I am sitting uncomfortably on a couch, in front of a camera. Bright lights were lighted on either side of it making my eyes feel discomfort. I could see that the attention of all the people inside the hall is on me. I don’t want their attention. I don’t want their eyes on me. If they’ve done this few years back, I would’ve loved everything about this. But as I’ve said, I changed when she left.
The perfect irony is that she’s here. I kept diverting my eyes off of her to avoid that smile that wasn’t intended for me. It’s painful to see that the one you talked to about everything in your life cannot recall anything about it. It’s like I talked to the wind. But I couldn’t really blame her right? It’s not her fault.
I made a mental note. I must learn new skills.
“Mr. Lim, are you all set?” Simon asked as he sat beside the camera. “Yeah.” I answered. James told me to think before I answer. He told me that I should not answer any questions that are personal because if I did, the media will dig more information about it and it might lead to something nasty.
I took a glance at Maya and saw that she’s testing out her camera. She’s quite far but the camera she’s been using looked familiar. It was a Canon one, like the one I bought two years ago. Did she buy a new one just like it? I do doubt if it’s another model because from looking at a row of camera on her birthday, I learned that they don’t look the same because of their modifications as the model gets higher. Angela told me that Maya took her camera when she fled but I was sure that it got broken. It was raining so hard that day and the she only brought the camera, and not the whole bag. It should be broken right? Unless she did keep it.
“Mr. Lim, what does your work entail as an architect particularly as the new CEO of Lim Visionary Vanguard?” Simon’s question brought me back from my thoughts. I took a deep breath and decided to think about Maya later. I have to finish this whole thing first.
“What I do is I start the basic designs of the buildings or infrastructures and then I hand them over to the other architects where they do the specifications. I also do on-site visits to analyze if the said design can be built without any problems and also to determine the budget.” I answered.
“You’re a newly appointed CEO; you think you can handle the job?” He asked.
“Without a doubt.” I answered. “The process of choosing a new CEO is not done in a day na ituturo ka na lang basta ng members ng board of directors. It goes through a process and when they finally make their minds up, they’re going to train this ‘chosen one’ how to run the place. That’s what happened to me. I’ve been trained for six months.”
“The former CEO, Roberto Lim, is you father. Nagkaroon ba ng epekto ‘yon sa desisyon nila?”
“I don’t think so. I did not work right away in my father’s firm. I worked in Mr. James Ventura’s Aero Designs for a couple of years. I want my works to pick my name up and not the other way around. Mr. Roberto Lim said that he’s entrusting this firm to me because he believes that I can surpass the things he achieved. Yes, he is my father, but in business like this, we only treat each other like normal architects, not sharing some family line.” I answered again with a stern tone.
“Very well said.” Simon commented. “Uhm, is your father going to retire?”
“Yes, I think he is.” I answered and I could see that they’re expecting me to elaborate but no, I refuse to add anything. I shifted my eyes to look at her again. She’s browsing photos from her camera.
“How did you reach your position now?” I quickly shifted my eyes back again to the Simon.
“Like any other person, I guess. Studying hard, perseverance, determination and all of that stuff.” I shortly replied.
“Rumor has it that you got left at the altar two years ago. Is that true?” Simon asked. I was caught off guard by that question. My mind suddenly jumped back to past. I can see myself standing outside the hotel. Panic was all over my face but I couldn’t bring myself to move. I was watching myself watch as the love of his life ride inside a cab with her white dress. When the cab moved, it was only then when my past self got to his senses and ran after her. It was a painful sight to see.
I took a deep breath and looked back at him. I could sense the tension around as people waited for this question. Obviously, there are only a few people who got left at the altar. And that includes me. “I’m sorry but your question is way too personal.” I just said. Though a part of me wanted to scream ‘yes’ and point a finger to Maya and say that she’s the woman and I just want her back in my life again.
“I-I’m sorry Sir. Nasa set lang po kasi ng questions, sorry again.” Simon muttered but I don’t really care. Is my personal life important that they should even ask that question? If I said yes, would they know how painful everything is? Would they take sides? Would they track this woman that shattered me?
“Next question. Are you single?” Simon asked.
What? They are turning this into a celebrity column. Seriously, no one will give a damn if they know if I’m single or not. “Yes.” I shortly replied and I heard a shriek on my right side. I quickly turned my head, hoping that it was Maya who shrieked. Instead, I saw that it was a guy, that Emman, who did. I just shifted my gaze back at front and pretend nothing happened.
“Last question. What is your message to those aspiring architects?” Simon asked.
I bit my lower lip. Message huh, that’s new. I’ve listened to all sorts of message after that wedding day. I heard my friend, yell, scream and get mad at me, even my father. I heard my younger brother’s broken voice when I stopped talking to him. Even though everything’s okay now, her voice is the one that topped in my head. “Life’s a choice. If you really want to be an architect, then you must be willing to change for it. Everything is always hard but if you are willing to face it without fear, I assure you that you can make it work.” There. I said the familiar words I once said to her. Sure, it wasn’t the exact words but the same message is still there.
It was the set of words that I’ve said when we celebrated her birthday two years ago. I remembered that I said will change for her when I ate the sushi and I assured her that we’ll make it work when she answered me as we rode the Ferris wheel. I stole another glance at her, hoping that she’ll show some sign of recognition. But there was none. Simon stood up and thanked him as he shook my hand. I tried to give him a smile but I just can’t do it.
“I need to go now Mr. Lim. Sunod na ‘yung photo shoot mo. Marami pa kasing trabaho eh. Thank you again for the interview.” He said and left.
