Admin Note: *Contributed Story* Please give credit and thanks to spazzbuster. This is a continuation to After All – part 11.
Part 12: The Hopefuls
After his talk with Simon, Ser Chief became even more anxious to talk to Maya again. With Simon hanging around Maya, his chances of winning her back became slimmer. At this point, he just have to trust his kids’ plan and the hope that Maya still loves him.
He hurriedly went up to the hotel room where he and his kids will be staying for the week. They have to act fast now that Simon is in the picture. As soon as he entered the room, he was surprised by what he saw. On the floor are various cartolinas, coloring pens, scissors, pentel pens, cut-outs. His kids are all too busy with their individual work that they didn’t even bother sparing him a greeting. A smile slowly made its way to his lips.
Ser Chief: Well, well, well. I guess you guys can’t be disturbed.
Nikki: (finally looking up from what she’s sticking on the cartolina) Oh Dad, you’re back. Good, I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s your term of endearment for Ate Maya ba? I need it for this kase eh.
Ser Chief: (raising his eyebrows) Uhm…well, I didn’t really think of that Niks. I just call her Maya just like everyone else.
Niks: (flabbergasted) What Dad?! Not even Love, Sweety or any of those romantic names?
Luke: Not even “babe” or “baby” Dad? (shakes his head) No wonder Ate Maya wouldn’t call you anything other than “Ser Chief”!
Niks: Oo nga noh? Kuya’s right, now that he mentioned it. Parang Ser Chief nga lang talaga tawag ni Ate Maya sayo. I guess you were both not that sweet ( sad face)
Ser Chief: Well, in her defence, she tried to call me other names like “Chieko” short for Chief Ko and then there’s even “Buko” short for “Buhay Ko”. Of course, you know how that sounded like right? So, we decided she goes back to calling me Ser Chief.
Niks: Hahahaha Ate Maya can be really corny rin pala. But then, she’s a woman in love and love makes you do silly things right Kuya?
Luke: Tama! Pero, seriously Dad? Buko? Hahahaha (Ser Chief shakes his head)
Abby: (coming out of her room carrying a scrap book) Why are you laughing Kuya?
Ser Chief : ( blushing ) It’s nothing baby. They were just recalling some funny things about Ate Maya. What do you have there baby?
Abby: Eto po Daddy? (raises the scrapbook ) This is a scrapbook I made for Ate Maya. It has all our family pictures. I wanna give it to her when we go there this week. I still remember the designs she put on my first scrapbook. I really hope she’ll like it po.
Ser Chief: I’m sure she will Baby. Pero kids, it’s getting late na and you need to get some rest. We could continue this tomorrow.
Luke: Uhm….okay Dad. Medyo nakakangawit din kase mag-paste ng mga decors dito (shows his work which earned a quaint smile from his dad) Oh and by the way Dad, I already called the flower shop kanina while you were out. They will deliver the flowers tomorrow at 9AM just as planned (winks)
Ser Chief: I appreciate that Luke. But for now, it’s best we all get some rest. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.
Abby, Niks & Luke: Yes Dad.
Ser Chief: And guys….thank you for doing this (smiles at his kids)
That night Ser Chief tossed and turned in his bed. His mind was preoccupied by thoughts of the impending reunion with Maya and the Dela Rosas. How will Nanay Tere, Mamang and Kute react when he shows up at their doorstep? Will Maya even allow him to see her? What if Simon shows up? These thoughts kept his mind busy for several hours that night before he finally succumb to sleep.
He woke up with a start.
It was just a dream. He knew even in sleep that it must be just a dream. After all, his wife can’t possibly be alive again. Yet, she felt alive when they hugged in his dream. Alex felt warm in his arms. Part of him wished that she was not just a figment of his imagination, for he felt secure in her presence.
