Ricky and I were seated opposite each other on the table in his library. I’ve been staring at the first problem on the paper for about half an hour now and I couldn’t understand what I should do. It’s a problem about modifier genes where I have to figure out the probability of the different types of offspring based on the parents’ genes. The type of offspring is even dependent whether the parents are carrying a dominant or recessive gene. And because this is all about modifier genes, the simple presence of one gene, either dominant or recessive, could give a whole new expression on the offspring.
Even talking about it makes it complicated.
No wonder I got a failing mark at this subject.
I am so doomed.
“You’ve been staring at that paper for about forty minutes.” Ricky said as he looked from his watch. While I am mourning over this paper, he’s been studying, too with his medical school stuff. “Still no answer?”
“Ricky, gustong-gusto kong magsulat. Hindi ko lang alam kung anong isusulat ko. Saka kung saan ako magsisimula.” I truthfully said. I dropped my head on the table and I started shaking my head. “Babagsak na naman ata ako eh.”
“Hey.” He said and I felt a hand on my head, moving it until it’s turned sideways. “Hindi ka babagsak, okay? Do you know the difference between the genetics subject you took then and now?” He asked. I just shrugged my shoulders. I don’t think there’s a difference. I’m still failing. “Well, you have me this time.” He said and a smile crept on my face.
I sat up properly and took a deep breath. “Okay Ricky. Pwede bang paturo?” I asked.
“Ayaw mo ng sagot?” He teased.
“Anong gagawin ko sa sagot kung hindi ko naman maiintindihan?” I replied. “Saka lagot ako pag exams. Wala rin akong isasagot.”
He gave his lopsided smile and transferred to the chair beside me. He grabbed one scratch paper and a pen. “Modifier gene is the reason why some appearances of offsprings are altered even though there is primary expression of genes.” He started. “For example, there are cases that when a gene is homozygous recessive, they can have dominance over the dominant trait.” Then he started writing on the paper. “Take a mouse coat color for example. One parent with a black coat and one parent with an albino coat were mated. But both is carrying the recessive genes for the other.” He said as he continued to write on the paper. “So CCaa for the black coat and ccAA for the albino. Capitalized for dominance ‘di ba? And double capital for indication of being homozygous dominant or recessive.”
I nodded. I know this part. I understand most of the lectures in genetics. It’s just that I don’t even know how to start when it’s already about the problem cases. “So when you cross them, your filial 1 hybrid or offspring will be two CcAa which are both agouti or ‘yung brown colored. Then you’re going to cross them again. And here’s the trick. Do not cross them. All you need to do is to remember the pattern 9:3:3:1 for your 2nd filial hybrid. What’s the pattern again?”
“Uh, 9:3:3:1.” I repeated.
“That’s your magic number. Remember that. It all goes down to the expression of the gene. So we have 9 C_A_ : 3 C_aa : 3 ccA_ : 1 ccaa.” He said as he wrote it down.
“Bakit blangko ‘yung iba Ricky?” I asked.
“Cause you are just assuming the expression of their genes. Parang hypothetically, ganyan ‘yung kakalabasan nila. Of course, it comes with the magic number. Pero if you want to figure out, if it’s recessive or dominant, you can manually do the solution. Matagal nga lang.” He explained. “Then sabi ko kanina, when there’s a presence of homozygous recessive, that gene will be expressed ‘di ba?” I nodded. “Ayan. Figure out what their colors would be.”
“Okay. There will be 9 agouti because their expression is similar to the first filial hybrid, which are the parents. Tapos ‘yung 3 C_aa, um, albino? Kasi ‘di ba homozygous recessive?” I asked.
“That’s right. Continue.” Sir Dean said.
“Tapos ‘yung 3 ccA_, black, gawa ng homozygous na ‘c’ and there will be 1 more albino.” I said. I looked at Ricky for any signs of mistake but I got a nod instead. “Kaya ang magiging sagot, 9 agouti: 3 black: 4 albino?”
“Ayan. Very good. See? Kaya mo naman eh.” Sir Dean said. “The rest is similar. Kailangan mo lang hanapin kung aling gene ‘yung magiging dominant over the other. And there are patterns naman. You have 9:3:4 for recessive epistasis, then there’s 9:7 sa complementary gene. I’ll write it down so you can understand.” He said. “I actually gave this in class but since hindi ka nakikinig-“
“Nakikinig nga kasi ako!” I protested. I grabbed my notebook and saw that I already wrote down what Ricky is writing on the paper. “May notes kaya ako.”
