Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to princemackaroo. This is a continuation to After God’s Own Heart – part 3.
In a little over a month’s time, Maya is already a college graduate. The past few weeks had been stressfully hectic, not only for her, but for her friends and James as well. Thesis, defense, finals, and not to mention, entrance exam to law school. Maya, James, & Emman scouted for good law schools in the country. They took entrance exams from UP, Ateneo, & San Beda – top 3 law schools in the country. She knows so well the importance of being admitted in a reputable law school at this point in her life.
The scouting process has been stressful enough but waiting for the results proved to be no less. The agony of waiting for the results is something that she never felt before. Yes she has already experienced taking entrance exams to different schools & universities before. She’s had her fair share of anxiously waiting for the results. But this is completely different. This is of a different league now. This is already the start of the realization of her dreams. Her dream to be like Ally Mcbeal. To become a lawyer.
Finally, the long wait is over. One after the other, the results were sent to the hopeful students by mail. Maya passed the entrance exam in Ateneo de Manila University and San Beda College and she is now being invited for an interview, should she still be interested in enrolling with them. Then came the results from her home university, from her alma mater. She was excited and anxious at the same time. She wants to rip open the envelope to immediately see the word “Congratulations!” written inside but hesitant as well as the words, “We regret to inform you..” kept popping on her head. If there is another thing that she wanted to have right now, that is to pursue law at her home university. After a minute or two, she mustered all courage and carefully opened the envelope at hand, took the letter folded neatly inside, and started to read its contents.
It was a fine sunny Friday. Most students in the campus are busy finishing their requirements before the school year ends. Some students are cramming, some are reviewing for their upcoming final exams, while some are busy prepping up for graduation.
By 10AM, Maya’s Public Ad & Economic System’s class was dismissed early by their professor as they had already finished everything that needs to be discussed and all requirements are settled. She no longer had anything to do for the rest of the day. “So what are your plans for the rest of the day? Di ba wala ka ng klase? Uwi ka na ba agad sa Bulacan niyan?” Emman inquired. “Umm. Tambay muna siguro ako sa library or sa Chocolate Kiss. Still have to wait for James and I also want to attend the bible study later.” “Oh my! In a couple of weeks, we are about to leave this campus na. I’d surely miss a lot of things here, and one of them is yung weekly bible study natin. I’d surely miss Kuya Carlo and our bible study buddies. I learned a lot from it and it did change me big time!” blurted out by Inah. Joshua, with a scrutinizing look on Inah said, “Change? What? Where? How? Kelan pa? Parang wala naman.” “Ang sama mo!” said Inah as he playfully slapped Joshua’s arm and tried to mimic a hurt expression. The group just laughed at Joshua’s banter and Inah’s reaction. “Am just kidding! Hahahaha! Of course we all know and saw how the bible study affected you and changed you. Daig mo pa kaya si Kuya Carlo kung magpaalala sa amin! Papasa ka na nga as Pastor eh. Kulang nalang talaga itawag namin sayo Pastor Inah!” The group roared in laughter at Joshua’s comments. “But seriously Inah, we’ve never been more proud of you.” Joshua said further. “I second the motion!” blurted out Eds. “We are all proud of the changes that took place in you Inah.” Inah, now teary eyed with everything that she’s hearing said, “Awww.. You guys! Na-touch naman ako. Thank you so much! Kung hindi lang din naman dahil sa inyo, I would never have attended that bible study and I might still be an agnostic.” “O guys! Remember may class pa tayo. Si Maya lang ang free for the rest of the day. Ngayon niyo pa naisipang mag drama ng ganyan. Tara na at baka ma-late pa tayo.” Reminded Emman. And with that, the group, except for Maya went to their next class while Maya opted to spend her free time at Chocolate Kiss.
Maya, upon settling herself inside Chocolate Kiss, texted James informing him of her whereabouts. “Ok, babe. Sorry if I won’t be able to accompany you for the next few hours or so. But I’ll be with you at lunch ok?” texted James. “It’s fine. I know you still have class. Lunch is perfect! I’ll see you at lunch then. Kahit dito nalang din sa Chocolate Kiss,” replied Maya. “Ok. See you in a few. I love you!” “I love you too!”
