This is a continuation to Someone Like You – part 18.
Maya was busy fixing the decorations and realigning the tables and chairs of their relatively new cafeteria, Abby’s, named after her daughter.
They opened eight months ago in one of the buildings in the Ortigas business district. Since Cristina Rose returned from her work in the luxury liner, she decided to stay in Manila and help put up a business with Maya as partner. They found a new building that needed a concessionaire for their cafeteria and Maya was able to negotiate the contract through the help of her previous employer in Baguio.
Cristina Rose is in charge of the kitchen while Maya concentrates on operating the café itself. They have several staff that does all around work. Maya balances her time in between work, school and taking care of Abby. Mama Teresita also helps them run their café.
“Maya, ‘nak, bakit nandito ka pa? Wala ka bang pasok?” Mama Teresita came out of the kitchen reviewing a paper in her hand.
“Ma, Tuesday ngayon. Wala akong klase.” She informed her mother.
“Ha? So hindi ka nag full-load?” She handed the paper to Maya for her to review.
“Ma, alam mo naman hindi pwede. So, Wednesday one subject and Saturday two subjects ako. Then, I’ll have time dito sa cafeteria natin and then sa bahay din.” She explained to her mother.
“Nak, hindi ka ba nahihirapan? Ang dami mong ini-intindi, pag-aaral, si Abby, dito?” Mama Teresita was concerned over her welfare.
“Hindi po. Nasa time management lang ‘yan. Saka ang daming suporta galing sa inyo ni Kute.” She countered.
For Maya, her current situation is better than when she used to be employed in an office. Although her previous employer understood her situation as a single mother, having a business on her own provides her more flexible time to focus on work and bringing up Abby.
“Eh, Ma… ang ganda ng kita nitong café natin. Siguro, it’s about time na mag open din tayo sa may Shaw. May space doon na nabanggit si Emman. Maganda ang location, malapit sa Capitol Commons. Pero mas gusto ko yung parang patisserie, medyo konting sosyal.”
“Naku, anak, kakayanin pa ba natin ‘yan? May lilipat palang call center dito sa building natin. So, expected natin na dadami din customer natin lalo na sa graveyard shift. Parang ang bilis-bilis naman ng expansion na gusto mong gawin. Anyway, sige pag-usapan natin nina Cristina Rose. Pagdating na lang n’ya galing sa bahay. Pero maganda idea ‘yan kasi yung mga cakes and muffins mo na ginagawa laging ubos. Madala may orders pa.” Mama Teresita excitedly went back to the kitchen to supervise the cleaning there.
A few minutes later Mama Teresita came back. She suddenly remembered a matter she wanted to check with Maya.
“’Nak, ano nga pala ang plano mo sa joint custody na gusto ni Richard?” Maya told her mother about Richard’s visit in their house.
Maya stopped what she was doing and faced her mother. “Ma, sa totoo lang. Ayoko. Enough na ‘yung nakilala n’ya and maybe pag malaki na s’ya magkikita sila. Parang hindi ako comfortable sa joint custody na ‘yan. Kaya ko namang palakihin si Abby on my own. Nandyan naman kayo.”
“Maya, kahit papaano may karapatan din si Richard sa bata. Saka lalaking walang tatay na makikita ang anak mo.” Mama Teresita was letting Maya see a different angle. Then, a thought crossed her mind, “Hindi kaya ang dahilan ng pagtanggi mo sa joint custody ay dahil mas dadalas ang pagkikita nyo ni Richard? Mahal mo pa siguro yung tao, no? She started teasing Maya.
She responded defensively. “Excuse me Ma. I’ve moved on. Naku ‘wag na ‘wag n’yo akong tuksuhin ng ganyan pag nandito si Joey, baka magka problema ako.” She warned her mother.
“Ah basta Maya, huwag mong ipagdamot ang anak mo. May karapatan din ang ama n’ya. Buti nga nagvolunteer hindi katulad ng iba, matapos ang lahat, nawawalang parang bula.” Mama Teresita advised her.
