Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 10
“Chard are you sure you don’t want me to move my flight to another date? Pag nasigurado ko ng okay ka na?” asked Rafi worriedly. “Rafi, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me too much ok? You heard the doctor, I’m already out of danger. Buti nalang at naagapan,” smiled Richard reassuringly. “Hmp! Kung hindi ka pa nga namin pinilit ni Manang na ipa-ospital, hindi natin malalaman na may dengue ka na pala. What if lumala at hindi naagapan? Eh di –“ “But I’m ok now,” butted Richard, “Naagapan naman na eh,” chuckled Richard. “At tatawa-tawa ka pa jan! You made us worried!” said Rafi irritably. “I know Rafi. And for that I am truly grateful. I’m grateful that you’re always there for me,” smiled Richard. Letting out a sigh, “Are you sure you’ll be fine? I mean, I can make my stay longer naman eh. I can call Charlie and explain to him the situation. I’m pretty sure he’ll understand,” said Rafi. “Rafi, you no longer have to. Look, I appreciate the gesture but I don’t want to hold you up either. Besides, Charlie needs you as well. I’m pretty sure he misses you badly already. Don’t worry about me. Saka, Manang Fe is here naman for me. Don’t worry,” assured Richard. Rafi, sensing that Richard won’t let her win and the fact that she’s also missing Charlie badly, “Ok. Fine! I won’t argue with you anymore. But Chard promise me, promise me that you’ll take care of yourself ha? And also, promise me that you’re not going to give Manang Fe a hard time. Bawas bawasan ang katigasan ng ulo, ok?” said Rafi. Richard, chuckling at Rafi’s instructions, “Opo mom!” teased Richard, making the both of them laugh.
Because of Richard’s current condition, he wasn’t able to bring Rafi to the airport but asked his driver, Joma, to bring her instead. As soon as she boarded the plane, she was greeted by a couple of FAs. To her surprise, Maya was one of the attending FAs on the said flight. “Maya!” greeted Rafi, “it’s so nice to see you!” she said, as she went to Maya and gave her a warm hug. “Hello Rafi!” greeted Maya back, surprised and happy to see Rafi as well, “Ngayon na nga pala ang balik mo ng New York noh?” asked Maya. “Yup! I was about to call you nga sana yesterday so we could hang out before I leave but something came up. We had an emergency. Si Richard kasi nagkasakit and we had to bring him to the hospital. Ayaw ko pa nga sanang umalis at iwan siya but he insisted that he’ll be fine,” explained Rafi, still worried about Richard. “Huh? May sakit siya?” asked Maya, surprised at what she heard from Rafi, “Anong sakit niya? So nasa ospital parin siya til now?” “Oo eh. According to the doctors, he has dengue daw. So he might stay at the hospital for a couple of days more to fully recover,” letting out a sigh, “Though he said he’s going to be fine, I still can’t help but worry about him. Knowing how stubborn he is, hay nako! I’m pretty sure, kahit may sakit siya, puro work parin ang nasa isip non!” said Rafi, shaking her head at the thought.
Maya managed to smile at Rafi’s rants about Richard’s stubbornness despite the things that are running in her mind right now. “May sakit? Nasa hospital? Kawawa naman pala siya. Hay naku Maya! Kung anu-ano pa namang masasama ang pinag-iiisip mo sa tao yun pala may valid reason siya kung bakit hindi siya naka-sipot kagabi. Hay Maya! Napaka-assuming mo kasi! Mag-a-assume nalang, puro masasama pa! Hay! Tsk,” she thought. “By the way Maya,” said Rafi, bringing Maya back from her reverie, “Magtatagal ka ba sa New York?” asked Rafi. “Ah hindi. Balikan lang kasi ang schedule ko. So from Manila to New York, then a couple of hours lang, New York to Manila na agad,” explained Maya. “Ah ganun ba,” said Rafi, “Well, Maya. Can I ask you a huge huge favor?” pleaded Rafi. Maya, hesitant to answer but her kind and helpful side got the better of her, “Kung makakaya ko ba eh. Ano ba yun?” she asked, smiling at Rafi. “Well. I know I shouldn’t be putting this burden on you but you’re the only one I can fully trust and count on right now. Would it be possible for you to check on Richard from time to time? I know that his house help would take care of him but I would be more at ease if someone, a friend, would look out for him,” explained Rafi. Maya was surprised with Rafi’s request. She doesn’t know how to answer her request. “Ah. Eh. Kasi ano eh,” was all she managed to say, obviously hesitant about the whole thing but Rafi remained persistent. “Please Maya,” pleaded Rafi further, “I know Richard would really need a friend right now. If only I can be there for him. Please Maya? I wouldn’t be making this request if I know Richard wouldn’t need it but I am 100% certain that he needs a friend right now,” she said.
