Waves of Memories – Wakas
My arm was stiff as I held on to the steering wheel. My eyes sharp as I looked at the road until I saw two police mobile blocking almost half of the road. Ang pulang ilaw nito sa itaas ay nakaalarma at ang mga police na sakay ay nasa labas. Isang may tinatawagan at ang iilan pa’y nilalapitan ang isang pamilyar na kulay abong Isuzu pick up.
Cold blood rushed in my veins and without thinking, I stopped my car completely near the accident.
Tinawagan niya ako. Bago pa lamang makasagot ay nawala na ang tawag.
I went to their house only to find their gates widely opened and their whole house abandoned. Sa nakita kong mga bubog sa sahig at tila nagulong mga muwebles ay hindi na ako mapakali.
It was the harsh print of the tires’ spikes that told me someone drove their car to that direction. Hindi pa tuluyang nakakalayo ay nakita ko na ito.
“Sir bawal pong lumapit,” the policeman said when he saw me nearing the accident.
Isang ambulansya ang dumating at sa malalakas na boses ay lumabas ang mga mediko.
A curse escape my mouth when I saw who they’re saving on the driver’s seat.
“Thraia!” sigaw ko nang nakita siyang walang malay at duguan.
Cold burned inside me. Galit at poot para sa kung sino man ang bumalot sa akin. Ngunit higit sa lahat pa roon ang takot habang tinitingnan ang kanyang kamay na bumaba galing sa pinaghihigaan niya.
Sabay sabay na binuhat ng mga medico iyon at agad siyang nilapag sa isang emergency bed sa loob ng ambulance.
Nakawala ako sa mga police at dire diretso ang lakad ko patungo sa ambulance.
The men didn’t care much that I went inside because they all just want her to be rushed the the hospital.
Ang dalawang nurse sa tabi ay abala sa pagchi-check ng kanyang vitals. The other one was holding a manual oxygen pump.
I was stunned as I look at her unconscious and very pale. My body trembled. Hindi ako matatakutin sa dugo at sa sakit pero ang makitang balot siya ng sarili niyang dugo, walang malay, ay sapat na para makadama ako ng walang kapantay na takot.
My hand trembled as I tried to reach for her hand. Nilalapatan na ng first aid ang sugat niya sa noo at ang dugo galing doon ay dumaloy hanggang sa palad na hinahawakan ko ngayon. My hand was covered with her blood but I continued holding it like it’s my lifeline.
“Is she okay?” tanong ko sa dalawang nurse sa likod.
Napatingin ang lalaking nurse na siyang gumagamot sa kanyang noo habang mabilis na tumatakbo ang sasakyan patungo siguro sa pinakamalapit na ospital.
“Hindi naman malalim ang sugat niya sa noo pero maraming dugo ang nawala,” sabi nito.
“Kaano ano ka po niya, Sir?” the girl nurse asked.
“I’m her husband.”
Binalingan ko ang mukha ni Thraia na hanggang ngayon ay walang malay.
Before we separated, I offered to come with her to their house para makausap na rin si Alejandro. I wish I had insisted more. I wish I did not let her go there alone!
Nang dumating ako sa bahay at naabutan si Ivo na paalis sa mansyon ay natigil siya. He looked shocked that I’m there.
Nanliit ang mga mata niya habang tinitingnan ako. Tumigil siya sa paglalakad palabas at nagharap kami sa bermuda sa labas lamang ng bulwagan.
“Narito ka para?” Nanliit ang kanyang mga mata.
I sighed heavily. I should be the one asking him that. He’s supposed to be in Manila. Why is he here?
“I was with Thraia,” sagot ko.
His jaw clenched at the mention of her name. Malamig ko lamang siyang tinitigan. His features hardened more until he immediately went to me. Kinwelyuhan niya ako ngunit nanatili akong nakatayo.
Tumili si Mercedita nang nakita kaming dalawa. She called everyone who can stop us from fighting, including my grandmother.
“Sinaktan mo siya!?” he shouted at me.
Naramdaman ko ang panggigigil niya. Whatever’s keeping him from hurting me, I don’t know.
