Chapter 30

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

Cedric’s Point of View

‘Congratulations, Sairyl and Brian.’

Napangiti ako habang sinasara ko na ang aking laptop matapos kong i-send ang comment na iyon. Kakatapos ko lang tignan ang mga wedding photos na naka-upload sa profile ni Sai. Kinasal sila noong isang linggo lang at ngayon ko lang nakita ang mga larawang iyon.

Alam ko na noon pa na sila talaga ang para sa isa’t isa. Alam kong si Brian ang tamang tao para sa kanya at masaya akong nakitang nakangiti siya sa mga larawang iyon. Napakaganda niya talaga habang suot ang kanyang wedding dress. I once dreamt of being the guy standing in front of her and sharing those vows.

Sairyl was my childhood friend before she became my girlfriend. We met in elementary school. I was a year older than her. Our classrooms were next to each other and we had the same after class tutor. That’s where we started getting to know each other until we became close friends.

I had a big crush on her. She was the first and only girl I actually liked. It was a secret at first because I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable with me. It was in high school when I finally decided to confess my feelings for her.

15 siya noon, 16 naman ako. It was Valentine’s day when a guy gave her flowers and confessed his feelings for her. Sinabi sa akin ni Sai na gusto niyang i-consider ang lalaking umamin sa kanya dahil hindi pa siya nagkaka-boyfriend noon. That was the time that I couldn’t hold it anymore.

“Kung gusto mo lang din i-try magka-boyfriend, bakit hindi na lang ako?” Tandang-tanda ko pa ang nagulat niyang reaksyon nang isigaw ko ito sa kanya habang kumakain kami ng ice cream sa kwarto niya. Nakatitig lang siya sa akin habang naiwang nakaipit sa bibig niya ang kutsara.

“Sai, Cedric. Nag-aaway ba kayo? Ano ‘yong sigawang narinig ko?”

Naputol ang pagkabigla niya nang marinig namin ang sigaw ng mama niya mula sa baba. Agad siyang sumagot dito, “wala po, ma! Sabi ni Cedric kung magluluto ka raw po ng lumpia for dinner! At hindi raw po masarap ‘yong flavor ng ice cream na binili mo!”

“Hoy! Wala akong sinabing ganoon! Baka sabihin ni tita ang demanding ko!” Tinakpan ko ang bibig niya dahil sa hiya ko sa mama niya. Tumawa lang siya habang pilit tinatanggal ang kamay ko sa bibig niya.

“Chill ka lang! Alam mo naman love na love ka ni mama, kahit lechon pa i-request mo, hahanapan ka niya,” natatawa niya pa ring sabi nang matanggal niya na ang kamay ko sa bibig niya. “Kaya nga dalasan mo pagpunta dito para masarap ulam namin.”

“Paano kapag may boyfriend ka na? Malamang hindi na ako pwedeng pumunta dito dahil siyempre, magseselos ‘yon.” Ibinaling ko ang atensyon ko sa aking baso na may lamang tunaw na ice cream, inikot-ikot ko ang kutsara dito habang hinihintay ang sunod na sasabihin niya.

“Bakit ang weird ng mga sinasabi mo ngayon, Ced?” I knew that she was staring at me but I couldn’t get my eyes away from the melted ice cream. I was scared to meet her eyes knowing that I might find rejection.

“Wala!” sabi ko habang nakatungo pa rin. Tumayo na ako at kinuha ang bag ko. “Uwi na ako.”

“Hala! Hoy, ano nga? Bakit ganyan ka bigla?” Tumayo na rin siya at hinigit ang kamay ko bago ko pa man mabuksan ang pinto palabas ng kwarto niya.

Nakatalikod pa rin ako sa kanya at hindi siya hinaharap. Huminga ako ng malalim bago ko ilabas lahat ng tinatago ko sa kanya. “May gusto ako sa ‘yo, noon pa. Ok? Ayaw kong magkagusto ka sa iba. Ayaw kong maghanap ka ng ibang boyfriend. Kung gusto mo lang naman subukan magka-boyfriend, pwede naman ako. Ayan, narinig mo na! Pwede na akong umalis?”

