“Ms. Maya there’s a phone call for you. The caller said it’s an emergency.”
“I’ll be right there Ms. Inah.
Inah proceeded to take charge of the kids while Maya went to take the phone call.
“Hi bessie!”, a shrieking voice greeted her.
“Emman! How are you? Napatawag ka?”
“Naku naman Maya I always call you on this particular day remember? Baka naman kasi you go on depression again. Naku afraid kaya ako.”
“Tseh tumigil ka nga Emman. Unang una I was never on the verge of depression, malungkot oo pero not to that extent naman, grabe ka!”
“Naku I just want to make sure, no! Pero so far, normal naman yun boses mo. Hindi naman siya boses ng kakaiyak lang, unlike the past years. Atsaka you’re at work at hindi nagmumukmok sa room mo.”
“Dapat lang Emman. Life is beautiful and too short to waste dwelling in sadness.”
“Ay kabog roomie! That’s the spirit!”
Emman is now in Canada living with his parents.
“Pero roomie, do you still think of him?”
Natahimik si Maya on the other line.
“Hay naku affected ka pa rin no?”
“Oo naman Emman. Hindi naman siya basta bastang makakalimutan.”
“Kung sabagay. Mahirap talagang makalimutan si Doc Ricky. I wonder how he is na. Nag-asawa na kaya siya?”
“Sana masaya siya Emman. I really pray for his happiness. Napakabait niyang tao at hinding hindi ko makakalimutan na siya yun kasama ko, kasama natin ng mga panahon na maysakit si Luke.”
“Haaay… sayang talaga ano?”
“Ang ano naman ang sayang Emman?”
“Yung kayo. Akala ko talaga meant to be kayo ni doc.”
“Mayabels pagbigyan mo na ako. Atsaka witness kaya ako kung gaano siya kainlove sa’yo at ikaw din sa kanya.”
“Emman ang sa amin ni doc deep friendship lang. Siguro dahil kay Luke kaya naging sobrang close kami. Wag na nga tayong assuming.”
“Oy Maya hindi tayo nag-assume. Nanligaw naman talaga siya. Ikaw kasi pakipot kaya ayun tuloy, he got away.”
“Emman change topic ka na nga. Kawawa naman yun tao baka sugat-sugat na yun dila nun kasi pinaguusapan natin.”
“Ay basta Maya, I still believe na kayo pa rin. I can feel it.”
“Naku papaasahin na naman ako…”
“Huli! So umaasa ka pa nga. Love mo pa rin ano?”
“Haaayyy… Wala namang iba Emman eh. Kahit si James wala akong maramdaman kahit konti.”
“Di bale Bessie, di ba uuwi ako ng Manila next week, try ko makibalita about doc Ricky. Sa social media kasi mailap na siya eh. Wala akong mahagilap na news.”
“Naku Emman wag na please. Wag na nating guluhin ang buhay ni Ricky.”
“Hindi naman tayo manggugulo ah! Makikibalita lang. Malay mo, marekindle ang friendship nyo.”
“Wag na sabi. At hindi ko na kayang maging friends kami after what happened. Di ko na siya kayang harapin.”
“Bessie bakit parang ikaw yun may atraso eh dapat nga si doc Ricky yun mahiya, di ba?”
“Emman nagassume lang tayo, yun lang yun. Sige na nga at may class ako.”
“O sya! I’ll call you again before I leave for Manila. Ingat ka dyan Mayabels. I love you my best friend! Mwah!”
“Bye Emman. I love you Bessie! Thanks ha! I really appreciate you checking on me especially today.”
“O sige bye bye na talaga at baka magflow pa ang aking pink tears.”
“Ikaw talaga. Bye!”
She ended the call.
Emman really never fails to make her smile, make her laugh, make her happy.
She opened the photo gallery of her phone and spared a few seconds staring at a particular picture.
Making sure that no one is around, she kissed the picture and softly said.
“Happy birthday Ricky!”
She returned the phone in her pocket and blinked away the tears that is starting to pool in her eyes.
She proceeded to continue her storytelling and engaged the kids in a song number.
“Let her in here at talagang aalis ako Ryan. Hindi ako nagbibiro.”
“But brod, it would be rude to let her leave. She is still a friend.”
Richard with clenched jaws and furrowed brows, stood up and left Ryan, Celeste and his friends and collegues who were there to celebrate his birthday.
Celeste helplessly tried to stop him but he ignored her.
His friends couldn’t do anything.
Now driving aimlessly around the deserted streets of Makati, Richard Lim couldn’t help but remember that fateful day exactly five years ago.
