Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to CorUnum. This is a continuation to Maya’s Music – part 12.
THE MAYA MAGIC
“Oh my gee, kuya. You’re so G-R-R-R! You should have called Niccolo earlier para nakapag-set-up kayo agad ng sound system!” “Ano ka ba Niks? Mag-relax ka nga d’yan. Masyado kang atat. Maaga pa kaya.” “Eh kuya, it’s almost 6PM na. What if maagang makauwi sina Dad and Teacher… I mean, Tita Maya from Batangas? E di masisira na our plan!” “Hindi ‘yan. Maaga pa. Tsaka ma-traffic ngayon.” At the Lim household, everybody’s getting ready for the romantic set-up for Richard and Maya. Nikki wanted to turn the place into a ‘magical’ ball area where their dad and their Tita Maya could dance and romance each other.
“Nik-Nik, relax ka lang. Tama si tol. Ikaw, parang mas excited ka pa kay Tita Maya.” Niccolo said. “Whatever with a capital W! For your information, hindi alam ni Tita Maya about this set-up kaya hindi s’ya talaga mae-excite. Duh! That’s why it’s called a surprise!” Nikki retorted. “Tama na nga yan. Ganito na lang Niks. Tulungan mo na lang kami ni Niccolo ayusin ito. Para pagdating nina Dad, OK na.”
At the kitchen…
“Doris, Sabel, gandahan n’yo ang pag-design ng icing d’yan sa cupcakes na ‘yan. Biling bilin ni Abby gandahan daw.” It was Manang Fe. Doris and Sabel were putting icing on 12 cupcakes which Melinda baked earlier — each bearing a letter. It would read:
“Opo, Manang. Eto na nga po at kinakarir na namin ang pagle-lettering.” Sabel said. “Oo nga, Manang. Teka, nasaan po ba ‘yung tray na paglalagyan nito?” Doris asked. “Ah, eto. Naihanda ko na kanina pa.” Manang Fe said, while getting the tray. Joma came. “Manang Fe, OK lang po ba kayo d’yan? Tutulungan ko lang po kasi sina Sir Luke at Ma’am Nikki ayusin ang porch. Sabi kasi ni Ma’am Nikki, kelangan daw romantic ang hitsura para kina Sir Richard at Maya.” “Naku Joma, paano mo naman gagawing romantic ‘yun eh wala ka namang romansa sa katawan!” Sabel joked, to which Doris laughed. “Tse! Inggit lang kayo kasi wala kayong love life!” Joma said. “Tigilan n’yo na ‘yan! Sige na, Joma. Ayusin mo na ang porch at baka mamaya ay dumating na sina Ricardo.”
With everything set, all were relieved. The place looked great. Red crepe papers and heart-shaped Japanese felts designed the walls. The porch seemed like a place from romantic novels. Candles and rose petals were strategically placed on hallways and floorboards. The scent of lavender filled the place. It was great!
“Oh, baby, ready ka na ba to serenade Dad and Tita Maya?” Nikki asked. “Yes, ate. I’m super ready!” Abby beamed. Like the others, she was excited. In truth, she’s delighted that her ‘Teacher’ Maya, now her ‘Tita’ Maya (and she’s hoping would be ‘Mama’ Maya in the future), is her Daddy’s girlfriend. Then suddenly, they heard Richard’s car honking. “Dali! Nandyan na sila!!!” Melinda said excitedly. Everybody went outside to greet them. Joma opened the gate. To his surprise, Richard was the only occupant of the car.
When Richard got off the car, he was surprised to see how apprehensive everybody looked. “Dad! Asan si Tita Maya?” Luke asked. “Wala pa ba s’ya dito?” Richard asked. Suddenly, his chinito eyes went round and his heart began pounding like a race horse just inhibited it. His fingers felt tingly. Hell, he was scared! Maya’s not here! “What do you mean dad? Hindi po ba kayo magkasabay umuwi?” Nikki asked. “No…” It was all Richard could say. Then, he got his phone and dialled Maya’s number. ‘The number you dialled is out of coverage area. Please try your call again later.’ The automated voice said over and over again. Every repetition etched dreadful worry on Richard’s heart.
Richard’s legs turned to jelly. Damn you Richard! You’re such a bastard! How could you let this happen? He was ardently chiding himself. The memory of her assuring him that she’ll be fine flashed in his mind.
“Ser Chief, OK lang talaga.” “Are you sure you’ll take the public transport? I can call the driver again para maihatid ka.” “Ano ka ba, Ser Chief. Sigurado ako. Masyado nang mahal ang magagastos mo kapag hinire mo pa si kuya driver papuntang Maynila. Isa pa, matanda na ako, kaya ko nang magbiyahe.” “If you like, I can call off this emergency site inspection.” “Huwag na. Mahalaga ‘yang emergency site inspection mo na ‘yan. Tutal, dito rin sa Batangas ang inspection, dumaan ka na r’on. Tapos ako, uuna na ako papuntang Manila. Nag-text din kasi si Sr. Fe, pinapadaan ako sa Sta. Catalina. After ‘nun, pupunta ako sa mansion. ‘Wag ka mag-alala. I’ll be fine.”
