“So Hija, saan ang province mo? Baka naman magtampo ang parents mo dahil dito ka sa’min nag-celebrate ng New Year?” Esmeralda asked as they eat their breakfast that morning. Both Richard and Maya were able to sleep with a smile on their faces. They were both in cloud nine after they said their good nights to each other. Richard was even waiting for Maya outside her room before they had breakfast.
“Sa Mindoro po. Sa San Nicolas.” Maya answered. “Alam naman po nila yung dahilan kaya hindi po ako nakauwi.” She added. But the truth was, it was only her sister, Kute, whom she told about this. None of her parents knew about this because she knew that they would not even care about it.
“Sa Mindoro?” Roberto remarked. “Ricky and I were planning to buy a land there for the extension of LAS. I think Ricky already closed the deal, right?” He turned to look at his son who nodded.
“Yes, Pa. I was planning to go to Mindoro this year. I’ll look at the place again then I’ll contact some architects and engineers I knew para masimulan na agad yung pagpapatayo nung site.” He said and then he glanced at the lady on his right. “Do you want to come, Maya? I really need someone to tour me around, and you can visit your parents family while we’re there.”
Maya felt that the food she just swallowed got stuck in her throat. She drank some water before she answered. “Ano, uhm, titignan ko muna sa schedule ko. Baka kasi hindi tumugma eh.”
A smile appeared on Richard’s face. “So, I’ll take that as a yes. And don’t worry. Sisiguraduhin kong maluwag yung schedule mo kapag pumunta tayo ng Mindoro.”
Maya just nodded with a tight smile. She now has to make sure that her schedule is full so that Richard would not have a choice but to go to Mindoro alone. It’s not that she doesn’t want Richard’s company. It’s just that she doesn’t want to go home.
After the breakfast, Maya insisted to help Esmeralda clean up the table. It was her way of saying thanks for letting her stay overnight. Richard and his father were inside Richard’s home office, talking about the land he bought in Mindoro. As the two women cleared the plates, Esmeralda was just itching to ask Maya about something.
“Uhm, Maya, do you mind if I ask you something?” Esmeralda asked since she felt like she was going to explode if she doesn’t speak up.
Maya curiously looked at her but she still shook her head. “I don’t mind naman po, Tita. Ano po ba ‘yun?”
“I was just wondering Hija, kung .. kung kayo na ni Ricky?” Esmeralda asked. “Kasi kagabi nung nakita namin kayo ni Roberto, magka-hawak kayo ng kamay. Kinutuban lang ako.”
Maya almost dropped the plates she was carrying. Good thing that she was still near the table and she just placed it there. Esmeralda rushed over her when she saw what happened to Maya. She insisted that Maya should just take a seat and let Fe and the others clear the table. But after Maya was seated, she still can’t find the will to look up and meet Esmeralda’s eyes.
“I’m sorry, Hija. Nabigla ba kita?” Esmeralda asked as she sat beside her. “Na-curious lang talaga kasi ako.”
“Ah, Tita. Hindi pa po kami eh.” Maya said and gave Esmeralda an apologetic smile.
“Ahh. Ganun ba? Ay nako, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Kasi naman may pahawak-hawak pa kayo ng kamay kagabi eh.” Esmeralda said. “Pero nanliligaw ba?” Maya nodded that brought a huge smile to Esmeralda’s face. Maya warmed up when she finally saw the old woman giggle as she felt kilig when she confirmed that her son is courting her.
“I don’t mean to pry but, may pag-asa ba ang anak ko?” Esmeralda continued to ask. Maya tried to hide her own smile but she still nodded. “Meron naman po.” She added that made Esmeralda’s smile even wider. “Kaya lang po, hindi ko pa po siya masagot eh.”
“Bakit naman? Is there something that’s holding you back?” Esmeralda continued to ask Maya. “You can tell me, Hija. I promise not to tell Ricky or even Roberto.” She’s now holding her in her arm like she’s really anxious in hearing her answer. Seeing Esmeralda like that made Maya want to cry. She’s been longing for someone like Richard’s mother. Maya never got to experience what it was like to have a mother who listens to all her stories, to her heartaches and to comfort her wherever she was down. And now, she got to experience it with Esmeralda.
Maya tried to prevent her tears from forming so she spoke. “Mahabang kwento po Tita eh. Baka po abutin tayo ng gabi kapag po nagkwento ako.” She said.
“I don’t care how long it is. If you’re willing to tell me, I will listen, Maya. Saka mamayang gabi pa naman ang flight namin ni Roberto kaya we better start now para hindi kami ma-late.” The older woman said.
Maya returned a smile and sighed. She knew that she can trust Esmeralda and so she told her about her tale with James. Like what she told Richard, Maya didn’t mention that James is a Ventura thinking that it will be a shock to the old lady.
“Kaya po hindi ko pa po masagot si Richard kasi parang hanggang ngayon, mahal ko pa rin po si James. Ayoko naman pong sagutin siya nang hindi po ako sure sa nararamdaman ko para sa kanya.” Maya ended her story.