Binitawan niya ang kamay ko at wala akong narinig sa kanya. Hindi ko pa rin magawang humarap sa kanya kaya hinawakan ko na ang doorknob upang tuluyan ng umalis. Inisip ko noon na wala na, rejected na talaga ako. Magiging awkward na ang pagkakaibigan namin. Iiwasan na niya ako pagkatapos noon.

Pagbukas ko ng pinto ay bigla akong nakaramdam ng malakas na paghampas ng unan sa likod ko kaya naman napasara ulit ako ng pinto at napaharap agad sa kanya.

“Anong -” magrereklamo pa lang sana ako nang hinampas na naman niya ulit ako ng unan.

“May gusto ka sa akin tapos wala ka man lang binigay sa akin ngayong Valentines? Anong klaseng confession ‘yan? Walang ka-effort effort!” galit na sabi niya. Inabot ko ang unan na ihahampas na naman ulit niya sa akin at inalis ko ito sa kamay niya upang ihagis pabalik sa kama.

“What are you trying to say, Sai?” naguguluhang tanong ko sa kanya habang hawak ang kamay niya.

“I’ve always liked you too. Hindi ko lang pinapahalata kasi natatakot ako na baka wala ka namang gusto sa akin. Masaya ako palagi sa tuwing kasama kita, sobrang kumportable ako sa ‘yo.”

She was teary-eyed when she confessed those things to me. I felt like the happiest guy in the world when I realized that my feelings were being reciprocated.

“Ibig bang sabihin niyan na gusto mo akong maging boyfriend?” I sometimes cringe when I remember my stupid response to her confession.

“Aba, manligaw ka muna! At magpaalam ka kina mama at papa!” Natawa kaming pareho sa sinabi niya pero I did what she said. Nagpaalam ako sa parents niya at tanda ko pa nang yayain ako ng papa niya na mag-inuman. Sobrang takot at kaba ko pa noon dahil ang daming tanong sa akin ng papa niya at minsan ay pa-joke niya pang sinasabing, “alam mo, nag-iisang anak namin si Sai. Prinsesa ko ‘yan at kapag pinaiyak mo ang prinsesa ko, ‘wag na ‘wag mo ng ipapakita ang pagmumukha mo sa akin ha? Nananakit ako ng bata.” Sabay tatawa siya at dadagdagan ng mahinang, “joke lang.”

It was the best 3 years of my life while I was in a relationship with her. We were so in love. I really thought I’ll be spending the rest of my life with her. But that wasn’t what my parents planned for me.

Being with Sai for so many years, I forgot what kind of family I belonged to. It was very different from the kind of environment Sai grew up in. Her parents showered her with love and attention, they really cared for her and materialistic things didn’t matter so much to them.

My parents? I barely saw them. I grew up mostly with the care of our maids, the driver and other staff in the house. They were too busy with our real estate business. They were greedy people who were not content to be just rich, they always wanted more.

After weeks of not seeing them, they suddenly asked me to have dinner. Back then, I didn’t know what was coming.

Gusto nila akong ipakasal sa isang taong hindi ko kilala o hindi ko pa man nakikita. It was all for the growth of the business. Tumutol ako at sinabing may karelasyon na ako. Sa pagtutol ko ay binalaan nila akong puputulin nila lahat ng suportang pinansyal sa akin at lahat ng materyal na bagay na mayroon ako ay mawawala. 18 na ako noon at kayang kaya nilang gawin sa akin ang mga sinasabi nila dahil nasa edad na ako.

Hindi ako nagpasindak noong una ngunit dinala nila ako sa isang squatter area at habang nasa loob kami ng kotse ay sinabi nila sa akin ang mga posibilidad na maari kong sapitin kung lahat ng bagay na mayroon ako noon ay bigla nilang tatanggalin. Kinumbinsi rin nila ako na ang pagmamahal na nararamdaman ko noon para kay Sai ay isang bagay na madali ko lang din makakalimutan. Panandalian lang daw ‘yon.