Sensing that Maya’s still hesitating, Rafi tried to convince her some more, made her feel guilty even, about how she’d really want to stay for Richard but the latter won’t let him because of Charlie, and how Richard would be lonely again since he’ll be left all alone in his mansion. Maya, seeing that Rafi won’t stop at nothing unless she gives in to her request and feeling guilty herself for thinking ill of Richard and not sparing him any benefit of the doubt, she finally gave in. “Yes!” exclaimed Rafi triumphantly, “You just don’t know how much it means to me Maya. Now I can rest, assured that someone will be checking on Richard. Thank you so much Maya!” said Rafi, giving Maya a warm hug. Maya could only resent her decision inwardly, hope for the best and prepare for the worse.
Maya got back to Manila on a sunny Monday noon. She immediately went to their condo, had her lunch, shower, then proceeded to sleep. It was already 8AM when she woke up the next day. She went to the bathroom for a quick shower then proceeded to the kitchen to prepare herself a breakfast. Emman has a scheduled flight so she ate at the dining table alone. After finishing her breakfast and clearing up the dishes, she went to the living room to rest for a while. As she was resting, she remembered the promise she gave to Rafi. Being a man of her words, she had no other choice but to give Richard a visit to the hospital. She decided to leave after lunch.
As she got to the hospital, she immediately went to Richard’s room. Before knocking at the door, Maya feeling his nerves going on hyper drive as she doesn’t know what to expect when they meet once again, she tried to calm herself down first. “Maya, kalma ka lang ok? Remember, ginagawa mo ito for Rafi at para magkaayos narin kayo ni Richard once and for all. Kaya mo ito. Huwag kang kabahan. Inhale.. Exhale.. Ok kaya mo ito,” she thought to herself. As soon as she felt her nerves have somewhat stabilized, she finally knocked softly at the door, opened it slowly then entered the room.
Upon entering the room, she saw an empty bed and an elderly woman who was apparently packing up some things. “Good afternoon po,” greeted Maya. “Good afternoon hija,” greeted the elderly woman, smiling back at Maya. “Ah. Sabi po kasi ng kaibigan ko dito daw po ang kwarto ni Richard?” explained Maya. “Oo hija. Ito nga ang kwarto niya. Nasa loob lang siya ng CR baka – o eh ayan na pala siya eh,” said the elderly woman, as soon as she saw Richard stepping out of the bathroom. As Maya turned around, she saw Richard emerging from the bathroom door. “Hi!” she greeted. Richard, surprised to see Maya inside his room, hesitated at first but managed to greet her back, “Hi!” smiling back at her. “How did you know I was here?” he asked. Maya smiled, “From Rafi. We were on the same flight going to New York. She told me,” explained Maya. “Ah. By the way, Manang, this is Maya. Maya this is Manang Fe,” introduced Richard. “Hello po Manang Fe,” greeted Maya warmly as she reached out her hand. “Hello din sa iyo Maya,” greeted back Manang Fe as she reached for Maya’s hand for a handshake.
“Buti naman at naisipan mong dalawin itong si Ricardo. Yun nga lang, pauwi na kami. Nagpupumilit kasi itong batang ito na lumabas na kaya ng payagan ng doctor, ayun, nagmamadaling lumabas agad. Napakatigas ng ulo! Puro trabaho ang nasa isip,” explained Manang Fe. “Manang naman!” countered Richard like a child who’s being exposed by his parent. Maya could only chuckle at what she just saw. “Ayos lang po yun Manang. Gusto ko lang din naman po sanang kumustahin si Richard. Hindi rin naman po ako magtatagal,” said Maya. “Naku hija! Ni hindi ka pa nga nagtatagal masyado eh. Kararating rating mo nga lang at ni hindi pa nga kayo nakakapag-usap na dalawa ni Ricardo. Ang mabuti pa, sumama ka nalang sa amin sa bahay,” suggested Manang Fe. “Po?” asked Richard and Maya in unison.