In his dream, they shared a quiet moment sitting on a bench…the bench where they met while in college at PUS. At first, he was the one staring at her in awe as her locks were beautifully swaying with the soft breeze. She hasn’t changed. She’s still as beautiful as when they first met. It took some time before she turned to look at him. He was sure his heart momentarily stopped when their eyes met….and then she smiled warmly at him. All his doubts and fears seemed to fade in the background as he returned the smile. Alex slowly reached for his left cheek and carrassed it with so much care. Ser Chief was overwhelmed by the warmth he felt from her hand that he closed his eyes, tears silently fell. When the warmth suddenly disappeared, he opened his eyes to see that Alex has stood up from the bench and faced the sea, looking at the horizon. He decided to approach her and ask what’s wrong but no sound came out of his mouth. Before he could put his hand on her shoulder, Alex looked back at him with tears in her eyes and so he hurriedly wrapped her in his arms. It took a couple of moments before he released her to look at her face. He ran his fingers on her cheeks to dry her tears. Ser Chief wanted to say something badly, to assure her that everything’s gonna be alright but his mouth still went dry. Alex slowly removed his hands from her face and held them with her own. She then whispered “Richard, Honey, I want you to be happy. Find your happiness…..because I have found mine” They gazed at each other with so much love before a white cloud slowly covered Alex. Next thing he knew, Alex has disappread in the clouds and he heard the bells ringing.
As it turned out, what he heard were not bells, but the alarm from his phone. He reached for his phone and pressed on “stop”. His heart was beating fast. He reached for his forehead and wiped the beads of sweat that formed there. It’s been a long time since he last dreamt of Alex and this happening around this moment in his life couldn’t be moretimely. Should he take it as a sign that Alex wants him to go after Maya? “It could mean that way…it MUST only mean that way. Honey, help me be happy again? Help me get Maya back”. Getting up from bed, he quickly took a shower and prepared for the day.
At 9AM that day, the Dela Rosas were as busy as any day catering to their regular customers at the Chibugan. Each of them finding something to do to help keep the business running. Though the sight of the pregnant Maya raised not a few eyebrows from the customers, after a few weeks, she became a regular thing for the patrons. She managed to worm her way through the hearts of their customers by her positive energy that no one bothered to ask about the father of the child.
They were minding their day’s routine when a big delivery truck stopped right infront of Little Pards Chibugan. People inside the eatery had to stop what they were doing when men alighted from the truck and started bringing baskets and baskets of sunflower to the direction of the Chibugan. A man looking like the one in charge went up to Maya holding a clipbord with a piece of paper.
Man: Magandang umaga po.Dito po ba nakatira si Maya Dela Rosa?
Maya: Aah…eh..ako po yun Kuya. Bakit po?
Man: May delivery po para sa inyo. Paki-pirmahan na lang po ditto ( points at the piece of paper on the clipboard)
Maya: Ano po? Para…para sakin lahat ng yan? Baka naman po nagkakamali kayo Kuya.
Man: Dito po yun address na binigay samin at sabi nyo nga kayo si Maya Dela Rosa. Sa inyo po ang mga bulakalak na yan. Ah..san po ba naming dapat ilagay?
Maya: Uhm….eh…dyan na lang po paki-lapag ( points at the small space infront of the Chibugan) Kanino po galing?
Man: (shouts orders to the other men) Oh, dun nyo daw ilagay. Ingatan nyo…konting bilis, marami-rami yan. (looks back at Maya) Ah…hindi po nakalagay sa order kung sino po nagpadala ma’am.
It took a while before the men finished placing the baskets of flowers on the floor of the Chibugan. When they were all done, the people in the Chibugan had their mouths hanging. They were all shocked by the number of flowers which now occupy half of the eatery. Right before the truck leave, the man-in-charge approached Maya again seemingly recalling something important.
Man: Ah…ma’am. Nga pala, hindi man sinabi kung sino ang nagpadala, may iniwan naman pong note. Eto po oh (hands Maya a small card and leaves the premises)
Maya: Ah..okay po. Thank you Kuya (flips the card and reads the note)
“I still think the sunflower is more you than the roses. I’m sorry for all the wrong I’ve done. I know these flowers won’t be enough to get you to forgive me, but let them remind you of how much I love you. Please give our love a second chance?”
After reading the note, Maya could only think of one person who might be responsible for the flowers. She quickly tore the note into pieces much to the surprise of the Dela Rosas and their customers. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes and so she hurriedly went up to their house without preamble. Mamang, Kute and Nanay Teresita echanged knowing looks before Nanay Tere finally followed Maya. Kute shakes her head in understanding and went back to assisting their customers.
Customer1: Oh Kute, mukhang may manliligaw si Maya ah! At mukhang galante. Sya ba yung magiging asawa ni Maya?