“She called me crying and even when she did not tell me what’s it all about, alam kong ikaw ang dahilan!” sigaw nito. “You bastard! You ruin everything I ever love! You ruined her too, didn’t you?”
I understand his wrath towards me. I understand that he’s supposed to feel that way. Scorned and angry. I welcome everything he gave me. Pero hindi ito!
Hinawi ko ang kamay niya dahilan ng lalong pagkakagalit niya.
“Ali!” banta ni Lola sa akin.
She tried to come near us but maybe the tension stopped her.
“At ngayon kasama mo siya? Are you fucking kidding me, Ali? Tingin mo kaya mo lahat ng gusto mo? Tingin mo mapapasayo ang lahat? You’re always jealous of whatever’s mine including the girl I loved! You could not leave her alone! You caged her-”
“Ivo, tama na! Nahihibang ka na ba?” si Lola.
“It’s true, Mama! Lahat ng dapat sa akin, pilit niyang kinukuha to satisfy himself. To prove to me and to everyone that he’s superior over me!”
“You loved, Ivo? How can you love her when all you want to do is keep her away from her dreams? Hindi mo ba naisip na hindi naman talaga siya mawawala sa’yo kung tunay pinahalagahan mo siya at ang kanyang mga desisyon-”
“Sino ba ang pinag-aawayan ninyong dalawa? Is this Thraia?” Lola’s high pitch voice stopped me from talking.
Nanatili ang mga mata ko kay Ivo. I want to tell him how stupid he was for thinking he can keep her locked in a cage. Not even letting her explore. The most probable reason why she got so tired of him.
Or did she even love him? When everytime we see each other years ago, I can see her burning desire for me. Hindi para kay Ivo. At kahit iyon ang nakikita ko’y naiinis lamang ako. How can she feel for me that way and choose Ivo over and over again?
It angered me to death. Didn’t I deserve to be chosen? Did she devote herself to be with Ivo so much that she could even stop herself from feeling that way towards me?
Alam kong tama siya at mali ang iniisip ko. She chose Ivo because she thinks she’s committed to him. They weren’t together but she expects that. Ivo’s stupid for not giving her the label she deserved. At ngayong sa wakas ay tuluyan na siyang nakawala kay Ivo at sa malabong relasyon nilang dalawa, sinubukan ko siya. Only to feel it again. Hindi iyon guni-guni. Her skin tingled at my touch. I know that desire and passion weren’t the only thing she’s feeling towards me. There’s more. And that’s what I want from her.
“Lumayo ka sa kanya, Ali!” may bahid na pagbabanta ang boses ni Ivo. “I bought their house and put a stop to her debts. Finally, she can stop working. She can finally live with me. Be my wife-”
I immediately launched a punch on his face. Muling sumigaw ang mga kasambahay at si Lola. Ivo fell at agad pumagitna si Lola. Tanging rason kung bakit ako umatras doon.
He did not learn anything. It was obvious that Thraia wanted to be free. He did not offer her anything but a cage. Love isn’t like that. Love has no walls, ceilings, or floor. However much you want to keep her inside a cage, if she wanted to leave for real, you must let her. You can win her back until exhaustion but you can never limit her with whatever she truly wants!
At hindi ko iyon sasabihin sa kanya. He never learned and that is his problem.
“What did you say, Ivo?” tanong ni Lola pagkatapos ay nilingon si Ivo na hindi parin tumatayo ngayon.
He looked away and spit on some blood.
“Binili mo ang bahay nila at binayaraan ang utang? Nahihibang ka na ba?”
Lola, you don’t know how much I’m crazy too. I would do more than that to keep her but I don’t want her to feel indebted towards me. That will only affect her decision. I want her to choose me. Like how she chose Ivo years ago. But I want it more than that. I want her to choose me, not because she can only cling to me. I want her to choose me because she loves me. That even when she has other choices, she has freedom, she has problems, she’d definitely choose me without hesitations. Not for obligations. Not for an invisible commitment. Not for anything. But for the love she’s feeling!
