James stood by the door staring at the two.
Maya immediately went to James and kissed him on the cheek.
Richard just watched them not saying anything.
“James, si Richard Lim yun mentor ni Luke. Siya yung tumulong sa concert ng school.”
Maya tried to act normally though her nerves were not allowing her to do so and her eyes were still swollen from crying.
Richard extended his hand which James reluctantly accepted.
“Richard Lim pare.”
Richard suddenly felt guilty and felt sorry for putting Maya in a very compromising situation.
Sensing the need to leave he said…
“Ah Maya, I better go.”
“Okay.” was all Maya could say.
“James, mauna na ako.”
After Richard left…
“What was that Maya?”
“That hugging and crying thing. You know what I mean.”
“James he was just trying to comfort me kasi…”
“Comfort you?!? That’s so innapropriate! Alam nyang may asawa ka. Alam mo rin na may asawa siya. What if Luke sees you. Anong sasabihin ng bata? Or alam ba nya? How long has this been going on?”
“There’s nothing going on James! He just comforted me, that’s all.”
James was obviously infuriated.
“It’s not like that James. Please makinig ka naman.”
“And what am i supposed to think Maya? Pinapunta mo ako dito and then I would witness that scene?”
“You don’t understand James.”
“The hell I don’t. I could easily kill that guy. Wag na wag siyang magpapakita sa’kin.”
Richard was worried for Maya.
He didn’t know what James is like and with Maya’s husband witnessing the scene earlier, Richard couldn’t help but worry for her.
He wanted to go back to her house and help her explain to her husband.
He just wanted to be assured that Maya is okay and the scene earlier didn’t cause a fight between her and her husband.
He never wanted that to happen.
He even berated himself for possibly causing it.
He badly wanted to know if Maya is okay.
But he was also aware that if he goes back, he might make things worse. It would be inappropriate for him to do so.
Not knowing what to do, he headed home.
Ready to retire for the night, James decided to spend a few minutes in their garden.
She saw him sitting at their bench so she immediately went to the kitchen to make coffee.
She approached him, handed the coffee.
“Thank you.” James smiled.
She sat beside him and slowly leaned her head on his shoulder.
He draped his free arm around her.
They just sat in silence.
A few minutes later….
“So you want to talk about it?”
She nodded her head.
“Wala naman kaming ginagawa James. Wala talaga. You believe me, don’t you?”
“Of course Maya, I never doubt you. Even with what I’ve witnessed.”
Her doe-shaped still puffy eyes stared at James as if begging for understanding.
“Naku Maya don’t look at me that way.”
“I’m sorry din that I over reacted kanina. Kasi naman every time you talk about him, you’re always crying. I could wring his neck for always making you cry.”
“Hindi naman eh. At wag mo nga siyang pagsasalitaan ng nga threats na yan kundi magagalit talaga ako sayo.”
She snuggled closer to James as if seeking his comfort, his security.
James tightened the hug around her and kissed the top of her head, then gave her another kiss on her forehead.
She looked at him again and smiled.
“Alam mo bang ako ang pinakaswerteng nilalang sa mundo?”
“And why is that?”
“Kasi nandyan ka. Kasi alam kong mahal na mahal mo ako, kami ni Luke.”
James raised his eyebrows while looking at her.
“Of course mahal ko kayo.”
Maya tightened her embrace. She clasped James’ hand to hers. She was misty-eyed again.
James immediately noticed it but he didn’t say anything. He just held her tighter.
“So what did Richard say?”
She just shook her head.
“Akala ko ba you wanted to talk about it.”
“Alam na nya…”
“He does? And how did he react?”
“Nagulat… natuwa ata… di ko alam James….”
He stared at her with raised eyebrows.
She shook her head.
“So paano ang set up now with Luke.”
“Ha? Anong set-up?”
“Yun kay Luke. What did he say?”
“Hindi naman nya alam about Luke.”
“Di ba sabi mo alam na nya?”
“Hindi naman about Luke, yun sakin ang alam nya.”
“Sa’yo? Anong sa’yo?”
She shyly looked at James.
“Na mahal ko pa siya.”
She’s teary eyed again.
“Sorry James ha.”
“It’s okay Maya.”