Customer2: Naku eh, kung ganyan naman kagalante, di na dapat magpatumpik-tumpik pa ni Maya. Kelangan din ng magiging anak nya ang isang ama.
Kute: Ah eh….siguro po makakabuting hayaan na muna natin si Maya. Kukunin ko na po ang order nyo (she dismissed the gossips)
Maya went to her room and allowed tears to finally freely fall from her eyes. Nanay Tere joined her shortly and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders. Nanay Teresita can easily tell that her daughter is still hurting. She could only hope that soon enough she would heal and be happy once again.
Maya: Bakit ganun Nay? Bakit ngayon? Bakit nya ginagawa ‘to? Akala ba nya dahil sa mga bulaklak na yon mapapatawad ko na sya? Bakit kelangan nya ipamukha sakin kung gaano kadali sa kanya bumili nga ganun dahil mayaman sila? PInamumukha ba nya sakin ang pera nila?
Nanay Teresita: Sshhh…Nak, baka naman hindi ganun ang gusto nyang mangyari. Baka naman humihingi lang talaga ng tawad si Richard at ito yung alam nyang paraan. Hindi naman siguro para lang ipamukha yung yaman nila. Nak, ayaw kitang pangunahan, alam mo yan. Kung ano ang desisyon mo, igagalang namin yon ng pamilya mo. Ang akin lang, baka naman sincere ang paghingi nya ng tawad.
Maya: Sincere man sya o hindi Nay, wala na akong pakelam. Masakit pa rin sakin ang mga nagawa nya. Hindi basta-basta mawawala o makakalimutan ko yon. Hindi namin sya kelangan ng anak ko.
Nanay Teresita: (wipes Maya’s tears) Alam ko yon anak. Andito lang kame, lagi mong tatandaan yan. Kung hindi ka pa handa, hindi ka namin pipiliting harapin si Richard. Wag ka ng umiyak.
Back at the hotel room, the Lim kids were busily preparing all their props for what they termed as “Second Chance with Maya Mission”. Though the term made Ser Chief cringe because of cheeziness, he decided not to say anything against it because he knows that Nikki was only thinking for the best. Besides, Maya doesn’t have to know about the “mission” or so he hoped.
Having planned everything even before coming to San Nicolas, the Lim Kids and Ser Chief are already ready for the day’s agenda as early as 10AM. The first step in the mission is for the kids to drop by the Chibugan and hopefully get to talk to Maya in the pretense that they’re just visiting without their dad’s knowledge.
And so after a 45-minute drive in the rented car, the Lim kids found themselves just a few steps away from the Chibugan. Ser Chief just dropped them off at the corner street so as to avoid getting busted as early as now in the mission. Nikki grab hold of the fruits basket she’s supposed to give Maya, Luke made sure they brought some supposed luggages with them, while Abby had her hands full with her gift for Cho.
Maya, clueless of what’s about to drastically change in the Dela Rosa’s daily lives, was busy wiping the tables at the Chibugan. She handed Lino the used plates but had to look up at him because he didn’t move his hands to receive them.
Maya: Lino? Uy, okay ka lang ba? Para kang nanuno dyan! Uy…
Lino: (mouth wide open in shock) Anung?…si…sina….ano kase Maya ( used his lips to point at the other direction which prompted Maya to turn around)
And there they were….Nikki, Luke and Abby with warm smiles on their faces somewhat anticipating how Maya would react. She on the other hand, could swear that she felt her heart skip several beats upon seeing the trio. She had to fight the urge to look behind them and search for the one man she’s not so ready see again. Instead, she made an extra effort to close her gaping mouth and say something to the visitors.
Luke, Abby, Niks: Good morning Ate Maya!
Maya: Abby, Nikki, Luke! Anong…anong ginagawa nyo dito? (She noticed how Nikki and Abby’s eyes slowly moved from looking at her face to looking at her bulging tummy. This prompted her to instinctively caress her baby bulge)
Luke: Dinadalaw po kayo.
Nikki and Abby: …..and si Baby po! (as they beamed at Maya earning surprised looks from the Dela Rosas)
Kute: A…alam na rin nila Abby at Nikki, Luke?
Luke: Opo. Sinabi na rin po naming sa kanila. Kaya nga po super excited silang puntahan kayo dito para ma-meet ang baby brother naming eh.