“Wala ka nang magagawa, Ali. Nagkasundo na kami ni Alejandro at bibisita na ako sa bahay nila ngayon upang kausapin si Thraia-”
“We’re already married, you bastard!” parang kulog ang boses ko dahil sa aking galit.
Lola turned to me with wide eyes.
“Ali!” she shouted violently. “What do you mean? What about Lynea-”
I groaned at her question.
“Nababaliw na kayong dalawa? Para sa isang babae’y mag-aaway kayo? At ikaw, Ali! You are supposed to marry Lynea Angeles for God’s sake! You. You are the future owner of MERC. Your sons and daughters will be its future heirs! To marry a woman who’s an orphan and without-”
“Lola, do not speak ill of Thraia in front of me,” mariin kong sinabi.
It stopped her. Napaawang ang bibig ni Lola at kitang-kita ko ang pagdadalawang isip niya habang tinitingnan ako. Malamig ko siyang ginawaran ng titig.
“We’re marrying each other for real once we’re back in Manila.”
Tumawa si Ivo at tumayo. His laugh made me so sick.
“Nababaliw ka na, Ali,” sabi ni Lola sabay iling.
“I wonder why you want her so much? Is it because you know she’s mine? You like things that are mine, Ali,” si Ivo.
Tatalikuran ko na sana sila dahil walang katuturan na ang mga sinasabi ngunit sa huling sinabi ni Ivo ay mas lalo lang akong nairita. I went at him again. Ngayon, siya na ang kinwelyuhan ko. He smirked. Hinawakan ni Lola ang nanginginig kong kamao na nakahawal sa kanyang kwelyo.
“She isn’t yours, Ivo.”
Nakaupo ako sa malamig na bench sa labas lamang ng emergency room. My shirt has her blood when we rushed her to the emergency room. Now she’s stable but still unconscious. The doctor has yet to examine her thoroughly.
“Ang mga witnesses ay nagsasabing nagkasigawan daw sa bahay at hinabol daw ni Alejandro si Miss Fortunato palabas dahilan ng mabilis na tulak ng sasakyan,” sabi ng mga pulis sa akin.
“Where is Alejandro right now, then?” Ivo’s voice made me alert.
Napatuwid ako sa pagkakaupo nang nakita ang pagdating nila sa ospital kasama si Lola. How dare he comes here? My blood boiled. Mabilis akong tumayo para itulak siya.
Kung hindi ako inawat ng mga pulis na naroon ay kanina ko pa siya napuruhan!
He’s the reason why! Alejandro probably told Thraia Ivo’s plans. Hindi man si Ivo ang pumilit kay Thraia, pakiramdam ko siya parin ang puno’t dulo ng lahat ng ito! If he had not offered Alejandro to pay her debts and told him he’d marry her because of that… damn it!
Binawi ko ang mga braso ko sa mga pulis at marahas na tinitigan si Ivo.
“Search for Alejandro. I will pay for the whole investigation. Siguraduhin mong mabubulok siya sa kulungan,” sambit ko sa mga pulis.
“I will pay for it, Ali. I am now the owner of her properties and it is only right to assume that-”
“Naaksidente siya, Ivo!” sigaw ko. “Stop thinking about her debts, her properties, and your agenda towards her! Hindi mo ba naiintindihan? She almost died you fucking bastard!”
“Oh stop fighting, you two! Stop it!” si Lola.
It took her almost forty-eight hours before she finally woke up from her deep sleep. Ako, isang nurse, at ang doktor ang nasa loob ng kwarto niya. The bandage encircled her head. Her lips started to gain color.
Hinawakan ko ang kamay niya habang tahimik naming pinagmamasdan ang unang pagdilat ng mga mata niya.
The doctor already warned me that she might lose some of her memories. But never did I think that she’d lose so much!
“Good morning, Thraia,” panimula ng doktor. “I’m Doctor Bautista at nasa ospital ka rito sa Kalibo dahil sa isang aksidente.”
Pumungay ang mga mata ko nang tiningnan niya ako. Bumaba ang mga mata niya sa aking mga kamay na nakahawak sa kanya. Kumunot ang noo niya at binalik sa akin ang mga mata.