Sinabi rin nila sa aking hindi ako mapapakain ng pagmamahal na ‘yon. They convinced me that I will just be living in false happiness if I choose something as petty as love rather than having a bigger ambition in life.

I guess I was really their son. I inherited the same genes, the same greediness. I ended up being materialistic. I broke up with Sai.

Sobrang sakit ng desisyon na ‘yon para sa akin, ngunit sobrang natakot lang din ako sa consequences kung hindi ako susunod sa mga magulang ko. I was 18 and I didn’t know any better. I was just so lost.

I regretted my decisions, but it was already too late. Masiyado ko ng nasaktan ang damdamin ni Sai. Hindi lang ‘yon, may mga tao na rin akong nadamay tulad ni Melody. I felt like the biggest *sshole in the world.

After that, I decided to just be permanently gone in Sai’s life. I didn’t want to cause her any further pain. I loved her so much, but I couldn’t be that person to make her truly happy again.

Nang mag-aral ako sa Australia, I didn’t know anyone. It was like a fresh start for me, except that Sai never really left my heart and mind. My friends invited me to go clubbing and parties. I met a lot of girls but forgetting my first love was never easy.

I met Ray at university. He was from one of my classes, he was also a Filipino. We started hanging out and he told me about his business plan. From there, we kind of started working on his plan until we graduated and started meeting various clients for proposals. He gave me the CEO title kahit siya talaga ang nakaisip ng business dahil sabi niya he’s better with the finances than the strategy kaya masaya na raw siya with the CFO title. We still hold the same shares and decision making power in the company kahit ganoon. I enjoyed working until I felt exhausted because it helped me forget about her. It helped me sleep better at night.

Years passed and I thought I was already able to move on. I wasn’t even thinking of her anymore. I was so busy with work that I didn’t have the time to think of love.

Nakakatawa, pero minsan talaga paglalaruan ka ng tadhana. Noong kinailangan kong bumalik sa Pilipinas for our expansion plan, hindi ko inakalang makikita ko siyang muli.

It was that morning in the elevator. I saw a girl covering half of her face with a handkerchief. I didn’t think of anything at first as I continued to stare at my phone, reading some emails. Habang paakyat ang elevator, ramdam ko sa gilid ng mga mata ko na nakatitig siya sa akin. Hindi ako mapakali kasi her presence made me feel like I’ve met her somewhere before. Kaya naman lumingon ako sa kanya at nagtama ang mga mata namin. I felt my heart beating so fast as I looked into those dark brown eyes that felt so familiar.

“Excuse me, do I know you?” I asked and waited to hear her voice. I wanted to confirm if it was her but she just shook her head in response. I was disappointed not to hear her voice. The elevator door opened. Umiling na lang din ako at inalis ang posibilidad sa isip ko.

Habang nasa meeting ay hindi maalis sa isip ko ang babaeng nakasabay ko sa elevator. May kung anong bumubulong sa isip ko na baka siya nga ‘yon. Nang matapos ang meeting ko ay agad akong sinabihan ni Maya, executive assistant ko, na kailangan ko raw mag-welcome ng new hires to boost their morale on their first day at minsan lang din naman daw kasi akong nasa Pilipinas.

“Tell them I’ll be there in a few minutes,” I said to her while reviewing some documents on my laptop. Before Maya could leave my office, I called her again.

“Yes, Ced?” she asked. We call each other on a first-name basis because I’ve worked with Maya in Australia. Sabay kami actually bumalik ng Pilipinas, pero siya for good na because of her family. Hindi uso sa Australia ang pag gamit ng ma’am or sir sa workplace, first name basis lang kami kaya it’s not a big deal for Maya to call me by my name.

“Can you quickly find out the names of the new hires?” I asked.

She smiled at me and quickly maneuvered her phone. “Done.”

Narinig kong tumunog ang Slack app ko and I saw her message with the list of new hires for the day. Working with her for 3 years, alam na alam niya na agad even in advance ang mga bagay na kailangan ko. She made things so much easier for me. She was such a great assistant.