“Well, ang masasabi ko lang, Maya. Why don’t you try to let James go? I know that many people might’ve already told you that but why don’t you try na for once and for all, let him go? Kasi ikaw din naman yung nahihirapan. You’re finding it hard to trust people again, and you’re finding it hard to find love again. Hindi ko sinasabi ‘to dahil nanliligaw sa’yo si Ricky, ha. Sa palagay ko kasi, kaya ka nahihirapan ngayon ay dahil sa hinahawakan mo pa rin kung anong meron kayo ni James.”
Maya nodded as she continued to listen to Esmeralda. “And about your own feelings, hindi kaya you’re just thinking na what you’re feeling for someone is a part of what you’re feeling for James? Because if you do, mahihirapan ang puso mong tumanggap ng ibang mamahalin.”
Esmeralda reached for Maya’s hand. “But of course, it’s just my opinion. It’s still up to you kung susundin mo yung payo ko.” She said and smiled at her. Maya smiled back and gave Esmeralda a hug. The old woman was surprised with what she did but she returned the hug.
Maya felt tears falling from her eyes. She was completely overwhelmed that a stranger like Esmeralda that she just met yesterday was treating her like a daughter. “Pasensya na po Tita. Hindi ko lang po napigilan.” Maya said as she withdrew from the hug and wiped her tears. “Kusa na lang po kasing lumabas eh.”
Esmeralda just smiled at her. “It’s okay, hija. I know how you feel.” And then she hugged her again. “Stay strong Maya. I know you have the will to move on.”
Maya insisted to come with them as Richard brought his parents to the airport that night. She was feeling so happy as it seemed like she was a part of a family she was longing to have. After saying their goodbye to Roberto and Esmeralda, Richard drove Maya back to her condo building.
“So, may flight ka na bukas?” Richard asked as he brought Maya’s things with him inside the elevator.
“Oo. Busy na ulit kami gawa nang kakatapos lang ng bakasyon.” Maya said.
“Yung usapan natin about Mindoro ha. I’m really hoping you could come.” He said.
Maya nodded. “Gagawan natin yan ng paraan.” She said even though she’s still having doubts.
The two of them rode in silence until the elevator pinged. Richard walked Maya in front of her door and handed over her things.
“Susunduin na lang kita bukas.” Richard said before Maya entered the unit. “Ha? Bakit mo ko susunduin?” Maya asked back.
“May flight ka di ba? I have to fetch you.” He replied.
“Eh Richard, hindi mo naman kailangan gawin ‘yun eh.”
“I’m courting you di ba? And don’t worry. I want to do this.” He gave her a reassuring smile. “Sige na. I’ll go ahead. Pagod ka na rin. Maghapon ka atang dinaldal ni Mama.”
Maya gave a soft laugh. “Hindi naman. Saka na-enjoy ko naman yung kwentuhan namin.”
“Tungkol saan ba yung pinag-usapan niyo?”
Maya bit her lower lip to hold back her laughter. After Esmeralda’s piece of advice to her, Richard became their topic. Esmeralda told her how they were so careful when it comes to little Richard. She even told her Richard’s naughtiness when he was still a kid. “Wala. Kung anu-ano lang.” Maya replied.
Richard narrowed his eyes at her. “I can feel na may tungkol sa’kin.” He said and Maya’s giggle confirmed it. “I’ll let it pass since pareho naman kayong masaya ni Mama.” Maya just nodded. “Sige na. Gagabihin ka pa. Salamat sa pagpapatuloy niyo sa’kin dun.”
“Alright. Thank you, too, Maya. Una na ko. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” He said and gave Maya a hug. “Goodnight.”
Maya entered their unit and headed straight to her room. She knew that Esmeralda was right – she needs to let go of James once and for all. She grabbed a box from the kitchen and brought it inside her room. One by one, she put all of the things that she might remind her of James. All the pictures that she kept, all his gifts to her and all the notes he wrote for her. Maya thought that it would be easy but it still hurts like hell. She felt her tears falling as she saw those pictures of them together. But Maya still gathered up her strength to put everything inside that box. She knew she needs to move on because she wants to be sure of what she is feeling for Richard.
As Richard told her, he was early the next day to fetch her and then he would insist in fetching her after her flight. It has been their daily routine and Richard didn’t skip a day even if Maya’s flight is too early in the morning or too late in the evening.
It went on for days and Maya got used to it. Once in a while Richard would bring flowers for her or even coffee. Storing up all of James memories in a box was really helpful to Maya. Her feelings for Richard were getting clearer with each day that passed.
While Maya was trying to figure everything out, Richard already knew that he was in love. He doesn’t know when or how but his feelings for Maya just hit him on the face. But Richard knew that it wouldn’t be impossible to happen since he already felt this pull to her the first time he caught her with his eyes.
“My flight to Mindoro is already tomorrow. Makakasama ka ba?” Richard asked as they went out for dinner after he fetched Maya.