Maya brought her copy of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban so she can busy herself with something. She was so engrossed with the book that she lost track of time. “Ay!” exclaimed Maya as a pair of hands tried to cover her eyes from behind. Maya smiled and said, “Voldemort?” James immediately removed his hands from Maya’s face, placed them on his hips, faced Maya and said. “Ah ganon? Voldemort pala ha!” And without warning, started to tickle Maya. “Hahahahaha! Voldemort tama na! Nakikiliti ako! Hahahaha!” “Yan ang bagay sayo. Eto pa!” James didn’t stop and tried to tickle Maya even more. Maya almost out of breath, “Babe! Tama na! Hahahahaha! Hindi na ako makahinga at masakit na tiyan ko sa kakatawa! Tama na babe! Hindi ka na Voldemort!” James then stopped and said, “At talagang kay Voldemort mo pa ako kinompare ha. Do I look like an evil wizard to you?” “Yes!” Maya answered playfully. James in return, attempted to tickle Maya once again, but Maya was fast to back out this time. “Joke lang, babe! Hahahahaha! And for the record you don’t look like an evil wizard to me. You are a very good looking wizard for me!” “Sus! Bumabawi ah. Well in that case, I guess ako na si Harry Potter ngayon?” said James. “No.” “No?” “No.” “But why?” “Because you look way better than Harry Potter,” said Maya. “If I say that you are Harry Potter, that would obviously be an understatement.” With that, James gathered Maya in his arms for a hug and gave her a peck on her left cheek. “Kaya lalo akong napapamahal sayo eh. I love you babe!” “I love you more!” answered Maya back.
Maya and James shared a wonderful lunch together. They talked animatedly about everything from their families, studies, and what not. After an hour and a half, James left Maya inside the cafeteria to proceed to his next class. Maya on the other hand, continued reading her Harry Potter book.
Maya looked out the window and saw how inviting the atmosphere outside is. The sky is clear. Clouds are hovering above providing shade from the sun. “Hmm. It’s nice to have a picnic and simply lay on the grass with this kind of atmosphere,” thought Maya. This gave her an idea to simply enjoy the sun outside and spend the remaining free time at sunken garden. She then proceeded to sunken garden, took the spot where their bible study’s usually held, and continued reading her Harry Potter book.
“Hi Maya!” Maya looked up to see who greeted her. To her surprise, she saw Richard standing in front of her. Richard saw the surprised reaction of Maya and her somewhat hesitation. Thinking that he may have been too casual, straightforward, or Maya does not even know him at all, he then immediately said, “We attend the same bible study group. By the way, I’m Richard. Richard Lim. Pasensya ka na if I greeted just like that earlier.” “No that’s fine. I was just taken aback momentarily. Hindi ko kasi alam na kilala mo pala ako. I was just surprised,” explained Maya. “Ah. Kaya pala. Your group kasi is the first group of students who attended the bible study who were not from the Engineering Department kaya I easily took notice of you guys. Sayang nga at hindi ko manlang kayo masyado nakakausap or be able to befriend you guys. Madalang din kasi ako maka attend sa Friday slot. Mostly sa Wednesday slot ako nakaka-attend,” said Richard. “I see. Kaya pala I don’t see you much sa mga bible studies every Friday,” replied Maya. “Bakit nga pala nag-iisa ka ngayon? Where are your friends?” “Wala na kasi akong class pa since 10 this morning. Yung barkada naman may classes pa until 3 but they’re sure to attend today. Ikaw? It’s still pretty early for the bible study. It’s only 2:15 and you’re already here?” “Yup! Like you, wala narin akong classes. The sky and the atmosphere out here looked so inviting kaya I decided to spend my free time here. Unless, I am disturbing you and you want me to leave you alone,” said Richard with a grin. “Ah hindi naman. Hindi ka naman nakaka-istorbo sa akin. Ok nga yun atleast may makakasama ako at makakausap habang nag-iintay,” said Maya with a smile.