“May notes, hindi naman maintindihan.” He said. “Ah! Stop stop!” He quickly said when I pinched his cheek. “Nagmamagandang loob na nga akong magturo eh.”
“Sabi ko nga.” I said and we both laughed. “Hindi ko maintindihan kung anong mali sa’kin. Naiintindihan ko naman ‘yung turo mo pero nahihirapan lang talaga akong mag-solve.” I said.
“It takes practice. Magsolve ka pa. Start with number one.” He said. I analyzed the whole problem with him asking questions that guides me as I wrote the solution. I got used to those type of problems then I encountered one with a different type of problem.
“You need to get used to it, Maya. Hindi lahat ng itatanong ko, pare-pareho ng pattern. Basta you need to analyze first.” He said.
“Nalilito ako kung aling letter ‘yung dapat i-capitalize, kung alin ‘yung dominant.” I said.
“It’s indicated in the problem lagi. But not straightforward.” He replied. “For example, a married couple has the genes for .. Chinito eyes and Doe eyes.” He said and I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Mamaya ka na tumawa. Isulat mo na.” He said and I just burst out laughing. Sir Dean continued the problem and to my surprise, I answered it correctly. After that, I continued answering the problem set. Though he doesn’t say if my answer is correct or not and I think it’s because it will be unfair for the other students. Nevertheless, my answers feels right more or so.
“Ricardo, mag-merienda muna kayo.” Manang Fe said as she entered the room. She was carrying a tray with a pitcher of juice and three sandwiches. “Tulog na tulog sa sofa si Niccolo. Kukuhanan ko na ba ng kumot ‘yung batang iyon?” She asked.
Sir Dean stood up to get the tray from Manang. “Wag na ho. Mainit naman Manang. Saka baka ho magising na ‘yon mamaya. Makakaamoy ng pagkain ‘yon eh.” He said.
“Kumain na po kayo Manang Fe?” I asked with a smile.
She looked at me for awhile before she spoke, “Nakakain na ako sa baba. Pag may kailangan kayo, nasa baba lang ako ha?”
“Sige po. Thank you po.” I replied. Manang Fe came forward and whispered something to Sir Dean. Then she smiled at me then left. I looked at Sir Dean and he’s wearing a huge smile on his face. “Oy Ricky. Anong sinabi ni Manang Fe?”
“Do you really want to know?” He asked.
“Oo naman. May kinalaman ba sa’kin?” I asked as I placed a sandwich on his plate.
“Sabi ni Manang, bagay daw tayo.” Ricky said and he quickly took a bit on his sandwich. He took a glance at me from the corner of his eyes but still kept mum. “Mukhang wala kang reaksyon ah.”
“Eh wala naman akong dapat ireact eh.” I just said with a smile. “Ang sabihin mo, kinilig ka sa sinabi ni Manang.” I teased.
His mouth gaped. “Do you really have to pin everything back to me?” He said and I laughed. I never thought there’s a side of Sir Dean like this. He is really different when he’s not in school. He’s looser, and he rides with banters like this.
I was surprised to see that it’s already dusk outside. I was so hooked in doing this homework that I lost track of time. I noticed that Sir Dean fell asleep on the couch. He transferred there earlier after setting up the stereo to play music. He said that the silence is killing him.
“Nag-sountrip nga, nakatulog naman.” I muttered as I approached him. I couldn’t really blame him, considering the amount of work he’s been doing, not just as a Dean but also as a student. I lifted my hands to remove his eyeglasses since he fell asleep while still wearing it, then I placed it on the table. I was about to stand up but I stayed for a bit longer, just watching him sleep. I couldn’t help but smile. I am really glad that he agreed to my idea of coexistence.
I went down after to see Manang Fe chopping some vegetables. She saw me right away and gave me a smile. “O, nasaan sila?” She asked.
“Manang, nakatulog po si Ricky eh. Hindi ko po namalayan. Si Niccolo, nagising naman po nung ginising ko kaso natulog po ulit.” I replied.
“Mga bata talaga na ‘yan.” She said. “Umupo ka na muna dyan Maya. Nagluluto lang ako ng pang-hapunan nyo. Pagpasensyahan mo na ‘yang si Ricardo. Ang aga nagising kanina. Excited ata.” She said with a teasing smile.
