Chapter 28

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

[TRIGGER WARNING: DEPRESSION]

Umorder siya para lang sa akin. It was the same strawberry cake he recommended to me the first time we went there. Hindi ko ito ginalaw at hindi rin ako umimik habang nakatingin lang sa kanya. Nakatitig lang din siya sa akin.

It was like a painful staring contest.

‘Sai, let’s meet in Sweet Home after your shift.’

Halo-halong emosyon ang naramdaman ko nang matanggap ko ang text niya, ngunit sa lahat ng ‘yon ay matinding kaba ang nanaig. Hindi ko alam ang dapat asahan.

“Try the cake.” Natapos ang staring contest namin nang tinuro niya ang cake sa tapat ko. Iniwas ko na rin ang aking tingin at pinagmasdan ang wooden divider screen sa gilid namin na humaharang sa iba pang customer, giving us some privacy. We sat at the farthest corner of the cake shop kahit walang masyadong customer.

“Hindi ako gutom,” saad ko. Nagtaka ako ng bahagya sa sinabi niya. Alam niya naman na ilang beses ko ng natikman ang cake. Bakit niya sinabing i-try ko?

“Just take a bite,” he insisted. Kinuha niya ang tinidor at humiwa sa cake. Inangat niya ang tinidor hanggang sa tumapat na ito sa bibig ko. Nag-alinlangan ako ng ilang segundo bago ko abutin ang tinidor at kainin ang piraso ng cake.

“Ganoon pa rin ang lasa, ‘no?” tanong niya matapos kong isubo ang cake. Tumango lang ako habang ngumunguya. Ibinalik ko na ang tinidor sa platito.

“After 7 years, same pa rin ang lasa. I asked them the other day how they do it.” Hindi ko sigurado kung saan patungo ang kanyang mga sinasabi kaya naman nanatili akong tikom ang bibig habang nakikinig sa kanya. “Ang simple ng sagot nila. They stick with the same ingredients and procedure. Wala silang binago. Gaya nga ng sabi nila, why fix something that’s not broken? I wish we were the same, Sai.”

Ipinatong niya ang magkabilang siko niya sa lamesa. Ang kaliwang kamay ay nakakuyom habang nakapatong dito ang kanyang labi at ang isang kamay naman ay isinuklay niya sa kanyang buhok, nanatili doon ang mga daliri niya habang nakatitig lang siya sa cake. Napansin ko ang facial hair na unti-unti ng tumutubo sa paligid ng kanyang bibig, ilang araw na kaya siyang hindi nakakapag-ahit? Ang lalim at itim na rin ng paligid ng kanyang mga mata.

“But we couldn’t stay the same kasi hindi natin control ang mga pagbabago sa atin. When did we start breaking? Ah, maybe it was from the beginning pa. All those lies made everything taste so bitter.”

“Brian . . . ” Sinubukan kong abutin ang kamay niya ngunit umiwas siya sa akin at muling sumandal sa kanyang upuan.

“Bakit hindi mo na lang sinabi sa akin ang totoo? I would’ve accepted you regardless.”

Napayuko ako habang napupuno ng hiya at pagsisisi.

“Ginawa ko lang naman ‘yon para sa ‘yo. I wanted to make you happy. I wanted to do everything for you so you didn’t have to suffer because of the accident.” Kumuha ako ng tissue sa lamesa upang ipunas ito sa mga pumapatak na luha. “I hated myself for asking you to go home early that day. Dahil doon, you lost your dream to become a professional swimmer. I took away something so important to you and I couldn’t bear the guilt. Kaya ako nagsinungaling kasi I just wanted to make you happy. I just wanted to offer myself to you.”

Halos hindi ko na siya makita dahil sa dami ng luha na humaharang sa aking paningin.

“I-I . . .” I had to calm myself to speak straight. I took a deep breath before trying to speak again. “I couldn’t tell you the truth because I was scared how much it will hurt you to know that I stayed because of the guilt.”

“So hindi mo talaga ako minahal?” Rinig na rinig ko ang sakit na nararamdaman niya mula sa tanong na ‘yon.

