Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 15.
Richard woke up early the next day as he was very much eager about the tour that Maya promised him last night. It was already 8AM but Maya still hasn’t emerged from Kute’s room, where she’s sleeping during their stay there. Kute came out of her room, still yawning, obvious that she only slept for a couple of hours. “Ah Cris, tulog pa ba si Maya?” asked Richard. “Naku! Ayun at himbing na himbing pa sa pagtulog. Napuyat kasi sa pagtulong sa amin sa chibugan kagabi. Ayaw kasing paawat eh. Ayan tuloy,” explained Kute. “Ah ganon ba. Sige antayin ko nalang siyang magising,” said Richard. He already had breakfast without her, much to the persistence of Nanay Teresita. It was already 9:30 but Maya still hasn’t woken up. “Nak gusto mo puntahan mo na si Maya sa kwarto. Baka sakaling gising na siya,” said Nanay Teresita. Richard just smiled and obeyed her. As he went to the room where Maya was sleeping, he saw Maya still sleeping soundly. He went to the bedside and simply watched her. As he was contemplating whether to wake her up or just wait for her to wake up, he cannot help but be mesmerized by her beauty and peacefulness. He gazed at her face for a couple of minutes before finally deciding to wake her up.
He moved his face towards Maya’s, intentionally keeping only a couple of inches gap between their faces. He was grinning mischievously when he started waking Maya, nudging her on her side. “Maya. Maya. Gising na tanghali na. Mamamasyal pa tayo di ba?” said Richard. Maya then opened her eyes and was utterly startled as Richard’s face was only an inch apart from hers. Eyes going wide, “Ay!” she exclaimed. Richard burst out in laughter seeing Maya’s reaction. Maya on the other hand appeared irritated by what Richard did. “Bakit ka ba nanggugulat!” said Maya irritably, as she sat herself upright. Richard still laughing, “Eh kasi naman tanghali na hindi ka parin gumigising. May promise ka kaya sa aking tour, remember?” grinned Richard. “Kung sabihin kong wala ng tour na magaganap?? Pwede mo naman kasi akong gisingin ng maayos! Bakit kailangan mo pang manggulat!” said Maya, sounding upset while pouting her lips.
“Ok. I’m sorry sa panggugulat sayo. Sorry na ok?” smiled Richard to Maya. Maya, still looking upset, didn’t look at Richard. Richard noticing that he really did upset Maya, went beside her and placed an arm on her shoulders, “Maya, sorry na o. Please? Wag ka ng magtampo sa akin,” pleaded Richard. Maya remained firm with her stance and didn’t even budge a bit with Richard’s plea. Richard then went in front of her, with hands clasped, he pleaded some more, looking all worried and sorry, “Maya, sorry na please?” he said. Seeing how cute and adorable Richard look, Maya chuckled for a bit then said, “Ikaw talaga! Kung hindi lang talaga kita kaibigan!” Richard only grinned from ear to ear.
Maya ate her breakfast and took a bath then proceeded with their tour. She brought Richard to the different tourist attractions in San Nicholas. She brought him to the local church, to the plaza where a mini tianggian is set-up, to the lake, and finally her so-called most romantic place in San Nicholas. Maya narrated the love story of her parents that prompted her to consider the place as the most romantic place in their whole town. As she was narrating the whole story, she was not able to control the tears that continuously fall down her cheek. Richard saw the tears and so he tried to dry them away using his thumbs. “Pasensya ka na ha. Naiiyak talaga ako pag naaalala ko ang love story nila nanay at tatay eh,” said Maya, managing to smile. “It’s ok. Alam ko namang kasing babaw talaga ng aquarium ang luha mo,” chuckled Richard. “Ang sama mo!” said Maya as she slap Richard’s arm, then managed to laugh with him.
“Alam mo Richard, nami-miss ko si tatay. Hanggang ngayon, dinadalangin ko na sana ay nasa maayos siya at sana magkita kita na ulit kami,” said Maya sadly as her tears began to flow once more. Seeing Maya cry makes him sad as well, so he tried to give Maya a reassuring hug that she accepted eagerly. She cried on Richard’s chest while her hair was stroked gently by him. They remained that way even after Maya had dried her eyes. When they finally broke off, Richard examined her closely and asked, “Ok ka na?” “Ok na. Salamat,” replied Maya, smiling reassuringly at him.
As they got back home, they were met by Nanay Teresita. “Ah nak, may bisita ka nga pala,” she said. “Sino po nay?” asked Maya. As she entered their house, she saw Simon smiling widely at her. “Simon!” greeted Maya happily then walked towards Simon and gave him a hug. “Maya!” replied Simon as he returned her hug. Richard was left at the doorway, watching the both of them, unconsciously brows furrowing. Nanay Teresita, observant as she is, noticed Richard’s reaction but simply smiled about the whole thing.