“2PM. You must go with me Maya. Matagal na kitang sinabihan kung kailan yung alis ko.” He said, frowning.
“May flight ako ng 2PM eh.” Maya said and put her hand on top of his. “Sorry.”
Richard gave her a small smile. “It’s okay. So I guess I’ll see you in a few days? Don’t worry, sinabihan ko na si Mang Lem para kaunin ka kapag may flight ka.”
“Richard naman eh, may service naman sa Time Airways. Dun na lang ako sasabay.”
“No. I insist. And please, enough with the argument. Hindi mo na nga ako sasamahan eh.” He said. After that, Maya didn’t say a word to oppose him again. She really wants to laugh at him.
Masu-surprise ka na lang bukas, Richard Lim.
Richard was already seated at the business class inside the plane. He’s feeling gloomy today because Maya was still not responding to his texts and calls. Maya insisted on taking the service instead of him fetching her. She said that it would be inconvenient for Richard since he needs to catch a plane.
He was staring at the window thinking about her whereabouts. He felt really uncomfortable not knowing if she’s safe or where she is. He got used to hearing her voice everyday and it seemed like his day is not complete without it. Richard just sighed and shook his head.
I think I fell deep.
Richard was still staring out the window after the plane took off. He was in that state when a familiar voice made him turn his head around.
“Good afternoon Mr. Lim. Would you like coffee, tea or juice?”
His face lit up when he saw to whom the voice belonged to. It was Maya. No. It was his Maya. She was dressed in her blue uniform but she looked more beautiful in his eyes now. Maya tried to stifle her giggle as she saw Richard smile at her as she expected. Maya swapped her schedule to a 2PM Mindoro flight and brought a reserve with her because she will not join the flight back to Manila. She planned all of this just to surprise Richard.
“Mr. Lim? Ano pong gusto niyo?” Maya asked again when Richard still didn’t answer.
“Can you be mine?” Richard said with his lopsided smile.
Maya bowed her head to hide the blush on her cheeks. “Ricardo, I’m working.”
Richard laughed. “Fine. Coffee please. Pero pwedeng timpla mo?” Maya nodded and started making his coffee. “Akala ko kung ano nang nangyari sa’yo. You weren’t responding to my text, you know?”
Maya giggled. “Alam ko. Surprise ko talaga ‘to.” She said as she stirred the coffee.
“Are you going back to Manila right away?”
Maya shook her head as she gave him the coffee. “Hindi. May isang tao kasing nangungulit sa’kin. I-tour ko daw siya sa San Nicolas.”
Richard chuckled. “Well, he’s a lucky guy, Ms. Dela Rosa.” He said as stirred the coffee she gave. “Pwedeng dito ka muna? Sit beside me. Bakante naman eh.”
“Ricardo, nagtatrabaho ako.” She said with a smile. “Do you need anything else Sir?”
Richard shook his head. “I’ll just wait for you outside the airport later.”
Maya nodded and pushed her cart forward while Richard watched her from his seat. When the plane landed, Richard waited for Maya to come out of their quarters. He approached her when he saw her walking towards him and gave her a hug.
“You owe me, you know?” Richard said as they walked outside. “You should’ve told me na sasama ka pala.”
Maya giggled. “And what? Masira yung surprise ko? Di na no.” She said. Richard took her things and placed it inside a car that he rented. While he drove off, Maya was feeling anxious. She was excited about the part where she would surprise Richard but not the part where he would discover who she really is.
As they drove off, Richard noticed most of the signs of the stores on the street. He found it weird but almost every store starts with Dela Rosa, like Dela Rosa Electornics, Dela Rosa Drug Store and so on. He would even glance at Maya and just saw her staring out the window. When it suddenly hit him, he spoke.
“Your family owns everything here, Maya?”
“H-ha? W-wala naman .. A-anong pagmamay-ari?” Maya stammered.
“Well, you’re a Dela Rosa, right? Care to explain the family businesses here?” Richard continued to ask. Maya sighed. She knew she was busted. This is where her family issues start. Richard was amazed at what he was seeing. You can count the buildings and the structures that doesn’t have Dela Rosa on it.
“Wala akong kinalaman dyan. Sa parents ko lahat yan.” She just said. Richard then asked her where she lives so that he can drive her there. She told him the directions and was amazed with the new look of their house. Gone was the old wood house she used to lived in and there’s this mansion standing at the very spot of their former house. The two of them went out the car and Maya took her phone out to text her sister. Just then, a familiar voice called her.
“Mayaaaaaa!” She immediately turned her head and saw her sister coming from the huge house. “Kuteeee!” She said back and ran to her to give her a tight hug. When they finally let go of each other, Maya asked. “Kute? Sina .. sina Nanay?”
Kute just gave her a small smile. “Nagtanong ka pa, bunso. Alam mo naman ang sagot diyan.”
Maya just sighed. Her sister was right. And it was the whole reason why she didn’t come home for the past six years.
thoughts anyone? 🙂