“I love you!” Napatakip agad ako ng bibig matapos kong magtaas ng boses, halos nakalimutan kong nasa public place kami. Inalis ko rin naman agad ang kamay ko upang magpatuloy sa aking paliwanag. “Noong umpisa, oo, I was unsure. Hindi ko ma-figure out kung dahil nga lang ba sa guilt o talagang nagkakagusto na ako sa ‘yo. Hindi ko rin naman masabi sa ‘yo noon dahil ayaw kitang saktan. Pero ngayon, sigurado na talaga ako Brian. Mahal na mahal kita.”

“Hindi ko gets.” Kumuha siya ng tissue sa lamesa. Pakonti konti niya itong pinupunit hanggang sa maliliit na piraso na lang ito at nagkalat na sa lamesa. “I never blamed you for the accident. Oo, nalungkot talaga ako dahil I wasn’t able to continue with the swimming competitions, pero alam mo? Swimming lang ‘yon. Kayang kaya kong mag-move on doon, I could do other things bukod sa swimming. Sabi mo kanina you did it to make me happy? You wanted to offer yourself to me? You didn’t do that, Sai. Ang in-offer mo sa akin ay isang relasyon na puno ng kasinungalingan. You made me question the past 7 years of my life that I probably wasted on you.”

May kinuha siya sa bulsa niya, ini-slide niya ito sa lamesa hanggang tumama sa aking mga daliri. It was a small red box.

“I bought it at the start of the year with the thought of proposing to you anytime this year. I was just looking for the right timing. I was planning to do it on my birthday. Nasabi ko na rin ang plano ko noon sa mama mo bago pa lumala ang sakit niya. Nang mawala na si tita, inisip kong ‘wag na muna mag-propose dahil alam kong nagluluksa ka pa sa pagkawala niya. Alam mo Sai, I really wanted to make you my wife. I badly wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. But I don’t know anymore, I mean I still love you. I really, really fucking love you, but I can’t get myself to trust you anymore. I feel like I will question your feelings for me everyday. I will be anxious about everything you say. I really don’t think love is enough.” Nag-pause siya upang pulutin ang mga nagkalat na piraso ng tissue na pinunit niya kanina at pinagsama-sama ito hanggang sa nakulong niya na ito sa kanyang magkabilang palad. “You probably had the best intention in mind when you did it. I understand, but why do I feel like you’ve become such a toxic part of my life?”

Before I could take that in, he blew another punch in my heart.

“Let’s break up.”

“No, no, no.” I keep on saying as I shake my head violently. I clutched my shirt to feel my aching heart while uncontrollable tears continue to fog everything around me.

“I have an offer na ma-transfer sa London for training which will lead to a promotion. 2 months ago pa ang offer actually pero I was always hesitant to accept it dahil ayaw kong mapalayo sa ‘yo, ayaw kitang iwan. Pero pagkatapos ng lahat ng nangyari sa pagitan nating dalawa, I think I need this. We both need this. Kailangan natin maghiwalay at ayusin ang mga sarili natin. Hindi na tayo healthy para sa isa’t isa. I will be there for a 1-year bond. Let’s try to find ourselves separately in that 1 year. And if,” he gave emphasis on the ‘if’, “we still have feelings for each other after a year, maybe we can meet here again. Kung ang isa sa atin ay hindi magpakita dito matapos ng isang taon, then we could conclude na mas okay tayong magkahiwalay.”

“Kailangan ba talaga natin mag-break? Hindi ba pwedeng ayusin na lang natin ‘to?” pagsusumamo ko.

Pinagmasdan niya lang ang box sa lamesa habang mariing nakatikom ang kanyang mga labi at ang kanyang adam’s apple ay panay akyat baba. Kumurap siya ng maraming beses habang namamasa na ang kanyang mga mata. Inangat niya ang tingin niya habang pinipigilan siguro ang mga luha na tuluyang kumawala.

“Yes. We need to breathe, Sai. Minsan kasi parang ang bigat na huminga kapag kasama kita.”

Tumayo na siya at nagsimula na akong mataranta dahil nararamdaman ko na talaga na aalis na siya ng tuluyan sa buhay ko. Agad kong hinawakan ang kamay niya nang dumaan siya sa tapat ko at idinantay ko doon ang noo ko habang patuloy pa rin sa pag-iyak.

“Brian, please . . . ”

Marahan niyang inalis ang kamay ko at inilagay niya ang daliri niya sa aking baba upang iangat ang akin mukha. Yumuko siya upang dampian ng halik ang aking noo.