Kinagat ko ang labi ko. I’m so glad that she’s okay. I’m so glad that she’s finally awake. Sa loob ng mahigit na dalawang araw ay tila namatay ako. Now that she’s awake and fine, I feel revived. Like I was given a second life. Like I was forgiven of something.
She pulled her hand out of my loose hold. Bumagsak ang tingin ko sa kamay niyang lumayo at nilagay niya iyon sa kanyang kumot. Bumaling siya sa doktor.
“A-Aksidente? B-Bakit ako naaksidente?”
My heart throbbed as I look at her. Her eyes were filled with innocence.
“The police are still investigating your case. In the mean time, I’d like to check some of your-”
Pinutol ni Thraia ang doktor nang nilingon niya ako.
“Who is this man?” she said innocently.
I stiffened. Did I hear her right?
“Uh…” the doctor nodded. Parang may naconclude ito. “This is Mr. Ali Mercadejas. He is your husband. He found you-”
Pumikit si Thraia at bumagsak sa kama. Hinawakan niya ang kanyang ulo habang namimilipit sa sakit. Tumayo ako para tulungan siya. Hindi ko alam kung paano siya hawakan. I just want to help her but I’m afraid I’ll cause more pain than comfort.
She twisted in pain. She cried and moaned because of the pain.
“Doc, what about some pain reliever?” I said, panicking.
Kalmado ang doktor habang inaabot sa kanya ang isang syringe. He immediately injects it to the tube of her IV tube. Napalunok ako habang tinitingnan ang ibang kulay ng medisina na humahalo sa likido.
“Pain relievers won’t relieve much. We need a higher dosage…” huminga ng malalim ang doktor.
Unti-unting kumalma si Thraia. I want to ask what drug he just gave her but then I couldn’t voice out anything. Unti-unti ay nahulog siya sa pagtulog. Unti-unti ang pagpirmi ng katawan niya. Unti-unti ay huminga na siya ng mas normal.
“Mr. Mercadejas, I think I need to run some tests with her alone the next time she’s awake. I need you to cooperate. I am not a specialist with her case but I urge you to contact one,” sabi ni Dr. Bautista.
Tumango ako. I feel so damn frustrated.
“I have to check how much she remembers and what kind of amnesia she’s experiencing. Well, i hope that the next time she wakes up, she’ll remember some parts of her memory. The trauma caused her brain to forget.”
“But then will she remember?”
Tumango ang doktor. “I am positive, of course. But it will take time. Better contact a specialist. I know you can certainly do that.”
Iyon ang ginawa ko. Halos walang tulog ako habang binabantayan si Thraia sa ospital. I have completely neglected everything that’s outside us and I don’t feel any guilt for it.
I contacted a specialist and he tested Thraia when she woke up. I have learned that she’s slowly remembering her childhood memories. She also remembered that her father’s dead but she immediately shuts down after that.
“The way she remembers everything is fragmented. She remembers her life in Manila and she didn’t understand why they moved to Costa Leona. This is one of those fragile cases where we need to be very careful,” sabi ni Doctor Mariano sa akin. “Since the events are remembered in a fragmented manner, we can’t expect her to remember everything all at once. The reason why it’s a fragile case is because some events may slip.”
“What do you mean, Doc?”
Huminga siya ng malalim. “Kung may maaalala siya, maaaring ang mga nangyari bago iyon ay tuluyan niyang makalimutan.”
Nanuyo ang lalamunan ko sa sinabi ng doktor. Fear filled me. I regretted how rare we see each other when she was young. I regret how I stayed away when she told me to stay away. Kung sana ay hindi ko siya sinunod at pinuno ko ng alaala ko ang utak niya’y sana hindi ako mangamba na makalimutan niya ang lahat ng nangyari sa amin bago ang aksidente!
The coldness in my gut filled my whole body. I have never been this scared my whole life.
“Although triggers of her memories is a good thing, it may also mean bad, if forced. I suggest you give her time and space. Make her recover in a place far from the triggers. A place that’s foreign to her-”
“Paano kung sabihin ko sa kanya ang lahat ng nangyari? If I tell her what happened to us?” I said in a desperate voice.
