Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 16.
Richard’s mood didn’t get any better as the evening progressed. It somehow became worse as Simon stayed for dinner. He was unusually quiet that everyone in the family noticed him. “Richard, ok ka lang ba?” asked Mamang, eyeing him intently, “May dinaramdam ka ba? Masyado ka kasing tahimik ngayon,” she said. “Ok lang po ako Mamang. Napagod lang po siguro ako sa pamamasyal namin ni Maya kanina,” said Richard, giving them a weak smile. “Sigurado ka ba Richard? Gusto mo bang magpahinga na? O baka naman gusto mong bigyan kita ng masahe?” said Mamang flirtatiously. “Mamang!” reprimanded Kute, scratching her head in embarrassment. “O baket?? Nagmamagandang loob lang naman ako! Siyempre gusto ko lang namang ma-relax itong si Richard,” replied Mamang while stroking Richard’s arm. “Nay..” said Nanay Teresita, giving her a sharp reprimanding look. “Oo na! Oo na! Kayo talaga!” replied Mamang, as she slumped herself on the chair, pouting her lips, looking totally disappointed. Richard then let out a chuckle seeing Mamang behave herself that way. Shortly after dinner, Richard decided to retire to his room and take his rest.
Richard woke up early the next day. Since there isn’t any planned itinerary for the day, he decided to help out in the Chibugan. After taking his breakfast and shower, he proceeded downstairs to help out Nanay Teresita and Jeff in assisting the customers. Nanay Teresita tried to decline his offer but Richard is determined to help. After an hour, the customers at the Chibugan increased in number, mostly female and gays, and are obviously smitten by Richard’s looks. Due to the number of customers, Nanay Teresita needed all the helping hand she could get to attend to the needs of each and every customer. She then required Maya, Kute, and Lino to help out.
“Wow! Ibang klase din naman talaga ang karisma niyang kaibigan mo bunso!” quipped Kute. “Ha?” asked by a confused Maya who was apparently not aware that Richard was the cause of the sudden increase of customers in the Chibugan at that time. “Eh ayan tignan mo. Ang daming tao. Ang daming babae at mga bading. At tignan mo ha. Lahat sila kilig na kilig jan kay Richard. Ayaw palapit sa iba. Gusto si Richard lang ang lalapit sa kanila,” explained Kute. True enough, as Maya tried to observe and look around, the customers doesn’t want to be entertained by other servers in the Chibugan except for Richard. Richard, then on the other hand, tries his very best to attend to each and every one. To Maya’s amusement, she can see that Richard’s been able to keep his cool despite the increase in demands. She also noticed that a lot of girls and gays even, are openly flirting with him and goes gaga whenever he smiles back at them.
“Grabe ha! Hindi na sila nahiya sa tao! Kung maka-flirt naman sila!” said Maya, with a tint of irritation. “Eh ganon talaga bunso. Masyadong gwapo at malakas ang karisma ni Richard eh, kaya ayan, andaming nahuhumaling. Kung si Mamang nga eh. Tignan mo,” replied Kute, which made Maya laugh. Maya and Kute tried to help Richard any way they can despite the objections they are getting from their customers. Maya’s already frustrated and furious about the whole thing but she knows how important it was to respect their customers’ requests, especially in businesses like this. So she just let out a sigh from time to time to have her nerves relax and not vent out on any of their customers.
The number of customers finally subsided by 3PM. Maya saw how exhausted Richard was. She saw him sitting on one of the chairs while fanning his all sweaty face. “Gusto mo ng magpahinga? Masyado kang napagod sa pag-serve sa mga customers dito eh,” said Maya in a concerned tone. Seeing Maya’s concern for him, he just smiled and said, “No I’m fine. Ok lang ako.” “Pero kanina ka pa tumutulong dito eh. Ikaw nga halos ang nag-serve sa lahat ng customers. Pasensya ka na ha,” said Maya shyly. Richard simply chuckled at Maya’s response and insisted that he really is just fine but Nanay Teresita butted in. “Nak Maya, pakanin mo muna yang si Richard at hindi pa nanananghalian yan,” shouted Nanay Teresita from the counter. Maya, learning that Richard hasn’t taken his lunch yet, was utterly shocked and embarrassed at the same time. She could only gasp at what she learned. “Hindi ka pa nag-lu-lunch?? Eeeeeh! Bakit di mo sinabi agad! Richard naman eh!” said Maya. Richard only laughed seeing Maya embarrassed about the whole thing. “Nakakainis ka! Teka lang ha, ikukuha kita ng pagkain sa loob. Magpahinga ka nalang jan at wag ka na munang magtrabaho,” said Maya. Richard simply smiled and nodded in response, then Maya turned to leave and get some food for Richard.