“Ingat ka palagi, Sairyl.”

Binitawan na niya ako at tuluyan na siyang umalis. Naiwan ako sa kinauupuan ko habang nakatakip ang mga kamay sa aking mukha. Napayuko na lang ako nang tuluyan hanggang sa dumikit na ang mga kamay ko sa aking mga tuhod.

Ilang minuto akong umiyak at kahit tila napagod na ang aking mga mata ay hindi pa rin ako umalis sa ganoong posisyon. Halo-halong mga bagay ang nasa isip ko. Iniisip ko ang mga sinabi ni Brian. Iniisip ko ang mga pinagsamahan namin. Iniisip ko ang mga pagkakamali ko. Iniisip ko ang mga darating na araw na wala na si Brian sa tabi ko.

Mayamaya lang ay narinig kong bumukas ang divider ngunit hindi pa rin ako nag-angat ng tingin. Naramdaman ko na lang na may tumapik sa likuran ko at saka pa lang ako napaangat ng tingin upang masalubong ang isang waitress na nakangiti ng matipid sa akin.

“Nag-iwan ako ng mainit na tsaa,” ipinatong niya ang hawak na baso sa lamesa pati na rin isang rolyo ng tisyu, “tawagin mo lang ako kung may kailangan ka. Stay ka lang dito hangga’t gusto mo, wala naman masyadong customer today.”

“Salamat,” mahina kong tugon, pinunasan ko ng likod ng aking mga kamay ang mga luha sa aking pisngi. Muli siyang ngumiti sa akin bago tuluyang umalis. Umayos na ako ng upo habang sinusuklay ko ng aking mga daliri ang magulo kong buhok. Pinagmasdan ko ang tsaang nilagay niya sa lamesa, ipinalibot ko ang mga kamay ko dito at pinakaramdaman ang init na nanggaling dito. Sa nanginginig na kamay ay inangat ko ito, hinipan at uminom. Pagbaba kong muli ng baso, napansin ko ulit ang pulang kahon na iniwan ni Brian sa lamesa. Inabot ko ito at binuksan. Tinanggal ko mula rito ang isang kulay pilak na singsing, sa gitna nito ay may isang maliit na hugis pusong dyamante. Pinagmasdan ko ito saglit sa aking palad bago ko ito ikulong sa loob ng aking kamay. Napakagat ako ng ibabang labi at napatingin sa kisame upang pigilan ang mga nagbabadya na namang mga luha.

“I’m so sorry, Brian.”

Minsan talaga nasa huli na ang pagsisi. Mapapagtanto mo lang ang mga mali mo kung kailan nagkalamat na ang mga bagay na pinapahalagahan mo. Kahit anong subok mong ayusin, hindi na mawawala pa ang lamat na iniwan mo.

I tried my best to get back with Brian. Umabot ako sa puntong araw-araw akong pumupunta sa unit niya ngunit wala na talaga. Hindi na magbabago ang isip niya. Makalipas ang isang buwan, umalis na si Brian papuntang London. Ni hindi ko man lang siya nakita sa huling araw niya sa bansa.

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Umalis na rin ako sa trabaho ko. The first few months were the hardest for me. I suffer most at night with my thoughts running around my head relentlessly. It was a mix of confusion, regret, blaming sessions and what-ifs. If I do fall asleep, I often wake up sweating and panicking. Everything was so exhausting.

Sa bawat umagang dumaraan ay kakatok ang delivery guy na laging may dala ng aking pagkain for the whole day, araw-araw niyang ginagawa ito. Noong una kong matanggap ang meal package, may kalakip itong sulat. It was from Brian simply saying: ‘Please do not skip your meals. Ingatan mo palagi ang sarili mo.’