The truth was that Mama Tessie still hoped that Richard and Maya would reconcile. When Maya went missing, Richard was in constant communication with her for many weeks. He was apologetic about their break-up although he didn’t tell her the details saying it was something that needed to be threshed out with her personally. She couldn’t tell him Maya was pregnant because Maya sworn her into secrecy. At that time, Maya was the one calling her but was not disclosing her exact location. Maya didn’t want Richard to feel obligated because of her condition.
However, Mama Tessie also knew that Maya has moved on. She is currently dating a doctor, Abby’s pediatrician, and their relationship seems to be working out well.
Maya was on the phone with James. She was consulting with him on the document that was sent by Richard.
“James, ano sa tingin mo? I want a sole custody and not joint custody.” She stated her desire.
“Maya, if I am reading this document and I don’t know personally the client, I would say this is a good arrangement. The terms and conditions are quite well stipulated.” James gave his initial assessment.
“Pero ayoko nga. So, sa tingin mo if we battle it out in court, do we have a chance of winning the case?” Maya was considering taking it up to the end so she spoke with James who will represent in court.
“This is what I can say, the case is tenable. It will be the judge to decide on it. But, I have to remind you Richard is not a small time laywer. He is tough, he has a string of success and I am very sure he will represent himself. Alam naman natin na isa sa forte n’ya is family law. The stake is too high for him not to go all out on this. Not that I am afraid, but this can potentially drag on.” James voiced out his concern.
“Hmm, talaga?” She sounded to be thinking through what he said.
“By the way, have you discussed this with Joey? After all, you might end up together so baka gusto mo ring i-share sa kanya ang plano mo about Abby.” James further advised.
James has remained a very loyal friend to Maya. Despite being turned down as a suitor, their friendship has become stronger than ever. Every now and then, they still go out as friends. He was there to help her in the later months of her pregnancy although she also hid from him when she was in Baguio.
Maya was having dinner with Joey in a restaurant at the Podium in Ortigas Center when their conversation shifted to Abby.
“Maya, how’s Abby? She’s due for her immunization next week, if I remember right.” Joey, Dr. Jose Timothy Tan, is Abby’s pediatrican since she was born fifteen months ago.
Within the first month of their consultation, he already knew that Maya was a single mom since she couldn’t provide the family medical background on Abby’s father side. Eventually, he and Maya became friends. He courted and pursued her earnestly. Although she was hesitant about going into a relationship with him, she finally opened her heart to try to love once again. They are in a relationship for two months already.
“Abby’s fine. Medyo malikot lang kasi mabilis na s’yang tumakbo. We started to child proof the house again.” She smiled at the thought of her daughter. Then, Richard came into her mind.
“Hmm, Joey, si Richard pala, yung father ni Abby, he was at the house last Saturday. So, he found out about Abby.” She shared with him. She is quite open with him with almost everything that has happened in her life.
“Talaga? And?” He took the news calmly.
“He wants to have joint custody of Abby.”
“So, what’s your take on it?” He looked at her; trying to read something in her eyes. He suddenly wondered if she still felt something for Richard.
“I don’t want to. I’d rather bring her up on my own.” She told him. Somehow, he was satisfied with the answer. As he thought of the implication, his concern for the child prevailed.
“Maya, it would be good if Abby has a semblance of complete family where there is a mother and a father. After all, Richard is her father. She would need a father figure and Richard can provide her with that.” Maya didn’t respond. She was toying on her food as she was thinking. Joey continued.
“However, there is also another person who could provide her a father figure.” Maya suddenly looked up and stared at Joey who was smiling at her.
“I can be a father to her too, if you would allow me.”
“Joey, ayaw ko ng ganyang biro. Kakaumpisa lang natin. Marami pa akong dapat gawin sa buhay. I told you about that even before we started this relationship.” She immediately fended off the direction of their conversation. She may be dating him but going to the next level with him is not something she has thought about. She is more careful this time around.
“Alright. Sa akin lang is that, I am here for you. Anyway, I think there is nothing wrong with Richard’s offer.” Joey then moved to another topic which was about having a get-together with their friends.
Richard finally signed the Affidavit of Admission of Paternity and handed it to Liza.
“Liza, please handle this yourself. It’s not that I want to hide Abby or Maya but this is our family matter.” He reminded her again.
“Yes Boss. Thank you for your trust in me. Pero, is this really necessary? Di ba her birth certificate already indicated your name as the father.” She clarified.