As Maya was getting some food for Richard, a female customer entered the Chibugan. Richard saw the new customer and decided to assist her inside and get her orders. As he was getting the lady’s orders, she immediately extended her hand and introduced herself to Richard. “Hi I’m Karen, and you are?” said the lady as she handed Richard her hand for a handshake. Richard though hesitant, tried not be impolite, took Karen’s hand, “I’m Richard,” he said, smiling back at Karen. Nanay Teresita noticed from afar, that this new comer is also smitten by Richard’s looks. After getting Karen’s orders, Richard then went to were Nanay Teresita was and gave her the new set of orders. After a couple of minutes, Maya came out with Richard’s food and was followed by Kute who was carrying the set of orders by Karen.
As Richard got the food from Maya, he was about to ask her to join him for his lunch when Karen suddenly called him. “Richard! Kakain ka din ba?” she asked expectantly. “Ah yes,” he replied. He was already about to turn to Maya but Karen invited her over to her table, “Well bakit hindi ka nalang sumabay sa akin? Wala rin naman akong kasama eh,” she said. Richard was about to decline but Maya went against it, “Sige na Richard. Samahan mo na. Wala ka rin namang makakasabay na kumain eh,” she said. “But..” he was about to argue but saw Maya holding her stance and he was also tired enough to even start an argument with her. Shaking his head, he went to the table were Karen was.
Maya was simply watching the two from the counter. She didn’t notice that she was already gazing at them intently and has not removed her sight from them since. “Nak, baka matunaw,” quipped Nanay Teresita. “Huh?” asked Maya, bewildered at her mother’s quip. “Yung tinititigan mo. Baka matunaw sa sobrang init ng titig mo,” replied Nanay Teresita. “Nanay talaga!” replied Maya with a tint of irritation. “Eh kanina mo pa kasi sila tinititigan eh. Ni hindi ka na nga halos kumukurap jan o,” “Eh kasi nay, nakakainis yung babae eh. Halatang halatang nilalandi itong si Richard. Tapos ito namang si Richard parang nag-eenjoy pa!” replied Maya irritably. Nanay Teresita momentarily glanced to where Richard and Karen were then got back to Maya, “mukhang nagku-kwentuhan lang naman yung dalawa nak ha,” she said. Maya, not able to contain her irritation, “Anong nagkukwentuhan lang nay, eh tignan mo nga yung babae, may patapik tapik pa sa kamay ni Richard! Masyadong feeling close! At ito namang si Richard, nakikipagtawanan pa!” she said, then pouted her lips. Nanay Teresita could only shake her head seeing her daughter react this way. Maya decided to leave than continue to brood inside the chibugan. “Aakyat nalang muna ako sa taas nay. Dun nalang po muna ako,” she said and her mother simply nodded in response.
Maya was seated at a chair in the living room, looking aimlessly outside the window. She was lost in her own thoughts when Richard approached her. “Maya,” called Richard, smiling sweetly at her. Maya still irritated about everything, gave him a serious look and said, “Bakit?” Richard seeing the seriousness in her face and tone, “You suddenly left the Chibugan. Is there something wrong? Are you tired? Are you not feeling well?” he asked worriedly. “Ok lang ako. Wala lang ako sa mood,” she said simply looking out the window once again. Richard then sat himself on the chair across her. When Maya saw that Richard sat himself, “O nasan na yung bago mong kaibigan? Umalis na ba?” she asked, irritation evident in her voice. “Friend? You mean si Karen?” Richard asked. “Bakit meron pa bang iba? Meron ka pa bang nakausap at nakatawanan sa baba habang kumakain?” said Maya sarcastically.
Richard easily noticed that Maya is being jealous of Karen and he somewhat finds it amusing. “Wala naman, pero bakit parang nagagalit ka sa akin? Have I done anything wrong?” asked Richard. “Hindi ako galit!” said Maya a bit stronger than she intended to. “Hindi ka nga galit,” replied Richard teasingly. “Fine! Eh nakakainis ka kasi eh! Halatang halata naman na nilalandi ka na nung Karen na yun parang tuwang tuwa ka pa! Hindi na siya nahiya! Kababaing tao!” explained Maya hotly.