Nais ko man sundin ang kanyang paalala, hindi ko pa rin magawang kumain ng wasto. Madalas akong walang gana, parang lahat ng pagkain ay walang lasa. Kakain lang ako ng konti upang punan lang ang gutom na nararamdaman. Pagkatapos n’on, babalik ako sa kwarto ko upang mahiga. Buong araw akong tulog, darating ang gabi, susubukan ko ulit kumain ng konti. Pagkatapos ay babalik ako sa aking kwarto upang humimlay ulit. Napakalaking effort na sa akin ang gawin ang mga bagay na dati ay normal at napakasimple tulad ng paliligo, paglilinis ng bahay o pag-grocery. I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

I have received calls from Kyla more often than before. Brian told her everything and I believe he also asked her to check on me frequently. I know she’ll do it anyway even without Brian telling him to do it. The thing is, every time I speak with Kyla, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her honestly what I’m feeling. I always force myself to smile and tell her that I’m okay and I’ll get over it soon. I don’t even know why I tried to act so tough, maybe because I just didn’t want to worry or annoy her or be seen as too dramatic. Hindi ko na rin talaga alam ang dapat gawin sa puntong ‘yon ng buhay ko. I spent days just waiting for the time to pass by. I couldn’t even get myself to apply for a new job even after months of being unemployed. There were extreme times that I just really wanted to turn into dust.

Sa tingin ko swerte pa rin ako sa kabila ng mga pinagdaanan ko dahil mayroon akong mga kaibigan na hindi ako pinabayaan. Wala atang linggo na dumaraan na hindi ako tinatawagan ni Kyla at nang manganak na siya, naging libangan ko na pagmasdan ang baby niya tuwing nagbi-video call kami. Isang araw din, pumunta si Hannah sa bahay ko ng walang pasabi. Inalam niya talaga sa HR ang address ko dahil hindi raw ako sumasagot sa mga tawag niya. Kinausap niya ako ng masinsinan kung ano ba ang nangyayari sa akin hanggang binuhos ko na sa kanya ng sakit na nararamdaman ko. Inamin ko rin sa kanya ang mga negative thoughts ko lalo na ang tungkol sa pananakit sa sarili ko.

Agad niyang nirekomenda sa akin na magpakonsulta sa isang psychiatrist.

“Hindi pa naman ako nababaliw, Hannah,” sabi ko sa kanya.

“Going to a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It means na you just need help. If you really want to feel better, you have to acknowledge that you can’t do this alone.”

It took me a few days to think about what she said before agreeing to visit the hospital. Hannah made the time to accompany me. I was fidgeting with my fingers on my lap as I waited anxiously to be called. Hannah noticed it and she placed her hands on mine to gently squeeze it before saying, “you got this, ok?”

When my name was finally called, I slowly made my steps towards the door and the chair across an older lady wearing a white coat and holding a chart. She smiled and encouraged me to sit. She introduced herself as Dra. Martinez then asked me what she can do to help. I told her everything that piled up inside me; the harassment at work, my mom’s death and the breakup.

After that, I was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood or situational depression in short. It was caused by a variety of traumatic experiences for me in the past few months. She gave me the assurance that I will definitely get better but she also told me that I also have to help myself. That means I have to continue the sessions with her and follow the cognitive behavior therapy she has explained to me. She also gave me some medication to take when insomnia gets worse.

I didn’t feel well immediately but I tried my best to show up on my next appointments with her. She asked me to have a journal where I write my daily thoughts without any filter. I followed her and I wrote my feelings in an empty notebook.

I wrote:

‘I’m upset.’

‘I cried again today.’

‘I don’t think I’ll feel any better. Everything feels so difficult.’

‘I feel worthless.’

Then as time goes by, I changed them to:

‘Today, I smiled in front of the mirror.’

‘I had the energy to do the laundry.’

‘I think I’m starting to feel better.’

But they sometimes go back to:

‘I did the grocery today. As I was opening the door, the keys fell on the floor and the paper bag ripped open. Everything was scattered on the floor. It was a mess. I felt hopeless. I feel really sad again.’

Dra. Martinez also asked me to have a strong support system. She asked if she could talk to one of my closest friends. She talked to Hannah. I don’t know what they spoke about but Hannah started asking me about my relatives. If I had close cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts or uncles. I told her that some of them are in La Union or Pangasinan. She then told me that she got a 3-day vacation leave and that we will go to La Union to visit my relatives and relax on the beach.

For a moment, I really felt better having a lot of people surrounding me. I was no longer in an empty house. I hear laughter everywhere while the waves splashed in the background. It calmed my heart.


According to Dra. Martinez, it’s understandable that I still can’t manage to look for a job because it will take so much energy from me and the process may start causing anxiety. Instead of doing that, she asked me to find a hobby that I can enjoy to help me relax and distract my mind from negative thoughts.