Seryoso akong tiningnan ni Doctor Mariano. “I know that this is very hard for you, Mr. Mercadejas but I’m afraid… would you rather her remember everything by her own or make her believe of your truths? If she does not remember because of the triggers you told her, we might never recover her true memories of you.”
I did not know it was this complex. I always thought that amnesia is very rare. Like it doesn’t happen that much in a lifetime. Pero ngayon ay hindi ako makapaniwalang si Thraia mismo ang nagkaroon ngayon.
I couldn’t believe it. I feel like it’s some sort of joke. Like I’m sure she’d remember me! That the doctor treated her too soft and she might not remember me more because of it.
Pumasok ako sa kwarto niya habang siya’y kumakain. Lola and Ivo is expected to come here. Zamiel and Kajik were in Costa Leona and they might come here as well.
Umupo ako sa tabi ni Thraia habang nilalapag ng nurse ang kanyang pagkain sa lamesang nasa gilid.
“Thraia,” I called her.
Hinawakan ko ang kanyang kamay. Ang singsing ni Athena Galvez ay suot suot niya pa rin. I showed her my ring as well. Kumunot ang noo niya at agad na binawi ang kanyang kamay.
Nagtiim bagang ako.
“You’re married to me,” I said desperately.
Nag-angat siya ng tingin sa akin pero muli ay bumaling siya sa nurse. She’s unresponsive. I understand that it might be because of the drugs. Siguro’y pag nawala ang epekto ng droga ay magiging maayos din siya.
Hinagilap kong muli ang kamay niya. Desperately, I held it softly. Ang malambot niyang palad ay nagpatindig sa balahibo ko. Kumunot ang noo niya at marahas na binawi ang kamay niya. It shocked me.
“I don’t know you.”
Hindi na siya muling tumingin sa akin. Binalingan niya lamang ang pagkain sa gilid. Napaawang ang bibig ko at huminga na lamang ako ng malalim.
Umikot ako para malapitan ang pagkain. She looked at me with dagger eyes when I tried to get the spoon.
“Are you hungry?” I smiled.
She looked at me with nothing but indifference.
“I’ll help you, okay?”
“Kaya kong kumain mag-isa,” sambit niya.
“I know, Thraia. But I can help.”
“Hindi ako imbalido para subuan pa. Ako na…” sabi niya sabay kuha sa kutsara sa aking kamay.
The coldness and harshness of the way she got the spoon killed my spirit. Huminga ako ng malalim at hinayaan siyang kumain.
As I look at her, fear filled me more. The distance she’s putting between us is shivering. The walls she is slowly building between us scared me.
The door opened and Ivo went in with his fresh flowers. Ngumiti siya kay Thraia na ngayon ay agarang nabitiwan ang kutsara.
Hinagilap ko agad ang mga tapong pagkain dahil sa bigla niyang pagpilipit sa sakit at pag-iyak.
“Aia!” dumalo si Ivo sa kanya ngunit hindi man lang dumilat si Thraia sa sobrang sakit na nararamdaman.
The nurses and the doctor immediately went to the room. Drugs filled her IV tube again and we were all asked to leave the room to calm her down.
Tulala ako habang tinitingnan ang sahig. Ivo’s standing in front of me, leaning on the cold wall. Si Zamiel at Kajik ay may pinag-uusapan sa ‘di kalayuan at si Lola ay biglang umupo sa tabi ko.
Hinagod ng kanyang palad ang aking likod.
“Ali, hindi ka na umuuwi sa Costa Leona. Nag-usap na ba kayo ni Annaliese?”
Hindi ako kumibo. I told my Mom and Dad that I’m not going to work yet. That I’m on leave and I don’t know when I’m coming back. Abala ako sa pagpapahanap kay Alejandro at sa pagbabantay kay Thraia. I will never go back to my normal life unless Thraia’s okay.
“Ali,” banayad ang tono ng boses ni Mama nang nagkausap kami. “Whatever you’re in, don’t blame yourself. The company can wait for you. In the mean time, I ask your Dad to lead as an adviser.”