Richard trying to suppress his laugh, “It’s not that I’m tolerating her, but what did you expect me to do? She was a customer in the first place and I am simply trying to be polite. Didn’t you notice na siya lang itong panay ang tawa kanina. I hardly even laughed with her,” explained Richard but Maya simply gave him a sharp look. Seeing this reaction from Maya, Richard was no longer able to hold himself and let out the laugh he was trying hard to suppress.
Maya, seeing Richard laugh, got more irritated. “Anong nakakatawa?” she asked irritably. “Wala naman,” he said but wouldn’t stop laughing. Maya, raising a brow, “Wala pero tatawa tawa ka jan?!” she said, then shook her head in disbelief. “Ok sige na. Sorry for laughing. I just find you amusing,” grinned Richard. “And what could be so amusing about me?” asked Maya sharply. Richard grinning still, “I think you’re jealous,” said Richard. “Hindi ah!” Maya denied hotly but her face says otherwise which made Richard laugh even more. “Anong hindi, eh ayan nga at nag-bblush ka na,” said Richard.
Maya already queasy and irritated still about the whole thing, stood up to leave to save herself from further humiliation but Richard stopped her. “Angel! Ok I’m just kidding. Sorry na,” he said, smiling sweetly at her. Maya was taken aback by how he addressed her, making her forget about her irritation. “Anong tawag mo sakin?” asked Maya, confusion written all over her face. Richard grinning once more, “Angel!” he said proudly, “From now on yun na ang itatawag ko sayo,” he said further. Maya, still confused about the whole thing, “Bakit naman yun ang naisipan mong itawag sa akin?” she asked. Richard, placed his arm on her shoulders then said, “Because you’re my angel. You’re my guardian angel. You saw me from my misery and you taught me how to live and to be truly happy. Kaya ikaw na ang angel ko.”
Scratching her head, “Eh hindi mo naman na ako kailangan pang tawaging ganun noh. Tawagin mo nalang ako sa pangalan ko,” she said, feeling awkward about the idea of Richard having a term of endearment for her. “I know. But I prefer having a special name for you,” smiled Richard. “Pero Richard hindi naman na talaga kailangan,” protested Maya. Richard, appearing to be hurt by Maya’s protests, “Eh bakit si James pumayag ka na Princess ang tawag niya sayo? Bakit ako ayaw mong Angel ang tawag ko sayo?” he asked. “Iba naman kasi si James. Gusto niyang pangalan yun para sa supposed sister niya. Eh iba naman kasi yung sayo eh,” explained Maya. Richard, heaving out a sigh of sadness, “Fine. Sige na. Lagi naman akong mahina sayo eh,” he said as he bowed his head down. Maya, seeing the sadness in Richard, “Hindi naman sa ganon. Syempre hindi lang ako sanay. Syempre para kasing nakakaasiwa eh,” she explained but Richard still wouldn’t look at her.
“Richard. Uy Richard! Wag ka namang ganyan o. Wag ka ng malungkot, please?” pleaded Maya but Richard still wouldn’t look at her. Maya saw that Richard really got hurt by her refusal. She thought for a moment and finally made herself agree that accepting Richard’s endearment wouldn’t really do any harm. “Ok sige na. Payag na ako,” she said smiling reassuringly at Richard. Richard looked at her momentarily then said, “Napipilitan ka lang yata eh.” Maya slapped his arm, “Ang drama mo talaga kahit kailan!” she said, giggling at him which made Richard giggle as well.
After a few moments, “Angel may utang ka sa akin ha,” he said. “Huh? Anong utang?” asked by a surprised Maya. “Kasi ako may endearment na ako sayo. So dapat ikaw din mag-isip ng endearment mo sa akin!” explained Richard. “Ha!” said Maya, surprised by the whole thing, scratching her head, “kailangan ba talaga yun?” she asked. “Of course! Kung kayo nga ni James meron, tayo pa na super close friends wala? So you need to think of something for me!” he said proudly. Still bewildered by the whole thing, “Ang daya mo talaga! Ikaw ang may pakana nito tapos pahihirapan mo ako ngayon?” she said. Richard simply laughed at Maya’s reactions. “Basta I’ll wait for it. Pag-isipan mong mabuti yun angel ko ha?” smiled Richard, then turned around to go back to the Chibugan.