I started baking again. I baked a lot, it didn’t even fit my fridge anymore. Hannah already started hating sweets because I give them to her almost daily. She suggested I start selling them again. She helped me take promotional photos, set up a page online and shared it with her friends and other food groups on social media. I started receiving offers and repeat customers. I named my online shop Sweet Love. It wasn’t much but it was going okay, it helped me support my daily expenses.

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

After a few months, my appointments with Dra. Martinez became less frequent as I started feeling much better than before. I still have insomnia attacks from time to time and I still find myself wandering in the darkness of my mind, but I’m able to survive it.

On a rainy night after I got home from visiting the hospital, I heard a loud meowing sound. I stopped from opening my gate to look for it. On a nearby lamppost, in between the trash bags, I found a kitten shivering in the cold air. I tried to look around if it had company, but it was alone.

I bent over to pick it up and took it with me. The kitten grew fast and really playful. Funny thing is, after I adopted the cat, the global pandemic happened. The country was put on lockdown for months and I was so ever grateful to have the cat with me. It accompanied me during my inner battles while purring next to me. My friends and even my relatives call me frequently to check that I’m doing ok during the pandemic.

When the option of deliveries opened again, I resumed baking and selling online. I’ve already joined a lot of food groups where I started meeting different people with the same passion. I learned so much from them that I applied it to my own shop. Food deliveries and online selling boomed during the pandemic. That meant that my shop had so many orders that I couldn’t even do it myself anymore. I started hiring 2 girls around my age to help me with the orders. They lived with me for a safer protocol. I gave them my parent’s room. I had already stored old belongings in the basement.

The house became noisy and lively again. I was healing and laughing sincerely.

Pero alam mo? When you’re healing, hindi ibig sabihin nito puro ups ang mangyayari at tuloy tuloy ang saya. Life is simply not that. Dumarating pa rin ang mga araw at gabing malungkot. Katulad na lang ng pagdating ng ika-isang taon ng pag-alis ni Brian.

I remember clearly what he said to me that day.

‘If we still have feelings for each other after a year, maybe we can meet here again. Kung ang isa sa atin ay hindi magpakita dito matapos ng isang taon, then we could conclude na mas okay tayong magkahiwalay.’

The night before that, I had an insomnia attack. It was the first after 2 months of not having it. I was so anxious when I got out of the house to go to Sweet Home. I have never gone anywhere aside from the supermarket ever since the lockdown happened. As the taxi neared the pinned location, I started breathing fast and heavy. I could hear my loud heartbeat as I tried to wipe my cold sweats. And when I got out of the taxi and stood in front of the cake shop, I once felt the pain I had a year ago.

There was a sign pasted on the shop’s door that says:

‘During the pandemic, a lot of shops have suffered including us. With a heavy heart, we are permanently closing. Thank you for supporting us throughout the years. We pray that this pandemic will be over soon.’

Umupo ako sa sahig at dumantay sa saradong pintuan. Hindi ko na inalintana kung marumi ba ang sahig. Itinaas ko ang face shield ko at ipinatong muna sa ulo ko habang pinupunasan ko ang mga luha ko dahil ang hirap huminga. Ibinaba ko ng konti ang aking mask upang punasan ang aking sipon. Pinakalma at pinatahan ko rin agad ang sarili ko. Naghintay ako buong araw hanggang sa kailangan ko ng umuwi dahil sa curfew.

Walang Brian na dumating.

Hindi agad ako sumuko. Inisip ko na baka naka-quarantine siya after going back in the country kaya sa loob ng isang buwan, halos araw-araw akong naghintay sa kanya sa tapat ng Sweet Home. Umaasang makikita siya ngunit hindi ko na siya nakita pang muli.

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Wala rin balita si Kyla sa kanya dahil simula ng pumunta ng London si Brian ay tila pinutol niya na lahat ng komunikasyon. I started feeling the depression creeping back again but I have also learned to communicate my feelings better with people close to me. It helped to acknowledge the pain and the loneliness, it helped to share what I truly feel. It definitely helped to have people who sincerely listened.

I had tried to move on and accept the fact that it was really the end for us. Maybe Brian has already found someone better in London, someone who probably deserves the love he can give.