I scanned the names she sent and there it was:

Sairyl B. De Mesa

D*mn. It was just her name, but it already made my heart go crazy. And it went even crazier the moment I entered the room where she was and found her standing right in front of the door, just a few inches away from me.

Hindi ko rin alam paano ko napigilan ang sarili ko na ‘wag siyang yakapin sa mga oras na ‘yon kahit ‘yon lang ang gustong gawin ng utak at puso ko. The amount of self-control I had back then really amazed me. Even when I knew that she worked next to my office and that I often saw her everytime I visited Ray at his desk, I still managed to pretend like we didn’t know each other. Hindi ko pa rin siya nilalapitan at kinakausap dahil alam kong sa mga oras na kausapin ko siya ay mawawala na lahat ng effort ko na kalimutan siya. Bibigay na naman ulit ako sa kanya. Hahabulin ko na naman siya. Magkakasakitan na naman kami.

“Hey, Cedric. Are you even listening?” I didn’t even realize that I was already zoning out until Ray snapped his fingers in front of me.

“Sorry, Ray. Ano ulit ‘yon?” Umayos ako ng upo habang niluluwagan ang necktie ko.

“I’m not dumb, Ced,” saad ni Ray. Ibinaba niya ang mga dokumentong hawak niya, sumandal siya nang tuluyan sa upuan at humalukipkip.

“Ha?” tanging naitanong ko.

“You don’t really visit my office this often,” sagot niya. Nakatingin siya sa akin na tila inoobserbahan ang mga kilos at reaksyon ko.

“And . . . “ nag-pause ako saglit upang subukang iproseso ang kanyang nais sabihin, “. . . your point is?”

“The Sairyl girl you mentioned to me before, the ex you could never move on from,” tumayo siya at sumilip mula sa glass wall kung saan kita ang mga empleyado niya, “it’s the same Sairyl we have as a new staff in my department, right?”

From my seat, I slid in a slump with my head facing the ceiling as I covered my eyes with my wrists. In an exhausted tone, I admitted, “you got me.”

“You’re in one hell of a mess, mate.” Tumawa lang siya at naramdaman ko ang kamay niya sa balikat ko. “I don’t usually invite you to employee parties because I know it’s just not your thing, but maybe you could have some drinks with us this Friday? It’s a welcome party for our new hires. It’ll be awesome to have the CEO with us, what do you think?”

Alam ko na inaasar lang ako ni Ray at hindi ako dapat pumunta doon dahil kapag nagkausap ulit kami ni Sai, I thought it would really be a point of no return for me. And there I was, at the last minute while sulking in my office chair, I decided to grab my stuff and make a run for it to my car and to where she was.

“F*ck everything!” I remembered saying that to myself. And when I opened the room, she was the first one my eyes looked for. That cheeky bastard Ray actually saved the spot right across Sai.

I tried to avoid looking in her direction. I really, really tried, but d*mn, I couldn’t help it and I still looked at her. That’s when our eyes met again as she tried to discreetly hide half of her face with the glass she was holding.

“…well, I soon understood na our CEO was just a sad boy drowning himself with work to forget his broken heart.”

Kinailangan kong sikuhin pabiro si Ray nang sabihin niya ‘yon. Nang-aasar talaga siya at sinusubukan niya talaga ako sa harap ni Sai.

Nagkantyawan na ang mga tao sa loob upang magkwento ako. Ayaw kong magkwento noong una pero nang tumingin ulit ako sa direksyon niya at nakita kong nakatingin pa rin siya sa akin ay nagsalita na ako.

“Okay, I’ll give you guys a snippet of my personal life then.” Inabot ko muna ang bote ng beer sa lamesa at uminom dito dahil kailangan ko ng pampalakas ng loob. Nginitian ko siya bago ako nagpatuloy. “It’s true, I was heartbroken when Ray met me in uni. Before going to Australia, I was in love with this girl. She was actually my childhood love, my first love, my first girlfriend, my first everything.”

