Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 7
James fetched Maya and Emman at the latter’s condo on the way to the Summit. As soon as they reached their destination, James handed over his car key to the valet and the three proceeded inside TA’s auditorium. Three seats were reserved for them which are situated on the third row. As expected, a lot of well-known businessmen coming from the Aviation and Airline industry attended the said summit. James unsurprisingly knew almost all of them and is seen mingling around exchanging pleasantries with everyone. As the Summit is finally about to commence, he then joined Maya and Emman at their seats. As James foresaw, not only did he not get bored, he was also laughing the whole time as he’s been constantly exchanging jokes and banters with both Emman and Maya, which would occasionally earn them a shush from the other delegates.
By 11AM, introductory talks and orientation had finished earlier than usual. So the presentation of the guest speakers, which was supposed to start by 1PM, had been adjusted. They were given ample time in the afternoon to continue their presentation if the need arises. James, Emman, & Maya were apparently engrossed in their own discussion when the first speaker was called and proceeded to the stage. As soon as the speaker started with his presentation, Maya looked up to see who the presenter was. After verifying who it was, she felt her face drained of blood and was totally shocked in disbelief.
When Emman noticed that Maya is no longer with them, he then decided to nudge her on her side using his elbow. Maya was not easily returned back to reverie so Emman decided to push her a little harder then said, “Huy roomie!” “Ay roomie!” exclaimed Maya, “Ano ka ba Emman! Bakit ka ba nanggugulat?” she asked. “Hindi ako nanggugulat noh. Kanina pa kita tinatawag, di ka sumasagot. Bakit ba bigla kang natahimik jan? At bakit parang namumutla ka? Para kang nakakita ng multo? Masama ba pakiramdam mo?” asked Emman which made James look at her with concern. “Naku Emman! Hindi lang multo!” she said. “Ha? Anong hindi lang multo?” said Emman, looking at her in confusion. “Emman! Si Freddie Krueger!” answered Maya. “Oh my! Si Nightmare on Elm Street?? Andito siya ngayon?? Asan roomie? Asan??” asked Emman while looking around to see who the mysterious Freddie Krueger is.
“Teka, ano bang pinag-uusapan niyong dalawa jan? Anong Freddie Krueger at Nightmare on Elm Street?” asked James, obviously baffled at Maya and Emman’s behaviour. “Emman!” said Maya nervously, “Yung speaker! Siya si Freddie Krueger!” she said. “What??!!” gasped Emman, utterly shocked at his discovery, “Oh my pink walls roomie! Si Mr. Lim ng LAS si Freddie Krueger?? Bakit hindi mo alam na siya pala yun roomie!” asked Emman. “Emman pano ko naman malalaman, unang-una, hindi ko nakuha ang last name niya. Pangalawa, di ba nga, hindi naman siya nagkipag-usap nung dinner,” explained Maya irritably as recollection of things that happened during their blind date re-surfaced. “Teka teka,” butted James, “Naguguluhan na talaga ako sa inyong dalawa ha. Ano ba yang Freddie Krueger at Nightmare on Elm Street na yan? Atsaka, anong kinalaman ni Mr. Lim sa pinag-uusapan niyo?” said James with a confused look on his face.
Maya then decided to fill in James about everything. After she had narrated everything to James, she just earned a hearty laugh from him. “Seriously Maya? Blind date with Mr. Lim? Hmm.. Ikaw ha. Nakakaselos ka. Dati inaya na kita ng date pero tinanggihan mo ako tas ngayon malalaman ko na nakikipag blind date ka?” said James in a teasing manner. “James naman eh! Natataranta na nga ako dito tas ganyan ka pa! Niloloko mo pa ako!” said Maya, unimpressed with James’ banters, then started to fold her arms and pout her lips in irritation. James just laughed a little more after seeing Maya’s reaction. “Ok princess. Sorry na. Hindi na kita aasarin. Hindi lang kasi talaga ako makapaniwala sa mga misfortunes mo,” chuckled James. “Eh kahit naman ako noh! Sino ba namang mag-aakala na makikita ko ulit yang lalaking yan! At dito pa talaga sa Summit! Kasalanan mong lahat ito!” accused Maya. “Ako?? Bakit ako?” asked James in bewilderment. “Kung hindi mo kami inaya ni Emman dito, eh di sana hindi ko na nakita pa yang lalaking yan at hindi na ako matataranta pa ng ganito!” said an irritated Maya. James simply laughed at Maya’s accusations.
