“Yes, we are very much related.. “
Sabay napalingon sina James, Maya, Ryan and Fred kay Richard. Nag-aantay kung ano ang kanyang idudugtong sa sagot niya kay Mr. Bermudez.
“Oh, interesting.. two Lims in the advertising world .. sayang di kayo nagkasama sa iisang agency. You know what Richard, we already told James here that we will get the services of TubeGen. They will be responsible for the campaign online. I hope the board will also choose your agency. If you ask me, gusto ko yung agency na ninyo ang kukunin but unfortunately, di lang ako ang magdedesisyon. It would have been nice to see you both work together, it would be great, right? Two great minds working on the same project, it will surely be a success! You impressed me before Richard, I wouldn’t mind having another Lim to impress me more with this project…by the way are you cousins? Kaninong kapatid ni Roberto galing ang magandang Lim na ito?..”
With a quizzical look, Mr. Bermudez look at Maya and Richard alternately. Richard and Maya’s eye meet, naunang nagbaba ng tingin si Richard. He look at his wine glass then slowly bring it in his mouth for a sip then look at her once again. His eyes telling her that she has the permission to answer the question in whatever she wants.
“No we’re not cousins Mr. Bermudez. Richard is my husband.”
Sabay-sabay napatingin sa kanya ang apat na lalaking di inaasahan ang kanyang sagot. Lahat sila naghihintay kung ano ang susunod niyang gagawin at sasabihin. Maya can see the glint of disappointment in James’ eyes as they look at her. When she look at Richard she can see relief. She could only hope both James and Richard understood why the need to tell Mr. Bermudez the truth.
“Husband? Oh..i thought that your still single because the way James addressed you earlier.. oh well..never mind.. ummm pero bakit nasa ibang kumpanya ka nagtrabaho?..Why not join your husband sa company niya?”
Mr. Bermudez asked completely confuse and unaware of the situation. All eyes on her once again, Maya felt so dumb. Deep inside, she is cursing herself, she suddenly regrets why she revealed to Mr. Bermudez the truth that Richard is her husband. She only makes things worst, she is worrying on how to explain to James later. And worst, di din niya alam kung paano niya sasabihin sa lalaking kaharap nila ngayon ang rason kung bakit wala siya sa tabi ng asawa niya.
“I guess masyadong personal yung tanong ko ..I’m sorry..anyway..glad to meet you Mrs. Lim.. kailangan ko din mag-ikot and greet the other guests..excuse me gentlemen..Maya.. Enjoy the party.”
“Thank you Mr. Bermudez.”
When the old man left, nobody dared to speak. Lahat sila kanya-kanyang uminom sa bitbit nilang wine glass. If only she could turn back time, gugustuhin ni Maya na sana tumahimik na lang siya. Wala sana siyang iisiping problema ngayon. How she wish bigla na lang siyang mawala right there and then to spare herself from James’ angry eyes.
Ryan and Fred sensed the tension between them. Knowing it won’t be wise to just leave Richard, he finally found the courage to excuse himself and his friends from the group.
“I think we better get going. May early meeting pa tayo bukas brod. James, Maya..we’ll go ahead.”
“Ay oo nga pala..buti pa nga mauna na tayo..Brod halika na?James..Maya mauna na kaming TATLO.”
Fred help out emphasizing that the three of them should start leaving as well, but Richard didn’t move, as if walang narinig sa dalawa.
“Brod, tayo na. ”
Ryan keeps tugging the corner of his coat.
Richard said as he stare into Maya’s eyes. He said it in a calm way trying to show James and Maya na wala siyang planong gumawa ng eksena. He reach out his hand, asking her to come with him.
“I think di magiging maganda if after sabihin ni Maya yon kanina basta-basta ko nalang siyang iiwan dito so isasabay ko na siya pag-uwi. Magtataka si Mr. Bermudez, I hope you understand.”
Maya touch his arm as she look up at James with pleading eyes. She felt relieve when she saw him nod. Upon seeing this, Richard took her hand and lead her out of the function hall. Sa parking area, naghiwalay na ang apat. Sumakay na sa kanilang sasakyan sina Fred at Ryan pagkatapos magpaalam sa kanilang dalawa. All the while, di binitawan ni Richard and kamay ni Maya as they slowly walk towards his car. He held her hand tightly never wanting to let her hand go.
“Chard, pwede dalian na nating maglakad. Prusisyon ba ‘to?”
“Silly! I just wanted to take the time kasi di naman sa lahat ng oras kitang nahahawakan like this.”
When they finally reach his car, Richard open the passenger door for her before he took his seat at the driver’s side. Minutes passed, Richard is driving his car away from there, now heading home to their condo. Ilang minuto din silang tahimik sa loob until Richard broke the silence first.
“Maya thank you.”