Her voice soothed me a bit. I remember that her voice soothed me when I was a kid. At hindi ko malaman kung kailan nagbago iyon. Kung kailan ako nagkaroon ng iba pang dahilan para kumalma. Dahil sa ngayon, panandalian lamang ang naramdaman ko. After the call, all the demons haunted me without stopping. And Thraia’s safety was the only thing that mattered to me. It’s the only thing that can calm me. Sooth me.
“I told her I’m not going back.”
Lola groaned at my decision. “Ali, wala ka rin namang magagawa na rito. She’s lost her memories. Better leave her in her house. Tutal ay si Ivo na ang may ari noon, we can support her needs while she recover-”
“I won’t leave her,” pinal kong sinabi.
“Ali, the company is important. Without you as their CEO-”
“Leave Aia to me, Ali,” si Ivo.
Nag-angat ako ng tingin sa kanya ngayon. His crossed arms now fell on his sides.
“I’ll be with her while her memories come back.”
“Have you seen how she reacted because of your presence? Huh, Ivo?” tumaas ang boses ko.
“Well, that means something, right? Did she react like that to you, Ali? Hindi ba ay nakakapagtaka naman yata? Kung tunay na gusto ka rin niya, paanong hindi maganda ang tungo niya sa’yo?”
I want to pick a fight once again. Pumagitna si Zamiel sa amin at si Kajik ay lumapit. But then I know Ivo’s point. Whatever’s happening to Thraia now, nobody knows. Why she’s cold to me, I don’t know. I just hope that it’s not because she won’t remember anything about me.
I’ve been reading for the past three days. Nagbabasa ako ng tungkol sa amnesia habang si Thraia ay tulog. Pinag-aralan ko ang iilang rare cases and in those cases, some did not fully recover their whole memories. In rare cases, patients never recovered everything. While it scared me to death, it encouraged me to treat her like a glass now.
“Seeing you and reacting like that is not a good sign, Ivo. You want to be with her when she can’t even stand your presence? At tingin mo’y papayag ako na ikaw ang mananatili rito.”
“Then what happens to the company? You selfish bastard! Maraming pamilya ang maghihirap kung hindi mo aalagaan ang kompanya! Maraming magugutom! This is not your company! This is the company of my grandfather. This is the reason why you don’t even feel guilty for leaving it.”
“Stop it, Ivo!” si Zamiel. “Walang patutunguhan ang lahat ng ito.”
“Ali, Ivo’s right. You should go back. If you don’t want Ivo to be with Thraia, I’m sure she’s old enough to take care of herself. Doon na lang siya sa kanila at susuportahan na lang natin ang mga kakailanganin niya hanggang sa makatayo na siya sa sarili niyang mga paa,” si Lola.
Ivo never left my eyes. And while everyone’s busy with their own solution to this, I have made up my mind long before. When my mother called, I already explained to her my decision. My father acknowledged it. They both supported my decision. So this isn’t hard for me.
“I have already printed out the appointment. I appoint Ivo Mercadejas as the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. With my father, Antonius Mercadejas Jr. as the adviser. Effective until my reinstatement,” I said coldly.
Kitang-kita ko ang pagliwanag ng mga mata ni Ivo sa sinabi ko. But then his facial expression hardened after a brief moment.
“Oh, Ali! Why are you doing this?” Lola said in a frustrated tone.
“On Monday, that appointment is on my table. There is nothing to choose from, Ivo. I won’t let Thraia be with you. Kung ayaw mo, I will give that appoinment to Kairus.”
“Ali,” malamig na tawag ni Kajik sa akin.
“Ali, stop it,” si Zamiel.
Ivo smirked. The greed that’s in his eyes was very evident. The hate that he gave me now encompassed our being a family. The only thing that’s stopping me from pounding on him is Thraia.
Simula pa lamang, ipinaramdam na ni Ivo kung gaano kahalaga sa kanya ang kompanya. And while I like it too, I did not think it will be handed to me. I want to start one. I want to learn how it works. Dahilan kung bakit gustong gusto kong pag-aralan ang planta at ang mga tao nito. Hindi lamang ang organisasyon kundi ang mismong makina na gumagawa ng semento.