“Ricky expected ka namin ni Emman by lunch time ha!”
“Oo naman. I wouldn’t miss it. I have to meet lang with some doctors. May demo lang for a new equipment. I’ll see you later.”
“I’ll see you later Ricky. Ingat sa pagmaneho ha!”
“Of course, mag-iingat ako, especially for you.”
“Ayan ka na naman, magbibiro ka na naman.”
“Of course not. I really take care of myself because of you lalo na at nagpromise ako kay Luke na aalagaan kita.”
“Naku ang cheesy ng best friend ko. Sige na po at baka ma late ka. See you mamayang lunch ha atsaka buong afternoon dapat wala kang appointments.”
“Yes my dear Maya.”
“Ewan ko sa’yo. Bye na!”
He could hear Maya’s giddy voice.
He knew that she and her friend Emman prepared something for his birthday.
It was so obvious and Maya hardly keeps a secret.
But he wasn’t sure what’s in store for him.
He was really excited.
If he could just forego the demonstration of the new equipment for the cardiology department he would gladly do so but it would be unprofessional and irresponsible to do so.
He hurriedly proceeded to the location.
Maybe due to his excitement for Maya’s surprise, he forgot his phone in the hospital.
After the demonstration, the head of the Cardiology department, Dr. Nicomedes Reyes made a very important announcement.
He is making Dr. Richard Lim his successor as the head of the Cardiology Department.
He will be leaving in two weeks and he is entrusting the department to the best doctor, Dr. Richard Lim.
Words of congratulations were given, all his colleagues were supportive of him being chosen to head the department.
He is the best in the field.
He was beyond happy.
It had always been his dream actually.
He wanted to share it with Maya immediately so he opened hs sling bag to search for his phone only to realize that he left it.
“Dr. Lim, aside from that, we have lunch waiting at the South Curves restaurant to celebrate your promotion and also your birthday.”
Dr. Reyes told him.
Richard was so overwhelmed with the happenings that morning.
But he needs to inform Maya who will be waiting for him.
He planned on asking her and Emman to drive to South Curves but unfortunately he doesn’t have his phone.
He borrowed the phone of his fellow doctor and called Liza.
Since Liza wasn’t answering, he decided to send a message to let Liza inform Maya to follow him at South Curves.
Unknown to Ricky, that message he sent didn’t reach Liza.
After lunch and a few drinks, Richard was no longer feeling well, but he tried to maintain his composure.
“Mahina talaga ang tolerance sa alcohol ni Dr. Lim.”
One of the doctors said.
“Hindi naman. Kayang kaya ko ang sarili ko.”
Richard was really intoxicated.
He just had a glass of wine but he was really drunk.
Dr. Reyes had gone ahead of them.
Dr. Reyes’ daughter, Stephanie, who was a former classmate of Richard, Ryan and Celeste in medical school asked her dad to be left behind so she can take care of Dr. Lim.
Those who were left were Richard , Stephanie and two other doctors, Dr. Ante and Dr. Cruz.
“Stephanie, ihatid na lang natin si Dr. Lim sa condo nya malapit sa hospital. Hindi kasi namin alam yun bahay nya. He usually rests in his condo.”
“Ganun ba? May susi kaya siya?”
Stephanie searched for the card key in Richard’s pocket and found it.
“Tara ihatid na lang natin si Dr. Lim.”
They proceeded to Dr. Lim’s condo and helped him to his room.
He was already unconscious.
“Sige ako na lang bahala sa kanya.”
The two doctors left Richard with Stephanie.
They were aware that Stephanie is Dr. Lim’s friend.
As she was staring at the sleeping form of the only man she ever loved, Stephanie couldn’t help but wonder why Richard never spared her some affection.
She would always make her intentions obvious but Richard would always ignore her.
The idea to again pursue him came when she heard her father talking about his and the other doctors’ decision to make Richard the head of the Cardiology Department.
She invited herself to the lunch gathering which is intended for doctors only. Her father relented for he knows he couldn’t stop his daughter.
She expected Richard to be at least extra friendly to her after her father announced the big news but he wasn’t.
He still treated her just like any other colleague.
This made her mad and insulted her so she decided to at least do her mini revenge.
Her intention was to be able to get closer to him and since he would be weak, she could easily take advantage of him.
She slipped some sleeping pills on Richard’s drink.
Since he also had a glass of wine, they mistook him to be drunk.
Now here in his room..
She was just staring at him.
Though she really wanted to take advantage of Richard, Stephanie still had a bit of decency left.