“Bakit ka ba natataranta? Hindi ba dapat si Mr. Lim ang mataranta sa kahihiyan dahil sa ginawa niya sa’yo? Princess, don’t tell me..?” said James in a teasing manner. “What?” asked by a confused Maya. “Oh my roomie!” butted Emman as realization of where James is hitting at occurred to him. “Nako roomie. Mukhang Mr. Lim really did make an impression on you,” said Emman, giving Maya a knowing look. When Maya finally realized what the two are trying to say, “Oy! Magtigil nga kayong dalawa jan! Kung meron man siyang impression na iniwan sakin yun ay ang pagiging isang arrogant jerk!” said Maya. Both James and Emman chuckled at what Maya just said. The two continued to tease Maya and only stopped after the host announced that they’ll be having an hour break for their lunch and will resume by 1PM.
“James uwi na siguro ako. Hindi ko na tapusin pa itong Summit,” said Maya. “Princess, iiwan mo nalang ba kami ni Emman dito ng basta?” asked James. “Oo nga naman roomie. Sabay-sabay tayong pumunta dito kaya dapat sabay-sabay din tayong uuwi,” added Emman. “Eh. Hindi na kasi ako komportable pa na andito eh,” explained Maya. “Ok princess, ganito nalang. Hindi ka namin iiwan ni Emmy no matter what. Lagi lang kaming narito sa tabi mo. Kung gusto mo kahit sa pagpunta sa ladies’ room sasamahan ka namin wag ka lang maging uncomfortable. Ok ba yun?” said James. Maya managed to chuckle after hearing James’ suggestion. “Ikaw talaga James puro ka biro. Kung hindi lang talaga kita prince! Basta ha. Hindi niyo ako iiwan kahit anong mangyari,” pleaded Maya. “Promise,” said James. “Ano ka ba naman roomie, sa laki nitong lugar at sa dami ng tao dito, for sure hindi na maiisipan pa ni Freddie Krueger este ni Mr. Lim na lapitan ka pa. Buti kung mapansin ka pa non noh. Kaya chillax ka lang, ok?” said Emman. Maya now a bit more comfortable after getting assurances from her friends said, “Ok,” she smiled.
Tables were assigned for TA staff and management who attended the Summit. As the three approached the table assigned to them, Maya noticed that their former mentors and trainers are joining them as well. “Hello Ma’am Belmonte! Ma’am Inah! Ma’am Dhianna!” Maya greeted. The three greeted her back and greeted James and Emman as well. After they had exchanged their pleasantries, they all took their seats. As they were happily chatting with one another, Inah suddenly stood up and approached Mr. Lim, as he was making his way towards the designated table assigned for LAS, together with his personal assistant Liza.
“Richard! Hi!” greeted Inah. “Oh hello Inah,” replied Richard. “Are you on your way now to your table? Is anyone with you?” Inah asked. “Yes and Liza is with me,” said Richard. “Oh! Well if there’s only the two of you, why don’t you join us instead? We still have vacant seats here on our table,” said Inah encouragingly. “Wouldn’t that be awkward I mean another company joining your group?” asked Richard. “No, not at all! It would definitely be a pleasure to have you join us,” insisted Inah. Richard then gave in to Inah’s request and both he and Liza joined Inah and the rest of the group for lunch.
