At the convent, Father Francis was harvesting tomatoes from his vegetable garden when Mother Elena arrived for a visit.
“Wow Father ang dami nyan. Who would have thought that the soil here is good for vegetables. Dati kasi they just use this area as garage. I’m really impressed on how you transformed the sad state of this backyard to a vegetable garden.”
“Marami nang naharvest dyan Mother. I actually sent you a basket of tomatoes tapos may avocado din yesterday. Yun driver na nagdala kasi pumunta ako ng cathedral kahapon.”
“Oh thank you. Baka nandun na sa kitchen namin. So how’s the bishop?”
“He is so excited for his big show. Everyone is so busy there. He invited many visitors. Stressed na yun mga pari dun.”
“Si bishop talaga. I heard he even hired someone from abroad to be in charge of the show.”
“Ah oo si Ricky. He is the same person who directed your school play actually. Swerte ng diocese that he’s around. Pabalik na rin yun sa Rome next week. He is teaching there.”
Mother Elena was surprised. She never knew anything about Richard Lim anymore. The only thing she knows was that he lives and works overseas. That’s what Manang Fe told her the last time they accidentally saw each other in church.
“You mean Ricky? Richard Lim?”
“Yes. He’s the one who directed your school concert. You already met him Mother. He’s a very talented young man, charismatic and very passionate in everything he does too.”
“Yes I know him already. He lives in Rome? Ano siya doon?” Mother Elena can’t help but ask Father Francis.
“He’s assigned there. He teaches too and is also in charge of the choir and orchestra there. He will be ordained next year and I hope he still decides to be a priest. Medyo nalito ata ng umuwi dito.”
Francis Francis said in jest. He never suspected that the person he is talking to is very significant in Ricky’s life.
“He’s going to be a priest? Oh I thought he was just connected to you because he was teaching music.”
“Ah no. I met him years ago in Rome during my short studies there. I learned that he’s from the Philippines too so we got close. He was still a seminarian then and he just came from a mission in some African country I couldn’t even remember, marami na kasi siyang napuntahan. He was a favorite sa lahat ng communities na napupuntahan nya. Very selfless. He’s actually alone. No parents and no siblings as well.”
Mother Elena nodded, digesting all the information Father Francis was telling her.
Father Francis continued.
“He was to be ordained next year. Umuwi lang naman siya for the wedding of his friends. He just opted to stay a bit longer kasi inasikaso nya yun properties nila. Coincidence that I was assigned here to where he came from.”
“I thought he was married. You never mentioned he was a seminarian.”
“A deacon actually. He requested not to be treated such kasi daw he wants to be a normal guy when he’s here. Nagkamali ata kami eh. Dapat hindi namin pinayagan with that set up.”
“Oh. He wanted out?”
“He’s considering it. He’s confused now. Reconnected with a past girlfriend ata. Kaso she is already married and with a son.”
“He will leave the church to pursue her?”
“I don’t think so. He said he will leave the church not to pursue her but because it would be unfair if he couldn’t give his entire self anymore.”
Mother Elena was in deep thought.
“Masyadong mahirap Mother to give advice kasi I wanted him to continue to be a priest. We really need people like him but he’s also a very good person, very selfless. Yun buong taon nya in the seminary, in his missionary work, even in school, he never complained, he was always giving and sharing. Right now I’m just praying for the happiness he deserves. Whatever decision he makes, I’m sure that wouldnt change him. Innate na yun pagiging mabuting tao nya.”
“If he decides to go out, what does he need to do?”
“He needs to speak with his Spiritual Director first then decide from there. Itutuloy pa rin ata nya yun pagtuturo doon. I can’t see him staying here to pursue the lady and destroy her family. He is not like that.”
“I am sure he’s not.”
“Maya can you please calm down. Nahihilo na ako sa’yo.”
Maya was preparing for her meeting with Richard. It was just 12 noon but she already dressed up and was badgering James to bring her to the venue.
