Richard woke up early the next day. He decided to take Maya out with him and bring her to the land he was talking about. He knocked a couple of times on her door but there was no response. He even tried calling her or even texting her but Maya still didn’t respond.
When Richard went down, he saw Kute eating alone on the dining table. “Good morning, Richard. Mag-breakfast ka muna oh.” She said.
“Thank you.” He said as he took a seat. “Do you know where Maya is? Kumakatok kasi ako kanina pero hindi siya nasagot.”
“Tulog pa ‘yun.” She simply answered.
They continued to eat in silence when Richard noticed something. “Nasaan nga pala sina Sir Arturo?”
Kute gave him a small smile. “Wag mo nang hanapin. Nasa trabaho na ‘yun.” She said without looking at him. “Pupuntahan mo na ba yung lupa?”
Richard nodded. “I was thinking of bringing Maya to clear her mind off of things kaso tulog pa pala.” He said. Richard saw Kute like she clearly understands why Maya has been like that. “Uhm, I don’t know how to say this but, when I went to her room last night, she was crying.”
Kute shook her head. “Si Maya talaga oh.” And then she sighed. “Tara, samahan na kita sa pupuntahan mo. Hindi mo ata alam kung saan eh.” She said and stood up.
“Paano si Maya?” Richard asked.
“Ito naman, masyado kang nag-aalala eh. Ayos lang si bunso dito sa bahay. Sanay yun ng mag-isa.” Kute said. “Una na ko sa labas.”
Richard just sighed when Kute left. He barely slept last night. His mind was surrounded by what could possibly be the problem between them. The sight of Maya crying last night was just too much for him. It might not be the first time that he saw her cry but it was the first time that he saw her cry like that. She was in too much pain. But despite it all, he knew he would do anything to help her.
Richard and Kute drove in silence as the latter told him the directions. They got there after a few minutes. He talked for a bit to Mr. Rodriguez who was already there since he called him up for a meeting that morning. When they were finished talking, he saw that Kute was blankly staring at nowhere.
“Cristina Rose, may I ask you a question?” He asked. Kute turned around to face Richard and then she nodded. “What’s the issue between you guys and your parents?”
Kute smirked before she spoke. “Hindi pa pala sinasabi sa’yo ni Maya. Pero hindi na ko magtataka. Kilala mo ba si James?” She asked. Richard answered it with a nod. “Hindi rin siya nagku-kwento dun eh.”
She ran a hand through her hair before she continued. “Kung ano namang nakikita mo ngayon, wala namang pinagbago dati. No’ng bata pa kasi kami ni Maya, ganito rin. Yung gabi na sila uuwi, tapos maagang aalis, nagta-trabaho lagi. Bibihira talaga namin silang makita. Chibugan lang yung business nila dati, pero ngayon, lumago na. Tingin ko nga nagulat ka rin nung dumating ka dito. Puro Dela Rosa yung mga tindahan, no?”
Richard gave a nod. He was really surprised as he drove yesterday. Maya never mentioned these things to him and he even thought that Maya just lived a normal life.
“Yung lola kasi namin, si Mamang, pangarap niya yung magkaron kami ng sarili naming business kaya tinayo niya yung Chibugan. Kaya ayun, sina Nanay, puro trabaho na lang. Okay lang sa’kin lahat yun dati eh pero nag-iba nung nagka-isip na si Maya. Napapansin kasi niya na kami lang lagi yung magkasama, kahit Linggo, kami lang talaga. Nagpupuyat pa nga yun dati eh para lang hintayin sina Nanay pero pagdating nila, papagalitan pa si Maya kasi gising pa.” She chuckled as she reminisced those days when they were still little.
“Ayun, lumaki kami ng parang walang magulang. Nandyan sila, pero hindi mo madama. Sila pa nga ‘tong nagugulat na ang bilis daw ng panahon kasi matanda na agad kami ni bunso. Pero tingin ko naman, ni minsan, hindi sila tumigil para pagmasdan lang kami. Pag graduation, kami lang dalawa yung pumupunta. Siya yung magsasabit sa’kin, ako naman sa kanya. Kapag naman may mga program sa school, kami lang din yung naghihiyawan para sa isa’t-isa. Pinakuha nila kami ni Maya ng Marketing. Ako, tinuloy ko pero si Maya, ang inenroll, Tourism. Pangarap niya talaga yung pagiging flight stewardess kaya kahit alam kong mali, sinuportahan ko na lang din.
