Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 11
A/N: I’d like to express my gratitude to those who read, continues to read and appreciate this series. I can never thank you enough. You guys are the reason why I continue to write for this series. For those who commented that their heart raced on the previous chapter, you got me surprised with that reaction. I still cannot understand why, but nonetheless, thank you. So without further ado, let me give you The Art of Letting Go 12. God bless everyone!
Maya still cannot believe everything she had discovered that day. She still cannot fathom the possibility of Chard being Richard Lim, or how the letters came to her possession, and how fate seemed to be playing tricks on the both of them making them meet in different circumstances. But she still doesn’t want to acknowledge that fate is responsible for everything. Denying that destiny is at work in their lives. Determined to find a loop hole in her discovery, she decided to give Rafi a call. “Hello Rafi?” called Maya. “Maya! What a surprise! You’re still up? Di ba 1AM na jan?” asked Rafi. “Ah, oo. May mga kinailangan kasi akong gawin kaya eto at gising pa,” lied Maya. “Umm. Nako Maya. Don’t tell me workaholic ka din gaya ni Chard ha. Tignan mo naman nangyari sa kanya, nagkasakit,” reminded Rafi. She doesn’t know why, but Maya suddenly cringed, hearing Rafi address Richard “Chard.”
“Hindi naman Rafi. Importante lang talaga yung tinapos ko. Nga pala, dinalaw ko kanina si Richard sa hospital at nakalabas narin siya kanina. Dun nga ako sa bahay niya nag dinner eh,” said Maya. “Really??” said Rafi, all too happy and excited about the news, “That’s good! That’s really good to know! Seems like you two really are getting along very well with one another,” said Rafi. “Ah oo. Siya nga pala Rafi. May itatanong lang sana ako. Ano kasi eh. May kinalaman sa asawa ni Richard,” asked Maya shyly. “Oh his late wife? Si Alex? What about her?” Rafi asked. The mere mention of the name sent Maya to a shock. “Hello Maya? Maya? Are you still there? Maya?” called Rafi on the other end of the line as Maya has not been able to answer her back immediately.
“Ah oo Rafi. Ano nga yun?” Maya asked. Rafi chuckled, “Bakit parang natulala ka ata jan? Are you ok?” she asked. “Oo Rafi, ok lang ako. Pasensya ka na,” said Maya. “Ok. So what do you want to know about Alex?” asked Rafi. “Ah ano. Ano kasi. Itatanong ko lang sana kung, kung naging bestfriend mo din siya. Yun,” asked Maya. “Ah. Yes. Nakilala ko siya through Chard. Syempre kami ni Chard, bestfriends na ever since we we’re kids. At nung mag college si Chard, dun niya nakilala si Alex which in turn, pinakilala niya sa akin. Yun. Naging best of friends din naman kami. Why do you ask?” inquired Rafi. “Ah wala naman Rafi. Naku Rafi, sige na at masyado naring late dito at baka naaabala narin kita jan. Sige. Tawag nalang ulit ako sa susunod. Bye Rafi,” “Bye Maya.”
“So si Richard nga si Chard? Siya nga ang sumulat ng mga sulat na yun para kay Alex?” thought Maya further, as she tried to let realization sink in. She still cannot believe that she’s now face to face with the man her heart yearned to help and reach out for, for the past years.
10AM, Richard is found sitting in his home office, working on his laptop. “Ricardo, hindi ba’t kabilin bilinan ng doctor na magpahinga ka? Bakit andito ka ngayon at nagta-trabaho?” asked Manang Fe. “Eh manang mabuti na po ang pakiramdam ko. Ok na po ako,” answered Richard. “Ikaw talagang bata ka napakatigas ng ulo mo –“ but before Manang Fe could say anything further, she heard the doorbell ring. Turning to Richard, “May inaaasahan ka bang bisita Ricardo?” she asked. “Wala naman po Manang,” replied Richard, looking as confused. “Eh sino naman kaya ito? Sige at titignan ko lang muna ito. Hindi pa tayo tapos Ricardo,” warned Manang Fe, which only earned a grin from Richard.
As she opened the gate, she was surprised to see Maya standing outside. “Hello po Manang Fe!” greeted Maya. “O Maya hija, ikaw pala. Buti naman at napadalaw ka ulit?” smiled Manang Fe. “Kasi Manang bilin po sa akin ni Rafi na titignan tignan ko daw po si Richard at matigas daw po kasi ang ulo ng bestfriend niyang yan,” said Maya, telling half-truth of her real intentions. “Si Rafi talaga. Pero buti narin nga na andito ka. Naku yang batang yan, ayaw paawat. Ayun, andun siya ngayon sa opisina niya at nagsisimula na namang magtrabaho!” said Manang Fe in frustration as she ushered Maya inside. Maya could only laugh seeing Manang Fe getting frustrated at Richard’s stubbornness.