I wanted to kick out everyone in the room. I wanted to be alone with her. I wanted to reach out to her hands and let her know how much I missed her.

“Do you still love her after all these years?” one of them asked. Bigla tumayo si Sairyl at nag-excuse upang magbanyo.

“Uy kj mo naman, Sai. Wait mo muna marinig sagot ni sir Cedric, intense na ‘yong kwentuhan!” saad ng katabi niya, hawak ang kamay niya upang pigilan siyang umalis.

“It’s fine, you can go,” saad ko naman. Ibinaling ulit ni Sai ang tingin niya sa akin, may saglit na pagtataka ang bumakas sa mukha niya bago siya tumango at tumalikod upang maglakad patungong pinto.

Bago pa man siya tuluyang makalabas ng silid, malakas kong sinabi na, “to answer your question if I still love her after all these years, well . . . it’s never easy to forget your first love.”

I wanted her to hear it. I wanted her to know how I feel even though I knew she wouldn’t care.

Noong gabi din na ‘yon, naglakas loob na rin akong kausapin siya nang makita ko siya sa may hagdanan sa labas ng building habang nakaangat ang isang kamay niya at sinasalo ng palad niya ang mga patak ng ulan. Sa totoo lang, wala siyang pinagbago, ganoon pa rin siya katulad ng pagkakaalala ko sa kanya ngunit mas lalo pa siyang gumanda. I appreciated Sairyl’s beauty but I really fell in love with her personality. She was the kindest and sweetest person I knew. I was the most comfortable when I was around her.

“Do you smoke?” That was the first thing I said when I approached her. I know it was dumb, but I didn’t know how to start the conversation with her. I was really nervous.

“Kung may balak kang manggulo ulit sa buhay ko, please lang ‘wag na, marami na akong iniisip para dumagdag ka pa.” Ganoon pa rin ang tono ng pananalita niya pagdating sa akin. Naiintindihan ko dahil deserve ko naman lahat ng galit na mayroon siya sa akin. Sinaktan ko siya at dapat lang masaktan din ako ng sampung beses pa ng sakit na naramdaman niya.

Naalala ko rin nang tanungin niya kung ako ba ang may dahilan kung bakit siya na-hire sa Nimble. Sa totoo lang, it was purely a coincidence or probably fate playing with us. I never had anything to do with her getting hired in the company.

Hindi ko inaasahan na sa gabing ‘yon ay maihahatid ko siya sa bahay nila. I missed their house, I had a lot of good memories there with her and her family. Napag-alaman kong namatay na rin si tito at may malubhang sakit naman si tita. Sobrang nalungkot ako sa mga balitang ‘yon. Hindi ko sila mga magulang pero noong mga panahong magkasama kami ni Sairyl, parang sila na rin ang tumayong mga magulang ko. Mas naramdaman ko pa nga sila kay sa mga totoong magulang ko. Kaya naman ganoon na rin ang hiya ko sa kanila nang matapos kami ni Sairyl dahil alam kong sa ginawa ko, hindi lang si Sai ang sinaktan ko pati na rin sila. Sobrang na-disappoint ko sila.

“Can we still be friends?” I asked her that same night after she told me about her problems. I wasn’t really expecting her to tell me anything but I felt how lonely she was that night and I wanted to do something for her, kahit bilang kaibigan na lang sana.

I remember telling Ray about it. Ang sabi niya sa akin, “exes can never be friends. Lalo na if one of them still has feelings for the other.”

Pero nagmatigas pa rin ako at piniling makipagkaibigan kay Sai. Masaya akong nakakausap ko na ulit siya at may mga pagkakataong pinupuntahan niya ako.

When Sai told me about her lies to Brian, I wasn’t sure what to feel at first. I didn’t know why she told me that. I wanted to think that there’s something wrong in their relationship, maybe it was breaking? Maybe it was my chance? Maybe I can take that opportunity to share a secret with her? Something that’s only for us.

Maybe I can snatch her away from Brian. I badly wanted to. I wanted her back. T*ngina.