As Inah ushered Richard & Liza toward the designated table for TA, she initiated to personally introduce them to her colleagues. As he was turned to James, “Hello Richard,” greeted James as he reached out his hand for a handshake which Richard took earnestly. “Hello James,” greeted Richard back. “It’s good to see you again. It’s been awhile since we last saw you at a Summit,” smiled James. “Yes. It’s been quite awhile,” replied Richard. “Oh by the way, let me introduce you to two of the top FAs of Time Airways,” started James proudly, and continued, “Here on my right is Emman Lopez.” “Hello Mr. Lim,” smiled Emman as he reached out his hand to Richard for a handshake and the latter greeted him back. “And here on my left is Maya dela Rosa,” said James.
Maya all along had been dreading this moment. The last thing that she ever wanted was to be introduced to Richard and be on the same table with him for lunch. She’s all panicky inside but was able to keep it all up, not showing any signs what has been going on inside her. She reached out her hand to him and greeted, “Hello Mr. Lim.” Richard took her hand, smiled and said, “Bonjour Maya! Nous nous réunissons à nouveau. (Hello Maya! We meet again.)” “Leider (Unfortunately),” replied Maya. Richard smiled at her response, apparently amused by her, and said, “Ich frage mich, wie viel mehr Sprachen sie Wissen. (I wonder how many more languages you know.)” he said. “Offenbar nicht genug um zu verhindern, daß sie mit ihnen. (Apparently, not enough to keep away from you.)” replied Maya.
The rest of the group were just looking at the both of them, not really able to understand the exchange of words the two are having. Both Richard and Maya are smiling the whole time so no one noticed what’s really transpiring between the two, except for James. “Ich bitte vielmals um Entschuldigung, aber ich glaube nicht, dass es richtig ist, dass der Spass in gerade zwei von ihnen. (Excuse me but I don’t think it is proper to keep the fun within just the two of you.)” said James as he understood every single exchange that transpired and knows the tension building up inside of Maya. “But of course, my apologies,” said Richard politely. James just smiled and invited everyone to the buffet table to get their food.
“Uy roomie! Ano yung pinag-usapan niyo ni Mr. Lim kanina? Eh kayo lang nagkaintindihan eh. Nakalimutan niyo atang may mga kasama kayo,” said Emman. “Naku Emmy. They were just saying how pleased they were to have seen each other again,” teased James, which made Emman laugh. “Ano ka ba James! You know fairly well kung anong pinag-usapan namin. Nakakainis talaga siya,” said Maya irritably. “Kala ko nga kung saan na mapupunta ang usapan niyo. Kung hindi pa ako sumingit. But princess, remember, never let him get into your nerves. Sige ka, ikaw din. Di ba sabi nga nila the more you hate the more you love?” teased James. “Ay nako James! Hinding hindi ako mai-in love sa mga kagaya niyang arogante noh! Hmp!” snubbed Maya. “Ay nako roomie! Wag magsasalita ng tapos. Baka bukas makalawa iba na ang drama mo!” countered Emman, which made him and James laugh. “Kayo talaga ako na naman ang inasar niyo! Naiinis na nga ako eh,” said Maya. “Ok ok. Hindi na. Hindi ka na naming aasarin. Basta princess, try your best na wag paapekto sa presence ni Richard, ok?” said James. “Ok,” replied Maya.
During the course of their lunch, Maya noticed that Richard is polite and friendly towards Inah and the rest of the group. She noticed that he’s answering their questions, not simply by one liners or grunts, but he was actually engaging in their conversation. “Marunong naman palang makipag-usap itong lalaking ito. O baka naman dahil kakilala niya sila Ma’am Inah o di kaya naman ay magkakaibigan na talaga sila? Eh pano naman kaya nila ito naging kaibigan eh ang sama-sama ng ugali!” Maya thought. On the other hand, Richard also notices the extra attention that James and Maya have for each other and catches James addressing Maya as “Princess.”
The rest of the Summit went smoothly. Shortly after their lunch break, Richard continued with his presentation and lasted for another hour. After his presentation, another speaker was introduced. For the rest of the afternoon, Maya no longer saw Richard which had been a huge relief for her.