“Eh James paano naman ako kakalma. Natatakot ako kung anong magiging reaksyon nya. Baka magulo ko siya, baka magalit siya, baka kunin nya si Luke sa akin.”
She was really worried, scared even.
“You know him better than I do Maya. Sa tingin mo, kaya nyang gawin ang mga yan?”
“Hindi. Pero paano kung sa galit nya, gawin nga nya. Hindi ko kakayanin na kunin nya si Luke.”
“I don’t think he will do that Maya. He is a sensible man from everything you told me about him. He has the right to know about his son. Luke has the right to know who his real dad is. Siguro it was fate that the two of you crossed paths again to be able to settle everything that needs to be settled.”
“Madaling sabihin yan James kasi hindi ikaw ang nasa sitwasyon ko.”
“Maya alam ko but when will you tell him? Consider today as your only chance to tell him. Its either you tell him or not. Pero once pinalampas mo, don’t regret anything, don’t sulk. Panindigan mo ang desisyon mo. You have to think about Luke.”
“Alam ko James. Salamat ha. Duwag lang talaga ako, alam mo naman yan.”
“Hindi ka duwag Maya. You are brave kasi kung hindi, you wouldn’t have raised Luke on your own. Di mo sana siya napalaki ng maayos.”
“Hindi naman ako nagiisa. Nandyan ka naman.”
“No. I was not. I was far. I’m just someone whom he calls dad but I wasn’t really a dad to him.”
“James ikaw ang dad ni Luke at kahit na sabihin ko kay Richard and totoo, hindi ko naman inaasahan na gagampanan nya ang pagiging tatay nya kay Luke. May sarili na siyang buhay. ”
“No Maya. After you tell him the truth, let him decide what he will do. Pag-usapan nyo for Luke’s welfare. And you my dear, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Don’t fret about things na di pa naman nangyayari. Malay mo everything will be in your favor. Malay mo, Ricky would go back to your life.”
She sharply stared at James.
“Hindi magandang biro yan James. I’m not amused.”
“Hey relax! Okay sorry na. Ang seryoso mo kasi. Don’t worry whatever the outcome is, nandito lang ako Maya. I’ll always be here for you and Luke. Halika na nga.”
James gave her a hug to comfort her. He knows the inner turmoil Maya is going through.
Maya and James were on their way to South Curves.
James would just drop her off and proceed to Mother Elena who called awhile ago requesting for James to visit her. Luke stayed home to do his homework. Leah was with him.
“James kumusta hitsura ko?”
Natawa si James.
“Stunning. Lovely. I don’t think Richard Lim could stay still in his seat.”
“Hindi ako nagbibiro James!” She was upset.
“Oy ang init ng ulo mo, relax ka nga.”
“Ikaw kasi eh. Kinakabahan na nga ang tao. Ano nga hitsura ko? Maputla ba? Halata bang kinakabahan?”
He reached for her hand.
“Hey Maya, si Richard lang yun. Kumalma ka nga. Halatang halata ka naman nyan na sobrang affected sa presence nya. Relax, okay?”
She inhaled deeply.
“Good afternoon James. Maya. Doon tayo.”
Richard was waiting for Maya at the entrance of South Curves. He needed to calm his nerves too. He was disappointed to see James with her but he maintained his cordial demeanor.
“Ah no Richard. Hinatid ko lang si Maya. See you at home na lang mamaya? Richard okay lang sa’yo na ihatid siya sa bahay? Wala kasing kasama si Luke at yun yaya nya.”
He was surprised that James would entrust Maya to him but he also realized that the two must have a very secured relationship for him to completely trust his wife.
“Oh no problem James. Ihahatid ko si Maya sainyo. Thank you.”
“Sige pare. Maya.”
Then he gave Maya a hug and a kiss while whispering..
“Everything will be alright Maya.”
James left them to finally have their long overdue heart to heart talk.
A/N Oftentimes it is very easy to see what needs to be done but if you’re in the situation itself, the whole decision-making becomes very difficult.