Richard sat down beside Maya. “What’s that you’re reading?” inquired Richard. “Ah this one?” lifting the book at hand, “A Harry Potter book. The third installment in the series. Prisoner of Azkaban.” “Ah. So you are a Harry Potter fan. I have seen the movies but haven’t read any of its books yet,” said Richard. “Well, let me suggest that you read the books as well. The movies are good but there are things that only the books can provide. Details that they are not able to show in the movie,” explained Maya. “Ok. Since you suggested it. I’ll start reading its books narin,” said Richard. Richard and Maya continued chatting while waiting for the start of their bible study.
5 minutes before 3pm, Maya received a text message from James and after a couple of seconds later, received a message from Emman. Both are inquiring of her whereabouts. Maya replied back to the both of them informing them that she is already at sunken garden waiting for them. After a minute or so, Maya saw Emman and the rest of her friends approaching her. “O bro kumusta?” greeted Richard to Emman. “Bro! Eto ok naman!” Emman greeted back to Richard. “Maaga kayong dinismiss ng prof ninyo?” asked Maya to her friends. “Yup! By the way, may kinausap lang si James na kabarkada niya pero susunod din daw agad,” said Joshua. “Ah ok. By the way guys, I don’t know if you know him already but this is Richard. Attendee ng bible study,” said Maya. “Ah kaya pala he somewhat looked familiar,” said Ruby. Maya’s friends exchanged pleasantries with Richard and chatted with one another while waiting for the bible study to start.
“So how’s my babe?” asked James as he approached the group where Maya is and gave her a peck on the cheek. Richard, surprised by the new comer, the endearment used and the kiss given to Maya, managed to keep a poker face, not showing any hint of what’s really running around his mind at the moment. “Oh hi babe! Kung makakumusta ka naman parang hindi tayo magkasama kaninang lunch time ah,” said Maya while feeling giddy and all. “But that’s already 2 hours ago! Besides, just the thought that you’re alone and without a company makes me anxious. Baka mamaya sa inip mo makakita ka na ng iba at ipagpalit mo na ako,” said James teasingly.
Maya knew James is a jealous type and can be possessive to some extent. During the course of their relationship, she knew James only trust her group of friends and does not want her to mingle or talk to any other guys, let alone, someone he hasn’t personally met, yet – to scrutinize for his own sanity and satisfaction. James’ statement may sound like a joke but she knew that he said it because of someone. “Ikaw talaga! Puro ka nalang biro!” said Maya as he was pinching James’ nose. “Oh by the way babe, I’d like you to meet Richard. Ka-grupo natin siya sa bible study. Richard, this is James, my boyfriend,” said Maya. The two gents shook hands. “How come I don’t see you much?” asked James to Richard. “I’ve been busy for quite some time and seldom make it to the Friday slot. I frequently attend the Wednesday slot though,” explained Richard. “Ah kaya pala. Kala ko newbie ka,” said James. “Ay naku babe!” interjected Maya. “Malabong maging newbie yang si Richard. In fact, he helped Kuya Carlo establish the weekly bible study here in our campus. So technically, he’s one of the organizers.” Before she could even stop herself, the words just automatically slipped out of her tongue. “Oh!” exclaimed James, trying to sound amazed by what he just learned. “Argh! How could I be so careless!” Maya scolded herself. She knew well that there is something more behind the gestures James is showing to Richard and the last thing she ever wanted is to heap burning coals onto his head. “Sorry guys am late!” announced Kuya Carlo who looked flushed, obvious that he hurriedly went to them. “I got caught up in heavy traffic,” explained by the Pastor. Maya internally heaved out a sigh of relief as she was already getting anxious with James’ action.
Like their usual meeting, everything went out smoothly. Almost everyone in the group listened attentively and participated in the discussion, James included. Maya gave the credit to James for listening attentively to the discussion and taking part to it. She was simply happy with what he did.