Nanay Teresita: (looking past the Lim kids for any sign of who brought them there) Ah..eh Luke, sinong kasama nyo dito sa San Nicolas? Alam ba ni Daddy nyo na pumunta kayo dito?
Nikki, Luke and Abby exchanged looks and then frowned. Their actions made Maya’s already troubled heart beat even more irregularly. But she knew that she has to be stronger than this for the sake of her baby. She has to send the kids back before Ser Chief goes berserk after finding out what the kids have done.
Maya: Hindi alam ng Daddy nyo na andito kayo? O kahit ni Manang Fe? Luke, hindi magugustuhan ng Daddy mo ang ginawa nyo. Atsaka, paano kung napahamak kayo?
Nikki: Ate Maya, hindi naman po sa hindi nya alam. He knows that we’re supposed to go here and meet you. It’s just…..
Abby: Nauna lang po kami kay Daddy. Pero mamaya po baka po dumalaw din sya.
Luke: Abby! Di ba may usapan tayo? (gives his little sister a slight nudge on the shoulder)
Nikki: The truth is, we decided to visit you first and talk to you in private. We were supposed to go here with Dad but we wanted our own time with you Ate Maya.
Nanay Teresita: Uhm….Nak mas maganda siguro kung sa taas na lang tayo mag-uusap. Mukhang may dahilan ang mga bata kaya sila andito. Halika sa taas, mga bata? Dun tayo sa taas. (slowly egged Maya to go upstairs with the Lim kids)
The lim kids sat silently at the living room on the second floor of the Dela Rosa household. Maya who was equally silent could only look away as she sat close to the window to get enough air circulating in her lungs. Having the three kids here with her made her imagination run wild. She now worries what will happen after talking to the kids. The image of Richard Lim walking towards their staircase wouldn’t leave her thoughts. It was Luke’s voice that got her back to the present situation.
Luke: Ate Maya, pasensya na po sa walang pasabi naming pagpunta dito. Alam kong katulad nung pagbisita ko nung nakaraan, nagulat rin kayo ngayon.
Maya: Hindi lang gulat. Nagtataka din ako bakit kayo nandito.
Nikki: (clears her throat) I know Ate Maya we were immature back then when you and dad were still together. We were kinda selfish for not accepting you in the family. We know our mistakes now and I would like to apologize for our masamang ugali before. I hope you could still forgive us?
Maya: (gave a weak smile to Nikki) Katulad ng sinabi ko sa Kuya Luke nyo, hindi naman ako galit sa inyo eh. Karapatan nyong maki-alam sa magiging buhay ng Daddy nyo dahil apektado rin kayo sa anu mang maging desisyon nya. Naiintindihan ko yon.
Nikki: Thanks Ate Maya for forgiving us. Pero, sinabi rin ni Kuya samin that though you forgive the three of us, you couldn’t do the same for Dad.
Abby: That’s why we’re here po. To ask you to forgive Daddy too.
Maya: (tears start to sting her eyes and she had to look away for a couple of seconds before looking back at the Lim kids) Si Daddy nyo ba ang may idea nito? Akala ba nya kung magsorry kayo para sa kanya magiging okay na ang lahat (raising her voice a little) Hindi ganun yon! Sya etong may kasalanan pero kayo ang pinagso-sorry nya?!
Luke: (still a bit shaken by the sudden outburst of Maya) Ah…Ate Maya, wala pong kinalaman si Daddy dito sa pagpunta namin (looks at Nikki for support)
Nikki: Yes Ate Maya. Kame lang nagdecide to go here on our own and talk to you separately. We know that he wants to see you too and apologize about his mistakes. Pero we want to help him out too. Kase, we are partly to be blamed din and besides, we coulnd’t watch our father suffer anymore. He misses you a lot Ate Maya. He’s been miserable for the past few months. It’s like…it’s like how he was when…
Abby: When our Mommy died (sad face)
Hearing the kids mention Alex’ s name brought pain in Maya’s heart all over again. But at the same time, she couldn’t deny the fact that she felt pity for the kids who could only wish for their dad’s happiness. Fresh tears started flowing freely from her eyes. Getting the kids involved in her situation with Ser Chief is a really bad idea. She wanted to lash out at Richard Lim for being the source of their pain. Seeing her in tears, the kids felt the pain she’s going through and so they also started crying. Abby approached Maya where she sat and wrapped her arm around Maya. Shortly after Nikki joined them and they cried for a few minutes. Luke could only look on with sadness. After a while, when their tears seem to have stopped falling, Abby broke the silence.