“Hindi ko na napigilan eh. Hindi naman ako nagsabi pero nakita nya sa mga mata ko. Ahhh nakakaasar naman talaga.”
James smiled a bit.
“Then what did he say after nalaman nya?”
“Wala. Nag thank you… inakap ako…”
“Yun lang? Hindi ng I love you too?”
James was trying his best to lighten the mood between them.
“Hindi! Ano ka ba! Atsaka hindi ko naman siya sinabihan non.”
“Pero balak mo?”
He was looking at her intently.
She shyly evaded his stare.
“You really still love him Maya.”
Then she cried.
James just caressed her back. Maya hugged him tighter.
“What else did he say? Alam na nya what happened before?”
She shook her head.
“Hindi na ata nya kailangang malaman.”
“Ata? Nagdadalawang isip ka?”
“Gusto kong ipaalam sakanya pero natatakot rin ako. I don’t want him to hate me James. Hindi ko kakayanin.”
“Maya maybe both of you should sit down and seriously talk about it. By how you describe him, Richard seems to be level-headed, sensible and forgiving as well. He might get mad but at least you would be able to clear everything with him and both of you could move on. Pati ako.”
“Ikaw? Anong ibig mong sabihin?”
“Yung tayo, what will we do about it?”
“Bakit? Okay naman tayo James di ba?”
“Yes and whatever the outcome kapag nakapagusap na kayo, I won’t judge you, I would always keep an open mind. Alam mo yan.”
“Alam ko. Kaya nga salamat sa lahat. Salamat sa pagtanggap.”
“Well, actually you should have told him na kanina or hinted man lang.”
“Ikaw kasi dumating ka agad. Panira ka ng moment.”
She tried to joke.
“So ako pa ngayon?”
They both just tried to laugh at themselves, with Maya trying to mask the inner turmoil she’s been feeling.
“Though he’s married na Maya, kailangan mo nang ayusin ang lahat, for yourself, for Luke, for Richard. It’s not like you would try to destroy his family and have an affair with him. Siyempre hindi ko yun papayagan. I won’t allow you to get hurt again.”
“Ako ang nanakit sa kanya James. Iniwan ko siya noon.”
“And he had a great life after. Sabi mo nga nakamove on na siya. He’s already married. Siguro wala siyang anak pero he’s married. You wouldn’t want to get into a complicated thing with him Maya, but it would be fair that you tell him about Luke. It is his right Maya.”
“Pero paano kung magulo ko ang pamilya nya. Nakita ko sila ng asawa nya at mukhang buntis na. He’s gonna have his own child. Magugulo ko na naman siya.”
“Don’t over think Maya, just do what is right at yun ang ipaalam sa kanya ang tungkol kay Luke. I’m sure Richard would know what to do.”
She kept quiet, pondering on what James said.
“O siya, matulog na tayo. I promised to bring Luke to school tomorrow. May practice daw sila ng choir. Magbobonding kami at ikaw, gumawa ka na ng paraan para makausap si Richard. Wag ka nang sumama sa amin ni Luke.”
“Salamat James ha. I really appreciate it. Ewan ko ba kay Rafi at iniwan ka. Ang swerte kaya nya sa’yo.”
“So bobolahin mo na lang ako? Hindi lang
yan ang thank you na inaasahan ko.” He winked at her.
“Oo naman, hindi lang naman yan ang pa thank you ko, eh.”
They both stood up and proceeded to their rooms.
Richard had been blankly staring at the vast darkness. He was at their veranda for hours already. He didn’t even eat dinner much to Manang Fe’s dismay.
She knows that Richard is bothered by something again. She sensed that Maya is again occupying his mind.
When Maya was rushed to the hospital few months ago, Manang Fe saw how worried Richard was.
She was surprised to see Maya and was a bit hurt to see that she already has a family.
But Richard loves Maya and despite the years that passed, Manang Fe is aware that nobody ever occupied Richard’s heart.
She has no right to judge her nor question what she did to Richard. She has no right.
How could she even get mad at the one and only person that makes Richard smile genuinely. How could she even hold a grudge when then person she hurt the most doesn’t even allow hatred to replace the love he has for her.
Even during Manang Fe’s visits to Richard abroad, the first person he would ask about was Maya.
The bottom drawer of his closet, holds all the gifts she gave him, their pictures and the ring he was supposed to give her.
