“Leah kumpleto na ba yun mga dala dala nyo?”
“Opo Ate Maya. May extra shirts na din po si Luke at may extra towels.”
It was the school’s annual Family Day and Luke will be accompanied by his Lola Fe and their househelp Leah.
As much as she wanted to be with her son in their school activity, Maya knows she shouldn’t risk it. It was for her and Luke’s safety anyway.
Luke understands it and he never complains.
“Anak galingan nyo ni Ate Leah mo ha! Siya na muna ang sasama sa paglalaro mo ng mga games. Wag mong pipilitin si Lola Fe at baka mapagod siya.”
“Yes mommy! Promise I will do my best sa games.” The boy was beaming despite the fact that his mommy won’t be able to accompany him.
It was the very first activity in school and Luke was very excited.
He will get to play with his classmates. He was a very competitive kid even in his former school.
“O sige anak. Iluluto ka ni Mommy ng spaghetti, chicken at barbeque. Meron na rin tayong ice cream at cake dyan. We’ll have a picnic at the backyard later paguwi to celebrate family day.”
The boy hugged his mom.
“Thank you mommy! You’re the best!”
“Naku sige na at baka ma-late pa kayo. Leah tumawag ka na muna ng taxi sa harap.”
“Okay po Ate.”
The Northwest Hills Montessori is in a festive mood. Children with their parents in tow are in their PE uniforms and ready for the games and activities.
The kids were huddled in the school’s auditorium where the activities will be taking place. There were benches and tables all around for the families as well.
After the welcome message of the school principal, the PE department head was making some announcements regarding the mechanics of the game and was also introducing some invited guests to judge the games and activities.
Luke was with his Lola Fe and Ate Leah keenly listening to the announcement.
Richard Lim was with his daughters Nikki Grace and Abigail Ruth and his parents Roberto and Esmeralda and Abby’s yaya Doris. They were seated beside Luke’s table. Luke and Nikki were playmates so they decided to sit close to each other.
Richard was wondering where Maya was and why wasn’t she able to attend her son’s school activity. From what he gathered from Ryan, Maya just works from her home and she seldom goes out.
He was actually looking forward to see her. There’s something in her that excited him.
“Let’s all welcome our judges for our outdoor games, Teacher Samantha and Sir James!” the PE department chair announced.
Upon hearing the name, Luke cowered in fear. He seemed worried. It was so evident in his almond-shaped eyes. He was trying his best to hide himself by hugging his Lola Fe.
“Luke bakit? Anong nangyari?” Lola Fe noticed Luke suddenly turn pale and hugged her in fear.
Richard, who was nearby noticed that the boy literally trembled and seemed afraid when he heard the name James.
“Nothing po. Can we go home now? Hindi na po ako sasali sa games. Masakit po ang stomach ko.”
“Diyos ko anak! Bakit? Okay ka naman kanina pagpunta natin ah. Sige magpapaalam tayo sa teacher mo.”
But as Lola Fe and Leah was preparing to leave, the Sir James being mentioned by the PE Department Chair went up the stage. He turned out to be a young coach, in his 20’s and definitely not Luke’s dad.
A wave of relief was now seen on the boy’s face. He smiled and stopped Lola Fe and Leah from leaving.
“Wag na po. Okay na po ako.”
“Aba sigurado ka? Baka magalit ang mommy mo if magpipilit tayo.”
Then the boy whispered to his Lola Fe.
“Akala ko po kasi si daddy yun sinabi kanina.”
Lola Fe hugged the boy very tight. She wants him to feel safe and secure. Then in a low voice she said… “Hinding hindi ka namin pababayaan ha Luke. Wag kang matakot.”
Richard who was observing the boy heard it for he was near them.
It intrigued him more.
The Family Day ended with Luke having 2 small trophies for being part of the soccer team and the track and field team. He looked so happy and proud.
He was blabbering nonstop about his mom being proud once she sees the trophies.
Nikki Grace also had a trophy as well for joining in the ‘tug of war’. She was also beaming to her very proud Lola and Lolo and daddy.
“Dad eat tayo sa restaurant ha!” Nikki requested.
“Naku Nikki Lolo and Lola has an appointment. Di na tayo pwede pumunta ng restaurant kasi we will be late. Next time na lang apo. We’ll just ask Ate Sabel to cook sa bahay.” Her Lola said.
“Okay po.” Nikki answered but she was obviously sad.
Richard was driving their van out of the school premises when he saw Luke with his Lola and Yaya waiting for a cab. He knows that it would be very difficult to get one at this hour especially with many parents in line.
He stopped in front of them and rolled his car window and the window at the back where Nikki could be seen.
“Luke Andrew sabay na kayo samin.” He volunteered.
“Yes Luke join us.” Nikki also invited
“Ah eh. Nakakahiya naman. Makakaistorbo pa kami.” Lola Fe was turning down the offer.
“Hindi po. Atsaka alam ko naman yun bahay nyo kasi nahatid na namin si Luke dati. Matatagalan ho kayo dito at tanghali na. Kawawa yun bata.” Richard convinced them.
“Ah eh sige Mr. Lim, kung hindi naman masyadong abala.” Lola Fe relented. He already had a brief encounter with Richard and she knows that he is the kind dad of Luke’s classmate Nikki. Besides she was worried that they won’t be able to make it to lunch.
“Hijo you were so brave kanina as a goalie. Ang galing mo.” Roberto praised Luke.
“Thank you po.” Luke timidly replied.
“He is also magaling in class lolo. We always get stars from teacher.” Nikki proudly stated.
“Wow ang gagaling naman ng mga batang to.” Esmeralda commented.
Luke and Nikki were happily sharing stories on the ride to Luke’s home.