Abby: Ate Maya? Can you give Daddy a second chance po?
Maya: Sana ganun lang kadali yon Abby. Sana ganun lang kadali ibalik ang pagmamahal namin sa isa’t isa. Pero, nung maghiwalay kame ng Daddy nyo, isa lang ang sigurado ako. Hindi ako ang talagang mahal nya. Kahit gustuhin kong papaniwalain ang sarili ko na ako ang mahal nya, iba ang laman ng puso nya.
Nikki: (wiping her tears) What made you say that Ate Maya? We’re 100% sure na ikaw ang mahal ni Dad. He loves you so so much po that he became miserable without you. He wants to win you back and meet our little brother soon.
Maya: (heaves a huge sigh) Hindi kayo dapat nadadamay dito. May mga bagay na kame lang ng daddy ninyo ang nakakaalam.Pero, kahit ano pa ang mangyari saming dalawa, lagi nyong tatandaan na mahal ko kayo Luke, Nikki, Abby.
Abby: We love you din po Ate Maya at syempre ngayon pa lang love na naming si Baby Boy. Excited na po akong maging ate ( beams )
Maya: (seeing the sincerity and inocense in Abby’s words she couldn’t help but smile) Salamat…salamat sa pagtanggap nyo kay baby bilang kapatid. Hindi nyo alam kung gaano nyo kame napasaya. Pero, yung samin ng Daddy nyo, mahirap ng balikan yon. Kaya hayaan na natin sa ganito dahil ito ang makabubuti sating lahat.
Luke: (looks at his siblings) We understand your hesitation po na patawarin si Daddy. I guess you guys would have to talk talaga na kayo lang. Basta po Ate Maya, lagi nyo ring tatandaan na andito lang kameng tatlo for you and for our little brother.
Maya: Salamat sa pag-unawa Luke, Nikki, Abby. Maiba ako, saan ba naming kayo ihahatid? Medyo napahaba na ang kwentuhan natin baka hinihintay na kayo sa hotel.
Nikki: Ah eh…Ate Maya, pwede po bang dito na lang kame matulog ngayon? Wala kase si Daddy sa hotel dahil may site visit sya kaya we had the chance to sneak out here. We have no one with us sa hotel and we we’re hoping to spend some time with you guys here at the Chibugan.
Maya: Ha? Hinayaan lang kayo ni Ser…ah ang ibig kong sabhin ng daddy nyo na walang kasama? (the kids caught the slip that she’s gonna say Ser Chief and so gave her a warm smile)
Luke: Well, in a way yes po. He had an emergency meeting sa hangar so he left me in-charge of my sisters. Since dala naman po naming ang ibang damit namin, I think we could stay over night? Namiss rin po kase naming sila Mamang, Ate Kute and Nanay Teresita. Kung…kung okay lang po.
Abby: and I want to take care of you po Ate Maya and of course my baby brother.
Maya: Ha?! Naku baka magalit ang Daddy nyo pag nalamang andito kayo natulog.
Nikki: He won’t. He can’t. He loves you so much to get mad. Tsaka we’re safer her with you than a the hotel where we don’t know anyone po.
Abby & Luke: Please po Ate Maya? (puppy dog eyes)
Though she knows at the back of her mind that what she’s about to let the Lim kids do will mean that she’s bringing them back into her life, she just couldn’t say no for some reason. She just needs to brace herself for the repercussions of this overnight with the kids.
Little did she know, Ser Chief was just a few feet away from the Chibugan watching them from afar, a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
Ser Chief: Thank you for loving them so much Maya. Soon…soon enough I will get to open your heart for me again.
Hopeful— that’s what Ser Chief is right now after seeing Maya accept his kids again. However, he knew that he shouldn’t be too complacent at this point. Simon has made his intentions clear and if he’s the man that Ser Chief knows him to be, then it won’t be long before Simon makes his move too.
Tomorrow brings forth complex things for Richard Lim, this he knows for sure. But first, he has to make it a point to have a private talk with Maya to once and for all unravel the mystery that surrounds her decision to hide her pregnancy and cut ties with him and his family.
(to be continued)