Manang Fe didn’t like the idea of Richard holding on to whatever memories he and Maya had before.
She thought it will just make it harder for Richard to start anew, to find someone else but seeing how happily he talks about her, how vocal he was about Maya being his inspiration in everything he is doing, Manang Fe stopped advising him to forget about her. He wouldn’t listen anyway.
He abruptly wiped his eyes which is getting misty while he’s reminiscing his good times with Maya.
“Umiiyak ka? Bakit?”
“Masaya lang ako Manang.”
“Masaya pero umiiyak?”
“Tears of joy Manang.”
“O sige kung tears of joy nga yan. O bakit naman naiiyak ka sa tuwa?”
“She still loves me Manang. I knew it. After all these years she still loves me.”
“Manang naman. Sino pa nga ba?”
He smiled widely but his eyes reflected sadness.
“Nagusap kayo? Sinabi nya yan sa’yo?”
“Hindi nya sinabi pero pinaramdam nya sakin. I asked her to tell me that she doesn’t love me anymore. She cried Manang tapos umakap siya sakin ng mahigpit.”
His eyes were misty again.
“Alam mo mahilig ako sa mga teleserye pero hindi ko kinakaya ang teleserye ng buhay mo Ricardo.”
“Manang naman eh.”
“O pakatapos anong sinabi mo? Nandun yun anak nya?”
“Wala naman na kaming napagusapan Manang kasi dumating yun asawa nya. He saw me embracing his wife.”
Manang Fe had a worried look on her face.
“Mabuti hindi ka nabugbog.”
“Manang he seemed like a nice guy. But I’m worried of Maya. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang nangyari pakaalis ko. Sana okay lang siya. I shouldn’t have left her without explaining to her husband. Manang baka saktan nya si Maya.”
“Ricardo kumalma ka nga. Kaya ni Maya ang sarili nya. Sigurado ako na maipapaliwanag nya ng maayos sa asawa nya ang lahat.”
“Sana Manang but what if…”
“O sige para makampante ka, tatawagan ko siya. Okay sa’yo?”
“Okay lang kaya Manang kahit hatinggabi na?”
“Aynaku Ricardo, di ba gusto mong masigurado na okay siya. O akin na ang cellphone mo.”
Manang Fe, dialed Maya’s number.
She was still wide awake, thinking of everything that happened when she saw an incoming call from Richard.
Her heart beats faster again. She can no longer control it when it comes to him.
“Maya si Manang Fe ito. Nagaalala kasi si Ricardo. Eto at di mapakali.”
“Manang okay po ako. Pwedeng kong makausap si Richard?”
“Sige teka lang at ibibigay ko ang phone.”
Manang Fe handed him the phone and left Richard alone.
“Maya pasensya na. I was just worried. Alam mo na. Ayoko namang makagulo sa inyo ni James. I know its already late and I don’t want to disturb both of you.”
“Okay lang ako Chard. Hindi ka naman nakaistorbo. Bakit pala gising ka pa?”
“Nag-alala kasi ako Maya.”
“Don’t worry. Mabait si James. He even said na we should talk, tayong dalawa, we should clear things daw.”
“Oo para daw malinaw at civil tayo sa isa’t isa.”
“I would love that Maya. O sige na at baka naiistorbo ko na kayong dalawa.”
“Hindi naman Chard. Tulog na rin si James.”
“Naku sige, baka magising pa siya, maistorbo siya sa paguusap natin.”
“Nandun siya kay Luke. Mag-isa lang ako dito.”
“My God I’m sorry.”
He thought nagaway yun magasawa that prompted James to sleep with Luke.
“I’m sorry Maya. I can talk to him and explain. Sorry talaga.”
“You don’t have to be sorry of anything Chard. Hindi naman galit si James. He just wanted to bond with Luke.”
He breathed a sigh of relief.
“Akala ko…sige Maya, you rest na. I’m glad you’re okay. I’m thankful that your husband is considerate. I mean, with what he saw… ”
“Okay lang Chard. Walang problema kay James. Sige magpahinga ka na.”
“Sige Maya. Just let me know kung kelan mo gustong mag-usap tayo.”
“Good night Chard.”
“Good night Maya.”
Both of them retired for the night. Each of them thinking of the other.