Lola Fe was happy that at least Luke is now starting to live a normal life. He has a friend already.
“Here we are. Bye Luke!”
Lola Fe, Leah and Luke alighted the van. Richard assisted them in carrying the bag with Luke’s things while Manang Fe was fumbling for the gate’s key.
“Ah eh wala po yun mommy ni Luke?”
Richard could sense the hesitation to give information in Lola Fe’s face so he added…
“Nakilala ko si mommy ni Luke, si Maya when I brought Luke home. Kilala rin siya ng kaibigan kong si Ryan.”
It was only then that the old woman relaxed.
“Ah nandyan sa loob si Maya. Nagluluto yun eh. Teka lang Mr. Lim tawagin ko.”
“Ay wag na po. Paki kumusta na lang ako…”
But before he could finish what he was saying, Maya emerged to see what she was hearing at their gate.
She looked like she’d been busy cooking for she still had an apron and some loose hair were on her temple which Richard had the urge to tuck between her ears.
“Oh Mr. Lim! Hinatid nyo na naman si Luke? Naku sobra na yan. Nakakahiya naman.”
“Richard na lang. At hindi naman abala kasi pauwi naman kami at mas okay na may kausap at kalaro etong si Nikki. Mag-isa lang kasi sa bahay. Naghahanap ng kalaro.”
“Ay ganun ba? Gusto nyo iwan nyo muna si Nikki dito sa bahay. May play area naman kami sa likod, yun dinesign ni Ryan. Para makapaglaro ang mga bata. Atsaka kain na muna kayo dito. Naghanda naman kasi ako kaso pambata yun pagkain, spaghetti, barbeque, chicken at cake. May ice cream din pala.” She laughed.
Richard was amused at how she speaks, how her face brightens. He was mesmerized even by the movement of her lips.
Then he recovered.
“Ah eh…hindi na kasi may appointment pa yun parents ko. Kasama kasi namin ngayon. But thank you for the invitation.”
Maya greeted his parents. She felt a certain ache in her heart for she remembered her parents as well.
“Dad can I stay?” Nikki suddenly blurted out. She wanted to stay and to play with Luke.
“Nikki, we need to go home na.”
“Please dad.” Nikki pleaded.
Maya suggested. “Ganito na lang, dito na muna si Nikki tapos sunduin nyo na lang mamayang hapon.”
As much as Richard didn’t want to be bothering the family, he also saw it as an opportunity to get to know Maya whom she admits to himself that he finds intriguing and very attractive.
“Kung okay lang?”
“Okay na okay! Halika na Nikki.” Maya assisted Nikki out of the van. Doris handed a small bag with Nikki’s extra clothes and other needs.
Luke was beaming with delight just like Nikki.
“Salamat Mrs. dela Rosa. Bahala na kayo kay Nikki. Mabait yan, right Niks?” He winked at his daughter then fished a blank calling card from his wallet. He got his pen and scribbled his name and number then handed it to her.
“In case you need to contact me about Nikki that’s my number Mrs. Dela Rosa. Sige we have to go. Thank you. See you later.”
“Just call me Maya. And sige thank you rin sa paghatid kila Luke, Richard.”
Richard kissed Nikki (si Nikki ha! Hindi pa si Maya!😁) then bid goodbye with his signature lopsided smile.
Maya smiled as well.
“Naku son baka mahipan ang ngiti mo, di na yan makabalik sa dati.” Roberto teased his son.
“Pa!” He groaned in protest.
“Hey I’m just saying atsaka she’s very lovely. Ang gwapo din ng anak. Kamukhang kamukha nya. Kaso Ricky baka you might get yourself in a complicated situation ha! I’m just warning you.”
“Pa! You’re getting ahead of things. I’m just being friendly towards a co-parent.” He said defensively.
“Uh hmmm… Being friendly is different from being smitten Ricky. Kilalang kilala kita. You are my son.” His mom now joined his dad.
“Oh God! I’m not having this conversation with you guys.” He complained. His parents were laughing. They were really happy to see their son, who’ve been mourning for the longest time, genuinely happy at the moment.
He was both annoyed and amused. But he can’t shake the silly grin off his face. Maya dela Rosa radiates a certain energy which made his day so bright.
“Whatever you say son. Whatever you say.” Esmeralda commented.
But his dad even added, “Kung dala ko lang license ko, I would have left you with Nikki. I will be the one to drive the van. Antagal mo. Malalate na kaya kami ng mama mo. Mukhang hindi lang si Nikki ang gustong magpaiwan to play with Luke. Mukhang gusto mo ring magpaiwan to play with the mom.”
“Roberto watch your words!”
“You guys are over-reacting! I mean play in a clean way.” Roberto defended himself
Now it was his parents arguing which he couldn’t even understand anymore for he can’t shake-off the image of Maya awhile ago. She looked so lovely especially with her sweaty forehead, a bit messy hair, cheek with a black stain he suspected to be charcoal for she smelled like she was cooking barbeque. She looked so beautiful despite not being made up and he can’t help but imagine her in different situations as well.
Preview for the next chapter:
“Pa! Ma! Dito lang kayo sa building. You will be safe from the typhoon here. Doris pakisabihan si Joma na ipasok sa bodega lahat ng sasakyan.”
“Mommy I’m scared!”
“Anak dito lang tayo. Safe tayo dito.”
“Maya ang lakas lakas ng hangin! Bumukas na yun gate. Hayaan na lang natin kasi masisira yun kapag napwersa ng hangin.”
They were all huddled in the living room. They covered the windows with heavy cabinets. The wind was howling outside. Maya was scared but she tried to hide it. She must be brave for Luke, Manang Fe and Leah.
The winds momentarily stopped and they heard him.
“Maya! Luke! Are you guys okay?”