When their bible study had finished, one by one, the attendees stood up to leave. Maya together with the rest of the group, except for Emman, left the vicinity and went to their homes. “O bro, naiwan ka ata? Di ka pa ba uuwi?” asked Richard. “Inaantay ko kasi yung ate ko. Sabay daw siya sa akin umuwi ngayon. We decided na dito nalang kami magkita ngayon. Ikaw?” “Pauwi narin ako. By the way bro, can I ask you something?” “Sure. Anything basta wag lang about sa Calculus or Solid Geom. Kung about naman sa Ethics & Accountability in the Public Service, baka sakaling matulungan pa kita,” joked Emman. The two of them laughed at what Emman just said. “Don’t worry Emman, it has nothing to do with Math nor has it anything to do with politics. Actually, it is more personal in a way,” said Richard. Richard paused for a while contemplating whether he should continue or simply brush off the issue. Emman, on the other hand, eagerly waits for Richard to continue. Seeing the expectant look on Emman, Richard sighed then continued, “Actually it is about Maya.” “About Maya? What about her?” asked Emman. “Well, I thought she’s not into any romantic relationships yet?” “Now this is interesting.” Emman thought to himself as he remembered the conversation that he & Maya shared about Richard a couple of weeks back. “Ah yun ba. Well, Maya & James’ relationship just started last December. To be honest, it came to me as a surprise as well. Knowing Maya and her family as well, I really thought that she’d only allow herself to enter a relationship once she’s finished with her studies. I know fairly well kasi na yun talaga ang first & foremost priority niya lalo na ang parents niya. But I guess, there are things that are simply out of our control.” “I see. Didn’t she have a hard time with her parents? I mean, having them to agree with her decision to enter a relationship kahit na hindi pa siya tapos ng college?” “They know Maya will not do anything that will sway her focus on her studies. They know that even if she enters into a romantic relationship, she still know how to prioritize her studies. Maya told me they were apprehensive about the whole idea at first but completely entrusted the decision to Maya.” “Hmmm. Maya must really be good not only with her studies but as a daughter as well for her parents to trust her that much,” said Richard. “Thanks Emman for answering my question. I know na medyo inappropriate for me to ask personal questions about your friend. I guess curiosity got the best of me.” “No problem. Besides, Maya & James’ relationship is not a secret, so no harm done. Also, we’re all friends naman di ba. Am sure she wouldn’t mind,” smiled Emman. Richard just smiled back to Emman then said, “Maya may not mind me asking those kind of questions but can we just keep this discussion between the two of us? Kung pwede sana wag ng makarating pa sa iba lalong lalo na kay Maya. Nakakahiya kasi eh,” said Richard. “Hahahahaha! Sure bro! Walang makakaalam ng napag-usapan natin,” assured Emman. “Salamat talaga. Sige bro. I better get going. My mom’s waiting for me at home.” With that, Richard turned to leave the vicinity.
Richard went to his car. As he seated himself on the driver’s seat, he can’t help but still feel embarrassed by what he did. “Argh! What was I thinking! Why do I even have to ask those questions to Emman! Nakakahiya talaga!tsk” Richard expelled a long sigh while shaking his head. Thoughts of Maya & James continue to flood his head. “Why Maya why? I thought we share the same opinion, about priorities and all, about relationships! Why didn’t you wait ‘til you finished college? Why didn’t you wait for someone better? Why didn’t you wait for someone who’d treat you the way you’re supposed to be treated? Why didn’t you wait for the right time? Why didn’t you wait?” These questions flooded Richard’s mind that afternoon. He knew deep down he does not have any right to question Maya with her decisions nor impose the right time and the right person for her to start a relationship with. He knows it is not right and proper to judge Maya based on what she just did but he still cannot help but be disappointed with her upon hearing the news. “And why am I asking these questions? You’re being silly again Richard Lim! You hardly know the person! Yes you admire her but it’s completely your fault you’re disappointed with her right now. You’re the one who chose to look up highly of her almost place her on a pedestal!” With all the battle raging in his head right now, Richard opted to pray and seek healing, guidance & enlightenment for his own sanity. “I really thought she was different and special, Lord. All this time. I’ve let myself continue admiring her only to lead myself in disappointment. Please Lord. I pray to you. The last thing that I would ever want to do is judge my neighbor and think ill of them. Not to anyone. Especially not to Maya. Should I still continue to admire her despite what I’ve learned? Please give me some signs.”