The organization interested me only because I care for the people who’re under it. I care for the families of every single person we hired.
Nang nalaman kong ako ang magmamana roon, I was happy but I did not brag about it. I know it will hurt some. I know that Ivo wanted it so bad. Probably as bad as I wanted it. Or maybe, more than my interest of it. Kaya pakiramdam ko’y kahihiyan ang aminin na sa akin nga ito patutungo.
I know I am capable of starting from scratch. But my determination to lead what my father, and grandfathers operated, stopped me from creating my own legacy.
I never thought that Ivo’s greed looked more tangible than his passion for the company. At kahit na mahal ko ang kompanya, sa loob ng silid ng ospital na ito, narito ang babaeng dahilan kung bakit gusto kong magtagumpay. Without her, there will be no meaning to anything.
“Are you making me choose, Ali? The company or Thraia?” si Ivo, natatawa.
Umiling ako. Hindi niya ba ako narinig? There’s no choice, Ivo. It’s not your decision. It is mine.
“Ang ibig lang sabihin nito’y talagang hindi nararapat sa’yo ang kompanya.” He laughed mockingly.
Nagtiim bagang ako habang tinitingnan siya.
“I will leave tonight and start the operations tomorrow. I will not wait for Monday. Tell your secretary to print the appointment again and appoint me today instead,” he said in a formal tone before leaving all of us there.
His greediness is dripping like acid in his voice. Pero hinayaan ko na iyon. He can do whatever he wants now. The company can’t be without a leader.
Thraia was unresponsive for days. Talking only when I ask her something. She’s very cold to me like I’m a stranger.
Or maybe I am. She didn’t remember me. It is safe to say that I am a stranger to her.
She’s also disinterested. At parang babasaging kristal, ayaw ko siyang hawakan. Ayaw kong dahil sa kagagawan ko’y mas lalo siyang mahirapang maka alala.
We went to Estancia to find a place to stay. But my family was too known there that when someone mentioned the name of my grandma, Domitilla Mercadejas, Thraia fainted and was rushed to the nearest hospital.
“Anong pangalan ng lugar na ito?” Thraia asked after two days of staying silent.
Nakahanap din ako sa wakas ng magandang lugar. Carles is a small town with a small community. The people around were familiar of our family name but they did not know that I am the grandson so it encouraged me to stay.
“Carles,” sagot ko sa kanya.
She wouldn’t look at me for more than three seconds. She’d look away if I catch her looking at me. Hindi ko naman maalis ang tingin ko sa kanya.
Her creamy skin and red lips looked healthy now. Kumpara noong nasa ospital siya. Maybe the environment made her feel better.
Naghanap din ako ng pwedeng mapasukang trabaho. I’ve decided that to stop all the triggers, I must lie about my nature of work. Kung tatanungin niya ako kung ano ang trabaho ko at sasagutin ko siya sa tamang sagot, her questions would only go on leading him to the truths she should only discover by herself.
Dahan-dahan kong hinawi ang takas na buhok sa kanyang mukha. She stiffened at my gesture. Sinundan niya ng tingin ang aking kamay na para bang natatakot siya sa sakit na maaaring idulot nito sa kanya.
Thraia made me feel too much in the past years. She’s the only woman who made me feel so vulnerable. That even her gestures gives me pain.
Nakalutang sa ere ko ang kamay. Siya na mismo ang humawi sa takas niyang buhok. Tila ayaw niyang pahawak sa akin, ng kahit kaonti. Binaba ko ang kamay ko at huminga na lamang ng malalim.
“Hindi ka pa ba aalis?” she asked me like she needs to get rid of me.
Does my presence hurt her too? Does it bother her so much that she wants me to leave?
“Are you sure you’re fine here alone?” tanong ko.
Madaling araw ngayon. Pangalawang araw ko bilang mangingisda at kailangan ko nang umalis. But then when I found that she’s awake, I couldn’t seem to leave.
“Hindi ba ay sanay na ako na ganito? Ganito naman tayo lagi noon bago ako nawalan ng alaala?”