Besides she knows he will never forgive her once he finds out.
So she contented herself with just kissing a sleeping Dr. Lim.
She can’t leave him in this state so she decided to stay.
It was already late and Richard was still soundly asleep.
Stephanie knows that the effects of the sleeping pills would last till the following morning so she just searched for some change of clothes in Richard’s closet.
She got a vneck shirt and one of his shorts so she could sleep comfortably.
Stephanie was about to sleep, yes just sleep, beside Richard, when she heard the front door of his condo open.
As Maya was riding a cab on her way home after work, she couldn’t help but remember the significant happening on Dr. Richard Lim’s birthday five years ago.
After going to PGH to bring the cupcakes, barbecue and ice cream and talk with the kids, their parents and the doctors, nurses and staff in charge, Maya and Emman dropped by Luke’s grave for a few minutes before going to the hospital to check on Richard.
They were already getting worried.
“Ms. Liza wala pa si Dr. Lim?”
Liza was aware of Dr. Lim and Maya’s very special friendship but they still use formalities when in public places.
“Maya hindi ko rin nga macontact. Yun mga kasama kasi nya kanina ang sabi pagkatapos ng appointment nila kaninang umaga eh dumeretso daw sila sa South Curves. Pero umalis agad sila at naiwan sina Dr. Lim, Dr. Ante, Dr. Cruz, Dr. Reyes at yun anak nya.”
“Naku asan kaya si Dr. Lim? Hindi kaya nawala yun phone nya?” Emman joined in.
“Hindi ko naman nakita sa office. Baka naiwan sa ibang lugar. Di bale Maya, Emman, tatawagan ko agad kayo kapag nalaman ko kung nasaan si doc. Birthday pa naman nun ngayon.”
“Yun nga Ms. Liza eh, naghanda ng masyado etong si Bessie… Nagbake, nagluto….”
Maya cut him off.
“Ano ka ba Emman. Nakakahiya kay Ms. Liza. Sige alis na kami. Patawag na lang kung may balita na kay Dr. Lim.”
“Actually Maya daanan nyo kaya sa condo nya. Baka nandun lang naman si Doc. Hindi ko kasi magagawa. Marami pa akong tatapusing records na iniutos ni Doc kanina. Baka nandun siya.”
“Mabuti pa Bessie. Tara puntahan natin si doc.”
At the condo lobby they learned from the guard that Richard was already in his unit.
They were both relieved that Richard was home and safe.
Emman decided not to join anymore for he also had very important matters to attend to that night.
He would be preparing for his early morning trip to Cebu where his Lola lives.
He will be staying for a week before he migrates to Canada.
Emman was actually leaving for Canada in a few weeks to join his parents.
This was the reason why he wanted Maya and Richard to level up their relationship.
“Naku Mayabels baka awayin mo si Doc Ricky. Birthday nya pa rin remember. Bukas mo na lang awayin.”
“Pero pwede mo naman siyang awayin in bed.”
“Just kidding Bessie. Eto ang oa! Kung maka react parang walang anak!. Sige na bye na. See you tonight sa bahay.”
“Sige Emman thank you ha!”
Then Maya proceeded to Richard’s unit.
After unlocking his door, Maya called out to him…
She heard him scramble to go to his bedroom door.
“Please wag ka na munang lalabas. Di ko to masasabi ng harapan. Makinig ka lang muna.”
“Dapat ay matagal ko nang sinabi sa’yo to pero alam kong hindi ako karapat-dapat para sa katulad mo.”
She paused then carefully continued.
“Malayo ang agwat natin sa buhay pero ni minsan hindi mo pinaramdam sakin ang kakulangan ko. Lagi mong pinapalakas ang loob ko, laging mong pinapaalala ang mga kakayahan ko.”
She pauses to carefully choose her words.
“Nang sinabi mong mahal mo ako, napakasaya ko pero hiyang hiya ako na sabihin rin yun pabalik. Pero ngayon Ricky, maglalakas loob na ako.”
She paused again.
“Ngayong birthday mo, gusto kong sabihin na mahal na mahal rin kita. Happy birthday! I love you so much!”
She was excitedly, anxiously anticipating Ricky’s reaction.
All of a sudden…
“And who are you?!?”
Stephanie went out of Richard’s room to face the woman professing love to the man who never spared her a bit of affection.
Maya froze, felt numb, felt embarrassed.
She didn’t say anything.
She just hurried out of his room, out of his condo and out of his life.
A/N Stephanie talaga is the character I love to hate.