“Sa ginawa mo kanina. Naisip ko ding gawin yon kanina pero inisip ko baka magalit ka kaya hinayaan kitang sagutin ang tanong ni Mr. Bermudez. I didn’t expect na yon ang isasagot mo, I was ready to hear you deny it. You could have said something like we are close relatives but you chose to tell the truth. You just don’t know how glad I was when I heard it.”
“Patas lang tayo.. gusto ko din magpasalamat at di mo ako pinahamak by leaving me there even if umalis na si Mr. Bermudez.”
“Sorry for putting you in such an awkward situation earlier. Akala ko kasi di ka pupunta kasi di ba nasa accounting department ka so I decided to come with the group. I should have asked you last night.”
“it’s okay… it’s partly my fault din for going there with James kahit ba alam kung posible tayong magkita doon.”
“Maya, di lang ito ang huling beses na magkakaharap-harap tayong tatlo.I hope you get what I mean. ”
Muling natahimik silang dalawa. Maya kept her gaze outside the window while Richard focus on the road. Few more minutes passed then they arrived at the building’s basement. After mai-park ni Richard ang sasakyan niya ay nauna itong bumaba ng kotse para sana tulungan bumaba si Maya pero naunahan na siya nito. Then after that, sakay na sila ng elevator paakyat sa unit nila.
That night, di makatulog ng maayos si Maya. She kept thinking about their situation. After what happen sa conference, alam niyang kailangan na niyang magdesisyon. Ayaw na niyang mangyari pa ulit ang katulad ng nangyari kanina.
Richard is in the living room, pretending to work on something pero yung isip niya malayo sa files na binabasa niya. He is worried. After ng nangyari kanina, ramdam niyang konting oras na lang matatapos na ang maliligayang araw niya. Kahit konting pag-asa wala parin siyang nakikita na sasama pa si Maya sa kanya. All his efforts all this time na magkasama silang dalawa ni Maya di parin nito nakikita at na-appreciate.Marami pa siyang gustong gawin pero parang kulang na siya sa oras para gawin yon.
When Maya woke up the next day, Richard surprised her by giving her a bouquet of fresh red roses as soon as she join him for breakfast.
“Wala lang. Gusto ko lang bigyan ka ng flowers. You deserve it. I just realize di pala kita nabigyan ng flowers noon. And even when I showed up sa bahay ninyo wala akong bitbit even a single rose for you.”
“Yeah right…goons ang pasalubong mo sa akin eh.”
They both laugh when they remember that day. Looking at the lovely roses somehow lightens her mood kahit puyat siya sa kakaisip ng sitwasyon nilang tatlo.
“Upo ka na para makakain na. Baka ma-late ka sa office.”
They both seated opposite each other. Richard passed the plate with toasted bread to Maya then fill her cup with coffee.
“Bakit di ka pa bihis? Di ka papasok?”
“Hindi na muna, I have to finish something for tomorrows meeting. Kailangan ko yun tapusin kasi inaantay ng isang client namin yung final draft…Ihahatid lang kita then balik na ako dito kaagad”
“No, huwag na. May kotse naman ako kaya okay lang. ”
“No Maya ihahatid kita, besides Papa wants to have dinner with us so susunduin kita ulit mamaya. ”
Maya wanted to decline. She still have to talk to James. Since last night di na sila nagkausap ulit. She knows mahabang usapan pa ang magaganap between them so she doubts if she can come on time for the dinner.
“Yes, mamaya. Masyadong busy ang schedule niya and since I came back this would the 2nd time pa lang na magkita kami. He said he wants to see you so he asked me to make sure na kasama kita mamaya.”
“Kasi mamaya meron sana akong gagawin but if he really wants to see me, then sige mamaya..anong oras daw?”
“I’ll pick you at 6:30 ?”
Maya nod. She’s not sure why Richard’s father wants to see her but she suddenly have the feeling that just like Mamang. Makikiusap din ito sa kanya.
“By the way, I called Nanay and Mamang kahapon. Nakalimutan kong sabihin baka mamaya dadaan sila dito. I invited them para makita din nila ang bahay natin.”
“Oh? Pero paano yon di ako pwede mag-absent eh.”
“Okay lang..maiintindihan nila yon. Tsaka andito naman ako.”
“Thank you. Please tell her na bumalik sa Sunday para makita ko sila.”
“Sure, I will..sige na at baka ma-late ka na.”
Maya is touch by Richard’s thoughtfulness. Naisip pa nito ang nanay at lola niya, nahihiya siya sa sarili niya at siya pa yung nakalimut na imbitahan ang kapamilya niya. Buti na lang talaga naalala ni Richard kundi baka dumaan pa ang maraming araw di parin niya maalala imbitahan ang dalawa, sigurado siyang magtatampo talaga ito sa kanya.