I gave my full attention to my online shop. I started attending various webinars on how I can improve my store, how I can market better and how to become a better businesswoman. Hindi ko alam kung coincidence ba pero habang naghahanap ako ng mga business webinars na pwede ko pang ma-attend-an ay nakita ko ang pangalan ni Melody. She was one of the key speakers for a virtual conference featuring successful businesswomen. Nag-sign up ako at um-attend sa webinar na kinabibilangan niya. I listened to her as she talked about her experience in growing and managing their construction business. She also shared her struggles as a female leader of a male-dominated industry. It was so inspiring and I felt so proud for her as I watched her speaking with so much confidence. I thought of wanting to be like her.

After that, I went to look for her contacts online. I found her on LinkedIn and requested to connect with her. When she accepted it, I took the courage to chat with her and ask how she’s been. She asked for my number and we called each other. We spoke for hours and ended the call with a promise that we’ll meet once it’s safer to go outside.

Ang bilis din ng paglaki ng online shop ko. From 2 employees, I started hiring 2 more. The house was jam-packed and I had to buy more ovens and another fridge to accommodate orders. I started inquiring about bank loans as I have decided to open a physical store since the government started allowing public dining.

I rented the place where Sweet Home was previously located. The business was going really well both for dine-in and deliveries after a year. We had to close the store from time to time during heavy lockdowns, but we were still able to sustain it.

Ang bilis ng panahon kapag nae-enjoy mo pala ang ginagawa mo. Dumaan na ang isang taon nang itayo ko ang physical store ng Sweet Love. Napapangiti ako sa tuwing pinagmamasdan ko ang mga taong masasayang nagkukwentuhan habang kinakain ang paborito nilang dessert. Kumakalma ang puso ko kapag naririnig ko ang tunog ng coffee machine, ng pagbukas ng pinto at pagtawag ng aking empleyado ng iba’t ibang pangalan ng mga customer sa tuwing handa na ang kanilang mga order. Pagkatapos ng nakakapagod na araw sa store ay uuwi ako sa bahay upang salubungin ang naghihintay na si Lilac, ang pusang inampon ko noon na ngayon ay bestfriend ko na.

“Alam mo Lilac, may nakita akong nag-aaway na parang magkasintahan sa shop kanina.” Hinaplos ko ang nakahigang pusa sa aking kandungan. Nasa couch ako at nakasuot na ng aking pantulog. Nakabukas ang t.v. pero hindi naman ako nanonood, gusto ko lang ng ingay sa paligid ko. Mag-isa na ulit ako sa bahay dahil simula ng lumuwag na ang mga restrictions ay nag-uwian na ang mga dating kasama ko sa bahay at sa shop na sila dumidiretso upang magtrabaho.

“Naalala ko tuloy ang araw na nag-break kami ni Brian.” Naramdaman ko ang pag-purr ni Lilac. Nakagawian ko ng magkwento dito kahit alam kong wala naman siyang naiintindihan sa mga pinagsasabi ko. Siya na ang naging kapalit ng journal ko, siya na ang nakakarinig ng lahat ng nararamdaman ko. “Nalungkot ako, na-miss ko na naman siya. Kumusta na kaya siya? May iba na kaya siyang mahal?”

Inangat ko si Lilac at nag-meow siya sa inis sa pag-istorbo ko sa kanyang tulog. Habang kaharap ko ang poker face ni Lilac ay tinanong ko siya. “Tingin mo, should I start looking for love again?”

Nag-meow si Lilac kaya natawa ako. “Ayaw mo ‘no? Kasi magkakaroon ka na ng kaagaw ng atensyon ko. ‘Di bale, masaya pa naman ako sa sarili ko. Sobrang nag-e-enjoy ako sa Sweet Love.”

I used to question myself about what I wanted to do in life. I never knew my purpose and I always felt lost in my career. I guess the only good thing I got out from a very bad breakup is actually finding what I’m most passionate about. I’ve always craved attention and approval from others that I forgot to really give myself the attention I needed. Napatawad ko na rin ang sarili ko sa lahat ng katangahan ko sa buhay. I guess kinailangan ko ng isang malaking sapak sa buhay para matutunan ko naman mahalin ang sarili ko, regardless of my flaws.