“Guys, I need to go already. Dad called me and he wants to meet with me. Medyo urgent lang kaya kailangan ko ng umalis agad. Gusto niyo, sabay na kayo sa akin para mai-ikot ko muna kayo sa condo?” offered James to Maya and Emman. “Naku James. Thanks nalang pero sa Laguna kasi ako uuwi ngayon. Nagtext kasi sa akin si mom. Naglalambing at pinakiusapan akong umuwi. Ito nalang si roomie ang isabay mo since wala siyang makakasabay umuwi,” said Emman. “Naku wag na. Mag-taxi nalang ako,” declined Maya. “Pero princess, mag-isa ka lang uuwi. Sige na. Iikot nalang kita,” offered James. “James, wag na. Ok lang ako. Kayang kaya kong mag taxi, hindi na ako bata. Mabuti pa umalis ka na at baka nag-aantay na sayo ang dad mo,” smiled Maya. “Are you sure? I can spare you some time para –“ “James,” said Maya, cutting him off, “Ok lang talaga ako. Promise. Sige na. Mauna ka na.” “Ok. But promise to text me as soon as you reach home, ok?” “Ok.” Then James gave Maya a peck on the cheeks before leaving.
“O pano roomie? Gora na ang beauty ko. Sigurado ka bang ok ka lang mag-isa?” asked Emman in a concerned tone. “Ano ka ba Emman! Ok na ok lang noh! Hindi naman ito ang first time na mag taxi akong mag-isa. Mabuti pa, umuwi ka na at ng hindi ka na gabihin pa sa daan,” smiled Maya. “Ok, sige. Basta roomie, mag-iingat ka ha. Bye,” said Emman, waving at Maya. “Bye,” smiled Maya, waving back at Emman.
As Maya was waiting for a taxi, a steel grey 2012 BMW 7 series car stopped right in front of her. As the car’s passenger window rolled down, “Do you need a ride?” asked Richard, smiling warmly at her. “No thanks Mr. Lim. I’ve already called for a taxi,” declined Maya. “Are you sure? ‘Cause it doesn’t seem like you’ll be getting one anytime soon,” he said. “I can wait. Besides, I’m really not in a hurry,” replied Maya. Richard parked his car and walked towards Maya. As he stood beside Maya, “What?” she asked. “I know I started on the wrong foot. Despite that, you still managed to give me credit to Rafi and I owe you that. Please just let me return the favour,” pleaded Richard. “Mr. Lim, you don’t owe me anything. Rafi thinks highly of you. Ayoko lang masira yun,” said Maya simply. “Which is why I should return the favour. Please Maya. I just don’t want to be in debt with anyone,” said Richard. “Wala kang utang sa akin Mr. Lim. I did it for Rafi, not for you,” replied Maya. “Still, I insist. Please Maya. Just this once,” pleaded Richard once more. Maya hesitated for a moment but finally agreed to accept Richard’s offer. Richard walked her towards his car and opened the passenger’s door for her. As they were seated inside, “Thank you for accepting my offer,” Richard said, smiling at Maya. “You’re just returning the favour di ba?” Maya said.
The ride home has been awkwardly quiet. No one dared to speak first, afraid that their conversation might lead to an argument or exchange of sarcasms. Richard simply decided to focus on driving while Maya just watched at the passing scenery outside, occasionally giving Richard directions going to the condo. As soon as they finally reached the condo, Maya thanked Richard for the ride and stepped out of his car. Before Richard left, he rolled down the passenger’s window and called Maya. “Maya,” he called. Maya turned around to look at Richard. “Thank you again,” he said smiling at Maya. Then finally he said, “我認為你應了解中國。(I think you should learn Chinese as well.)” And with that, he left the vicinity, not waiting for Maya’s response. Maya, fuming with anger as she has no idea what Richard just said, “You really are such an egotistic arrogant jerk Mr. Lim!” she thought angrily, and turned around to proceed to their condo unit.