma, bakit hindi na lang si Maya ang tumawag sa akin and inform me of her arrival and arrange the details. Bakit kayo pa ni Tita Tessie. Ayaw ba niya akong kausapin directly? Di pa naman kaya na niyang gawin ang mga ito!”
“Oh, hindi naman sa ganoon, son.” Esmeralda said quickly, too quickly. Tessie mentioned to her that Maya had been pleading them to let her be on her own instead of staying with Ricky! “I just insisted to your Tita Tessie that I will be the one to talk to you and that I will take care of all the details. It is the least I can do. Besides, baka naman mahiya si Maya sa iyo. Di ba, you last saw each other around seven years ago, if I remember correctly.”
“Yes Mama, more than seven years ago na I think!” Then Richard added softly, “The summer before Seth was killed.”
“Oh you were correct, son. That was one very sad thing to have happened. Poor, jolly Seth, gone forever.” Esmeralda Lim said. “I thought the whole family will not be able to recover from his death. I don’t blame them at all for just packing their bags and leaving the country afterwards. I would have done the same, God forbid if you were taken from me like that, son. Hindi lang iyon, baka ikamatay ko rin! Kaya nga rin I worry about you all the time.”
“Don’t Mama. I’m okay and I’m careful. I will not end up like he did.” Richard assured his mother. Since his father died, his mom was more worried about him. Tawag ng tawag and he understand completely why.
“Be sure son, be sure please.” Esmeralda said. “O sige, I will just tell Maya all the details. I will send you her number after this call, okay.”
“Sure, Ma. Good night.”
“Good night son, sleep well.”
“Kayo rin po, Mama.”
Mother and son said good night. Richard went to shower after sending Joma and Liza’s contact details to her. He headed to bed several minutes after, quite tired really, but also feeling an excitement he can’t define at that moment. He checked his phone and saw the number his mother sent him.
Maya Dela Rosa! He saved her number into his phone book, curious on how she looks like now. He will know in two days time. Richard turned off the light, hoping that he would have a restful sleep as he needed all his wits at work the following day. He closed his eyes and laid flat on his back.
However, before sleep could claim him, a long forgotten image of a beautiful girl, wearing a simple blouse and a long skirt, sitting at the veranda of an old house in Negros crept into Richard’s consciousness. Then, memories just came rushing back.
Richard remembered that Maya was engrossed in the book she was reading at that time. It was his first glimpse of her. He was captivated, his heart beating fast. It was so unexpected to feel like that, and he was not prepared for it. Maybe it was the sole reason he acted the way he acted that long ago summer.
Richard suddenly was very much awake, his heart beating fast as memories of that summer a long time ago, something he had buried deep, rose to the surface.
Richard Lim massaged his forehead with his right hand as he gripped his mobile phone with his left. He had been on the phone with his mother for the past half and hour or so. He had been trying to reason out with her, to no avail. They were going nowhere. Coupled with all the work he needed to do, he felt like going to the nearest bar and having a drink, make that a couple of drinks! He was in the middle of some very important negotiations and some projects still in the pipeline and what his mother wanted him to do is not really going to help things. He had a feeling his mother’s ‘small favor’ would affect it. He needed to concentrate on those instead of ‘babysitting’! Him, babysit! Especially that brat of a girl! He definitely does not have time and the inclination for that, ever!
“Mama, again please, can that girl just stay in a hotel? They have the money for it. They can even probably buy a hotel for her! Or maybe with a friend or rent a townhouse, a condo, an apartment or stay in an Airbnb place! Meron na rin ng mga niyan dito. There are so many options available for her. Wala ba talaga siyang ibang matutuluyan dito? Wala ba siyang kaibigan sa Maynila or kamag-anak kahit isa? That is imposssible, Mama!” Richard told his mother in an already exasperated tone even if he really was trying to be patient. He loves his mother and she is all he has after his father died several years ago. He indulges her most of the time, but this time, she was asking too much.
“Ricky, hijo, her name is Maya. You have been calling her ‘her’ and ‘that girl’ all the time we have been talking. Besides, she is not a ‘girl’ anymore. She had matured like you, you know. Maya is more than 25 years old now, I think. Maybe, you still think of her as that awkward, mischievous and fun-loving girl who bested you, but she is not, anymore. It has been years, son, since you last saw each other.” Esmeralda Lim corrected her son patiently. She almost mentioned that Maya has grown into a beautiful woman. But then decided not to as she knows her son. He would think she is matchmaking again and it would be more difficult persuading him to let Maya stay with him.