Kapag binabalikan ko ang mga ginawa ko sa nakaraan at kinukumpara ito sa sarili ko ngayon, napapangiti ako at nakakaramdam ng malaking paghanga sa sarili ko. Alam ko na I grew and I will keep on growing. Sabi nga sa akin ni Dra. Martinez dati na changes will come gradually, sometimes miniscule that I would barely notice it, pero I should just continue kasi there will come a time in the future that I will find myself with a big chunk of accumulated changes. Small changes are better than nothing at all.

The next day, it rained. We didn’t have many customers that day so I just sat in an empty corner with my laptop. Busy ako sa pag-a-analyze ng revenue ng store for the past months nang marinig kong sumigaw ang isa sa mga staff ko. She was the same waitress from last time who gave me hot tea and tissues when Brian and I broke up. Since Sweet Home closed, she lost her job and when I opened the store, she applied and I guess it was fate for us. I immediately hired her.

“Iced caramel macchiato and a strawberry cake for Brian!”

My heart stopped when I heard her shout that. Brian is a common name and I have heard it being called in the store countless times, pero every time I hear, I can’t stop myself from expecting. Someone from the opposite corner, next to a window, stood up. He was wearing a black cap, sunglasses and a black mask. Naka-blue hoodie siya at denim jeans. Sinundan ko ng tingin ang paglalakad niya hanggang sa kinuha niya ang order niya sa counter at bumalik sa kinauupuan niya.

I waited for him to remove his mask and his glasses. I wanted to see his face so I could stop wondering whether it’s him or not. Pero hindi niya ginawa ito. Nilabas niya lang ang cellphone niya mula sa bulsa at nag-focus dito.

‘Matutunaw ang yelo sa kape mo!’ Inis na bulong ko sa sarili habang hindi ko mapigilan ang anxiety na dinudulot niya sa akin dahil ayaw niya pang tumigil sa kaka-cellphone. Mga ilang minuto ang nakalipas ay ibinaba na rin niya ang cellphone sa lamesa. Akala ko ay magfo-focus na siya sa kanyang pagkain at tatanggalin na niya ang mask niya kaso humalumbaba siya at tumingin sa salamin. Tumitig lang siya sa ulan! Lintik na ‘yan! Nanggigil talaga ako sa tagal niyang magtanggal ng mask.

Sa gigil ko at dahil hindi na rin ako mapakali ay kinakagat ko na ang straw ng inumin ko habang nakatitig pa rin sa kanya. Nagulat na lang ako nang bigla siyang lumingon sa direksyon ko at kahit nakasuot siya ng sunglasses ay nailang pa rin ako. Kaya naman napatungo na lang ako at naisuklay ko na lang ang buhok ko sa likod ng aking tainga. Napaangat din naman ako ng tingin nang maramdaman ko ang pagtayo niya, dala-dala niya ang tray ng pagkain papuntang counter. May sinasabi ito sa staff na hindi ko narinig ngunit nang makita kong binabalot ng staff ang order niya sa take out boxes, mas lalo akong nainis. I waited in anticipation na tanggalin niya ang mask niya para lang magbago ang isip niya at i-take out na lang ang order! Bwisit!

Ibinalik ko na lang ang atensyon ko sa laptop ko. Umiling-iling ako upang alisin na siya sa isip ko at mag-focus na lang sa trabaho ko. Malabong si Brian dahil kung siya nga, sana nilapitan niya na ako kanina pa. At isa pa, bakit ba ako laging umaasa?

“Focus, Sai. Focus,” chant ko sa sarili ko habang tinititigan ko ang gumagalaw na cursor sa monitor ko.

Narinig ko ang pagbukas ng pinto at muling pagsara nito. Napaangat ulit ako ng tingin at tinitigan ang pinto. Wala na siya.

“Ahh!” Napasigaw na lang ako habang ginugulo ang buhok ko sa inis. Agad naman akong nilapitan ng mga staff ko at tinanong kung ok lang daw ba ako.

“Wala, wala. Nai-stress lang ako sa ginagawa ko,” pagpapalusot ko.

Brian is never coming back. I have to keep on reminding my heart.

I have already fallen in love twice in this lifetime. The first one made me love with all my heart but I got betrayed. The second one gave me all the love I needed but I betrayed it.

I am praying that the third one will be an honest and understanding love. And may it be the last one. 

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Lie About Love

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