“Naku Manang,” hesitated Maya, “Hindi na po siguro. Saka isa pa po, baka mas mabuti pa kay Richard ang magpahinga nalang. Ok lang po talaga,” said Maya. “Huwag kang mag-alala hija. Ano ba naman yung mag-usap lang kayo. Hindi naman mapapagod si Ricardo non. Di ba Ricardo?” asked Manang Fe, looking expectantly at Richard. Richard sensing that Manang Fe wouldn’t stop until she got to make Maya agree, turned to Maya and convince her himself. “I think Manang’s right Maya. Why don’t you go with us sa house para mas makapag-usap tayo at hindi masayang ang pagdalaw mo,” said Richard. Maya, trying to check the sincerity in Richard’s offer, tried to come up with an excuse, “Ah, eh. Parang nakakahiya naman kasi. Ok lang talaga. Chineck ko lang talaga kung ok ka na,” said Maya. “I insist. Please?” pleaded Richard. “Sige na naman Maya. Pagbigyan mo na itong alaga ko,” backed Manang Fe. Maya, left with no other choice finally agreed to come with them.
“Ah Manang, paki samahan po muna si Maya sa may veranda. Akyat lang po ako para magpalit ng damit. And paki dala nalang din po kami ng kape,” requested Richard. “Ok sige. Ako na ang bahala,” “Salamat po,” said Richard then turned around to proceed to his room. Manang Fe then ushered Maya to the veranda and prepared two cups of coffee for both Richard and Maya. A couple of minutes later, Richard came down to join Maya at the veranda. The two remained silent for a moment, not knowing where or how to start, simply stealing glances at one another. After deciding to finally speak, they both did it at the same time which caused them to laugh and eventually broke off the tension building between them.
Maya then spoke first. “Ah Richard, sorry nga pala ha. Sorry sa mga nagawa at nasabi ko sa iyo noon sa London,” she said apologetically. Richard, shaking his head in disagreement, “I think I am the one who’s supposed to apologize. I really acted like a jerk. Not once, twice, but thrice. For those, I’m sorry,” said Richard with sincerity. “No no no! Ako talaga ang dapat na mag-sorry. Kasi ako yung gumawa ng mga snide remarks about you not thinking kung sobrang nakakasakit na ba ako o ano,” replied Maya. “But it’s because I am at fault. Kasalanan ko din naman bakit mo nasabi ang mga yun. And sorry as well for the disaster date. Alam ko naman na hindi mo ginusto na i-set up ka ni Rafi,” said Richard. “Pero Richard –“ “Maya, ako –“ “Pero –“ After cutting each other off a couple of times, they both stopped and started to laugh once again. “Ok ok. We’re both sorry for stepping on each other’s toes. Baka mamaya pati ang pag-sorry at pag-amin kung sino ang may kasalanan, pag-awayan pa natin,” chuckled Richard. “Oo nga. Ok sige. We’re both sorry. So ok na tayo ha?” asked Maya, looking expectantly at Richard. Richard, smiling warmly at Maya, “Yes, ok na tayo,” he replied. “Friends?” said Maya as she reached out her hand to Richard which he reached eagerly, “Friends!” he said.