“Pasok na si Maya dun sa training sa Maynila nung nalaman nina Nanay na iba yung kinuha niyang kurso. Nag-away talaga sila no’n. Ang gusto kasi nina Nanay, kami yung hahawak nung mga tinatayo nilang mga negosyo dito. Araw-araw naiyak dati si bunso sa kwarto ko. Mahigit isang linggo din silang nagtatalo lagi nun sa bahay. Nakikigulo rin ako minsan pero lalo lang nasasaktan si bunso eh. Hanggang sa isang araw, nagising na lang kami na umalis na pala si bunso papuntang Maynila.
“Ako lang yung sinasabihan niya ng mga nangayari sa kanya sa Maynila. Wala talaga siyang tulong mula dito. Lahat ng kung anong meron siya don ngayon? Kanya lahat ‘yun. Ako lang din yung nakakaalam nung sa kanila ni James pero nalaman nina Nanay nung nabasa nila yung text sa’kin. Tapos nung nalaman kong naaksidente nga yung si James, sinabi ko kina Nanay. Akala ko nga pupunta sila ng Maynila kasi alam nila na sobrang sakit nun kay Maya pero ako lang yung lumuwas.”
Richard felt this pain inside him as Kute told him everything. He never expected that the Maya he knew would have a problem like this. He thought everything was okay with her since she was always smiling. He never thought that the smile she always has on her face was just a mask to hide the pain she’s been keeping inside.
“Kaya Richard. Kung liligawan mo si bunso at kapag sinagot mo siya, siguraduhin mong hindi mo siya sasaktan ha. Patay ka talaga sa’kin kapag nangyari ‘yon.” She said.
“I won’t break her heart, I promise.” He said.
Kute sighed deeply. “Sabik yung si Maya sa pagmamahal. Kaya sobra yung nasaktan nung namatay si James.” She tapped Richard’s shoulder. “Basta wag mo lang siyang sasaktan ha? Nararamdaman kong mahal mo siya eh. Ayoko lang ulit na umulit lang lahat ‘to. Kasi alam kong hindi ulit siya masasalo ni Nanay at ni Tatay.” Richard nodded. He knew from the start that he wouldn’t do anything just to hurt her, especially now that he learned what happened before.
Maya woke up with heavy eyelids. She was curled up in her bed with her blanket wrapped up unto her shoulders. Vivid images flashed in her head showing what happened the night before. She was really not planning to just cry like that but seeing her parents triggered something in her. She was mad. She was mad at them because they weren’t there when James died. Maya was already ready to forgive them for everything that they had done if they just showed up that day. She was so longing for them that time. There was no mother who told her to just let everything out. And there was no father who’s ready to give his shoulder for her to cry. Pain was the only thing she felt that time.
Maya wipe the tears that managed to escape her eyes as she felt the familiar pain inside her heart. She decided to stand up and to take a long bath. After that, she prepared lunch since a note was left on the table saying that Richard and her Kute went out. The familiar sound of silence and the feeling of being alone were never new to her. They were already her friend ever since she was little.
While she was cooking, her phone rang. She took it out from her pocket and saw that Kute left a message saying that they are already on their way home. As she pushed the ‘back’ button, she noticed Richard’s messages to her.
Maya, are you inside your room?
You’re not answering my call, where are you?
I’ll be downstairs.
And then the last text he sent almost brought her into tears.
I really hate it when you cry. All I can do is to just wipe them. I wish I could just make whatever it is bothering you go away.
Maya never thought that a man like Richard would barge into her life. He is a really sweet guy and any woman can easily fall for him. And even if she can include herself on the list, she was still afraid. There’s still this wound in her heart that doesn’t seem to heal.
A sound of a car arriving brought Maya back from her thoughts. She walked to the front door to welcome them and was surprised when Richard and her Kute had this serious looks on their faces.
“O? Bakit mukha kayong nalugi? Maliit ba yung lupang nabili ni Richard?” Maya inquired. The two just exchanged looks. Kute tapped Richard on his shoulder. “Ikaw na bahala.” She said. “Gutom na ko bunso. Anong ulam?” She continued and walked pass her.