“O Ricardo! May bisita ka,” Manang Fe as she ushered Maya inside the office. “Hi!” greeted Maya to Richard. “Maya!” greeted Richard to Maya, apparently happy to see her which didn’t go unnoticed by Manang Fe. “O siya at ikukuha ko muna kayo ng kape. Maiwan ko muna kayo,” smiled Manang Fe. “Ah Manang, paki sunod niyo nalang po sa may veranda. Salamat po,” requested Richard. Manang Fe simply nodded then turned around to leave. “Napasyal ka Maya?” smiled Richard. “Di ba nga sabi ko sayo binilin ka sa akin ni Rafi? Ngayon alam ko na kung bakit ipinagbibilin ka niya! Matigas ngang talaga ang ulo mo!” chuckled Maya. “Silly!” replied Richard, shaking his head.
A few moments later, Manang Fe came in with a tray, carrying two cups of coffee. “Wala kang flight ngayon?” asked Richard. “Wala eh. Hanggang bukas ang bakasyon ko,” replied Maya. “Ah. So dapat nagre-relax ka at hindi nagbabantay ng kaibigan,” teased Richard. Maya, giggling at Richard’s response, “Eh wala akong magagawa. Bantayin talaga yung kaibigan ko eh. Sobrang tigas lang kasi ng ulo! Siya nga ang mas dapat na nag-re-relax eh!” said Maya. Richard simply laughed at Maya’s comments. “Seriously Richard, you’re still not supposed to return back to work. Dapat nagpapahinga ka parin hanggang ngayon,” said Maya, showing some concern for Richard. “Hindi naman ako napapagod eh. Saka I’m just in front of my computer, checking some emails,” replied Richard. “But still, kahit pag-check lang ng emails yun, hindi parin dapat. Ano bang ginagawa mo para ma-relax ka?” asked Maya suddenly. Richard, tried to think for a moment, “Nagbubukas ng computer. Matutulog. Ganun,” replied Richard. “What??” asked Maya in disbelief, “you call that relaxation?? Yun na ang tinatawag mong pag-relax??” she said further giving Richard an incredulous look. Richard, a bit startled with her reaction, “What? Eh yun lang ang alam kong ways to make me relaxed,” he said. Maya, shaking his head in disbelief, “Hay nako Richard! Ang mabuti pa, sumama ka sa akin mamaya. Ituturo ko sayo ang tamang pag-relax!” said Maya proudly.
Maya brought Richard to an eco-park that afternoon. Maya explained to Richard that she frequently go there to relax and de-stress. When she asked if it was Richard’s first time to go to this kind of place, “No, Alex and I used to go to this kind of places,” he said. Maya tried to check if he was ready to talk about it and asked, “So nagpupunta kayo dito para mag relax?” Richard just smiled and said, “Well, siguro. All I know is Alex loves to go to these kinds of places. I remember her telling me that it makes her feel relaxed. Ako naman, I simply go with her because she wanted to go here. I simply wanted to give her what she wants. What would make her happy.” “Did going to this kind of place also make you happy?” she asked. “As long as she’s happy, I’m fine with it,” replied Richard casually.
With these, Maya thought to teach Richard how to be happy and appreciative of his surroundings. How to live for himself and not for someone else. She resolved to teach him how to really live.
“Tara upo tayo dun,” said Maya, pointing to an empty bench. As they sat, “Alam mo, pag gusto kong mag-relax, eto uupo lang ako dito. Pinakikinggan yung mga ibon, yung mga masasayang tawanan ng mga tao ng mga bata, ninanamnam ang sariwang hangin,” explained Maya. Richard, giving her a confused incredulous look, “Hindi ba nakakainip yun? Parang mas ma-rerelax ka pa pag nasa bahay at natutulog ka lang eh,” he said. Maya, laughing at Richard’s naïve, “Turuan kita,” she said. She then asked Richard for his handkerchief and asked him to blindfold himself. He was hesitant at first but Maya asked him to trust her. As he placed a blindfold on himself, Maya asked him to calm down, inhale then exhale, and just feel his surroundings. She just asked him to feel the cool breeze, savour the fresh air, listen to the children’s laughter, and listen to the birds singing.
Richard followed every single instruction that Maya gave her. Surprisingly, he did found himself relax more. Not only that, he also found himself becoming more attentive about his surroundings. Unconsciously, he found himself smiling and slowly, his heart is filled with peace and gladness. After a couple of minutes, he removed the blindfold, faced Maya and said, “You’re right,” smiling warmly at her. “Di ba? Sabi ko sayo eh! Nakakarelax dito! Basta marunong ka lang mag appreciate ng paligid mo!” said Maya proudly, which earned a chuckle from Richard.
As Richard continued to gaze around and appreciate the beauty of his surrounding, he cannot help but feel some sense of guilt. He felt like something’s wrong, that something’s amiss with what he is feeling, with what he is doing. Being happy and having a sense of peace doesn’t feel right for him. For him, carrying a burden in his heart is what’s right and proper, or so he thought.