That’s it! Richard dialled Sr. Fe’s number. One ring… Two… three… four… Please pick up! After six rings, a shrill voice said: “Hello?” “Hello, Sr. Fe? Good evening po. This is Richard Lim. Nandyan pa po ba si Maya?” “Ay, good evening, Mr. Lim. Kanina, narito si Maya. Nagpatulong ako sa arrangement ng Sta. Catalina Hymn. Pero pagkatapos ‘nun, nagmamadaling umalis. Pupunta pa raw s’ya sa inyo at dadalhin ang mga pasalubong n’ya para sa mga bata from Batangas.” Richard felt like a bucket of ice was just poured into his body. “Hello Mr. Lim?” Sr. Fe said. “Th-thank you Sister.” Richard said weakly and pressed the end button.
“Dad? Dad? What’s wrong? Where is Tita Maya?” Nikki asked, concern coating her voice. “Dad…” It was all Luke could say. His eyes betrayed his worry. Abby tugged at her father’s sleeve. “Daddy, ano pong sabi ni Sr. Fe? Saan daw po pumunta si Tita Maya?” She asked. Richard’s heart shattered. “She’s supposed to be here. I thought she was already here. Damn it, I thought she’s here!” Richard always made it a point never to curse in front of his kids. But this time, he felt so scared and hopeless and angry with himself that he just spat it out unthinkingly. Tears threatened to spill from his eyes. His guts churned.
“Ricardo, pumasok muna tayo sa loob at nang mahimasmasan ka.” Manang Fe ventured. “No Manang! I’m going to look for her!” Richard was about to get into his car but Manang Fe was stopping him. “Ricardo, sandali lang. Mas makabubuti kung dumito ka muna…” “I can’t just stand here!” He cursed himself inwardly for raising his voice. But his fear was so immense that rational thinking seemed to have left his vocabulary. Patiently, Manang Fe explained to him. “Ricardo, kumalma ka sandali. Malay mo, may dinaanan lang si Maya at parating na s’ya dito. At isa pa, saan mo s’ya hahanapin eh hindi mo s’ya ma-contact? Tayo na lahat sa loob at sama-sama nating pag-isipan kung paano hahanapin si Maya.” Richard sighed and weakly nodded.
When they got inside, Richard saw how romantic the place looked and this further tore his heart into pieces. If he had just been more careful, he and Maya would be enjoying his family’s surprise for them. Darn! He’s boiling mad at himself. With all the strength that’s left in him, he dialled Liza’s number. “Hello, Liza. Can you do me a favor? Please get in touch with the bus companies and check if Maya was in any of their buses bound for Manila from Batangas at around 4PM?” “Sir? I’m sorry but I think that’s impossible. I mean, hindi naman parang eroplano ang bus na may tickets bearing their names ang mga pasahero… so how can we trace if Maya was on their bus?” Silence. “Sir?” The line went dead. Oh, yes… he forgot about that… he couldn’t determine which bus she got into. Did she have an accident? Now everything’s doomed. He had no idea where Maya was. For all he knew, she could be lying face down in a ditch, naked, stabbed… Stop thinking morbid thoughts Richard! No, she’ll be fine. She promised me she’ll be fine!
“Ricardo! Ricardo!” Manang Fe’s words cut Richard’s reverie. He just looked at her. She was handing him the wireless phone. “Gusto kang makausap ni Maya.” At the mention of Maya’s name, Richard grabbed the phone. He couldn’t say a word, but his sharp intake of breath was enough for Maya to know he’s already on the other end of the line. “Ser Chief?” Oh, how grateful Richard was for hearing her voice again! He clasped the phone as if his life depended on it. “Maya where are you? Why aren’t you here? Bakit ‘di ko ma-contact ang cell phone mo? Bakit ngayon ka lang tumawag? Anong nangyari sa’yo?” “Ser Chief, isa-isa lang ang tanong… Kalma…” “Damn it! Hindi ako makakalma! How can I? We were worried sick. I was worried sick!” When Maya sighed, Richard realized he was screaming at her. He sighed back. “I’m sorry.” He said. “Hay, Ser Chief. Ikaw talaga… ‘wag mong i-stress ang sarili mo sa pag-aalala. Wala namang masamang nangyari sa’kin. Kalma ka na ha? Eto ako, kausap mo. Kaya OK lang ako. Hintayin mo ako, papunta na ako d’yan. Pagdating ko na lang ako mag-e-explain.”