“May adobo dyan Kute.” She said and then she turned to look at the man staring at her. “Kamusta ang lakad?” she said with a smile.
Richard just sighed. How can she still put a smile on her face like that? “I want to take you somewhere. Pwede ba?” He asked.
“Kumain muna tayo.” She said but Richard grabbed her arm and dragged her outside. “Cristina Rose, hiramin ko lang muna si Maya.” Richard told Kute . Maya was surprised when she gave them two thumbs up.
Richard drove in silence. Even if Maya continued to ask him where they are going, he just remained silent. After a few minutes, the car halted. Maya was surprised when she saw where they are. Richard opened her door and helped her to get out.
They were in Maya’s most favourite place. Kute told Richard how to get here and suggested that he should bring Maya here. It was the only place that can calm her down. Maya was lost in her own thoughts that she just walked until she reached a cottage.
Richard watched her as she stared at the lake. No matter how beautiful the place is, his eyes were just focused on her. After a few moments of silence, he saw Maya lift her hand and wipe her tears. Richard immediately reached for the handkerchief in his pocket and wiped her tears.
“Kute already told me everything.” He whispered. “And .. and I’m sorry kasi pinilit pa kitang sumama dito.”
Maya shook her head. “Hindi, Richard. Ayos lang. Pasensya na nga pala kagabi ha. Iniyakan pa kita.”
Richard gave a smirk. “It’s nothing.”
“Gusto ko na rin kasing magkaayos kami nina Nanay.” She said. “Matagal na rin kasi. Ang kaso lang parang .. parang ang hirap. Kasi hindi pa rin sila nagbabago. Akala ko yung pagluwas ko ng Maynila, may mangyayari sa kanila, wala pala.” She continued to sob.
“Why don’t you give them another try? Have you ever tried to talk to them?” Richard asked.
“Wala silang time para sa’min. Naikwento na sa’yo ni Kute di ba? Ni minsan, hindi namin sila nakausap ng matagal. Ngayon pa kaya?”
Richard just sighed. He put her arms around Maya to give her a hug. “Shh. Don’t cry. You’re an amazing person, Maya. Wala akong nakilalang katulad mo na nagagawa pang ngumiti kahit na nangyayari ‘to.” He said. “I promise to help you, okay?”
They returned home around dinner. Maya was surprised when she saw that Teresita and Arturo are already sitting at the dining room. Everyone was still silent like it’s the normal thing for them. As they began to eat, still no one dared to speak so Richard decided to break the silence.
“Ah, Sir Arturo, kamusta naman po ang negosyo?” He asked. Richard decided to choose the topic he knew that will make them talk.
“Maayos naman. Yung Chibugan namin, magkakaroon na ng franchise sa Maynila! Taga-doon ka di ba, Richard? Bibisitahin mo ha?” The older man said. “Oo naman po.” Richard answered.
“Sino pong magma-manage nun?” Maya asked, following Richard’s lead. She tried to give forgiveness a try.
“Wala pa eh. Pero ang balak nga sana namin, ikaw eh.” Teresita said, making Maya frown. Richard gave a squeeze to Maya’s hand to tell her that what she did was just right.
“Ay teka, nakalimutan ko palang tawagan si Roman para dun sa delivery. Teka lang ha.” Arturo said and walked away from them. After a few minutes, he came back and then Teresita was the one who excused herself. When she came back, Arturo left. It’s like they take turns on who’s going to go and who’s going to go back. Throughout dinner, it has been like that. Richard noticed that Maya and Kute just brushed it off, including Cho. He couldn’t take it any longer and he was surprised when the familiar anger inside him came back.
“Sir, mamaya na po ‘yan.” Richard calmly said when Arturo is attempting to stand up again. His fists were clinched as he tried to hold his anger.
“Hindi, saglit lang ‘to –“
“Kanina pa po yang saglit na ‘yan. Family time po ang dinner. Dapat po magkakasama lahat. Paano po magkakaron ng family time kung lagi po kayong naalis? I know I don’t have the right to say that but I couldn’t help but notice.” He said. Maya noticed that Richard was getting mad so she put her hand on his knee. “Richard, tama na yan.” She whispered.