As soon as Maya arrived in the office, si James kaagad ang hinanap pero hindi pa ito dumating sabi ng secretary kaya naghintay si Maya. She badly needs to talk to him. Alam niyang masama ang loob ni James sa kanya dahil sa nangyari kagabi. She wanted to assure him na wala paring nagbago, if ever nagdadalawang isip na ito tungkol sa nararamdaman niya dito. She wanted to defend herself why the need to do that.
Past eight binalikan ni Maya ang opisina ni James, hoping to find him there already only to find out na tumawag si James at sinabing di papasok. He is clearly avoiding her. Maya called his phone several times pero di siya nito sinasagot. In the end, she just texted him. In her message, she told him na hahayaan muna niya ito sa ngayon at alam niyang nagtatampo si James sa kanya. She told him she misses him and that she loves him. Maya waited, hoping he would reply after he receives the text, but nothing came. Naiintindihan ni Maya kung bakit ganun na lang ang pagtatampo ng boyfriend niya. Pero gaya ng sabi niya sa text niya kay James. Hahayaan na muna ito sa ngayon.
Later that evening, nasa isang mamahaling restaurant sina Maya, Richard, and Roberto. Masaya ang matanda to see Maya again. Maya felt awkward when the old man hug her as soon as they approach their table. Kung iisipin, it would only be the 3rd time na nagkaharap sila. First nung nasa presinto sila, second was during their wedding, and third was the time when he invited them sa mansyon nito kung saan nag-away ang mag-ama. Now she’s wondering if this meeting would end up just like the last one long time ago.
Surprisingly, the mood of the dinner is alot better compared to the third meeting. Masayang nag-uusap ang mag-ama while Maya listens to them. They talk about politics and business.
In the middle of their dinner, kinailangan ni Richard na umalis para sagutin ang tawag ni Liza. This gives a chance for Roberto and Maya to talk.
“Maya how are you? It’s been six years since yung last time na nagkita tayo. Look at you now, ang laki ng pinag-iba mo.”
“Oo nga po eh… nagulat ba kayo di na ako balyena?”
“No..not that one..I mean you look so different. It’s not the weight or anything. I think kasi nung last time nagkita tayo, You look naive, simply..don’t get me wrong. I love you look now. Mature, confident..”
“It’s okay Sir, you don’t have to explain. ”
“Sir? Di ba I told you before to call me papa? Nahihiya ka parin ba?”
Roberto reach for Maya’s hand over the table and tap in gently.
“Please huwag ka na mahiya. Pamilya tayo.”
“Ummm ..wala pa kaming napagkasunduan ni Richard. Right now po pinagbibigyan ko lang yung hiling niya na hayaan siyang patunayan ang sarili niya.”
“You mean wala pang kasiguraduhan lahat ng to?”
“But why? Kulang pa ba yung pinapakita ni Richard sa’yo. Ano pa ba ang dapat niyang patunayan?”
Roberto waited for her explanation pero di na ulit nagsalita si Maya. He understands na medyo sensitive ang usapan na yon kaya di na siya kinulit pa ng matanda.
“So, di totoo yung tungkol sa possibleng paglipat mo sa LAS?”
“HIndi po..bakit sino bang nagsabi sa’yo na lilipat daw po ako?”
“Actually I asked Richard to ask you if you could join the company. Nalaman ko kasing nasa isang company ka din na related din sa advertising so I thought baka matulungan mo si Richard. ”
“Kaya naman siguro ni Richard pamahalaan yung LAS Sir, matagal na siya sa field of advertising di ba. He even worked sa US, that work experience alone is a big advantage na.”
“Yeah, I know.. if only he didn’t left the company for six years. Well LAS is still okay but not as good as it was before he left the company. Have you heard about the Bermudez project?”
“Yes po. Our company will handle the online advertising for the said project. Kahapon po yung conference and nagpunta din sina Richard doon.”
“Yeah na-mention nga niya. The company needs this project para ibangon ulit ang LAS sa advertising field.”
“I didn’t know that. I remember Richard asking me to join the company but when I refused di naman niya ako kinulit na.”
“Maybe because ayaw niyang pagmulan ulit ng away ninyo. He told lied to me, sabi niya that you will join him soon. Siguro ayaw niya lang akong mag-worry. Gusto niya kasi akong huminto na sa pagtra-trabaho. After this term, he wants me to stop and relax. I never thought na dadating ang time na magkakasundo pa kami ni Richard. And it happened because of you.”
“Po? Parang wala akong natandaan na ginawa ko po para sa inyong dalawa.”
“No..meron Maya that’s why I’m grateful at dumating ka sa buhay ni Richard.”
Maya is wondering kung ano ang ginawa niya para magkasundo ang dalawa. As far as she knows, nangako lang siyang aalagaan si Richard. Isang pangakong di man lang niya natupad at nagkahiwalay na silang dalawa noon.