Araw-araw akong parang nakikipag-away sa sarili kong mga isipin dahil alam ko rin naman sa sarili ko na maling isipin at naisin na magkalamat ang relasyon nila ni Brian. Ayaw kong masaktan muli si Sairyl para lang magkaroon ako ng pagkakataon na maging takbuhan niya.

It was that time where she got back at work after her mom died. Ray told me about her underperforming, I asked Ray to be lenient with her because she was just going through so much. At the first instance that she made a grave mistake, they gave her another chance. Kaso ‘yong sumunod ay sobrang lala ng mga naging error niya na halos nakipagtalo na ako kay Ray dahil nag-insist siya na kailangan tanggalin na si Sairyl at hindi dapat nasasali ang emosyon ko sa trabaho.

I really didn’t want her to get fired. She was already going through so much and I didn’t want her to receive any more bad news. So, I told Ray, “it’s not entirely her fault. If we fire her, then we fire the whole team she’s with plus your team leader. They’re also accountable for not checking her work.”

“Last na talaga ‘to, Fontanilla. I can’t have your feelings affecting the company any further,” pagbanta ni Ray. Tinapik ko ang balikat niya at nagpasalamat sa kanya. “Just go and fix this sh*t, mate.”

It was really an exhausting day as I had to run like a dog and beg like crazy to ask another chance with our clients. It was all worth it naman nang makabalik ako ng gabing ‘yon sa office at nakita ko siyang natutulog sa harap ng desk niya. Siya na lang ang natitira doon, she was finishing the reports she needed to correct. Marahan akong lumapit sa kanya at umupo sa bakanteng upuan sa tabi niya.

Nakapatong ang gilid ng ulo niya sa magka-krus na braso niya. May suot siyang earphones. Ginaya ko ang pwesto niya at hinarap ang ulo ko sa direksyon niya upang mapagmasdan pa lalo ang natutulog niyang mukha na naiilawan ng screen ng monitor niya.

Hindi ko mapigilan ang mga ngiti sa aking mga labi habang tinitingnan ko ang pagod ngunit maganda niya pa ring mukha. Hinding hindi ako magsasawang pagmasdan siya. Gusto kong abutin ang pisngi niya at haplusin ito ngunit nang malapit ng dumikit ang dulo ng daliri ko sa balat niya ay agad ko rin itong inatras na tila natatakot akong mapaso.

It was at that moment I realized that I can only stare at her, but I can’t touch her. That’s what it meant to be friends with my ex. I could only wish her well, but I could never be that person to make her the happiest being in the world. She already had someone else in her heart, a place I’ve left a long time ago because of my stupid decisions in life.

Nginitian ko siya nang magtama ang mga mata namin pagmulat niya. Tumitig lang siya na tila nasa mundo pa ng panaginip. Inabot ko ang earphones sa isang tainga niya upang marinig niya ang pagbati ko sa kanya.

“Bakit hindi ka pa umuuwi, Sairyl?”

Ibinalik niya ang tanong sa akin, “bakit hindi ka pa rin umuuwi, Cedric?”

It was a rainy night that I got to spend with her alone. It was one of the good memories I’ll forever keep. It was a night we were able to be fully honest with each other. It was a night of forgiveness and really moving on.

I encouraged her to be truly honest with Brian too. I didn’t want her to make the same mistakes that I did and suffer the same amount that I suffered. I knew how much of a great guy Brian is. I knew how much he could love and take care of Sairyl. I knew that he was far better than me for her.

After that night, I truly wanted nothing else anymore but for Sairyl to be really happy.

“Kailan ang balik mo ulit dito?” I remember her asking that to me at the fire exit on my last day in the country.

“Hindi ko pa alam, bahala na,” sagot ko.

“Ingat ka,” saad niya. Napansin ko na kanina pa siya nahihirapang tanggalin ang sumobrang sinulid sa laylayan ng pulang blusa niya. Kaya naman inabot ko na ito para sa kanya at pinutol ito.

Nang putulin ko ang pulang sinulid na ‘yon, pakiwari ko ay doon na talaga nagtatapos ang kwento naming dalawa. Pakiramdam ko na dapat na akong magpatuloy sa susunod na kabanata ng aking buhay.