Damn. I forgot about the photo shoot. I’m starting to have thoughts if they are really putting this article in the business page. I sighed. I have to do it. Then I’ll go home and review more contracts.
“Mr. Lim. Dito po tayo, change of wardrobe po muna.” Emman said as he battered his eyes at me. I gave a polite nod and followed him. We reached the corner of the hall where a curtain is hanged. “Pasok po kayo sa loob tapos eto po yung damit.” He said as he handed me a blue long polo and a grey cardigan. I just put it on quickly. I really want to leave.
After I put on the clothes, I went outside. I was buttoning the cardigan because it looks weird. A set of familiar hands appeared from my view and unbuttoned all of it except for two. Then she pushed the sleeves of the cardigan up until it settled a little after my elbow. When I raise my head, my breath hitched. It’s her. Right here. In front of me. She used to do this before I go to work. The same feeling is still there. It’s still her.
When she was done from doing so, she raised her head and met my eyes. Damn it, Maya, remember me! Please! Instead she gave me a small smile that didn’t touch her eyes. I immediately knew that there’s something wrong with her. She started to walk away but I didn’t want her to. I still care about what she thinks. I still care for her.
“H-Happy birthday.” I greeted. My heart was beating so fast. I saw her stop and slowly turned around with a smile on her face.
“Thank you. How did you know?” She asked.
Oh crap, I wasn’t prepared for that. Think, Richard, think! “Uh .. S-Sinabi ni Emman nung .. nung dinala niya ko dito.” I replied. Actually, I lied. I already know what day it is even if nobody tells me.
She chuckled and then smiled widely. I felt my heart flutter. She smiled at me!
“Si Emman talaga. Tara na Mr. Lim. Simulan na natin ‘tong photo shoot.” She said. I was waiting for her to walk away but she’s still looking at me and I realized that she’s waiting for me. I hesitatingly walked beside her and she started walking too. Then she laughed.
“Don’t get me wrong, but why do I have a feeling na uncomfortable ka kapag kasama ako?” She asked.
The corner of my lips moved slightly upward. “I’m sorry, ganon ba ko sa’yo? I didn’t mean to.” I replied. She nodded her head. “Apology accepted.”
We used to have this sorry agreement. I bet that if she could remember, she would be teasing me right now because I said the ‘S’ word. I found myself smiling as I remembered the memories that we created just because of that. Before I knew it, a light flashed beside me. I jolted my head beside me and saw Maya smiling at her camera.
“Hey, that’s unfair. The candid shots are over.” I said. She stopped at her spot and didn’t even bother to look at me.
She leaned a little beside me and my heart went off beating fast again. Gee, I felt like a teenager beside his crush. She turned her camera around and showed me the picture. “Tignan mo.” She said. It was a black and white stolen photo of me from my side view. My head is bowed, but the corner of my lips is curved up. I was smiling. It’s almost five in the afternoon and the light of the sun hovered above me in the picture. It’s simply beautiful. A shot that only my Maya can do. “Nakangiti ka dito!” She exclaimed.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked as I narrowed my eyes at her.
“Eh kasi simula nung dumating ka dito, hindi ka pa nangiti. Nag-away pa nga ata kayo ni Mr. Ventura kanina eh.” She replied and immediately put her palm on her mouth. “Sorry! Hindi ako nag-eeavesdrop kanina. I swear!”
I shook my head, still amused by her wit. “There are things you don’t know about me Ms. Dela Rosa.” I said.
“Like the reason why you don’t smile?” She hopefully asked.
I nodded. “Your camera’s pretty old. Why don’t you buy a new one? There’s probably a lot of new model that came out over the years.” I suggested. No doubt about it. It looks like the Canon that I bought for her.
She gave me a smile. “I prefer this. Hindi mo ako mapapabili ng bago. May sentimental value ata sa’kin tong camera na ‘to kaya hindi ko mapalitan. Nasira na nga ‘to dati. Nabasa kasi ng ulan. Pinagawa ko lang.”
“M-May I take a look?” I asked and she willingly gave me the camera. Then I saw it. When I first gave this to Maya, she wrote something on its side before we left for Enchanted Kingdom. She wrote ‘M.R.’ with the use of a pentel pen. My mouth almost gaped. I was right! It’s the same camera! The letters were a bit erased but it’s still there. “Who’s M.R.?” I asked, trying so hard not to smile.
Maya shrugged. “I’m pretty sure that the M is my name. Pero hindi ko alam kung sino yung R. I’m thinking that it’s the initials of my name but I always write MDR instead of only MR.” She answered.
“Maybe it’s another person?” I suggested. “A man’s name perhaps?”
Maya went still for a bit and then she laughed. “Alam mo, Mr. Lim, palabiro ka rin pala no? Posible, pero malayo eh. Wala nga ata akong lalaking kilala na sa R nagsisimula yung pangalan eh.” She said.
“Para saan pa’t nakilala mo ko?” I said.
She chuckled. “Alright, Mr. Lim –“
“Call me Richard.” I interrupted. She smiled widely at me again and she nodded.
“Okay Richard. And I’m Maya. Kaya for the mean time, ikaw muna si R na nasa camera ko, ayos lang ba?” She asked and I nodded with a smile again. “Well then, let’s start this photo shoot!” She said and walked to the direction where Emman is.
I found myself grinning foolishly again as I tucked my hands in my pockets. I thought it was all over yet I still found a way to talk to her. There’s still hope. Good Lord, there’s still hope.
A/N: Kumalma po tayo. Hahaha. Masakit pa po ba sa puso?