Esmeralda Lim was confident that she can make her son see sense, so she tried again. Hindi pa siya natiis ng unico hijo nila ni Roberto.
“Just do this please for your Tita Tessie and Tito Arthur. You know naman na parang kapatid ko na iyang si Tita Tessie mo. Please, son.”
However, her son was not easily swayed this time. He gunned for more questions.
“Mama, she is 25? Can’t she live alone? She is more than old enough to be on her own. In fact, some women her age are already married and have a family. She had even lived in Europe for several years, for God’s sake!” Richard said, still managing to hold on to his sanity, trying to reason out with his mother one more time. He also wanted to argue with his mom about that girl besting him. She did not. She provoked him. That imp did! He retaliated. His mother only know of her retaliation, fortunately. Otherwise, grown up or not, she would have pinched his ears, so to speak.
Richard happened to look at the door while his mother launched into another set of arguments to drive across her point. He saw his executive assistant, Liza Adriano, standing by the door. Apparently, he was already needed in the board room. He thought he had half an hour more to regroup and just get off the emotions his mother’s phone call brought about.
“Ricky, darling, please, please, do this for your beloved Mama na. I just wanted to help my best friend. Besides, I already told them I will take care of Maya’s accommodation in Manila. That’s the only way they will let her stay in the city alone. I vouched for you.” Esmeralda Lim cajoled her son in a voice she knew was guaranteed to make him say yes to her bidding. “Maya does not know anyone in Manila, alam mo naman iyon di ba? Kababalik lang nila sa Pilipinas.”
Richard took a deep breath. His head really was starting to throb. They were really going nowhere and he can’t spare his mom more time as he really was needed in that meeting. He did what he had done countless of times for his beloved mother. He caved in to what she wanted. “Fine, Mama, she can stay with me! But tell her I don’t want her disrupting my life. No more antics like she did before!”
“Oh, thank you very much, son. I love you very much. Ikaw na talaga ang the best son in the world! Kaya nga paboritong-paborito kita eh!” Esmeralda Lim almost jumped with glee with her son’s answer. Yes, he said yes! “Of course, Maya is so much older now and not a teenager, so for sure, no more antics.”
“Mama, you always say that when you got your way.” Richard said, smiling. He can’t help himself. His mother never failed to do that to him, no matter how much she drives him off the wall at times. “Ako lang naman ang anak mo.”
“Well, totoo naman iyon ha. Walang halong bola. Sobrang bait nang anak, que guapo pa! Not to mention responsible. Bakit nga ba wala pa akong manugang?” Esmeralda Lim told her son. “O siya sige, go back to whatever you were doing. And Ricky, hijo, please take time to relax, take a vacation, loosen up a bit. Hindi na lang iyang puro trabaho. Masyadong solitary ang life mo.”
“Yes, Mama, I will.” Richard promised to placate his mother, ignoring her underhanded prying into his lovelife! “Ikaw din, you take care. Maayos po ba kayo diyan ni Manang Fe? Baka hindi ka na comfortable diyan, we can reopen our house here. At least I will be in the same city to look after you.”
“Son, don’t worry about me. Fe and I are perfectly happy here. Nandito ang mga amiga ko, mga kamag-anak. Baka nakakalimutan mo na dito ako lumaki. Saka lalo nang ayaw kong bumalik diyan now that your Tita Tessie is here and living next door!”
“Ikaw ang bahala, Mama. I do have to go na po, I have a meeting with our board. I love you, Mama.”
“I love you, hijo. Basta ang mga bilin ko, sundin mo ha. Hwag naman puro work na lang, Ricky.”
“Yes, Ma. Bye na for now!”
Ricky closed his phone and looked out of his floor-to-ceiling office window, resting a bit before he face his board. He can’t rest like his mom wanted him to do. Still so many things to be done for the family’s corporation. It has been his mom’s standard talk every time they will chat. He does not have the heart to tell her the mess his father made. The company was in a bad shape when he took over. For sure, his father never thought he would die young, before he can correct things. He sometimes wonder to how his father managed to do it as he was a very good businessman, known for his business acumen.
Richard didn’t know about it, he was completely clueless as he had stayed away from Lim Corporation for years. He packed his bags and went back to America where he had studied most of his adult life as he and his father had a falling out. His mother didn’t know about it as one thing his father and him agreed on was to left Esmeralda Lim out of it.