“I guess this is goodbye?” Tinapon ko na ang upos ng sigarilyo sa sahig at tumayo na upang magpaalam ng tuluyan sa kanya.

“Goodbye, Cedric,” saad niya. Sa huling pagkakataon ay niyakap niya ako at niyakap ko siya pabalik. I will always be grateful to know her in my life. Sairyl will always hold a special place in my heart.

After that, I went home already to fix my luggage. 8PM pa ang flight ko ngunit umalis na ako ng unit ko ng 6PM upang magkaroon pa ng oras para sa check in at upang makapag-relax din ako sa airport habang naghihintay. Ayaw ko kasing nagmamadali. Kaya naman 30 minutes pa lang before my boarding time, nakaupo na ako sa tapat ng boarding gate at nakikinig na lang ng music habang naghihintay.

Naputol ang pakikinig ko ng musika nang biglang mag-ring ang telepono ko at nakita kong tumatawag si Maya.

“Yes, Maya?”

“Ced . . .” I wasn’t able to hear the next words she said dahil na-lowbat ang earbuds ko. Napamura ako sa isip ko nang ma-realize ko na hindi ko pala ito na-charge at napamura na naman ako nang ma-realize ko rin na iniwan ko ang powerbank ko sa check in luggage ko.

“Wait, Maya. Hindi kita marinig,” saad ko sa kabilang linya. Inalis ko na ang earbuds ko at tinodo ko ang volume sa telepono ko dahil maingay sa airport. “Hello Maya, can you hear me?”

“Yes, Ced,” saad niya. “Nakita mo na ‘yong mga profile ng shortlisted candidates na sinend ko sa ‘yo?”

“Ah, sh*t, Maya. Sorry, I totally forgot about that!”

“Geez, Ced. What will you do without me?” pagbibiro niya at natawa naman ako.

“Kaya nga don’t leave me na, Maya.” Nag-resign na kasi si Maya. Sa Sydney talaga kami magkasamang magtrabaho ni Maya. Doon kasi siya nakatira kasama ang partner niya. Sumabay sila ng partner niya sa pagbalik ko dito sa Pilipinas, pero ‘di tulad ko, permanente na silang maninirahan sa Pilipinas. Nakapagdesisyon kasi ang partner niya na magtayo ng business sa Pilipinas at dahil buntis na rin si Maya ay ninais nila ng partner niya na magpahinga muna siya sa pagtatrabaho. Last day na ni Maya sa huling araw ko rin sa Pilipinas. Tinulungan niya naman akong maghanap ng magiging kapalit niya upang hindi ako mawalan ng executive assistant. She did all the interviews at ipinasa niya lang sa akin ang profile ng mga pinakamagagaling na na-interview niya. Kumbaga, final interview na lang ang gagawin ko at ako na ang bahalang mag-hire sa mapipili ko pagkatapos ng interview na ‘yon.

“Sorry, Ced. I need to build a family. Ikaw, kailan kaya?” pang-aasar niya. Working with Maya for years made us close friends already. She pretty much knew me and how I work. She did things even before I could ask for it. She literally made my life easier and it would really be hard for me to find a really good replacement for her.

“You know that’s the least of my priority right now, Maya.”

“Yeah, but you ain’t getting any younger, Ced. Sige, ikaw rin. Tatanda kang mag-isa.”

“I can get a dog, Maya.”

“You can barely take care of yourself, what more a dog?”

“Fine, I’ll get a fish na lang. O kaya halaman.”

Nagtawanan kami bago bumalik si Maya sa unang tanong niya nang tumawag siya.

“Go check the profiles I sent to you. There’s only 2 of them pero they’re the best of the best, I guarantee you. You’ll interview both of them agad tomorrow in your Sydney office.”

“You don’t really like seeing me rest, ‘no?” I joked again. “Are they both in Sydney?”