“Kailangan lang talaga ‘to. Saglit lang talaga.”
“No. This is enough. Hindi niyo po ba talaga nakikita na matagal nang nasasaktan sina Maya dahil po sa negosyo niyong yan?” He continued to say.
“A-ano bang sinasabi mo dyan, Richard?” Teresita asked.
“Wala na po kayong oras para sa mga anak niyo. Yes, we all know that they are already grown up. Pero lumaki po sila ng hindi man lang kayo nakikita ng isang buong araw. Dahil sa negosyo pong yan, nalimutan niyo nang may pamilya kayo.”
“Aba, bastos ‘tong batang ‘to ah.” Arturo exclaimed and was about to punch Richard on the face but Maya shielded him. “Maya, tumabi ka dyan. Hindi na tama yang sinasabi ng lalaking yan –“
“Tay, lahat po ng sinasabi ni Richard, tama.” Maya said. She just couldn’t take it anymore. “Lagi po kayong wala ni Nanay. Ni minsan wala po kayo para sa’min ni Kute. Masyado po kayong abala sa pagpapalago ng pera niyo, na hindi niyo na po kami inaalala.”
“Maya, lagi naman kaming nandyan ng Tatay niyo ah.” Teresita said.
“Nung namatay po si James, nasan kayo?” Maya asked making her parents mum. “Tinawagan ko po kayo non nung dumating si Kute. Lagi pong bukas ang sabi niyo hanggang sa nailibing siya, yun pa rin po yung sinasabi niyo. Hindi niyo po ba naisip kung gaanong sakit yung naramdaman ko no’n tapos wala man lang akong Nanay o Tatay na mayayakap? Masakit Nay! Masakit na nga dahil sa nawala si James, mas lalo pang sumakit kasi wala kayo.” Maya continued as tears streamed down her face.
“Lahat naman ginagawa namin para sa inyo ah? Tapos sasabihin mo pang wala kami?” Arturo exclaimed.
“Hindi po nila kailangan ng pera.” Richard said, he was suddenly full of this anger inside him. “They just need your love, that’s it! Kahit wala naman pong pera, basta magkakasama kayo, makakarating po hanggang dulo di ba? Pero ngayon, sabi nga po nila, hindi pa rin daw po kayo nagbabago. Gusto niyo po bang ‘yan ang matutunan ng apo niyo mula sa inyo –“ Richard was unable to continue when he received a punch on his face.
“Wala kang karapatang sabihin yan dahil hindi mo naman alam kung anong meron ang pamilyang ‘to!” Arturo exclaimed.
“Tay tama na!” Kute exclaimed. “Alam kong alam ni Richard kung ano’ng sinasabi niya. Lalo na ako. Alam namin kung paano umiyak si Maya dahil sa pamilyang ‘to. Ang gusto lang naman namin yung .. yung kasama namin kayo dito sa bahay, yun lang, Tay.” Arturo remained quiet as it finally sank to him what they were talking about. Teresita has tears in her eyes ever since Maya started crying. Maya’s arm was looped around Richard’s after Arturo gave him a punch while Kute was hugging her son, Cho who was also crying.
When Arturo saw how scared his grandson was, it’s like he woke up from a deep sleep. It finally became clear to them that what they are saying was all the truth. They were never there for their children. All him and Teresita cared about was their family business to fulfil Mamang’s dream. The sight of their family right then made his heart heavy. It took them long years after before they finally woke up from their dream. All along they thought that what they are doing were right. It never crossed their mind that their daughters would have this grudge on them.
“Sir Arturo ..” Richard said. Maya was surprise to see him panting hard and his voice was also breaking. “Alam ko pong kaya niyo pang .. kaya niyo pang magbago. It’s .. it’s never too late.” Richard stammered as he clutched his hand on his chest. Maya was alarmed when he did that. “Kute, kute! Yung sasakyan ilabas niyo na.” Maya worriedly said. Richard continued to grip his chest and his face was saying that he’s in too much pain.
“B-bunso, anong nangyayari kay Richard?” Kute stammered when she saw what’s happening to Richard. Tears continued to stream down on Maya’s face. “Kute! Ilabas niyo na! Inaatake si Richard!”