He had successfully made a life for himself in New York as an investment banker. He liked his life in there – the adrenalin rush, the fast-paced lifestyle, the parties, and the women. The beautiful women of the city seemed to have gravitated towards him a lot. He never lacked for dates and evenings to spend with a companion if he chose to, always casual, of course. But he had packed his bags again and returned to the country of his birth after he received a phone call from mother, telling him that his father had died in a car accident and that he needed to take over the company among others. Since then, he had been consumed in making LC the way it was. He had eschewed the pleasures he enjoyed in New York to focus on the company, except maybe for the occasional drinks and a date or two, nothing really serious. He really regretted not being able to patch things up with his father. Now, he is gone forever, Richard mused. What he can do now is to make the company where he wanted it to be. Richard felt that it was the only way to make up for what happened. He should have been there for his father.
“Richard…” Liza poked her head into Richard’s office again and called his attention.
“Yes, Ate Liza, is everyone in the boardroom now?” Richard asked as he straightened his tie and started getting his things.
“Yes ikaw na lang ang hinihintay nila.” Liza said simply. She noticed that her handsome boss was lost in thought. She suddenly remembered the first time he went to the office. He turned heads and the ladies sighed in admiration. It was the first time for most of them to meet the big boss’ son. She, she had known Richard since he was a teenager. She was his father’s EA too. When it was just the two of them, it is ‘Richard’ and ‘Ate Liza’, he had insisted on it.
“Okay, just give me a minute or two.” Richard knew that he is lucky to have Liza by his side. She had helped a lot and had been his sounding board when he assumed management of the company. She knew everyone and everything within the organization.
Liza Adriano left her boss in his office and went back to the board room to oversee things. Several minutes later, Richard Lim entered and presided over the meeting that lasted until late at night. He ended it confident, that he would be able to buy back the airline company that his father sold years ago. The board backed him up. He had also raised enough capital to do that. It also helped that the current company who owns it is willing to sell it back to LC for a price. But having resolved that, he still need to decide what to do with one of the corporation’s subsidiaries, one of his father’s babies, whether it is worth keeping or not. He will make a thorough review of that subsidiary after the airline negotiation.
Richard plopped down on his executive chair, drained by the long hours he spent at work today, coupled with his mother’s phone call. Speaking of his mother’s phone call! He forgot to ask her, and she had omitted to say how long that girl, err, Maya Dela Rosa will be staying with him. She also neglected to inform him, come to think of it, when she will be coming to Manila.
Stretching his tired back against the leather seat as he sipped the cup of coffee Ate Liza left him before she headed home, he thought of the Maya Dela Rosa he met years ago. He vividly remembered her the last time he saw her, her lovely face, defiant, unapologetic. He remembered her sabotaging his date with the girl who lived at the big house beside his mother’s family’s ancestral home in Negros among other things. His mother Esmeralda and Maya’s mother Teresita are best friends, having grew up together. He and Maya, on the other hand, fought like cats and dogs most of that summer that both families were vacationing there.
In hindsight, he should have not retaliated as he was around 10 years older than her. He should have acted more matured. But she really rubbed him the wrong way that summer. That was actually the one and only time he spent with Maya as after that, they have moved to Spain after the tragedy that befell Seth, Maya’s older brother and his best friend while studying in the States. He still miss his boyhood friend until now. He should have asked him to come back to America with him. He would have still be alive if he did.
Richard sighed again. He thought of calling back his mother but decided not too. He also thought, Maya is an adult and they can surely share that huge space he calls home. They don’t have to see each other. They just needed to share the space. For sure, she can fend for herself. With that thought, he closed his computer, turned off the lights and called his driver Joma. Time to call it a night. He needed to recharge his batteries and his home is the perfect place for that.
Several days later, Richard thought that if only he had known what he was really getting into, that his peaceful, solitary existence would have been a thing of the past, he would have probably have done things differently. He would have given his mother a resounding NO when she asked. He and his place was hit by what he dubbed as ‘Hurricane Maya’!
Note: Hello everyone! I hope you will like this story as well. I know I still have several unfinished ones but I realized I really haven’t written a new story for quite sometime. As you probably know by now, I go where my imagination takes me. This was where it took me last night. 🙂 Thank you again for all the comments, the likes, for reading, and for visiting my blog. Have a lovely Sunday everyone. ❤