“Where are you? Susunduin kita.” “Naku, huwag na.” “Please Maya. Don’t argue. I need to make sure you’ll be fine!” Richard’s temper was slipping again. “Ser Chief, I’m fine nga di’ba? Ikaw ang mukhang hindi fine. Halos malasahan ko ang stress sa boses mo. Kaya kalmahin mo muna ang sarili mo at hintayin mo ako d’yan.” “No Maya. Ganito, I’ll stay here, wait for you and try my best to be calm. But I’ll ask Joma to pick you up. I won’t take no for an answer. Nasaan ka ba?” “Nasa ospital pa ako.” “Ospital?!?! What happened to you? Are you OK?” Richard felt panicky again.
“Ayan ka nanaman Ser Chief. Aligaga mode ka nanaman. OK nga lang ako. Andito ako sa Manila General Hospital. May sinamahan lang ako… Hay, sige. Para mapanatag ang loob mo, ipasundo mo na ako kay Kuya Joma. Hihintayin ko na lang s’ya sa lobby.” Maya said. Silence. “Ser Chief?” “Maya… I’m sorry for raising my voice.” “Sorry din kung pinag-alala kita.” “It’s just that I got scared. I thought may nangyari sa’yo.” “OK lang talaga ako Ser Chief… I love you.” Despite the nerve-racking drama that just took place, Richard smiled. “I love you too, Ma’am Chief.”
Everybody was at the family room. Maya breathed a deep sigh. She didn’t know that the small incident would cause so much unrest in the Lim household, especially to Richard.
“Pasensya na kung nag-alala kayo. Pero ganito kasi ang nangyari. Nakasakay na ako sa jeep, papunta na sana dito. Tapos ‘yung isa sa mga kasakay ko, matandang babae, bigla na lang natumba. Nagiging kulay blue na s’ya. Nag-panick ang lahat. Eh nagkataong ako lang ang nurse na nakasakay sa jeep. Kaya ako na ang nag-first aid sa kanya. Nag-CPR ako tsaka rescue breathing. ‘Nung dumating ‘yung ambulansya, na-realize namin na wala palang kasama si lola. Kaya hayun, since ako na rin ang tumulong sa kanya, nilubos ko na. Ako na rin ang nag-endorse sa kanya sa ospital.”
“Why was your phone turned off?” Richard asked. He was still recuperating from worry but deep inside, his admiration for Maya grew. What a woman! He thought to himself. “Ser Chief, sorry. Kasi na-dead-batt ang phone ko. Wala namang time mag-charge kasi ako rin ang nag-asikaso ng admission ni lola. ‘Nung matapos ang lahat, tsaka lang ako nakatwag using the hospital phone. Kaya late na ako nakatawag sa’yo.” Like what Richard thought, Maya’s an angel. Her presence was so reassuring, even in a jeepney. He thought to himself that if ever he’d have a heart attack in the future (which he hoped would not happen), he needn’t worry. With what he calls the “Maya Magic”, he was sure he’d be fine.
“Wow, Tita Maya… astig ka! Parang episode lang ng Grey’s Anatomy!” Luke said, obviously admiring Maya’s heroic act as well. “Naku, hindi naman Luke. Ginawa ko lang naman ang gagawin ng kahit sinong nurse.” “No Maya…” Richard said tenderly. “Not every nurse will do that. You did that because you’re you. You’re a gem, Maya, a treasure. Only you can do that… Maya Magic.” Richard went on. “Oh my gee dad! You sound so in love!” Nikki shrieked. “Because I am Niks.” Richard said happily.
“Daddy, Tita Maya, sayang naman. Hindi n’yo po nagamit ang surprise namin.” Abby said. “Baby, sorry ha? Pero pwede pa rin naman eh. Hindi pa naman inaaalis ang set-up di’ba?” Maya said and Abby nodded. Seeing that Abby seemed dissatisfied, she went on. “Baby, kahit naman medyo nagkaroon ng problema ‘dun sa surprise, OK lang naman. Sa totoo lang, sobrang saya ko. Ang sweet sweet n’yo kasing lahat! Hindi ko pa nga nae-experience ‘yung na-prepare n’yo, kinikilig na ako.” Finally, Abby smiled. As if to add to the beautiful moment, Nikki said: “Tita Maya, Abby prepared a song number for you!” “Talaga baby? Naku sige nga, parinig nga ako.” Abby confidently went in front, and flashed her sweetest smile. This did not escape Richard. For him, this was part of the Maya Magic. Gone were the days when Abby would not even speak. She’ll even be singing now! Richard squeezed Maya’s hand as Abby started to sing: “It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart. Without saying a word you can light up the dark…” The cupcakes were brought in. Maya’s eyes twinkled with tears of joy. She rested her head on her Ser Chief’s soldier. To both Richard and Maya, nothing could be more perfect than this moment.
NEXT CHAPTER: “The Green-eyed Monster”… Tingnan kung paano magka-selosan sina Ser Chief at Maya… =)