I just smiled back. I don’t want to jump into any conclusions just yet. “Tulungan ko na po kayo Manang.” I said. She protested at first but I convinced her that I want to help since I have nothing else to do, and that I am used to cooking because of our karinderya. Manang even discovered some tricks in cooking that Kute taught me.
“Ricardo, buti gising ka na.” Manang Fe said. I turned around and saw that Sir Dean is leaning on the wall near the cupboard.
“Okay ka lang Ricky?” I asked as I stirred the pan.
“I’m okay. Sumakit lang ‘yung ulo ko.” He replied. “Niccolo’s awake as well. Nag-cr lang.” He said. He then took a seat at the high chairs around the island table. “Manang, keep an eye on her. Baka nilagyan na nya ng gayuma ‘yung ulam natin.”
“Nako Ricardo, baka magayuma ka kahit walang nilalagay si Maya. Masarap pala magluto ‘tong batang ito.” Manang Fe exclaimed.
“Wag ka Ricky. Si Manang Fe na nagsabi nyan ha.” I quickly said.
“Manang! Nagayuma ka na agad nyan o. You didn’t even notice!” Sir Dean continued and we all laughed.
“Ito talagang batang ‘to oh.” Manang Fe said. “Ipagtitimpla na muna kita nang kape nang mahulasan ka muna.” The elder said.
“Ay Manang, ako na po, nang mapatunayan kong hindi ako nanggagayuma.” I said and she just laughed at me. Manang took over the cooking and after making Sir Dean’s coffee, I slid the cup in front of him. “Walang gayuma.” I said proudly.
Sir Dean took the cup of coffee but before he drink it, he looked at me and said, “Kahit naman walang gayuma eh.” He muttered then took a sip. My heart fluttered. I thought we have coexistence? But with every day that pass, why do I find myself being like this to Sir Dean?
“Kuya Richaaaard. May pagkain ba?” Niccolo asked as he entered the dining area as he stretched his arms. I went back beside Manang Fe to help her. “Ang bango kasi eh.”
“Maya’s cooking.” I heard Sir Dean say. “But hold on. Niccolo, I had high expectation sa’yo sa pagpunta mo sa bahay. Kain tulog ka lang pala eh.” He continued.
“Kaya nga Kuya eh. Masyado kasi akong excited kagabi. Hindi ako nakatulog.” Niccolo explained. “Babawi na lang ako sa susunod.”
“At may plano ka na agad bumalik ha.” His Kuya replied.
“Oo naman Kuya Richard. Tanggap naman ako ni Tito Roberto eh. Saka ni Manang Fe! Lalong lalo na si Ma’am Maya.” He said.
“Alam mo Niccolo, feeling ko gutom ka na talaga eh.” I said as I turned the stove off. “Tulungan mo naman kami ni Manang sa paghahain. Luto na ‘yung ulam.” I continued and his eyes just glowed.
We had dinner afterwards with Manang Fe joining us. The table was filled with laughter as Sir Dean and Niccolo continue their banter about the latter spending most of his time in the house sleeping. After that, we helped Manang wash the dishes and tidy up things.
“Ate Maya.” Niccolo called. We finally settled earlier that he needs to call me like that if we’re the only ones around. “I’m having a sleepover. Payag si Kuya Richard. Pwedeng ikaw din? Alam ko namang papayag si Kuya. Lalo na si Tito.” He said.
I was on the verge of saying yes when my phone beeped. It was a text from Simon.
Maya, nasa bahay niyo ako. Can we talk?
My heart hammered so loud. What does he want to talk about?
“Maya, are you also spending the night here?” Sir Dean asked. I could see the hope in his eyes but I just can’t this time.
“I-I need to go Sir Dean.” I replied. “Si Simon kasi, nasa bahay.” I could see the hurt in Sir Dean’s eyes, yet he nodded and offered me a ride home.
Sir Dean stopped a few blocks away from our house. He said that I should get down from there so that Simon wouldn’t get suspicious of who I was with. I bid farewell and told Niccolo that I would make it up to them. After they left, I walked to our house and saw Simon outside.
Thing is, I know something is wrong.
“Maya.” He said when he saw me. “Can we talk?”
I actually like genetics. I didn’t mean po na lunurin kayo haha. But if I’m wrong, please do correct me po. Ang hirap na pong hanapin nung notes ko.
Nangangamoy ano po ang usapan nila?