“The other one, I interviewed her while she was still here in the Philippines, but she told me she’s flying back to Sydney so she’s supposed to be in your office there tomorrow.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll check it na, Maya. Thank you so much for helping me out. I’ll really miss you and Marcus,” her partner, “let me see the baby once it’s out!”

“Sure thing, Ced. Ingat ka diyan and I hope you find someone for you na. Not a dog, a fish or whatever, but a real girl to take care of your workaholic self.”

We ended that call and I opened her email to look at the two profiles she sent. They both looked good. I hoped they were as good as Maya.

Ibinalik ko na ang telepono ko sa bulsa ko dahil hindi na rin ako makakapakinig ng music dahil hindi na gumagana ang earbuds ko. Bored, my eyes wandered around the people sitting in the same area next to the boarding gate.

Then I saw her. She was sitting across from me. She was staring at the window while looking distracted and lost in thoughts. I thought she looked familiar and I couldn’t quite point out where I saw her. Then it hit me. I took my phone out of my pocket again and opened Maya’s email to check the profiles again. I stared at the photo in one of the resumes.

It definitely looked like her but I wasn’t too sure.

My stupid self decided to sneakily take a photo of the girl so I can send it to Maya to double-check.

Click!

That was one of the most embarrassing moments for me. Nakalimutan ko na nilakasan ko nga pala ang volume ng phone ko habang kausap si Maya kanina and as a result rinig na rinig ang shutter sound nang kuhanan ko siya ng litrato. Napamura ako habang nagpa-panic nang magtama ang mga mata namin. Nakita kong tumawa siya at mas lalo akong nataranta nang tumayo siya sa kinauupuan niya at lumapit sa akin.

Nang nakatayo na siya sa harapan ko ay napalunok ako. I was never intimidated by a girl but she definitely intimidated me with that smile that held a lot of meaning.

“Excuse me, did you just take a photo of me?” she asked. I was sweating cold, but I managed to make an excuse.

“Huh? I was taking a photo of the airport to upload on my social account. Please don’t assume.”

“Then, may I look at the photo you captured to see if that’s true?” inilahad niya ang kamay niya sa akin habang hinihingi ang telepono ko.

“That’s invading my privacy, miss.”

Back then, I didn’t expect that she wouldn’t just invade my privacy, but also my whole life.

After meeting Sairyl, I really thought I had already learned so much about love that the next time I fall in love again, it will definitely be smooth sailing. But boy was I wrong! That day in the airport, I met her.

I met the girl who made me realize that I still have so much to learn in love and in life.

I loved Sairyl with every ounce of my being, but I never thought I’d meet another girl that I can love even more than I could love my ex. Sabi nga sa akin dati ni Ray, “minsan nakakaranas tayo ng matinding heartbreak because we needed to be redirected to our fated person and when we do meet that person, we learned from experience what we needed to do to make it right this time.”

And you know what? My heart is ready again and I do believe it was fate thatI met Annika.

– END –

[A story from www.haveyouseenthisgirl.blog]

A/N:

The end of Sairyl & Brian’s story is actually Chapter 29, pinakaba ko lang kayo. HAHA! Chapter 30 is more about showing you Cedric’s thoughts and how he’s about to meet a new girl in his life. He will have his own story sometime in the future. Annika, for those who don’t know, is also a character of mine from the story “I Met A Jerk Whose Name Is Seven”. Available siya sa Wattpad, although I am planning to edit it kaya inalis ko muna ang content nito, but I will put it back naman kapag natapos ko na i-edit.

Next story? I am going to write a very short side story for Kyla and the Mori twins. The title will be “Like Chalk And Cheese” which will also be uploaded to my Wattpad profile and Facebook page soon. After that, I have a new story with a lead character coming from my old, completed story. Wait for it! 😉

Once again, thank you so much for supporting Lie About Love lalo na sa mga makakalat na readers who always take time to comment and share things about LAL every update. I am happy to complete another story with you guys. ❤

Feel free to join our Facebook group and chat your thoughts with other readers! Here’s the link: bit.ly/dennysaurs

Thank you and stay safe! 🙂

Love lots,

Denny

Lie About Love

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