“Kumusta ka na? Na-miss kita ah!” said Maya as she finally broke off from the hug. “Ok naman ako. Ikaw kumusta ka na? Ang tagal din nating hindi nagkita ah. Parang mas lalo ka pang gumanga ngayon!” “Ikaw talaga Simon! Bolero ka parin hanggang ngayon!” replied Maya. “Hindi ano! Nagsasabi lang ako ng totoo!” answered Simon, both laughing at their exchange. “Ay oo nga pala Simon,” said Maya as she suddenly remembered Richard. She went to Richard and brought him near Simon for proper introduction. “Simon, ito nga pala si Richard, kaibigan ko,” turning to Richard, he said, “Richard, ito nga pala si Simon, yung sinabi ko sayong kababata ko,” said Maya. Simon reaching out a hand to Richard, “Kumusta ka pare?” he said, smiling warmly at Richard. Richard trying his best to be polite, reached out for the latter’s hand and firmly clasped it for a handshake, “I’m good” he said.
As the three of them took their seats, Richard intentionally sat himself beside Maya, leaving Simon with no other choice but to take the seat away from her. Maya, not noticing what’s really going on Richard right now, remained very accommodating with Simon. “Bakit nga pala napadalaw ka Simon?” smiled Maya. “Syempre na-miss kita! Ngayon na lang ulit kasi tayo nagkita at nakapag-usap eh. Nga pala Maya, para sayo,” said Simon while handling Maya a bouquet of white roses plus a box of chocolates, smiling sweetly at her. Richard couldn’t help but look sharply at Simon for what he just did and for showing her real intentions in seeing Maya that day. “Salamat Simon pero hindi ka na dapat nag-abala pa,” said Maya as she received the flowers and chocolates. “Ano ka ba? Alam mo namang hindi ka abala sa akin di ba?” said Simon making Maya a bit awkward knowing Simon’s real intentions for giving her a visit and for some reason, Richard’s presence added to the said awkwardness she’s feeling.
“Ah Maya, pwede ba kitang makausap ng sarilinan?” asked Simon. “Ha? Eh?” a bit taken aback by Simon’s request then turned to Richard. Richard knowing it would be impolite for him to stay there any longer, willed to have himself leave. “Sige Maya. Doon muna ako sa Chibugan. Tulungan ko muna sila Cris doon,” he said, smiling sweetly at Maya. But before turning out to leave, he stood up, approached Maya and gave her a peck on the cheeks before retiring for the door. Maya was caught off guard by what Richard just did. She was shocked that she didn’t notice Simon calling her. “Maya!” called Simon once more. “Ay Maya!” exclaimed Maya. “Ano yun Simon? May sinasabi ka ba?” asked Maya. Simon trying to sound not affected by what he just saw, “Sabi ko ok ka lang ba? Para kasing natulala ka jan,” he said, managing to smile despite what happened. “Ah oo Simon. Ayos lang naman ako,” she replied.
Inside the Chibugan, Richard tried to ask Nanay Teresita if there was anything he can help with, but since there isn’t much customer yet that time, he was told that everything’s already handled. Richard was obviously restless. He was pacing back and forth inside the eatery. A couple of minutes later, he approached Nanay Teresita once more and asked the same thing, still he got the same response, so he just gave Nanay Teresita a smile. Nanay Teresita, sensing what’s really happening with Richard, approached him and ask to sit on one of the chairs. “Ok ka lang ba nak?” asked Nanay Teresita in a concerned tone. Richard simply smiled and said, “Ok naman po ako nay.” Smiling at him, “Alam mo yang si Simon, may ilang taon narin siyang nanliligaw kay Maya,” she said. Hearing this from Nanay Teresita, Richard’s expression suddenly changed which made Nanay Teresita smile as she proved her hunch.
“Hindi ko nga maintindihan ang batang yan. Ilang beses narin kasi siyang tinapat ng anak ko na hanggang pagkakaibigan lang ang kaya niyang ibigay dito pero ayan parin siya at patuloy na sinusuyo si Maya. Tinanong na nga namin si Maya dati kung wala ba talagang pag-asa yang si Simon. Ang sabi niya, wala daw talaga. Kung maaari nga lang daw sanang turuan ang puso, malamang daw, noon pa niya ito tinuruan ang puso niya na mahalin si Simon. Para ko narin kasing anak yang si Simon kaya’t hangad ko lang din ang kung anong makakabuti sa kanya,” explained Nanay Teresita.
Richard was just silent the whole time. He doesn’t know why but hearing about Simon’s persistence towards Maya makes him uneasy and irritated. He simply doesn’t like the idea that Simon isn’t giving up on Maya yet, the idea that Nanay Teresita treats Simon as her own son, and the idea that should Maya be given the choice to teach her heart to love, that she’d willingly teach her heart to simply love Simon. These thoughts make him furious for some reason that he doesn’t know why or simply, a reason that he refuses to acknowledge.