“This is a protection document. Yes, my name is in the birth certificate because Dad made sure he was there when she delivered the baby. But, I was in the States at that time. I just want to make sure that I am clearly owning her as my child.”
Hearing Richard’s statements, Liza couldn’t help but smile. He really cares for them. It was such a disappointment that they broke up. She sensed they were so into each other despite their effort to be discreet in the office.
“Liza, tell me honestly. Didn’t you know what happened to Maya after she left this company?” Richard started to ask his assistant.
“Sir Richard, hindi talaga. The last time I saw her was when we took her to Medical City. She collapsed at the office one time.” Liza’s eyes widened as if realizing something. “After that, she never reported again. Si Sir Bobby na lang ang nag-inform sa akin and then I processed her clearance and all and gave it to your father.”
Absentmindedly Richard commented, “She was at the early stage of pregnancy that time. She was having difficulty, that’s why Dad said she needed me.”
Three weeks after Richard declared his intention to have a joint custody of Abby, the whole Lim family, Maya, Mama Teresita and Abby were in a restaurant for a dinner celebration.
Bobby raised the glass of wine. “Here’s to the welfare of our baby Abby.”
Everyone took a sip from their glasses. Esmeralda who was then holding Abby commented, “Hayy salamat, mas madalas ka ng makikita ni Lola ngayon Abby.”
“Tita Esme, welcome na naman po kayo anytime sa bahay n’yo. Pwede naman kayong dumalaw anytime.” Maya responded wanting to make it clear that the elder Lims have always been welcomed in their own house.
“Baby, ‘yung house, di ba sa’yo ‘yun. Gift ni lolo at lola sa’yo. Kasi ang daddy mo ayaw naman duon, malungkot daw.” She was kissing her grandchild to no end. Then, she turned to Maya.
“Ayy, Maya, hija I didn’t mean anything negative duon sa sinabi ko. Excited lang ako ngayon at may naaayos na kayo ni Ricky. ”
Esmeralda glanced at her son who was just observing them. There was a slant when she said the word “naaayos.”
“Ma, okay na. Sa akin na lahat ng kakulangan. Kaya nga inaayos ko eh. Pero it takes two to tango.” He gave away a hint on his intentions to Maya. He turned to Maya who was seated beside him.
So, all the elders turned their eyes to Maya who suddenly felt she was on the center of the limelight.
She immediately defended herself. “I agreed to this joint custody for the welfare of Abby. I think it is in the best interest of this family kung we just focus on her welfare than anything else.”
The tension between the two could be felt by the elders. So, Bobby saved the evening.
“Oops, kumain na tayo. Baka lumamig na ang food. Tomorrow, I’ll get this document filed and registered. Maya padala ko na lang sa bahay mo yung copy mo, hija.”
They have just signed the document specifying their responsibilities over decisions related to Abby’s welfare including medical, education, visitation rights and other custodial time. The financial support was accepted by Maya but only because her wish to have it deposited in a special deposit account in Abby’s name was also accepted by Richard. It was good that both Richard and Maya agreed to have the agreement done out-of-court. Otherwise, it would have been messy.
Later, going to the parking lot after dinner, Richard accompanied Maya and Mama Teresita to their own vehicle.
He pulled her aside. “Thank you giving me a chance to be part of Abby’s life.” They walked a few feet away from the car.
“You’re welcome. Ayoko naman later on singilin ako ng anak ko kung bakit wala ka in her life. Mahirap naman malaman nya na pinag-awayan sya sa korte pa.” Maya responded.
“Maya, anak natin, anak natin si Abby. Now, I’d like to know when will you be ready to listen to my explanation about what happened two years ago?” Richard ‘s next agenda is to get into her life back again.
“Maulit ka Richard ha. Sabi ko, it’s not necessary.” She responded but this time, her stance seems to be softer compared to few weeks before. She left him to join her mother and daughter who were already inside the car.
Richard sensed the possibility of being able to talk to her and so he said in a loud voice. “Maya, even the most wanted criminal is given his day in court. Don’t you think I deserve one too?”
“Well, maghintay ka sa arraignment schedule mo. Pag-iisipan ko.” She shouted back.