Richard was lost in his own reverie when she heard Maya. “Uy saranggola!” exclaimed Maya, happy to see kids flying some kites. “Marunong kang magpalipad ng saranggola?” she asked Richard excitedly. Richard simply shook his head in response. “Alam mo ba, kami ng kapatid ko, madalas kaming magpalipad ng saranggola noon sa probinsya! Ang saya saya kaya non! Gusto mo subukan?” she asked expectantly. “Ah Maya, I think we should leave,” said Richard in a serious tone. “Ha? Bakit? Masama ba pakiramdam mo?” asked Maya in a concerned tone. Richard gave Maya a weak smile and nodded his head, not wanting to disclose anything about what’s really going on inside of him. “Ok sige. Tara na,” she said. And with that, they both left for their respective homes.
That night, Richard is found standing at the veranda, leaning over the railway, looking at the stars, and lost in his own reverie. He thought of the things that he did earlier and the things that Maya taught him. He remembered how he used to go to parks with Alex and how happy he was because of Alex. But earlier it was different. He was happy not because Alex was there. He felt happiness and felt peace, as for the first time, he felt in touch and connected with his surroundings. Alex used to be his happiness, but earlier, he doesn’t know how he managed to be happy and at peace. This somehow, made him guilty.
“Ricardo?” called Manang Fe from behind, bringing him back from his reverie. “Manang,” he greeted back. “Bakit hindi ka pa natutulog? Gabi na ah. Hindi ba dapat ay nagpapahinga ka na?” smiled Manang Fe. “May mga iniisip lang po ako Manang,” said Richard. “Gusto mo ba ng kausap?” she asked. Richard simply smiled and sat himself on the chair, Manang Fe sat beside him. “Alam mo manang, nagpunta kami ni Maya sa park kanina. Sabi niya mas ma-re-relax daw ako dun. Tinuruan niya ako ng proper way of relaxing and being in touch with my surrounding,” chuckled Richard at the thought, “I don’t know Manang. How come I’ve never noticed those things before? The beauty of the surroundings. I actually felt happy and at peace kanina. But then,” Richard trailed off. After a few moments of silence, “Ricardo?” asked Manag Fe. “Manang, do you think I’m being unfair?” he asked. “Unfair? Anong ibig mong sabihin?” “You know what my life was before I met Alex. You know how I was. But when I met her, I felt like my life having direction, I felt like I finally found my purpose in life, and that was Alex. Not only did she become my first love but she also became my happiness. My whole being. Pero kanina..” Richard trailed off once more.
“Ricardo, hindi mo maiiwasang mahanap muli ang kaligayahan. Maaaring wala na nga si Alex, pero hindi ibig sabihin non na kailangan mo naring kalimutan o pabayaan ang sarili mo. Hindi ibig sabihin non na hindi ka na pwedeng sumaya. Maaaring wala na siya pero ikaw, andito ka’t buhay, kailangan mong magpatuloy sa buhay. Rcardo,” said Manang Fe as he touched Richard’s hand, “hindi masamang maging maligaya kang muli. Hindi masamang isipin mo ang sarili mo. Hindi masamang makaramdam ka ng kaligayahan at kapayapaan. At mas lalong hindi masama kung hindi si Alex ang dahilan ng mga yun,” explained Manang Fe.
“I don’t know Manang. It just doesn’t feel right,” said Richard, guilt tainted his statement. “Ricardo, ganyan lang ang nararamdaman mo dahil hindi ka sanay. Dahil nasanay ka na kay Alex lang umiikot ang mundo mo. Sabi mo nga kanina, hindi mo alam bakit ngayon mo lang napansin ang mga bagay bagay sa paligid mo. Kung minsan kasi, masyado tayong nakatutok sa isang maliit na tuldok sa gitna ng malinis na papel, na hindi na natin napapansin o nabibigyan ng halaga, ang kabuuan at kalinisan ng buong papel,” explained Manang Fe. “So I’m not seeing the bigger picture?” smiled Richard. “Alam mo Ricardo, wag mong isasara ang isip at puso mo sa iisang bagay lang. Magandang tignan mo ang kabuuan ng mga bagay bagay para mas lalo mong mapansin at mabigyang halaga ang ganda ng lahat,” said Manang Fe. “Do you think Alex won’t mind?” he asked. Manang Fe smiled sweetly at him then said, “Kilala ko at kilala mo si Alex. Alam mong hindi siya sakim na tao. Alam mong mahal na mahal ka niya. Natitiyak kong kabutihan at kaligayahan mo lamang ang hinahangad niya noon, at nasisiguro kong magpa-hanggang ngayon.”
Richard could only smile and be in awe at the wisdom that her former nanny gives him. It is at times like these that he is truly grateful of her. “Thank you Manang,” he said, smiling sweetly at her. After their conversation, Manang Fe turned around to leave and went to her bedroom. Richard stayed for a couple of minutes more before finally deciding to go to his own room. As he got to his bed, he pondered on the things that Manang Fe told him. “I guess Manang Fe is right. I just got so used to misery that happiness became an alien to me. It’s not like I’m trying to forget Alex anyway,” Richard thought. And with that, Richard slept that night with a smile on his face.