Nagtagis ang aking bagang. I want to cuddle right next to her. To spend the rest of the day with her but then, she couldn’t remember me. She doesn’t even know my name. Umabot pa ng dalawang araw bago niya namemorya ang pangalan ko.
“I’m fine here alone. Nagising lang ako bigla. I feel better when I’m alone here. I can do whatever I want…” she drawled.
Huminga ako ng malalim.
“Okay. Kung ganoon, papanhik na ako.”
Tumango lamang siya at tinalikuran ako sa pagkakahiga. Nanatili ang mga mata ko sa kanya ng ilang sandali bago tuluyang umalis ng bahay.
I thought the most painful things I did for her was when she was still so infatuated with Ivo. The times when she’d tell me she’s waiting for his call, or that she misses him, or even watching them together from afar. Nagkamali ako. There’s an even painful experience with her. And I can’t seem to put the blame to anyone.
“Ayaw mo lang akong pagbigyan kasi ayaw mo akong makaalala, hindi ba? If you were really part of my past, you should’ve told me everything I need to hear but you didn’t! Ayaw mo akong isayaw dahil baka maalala ko kung sino si Ivo at kung bakit siya lang ang palaging naiisip ko at hindi ikaw!”
I stared at her desperate eyes as the cold rain trickling down my face, touching the sides of my eyes, my eyelashes, down to my chin.
In the cold, cold rain, as we danced, I am reminded so much of the only thing that can never be mine. I was so close to it. In fact, I touched it. But it just never lasted. Maybe this is a call telling me that she just isn’t mine. Maybe, this is a sign that’s telling me how I can have everything except her.
Bumagsak ang tingin ko sa sahig na puno na ngayon ng tubig. I continued to dance with her just so she’d remember a fragment of her memory. That piece that doesn’t include me. I suddenly wonder if she’ll ever remember me.
In the cold rain, I shiver at the thought that maybe I can have anything I want in this world… except her. Never her. Even when it’s so close. Even when I touched it. Even when I can almost taste it.
“Ali, umuwi na tayo…” she said softly on my ear.
Huminga ako ng malalim. Ang sakit ay nanuot sa aking kalamnan. Hinawakan ko ang kamay niya at napagtanto kung paanong hindi ko kayang intindihin ang gustong iparating sa akin.
I will never, ever understand the heaven’s call. I will never understand that she couldn’t be mine. I will never accept it. I will exhaust myself until she finally chooses me. Until the heavens decide that I completely deserve her.
“Hi!” she whispered on my ear.
Tanaw ko ang papalubog na araw ng Carles. Huling araw na namin ito ngayon bago kami bumalik ng Maynila.
Her arms were on my shoulders and she’s holding a red box. I smiled as I looked at her ring fingers with all those white gold rings.
Ilang beses kong ipapaalala sa kanya, sa lahat ng tao, at sa langit… na ako ang para sa kanya. Kahit anong mangyari.
“Happy birthday, Ali…” she whispered my name in her own sexy way.
Hinawakan ko ang pulang rectangular box at unti-unting binuksan ito. It’s filled with confetti. Ngumiti ako habang hinahalughog ang kung ano mang nasa loob.
Nahawakan ko ang isang maliit na bagay sa loob. Inangat ko ito para makita kung ano iyon.
She chuckled when I saw it. Hindi ko alam na nawawala pala ang ngiti kapag masyado ng masaya. My smile faded as I stared at the thing. In it is a blinking word that just made me the happiest man in the world!
“Your present will be out in seven months,” she whispered.
Nilapag ko ang box at agad siyang nilingon para mahalikan. I want to kiss her softly but just like what usually happens. My kisses turned desperate and hungry.
I sucked her lip. My passion was too much that I forgot how we’re outside. Kung paanong maaaring maraming nakatingin sa aming dalawa.
I stopped kissing her. She’s smiling while I couldn’t. I’m just too hot to even smirk. I’m too light headed to even lift the sides of my lips.
Nilagay ko ang noo ko sa kanyang noo at ikinulong ko ang kanyang pisngi sa aking palad.
See that? She’s for me!
“When are you going to stop making me fall, huh?”
And damn it, even her chuckle makes me crazy.