“Ricardo, magluluto na kasi kami ng hapunan. Ano ba ang gusto mong kainin? Gusto mo bang ipagluto ka namin ng kare-kare?” smiled Manang Fe at Richard as she emerged from the door. “Ah sige po Manang,” answered Richard. “Dito narin ba maghahapunan si Maya?” she asked. Before Maya could even answer, Richard immediately answered in her behalf, “Yes manang. She’ll have dinner with us,” confirmed Richard. Manang Fe simply smiled and turned to leave. Maya simply looked at Richard. “What?” he asked. “Eh ikaw kasi eh. Ni hindi mo manlang ako tinanong kung gusto kong mag dinner dito. Malay mo kung may lakad ako mamaya di ba,” explained Maya. “Do you have any plans tonight?” “Wala.” “Ayaw mo ng food?” “No, favorite ko nga yun eh.” “Yun naman pala eh! So what seems to be the problem?” asked Richard. “Eh siyempre nakakahiya,” Maya said sheepishly. Richard smiled, shaking his head, “Eh di ba nga we’re friends? So hindi ka na dapat mahiya,” he said proudly. “Ok fine. Mukhang hindi naman ako mananalo sa iyo eh!” smiled Maya.
“Salamat Maya ha,” said Richard. “For what?” “For dropping by sa hospital kanina. We stepped on the wrong foot, had an unpleasant exchange even, but you still managed to visit me in the hospital. I know how hard it was, so thank you,” said Richard, smiling sincerely at Maya. “Wala yun. Besides, nangako kasi ako kay Rafi eh. Ang totoo niyan, binilin ka sa akin ni Rafi. Sabi niya, tignan tignan daw kita from time to time kasi matigas daw ang ulo mo,” chuckled Maya. “Si Rafi talaga! Ginawa pa talaga akong bata,” shaking his head, “Pasensya ka na Maya ha, pati tuloy ikaw naabala pa. May pagka makulit din kasing talaga ang bestfriend kong yun eh,” he said. Smiling, Maya said, “Ok lang. Buti nga at pumayag ako. Kasi kung hindi ako pumayag, malamang hanggang ngayon magkagalit parin tayo.” Richard simply smiled at the thought.
Both Richard and Maya enjoyed their dinner. They talked about their families, friends, and work, but Richard had not disclosed anything about Alex. Manang Fe couldn’t help but smile at what she’s seeing, cause after Alex’s death, this is the first time that she saw Richard open up to someone else apart from his family and bestfriend. She could only utter a prayer of thanks giving and prayed that this be the start for Richard to completely move on with his life.
“Is that the reason why Princess ang tawag niya sa iyo?” asked Richard. “Yup! Siguro dahil narin sa medyo magka-ugali kami, kaya feeling niya I am the sister that he never had. Sabi niya sa akin noon, kung sakaling nagkaroon daw siya ng kapatid na babae, Princess daw ang gusto niyang pangalan,” explained Maya. “Ah. Nung summit I really thought he’s a special someone or a boyfriend even,” chuckled Richard. “Naku! Si James? Hindi pwedeng mangyari yun dahil kapatid lang talaga ang turingan namin sa isa’t-isa,” smiled Maya. “I see,” smiled Richard back.
After dinner, Maya decided to go back home. With that, Richard volunteered to drive her home. Maya tried to decline his offer but Richard is determined and persistent enough not to let Maya decline his offer. Maya, seeing that Richard won’t let her win, finally agreed to accept his offer. “Maya, just wait for me here in the office while I go and get the car key, ok?” said Richard. “Ok,” replied Maya. As she was waiting for Richard, she tried to look at the photos displayed on the shelf. He saw several photos of Richard, his parents, and photos of Richard with Alex. “Ito siguro ang asawa niya. Ang ganda naman pala niya at mukhang mabait. Sayang naman at nawala siya agad,” thought Maya.
As she was looking at the number of pictures and displays on the shelf, she spotted a familiar object located on top of the shelf. “It can’t be..” she thought, queasy and tensed about the whole idea. She suddenly felt her heart racing as she slowly, hands shaking, reached out to the object. Upon reaching it and getting a closer look, she could only gasp in disbelief. “Panong nangyari.. Bakit meron din si Richard nito? Nakapulot din siya?” she thought then her eyes went wide when another realization hit her, “Hindi kaya si Richard at Chard ay iisa? Si Alex ang asawa niya? Kay Richard yung lobo at sulat?” Maya was still in her deep thoughts when she heard footsteps coming from the stairs and Richard calling her from the outside of the office. She immediately placed the object back to the shelf, calmed herself down and proceeded outside to meet Richard. “Let’s go?” he said, smiling warmly at her. Maya only nodded in response.