Adik Sa’yo – Part 3

MAGKAHALONG tuwa at kaba ang nararamdaman ni Mitch habang papasok sa bahay. Masaya siya at sa wakas ay okay na ulit sila ni Ohrys. Kinakabahan lang siyang makita ulit si Arianne. Baka galit pa rin ito sa kanya…or pinagdududahan pa rin kaya siya ng parents ni Ohrys tungkol sa kwintas nito? Iyon ang hindi niya tiyak, pero may tiwala siya sa nobyo. Higit pa ang tiwala niya rito dahil sa mga narinig niya mula mismo sa bibig nito kanina.

“Ohrys, anak!” masayang bati ng mommy ni Ohrys. “Mitch, buti nakarating ka!”

“Hello po, Tita,” nahihiyang wika niya sa matanda.

“Come. Hinihintay talaga namin kayo,” anito at iginiya siya sa hapag-kainan.

Nakaupo si Arianne sa tabi ng mommy nito at kaharap pa niya. Nasa kanan niya si Ohrys. Wala silang imikan ng dalaga. Subalit napansin niya ang pagyuko nito at waring hindi makatitig nang diretso sa kanya.

“Arianne, wala ka bang sasabihin sa Ate Mitch mo?” malambing na tanong ng daddy ni Ohrys. Parang alam na niya ang sasabihin nito ngunit hindi rin niya sigurado kung tama ang iniisip niya.

Napakagat ito sa labi bago tumingala sa kanya. “Sorry po, Ate Mitch. Hindi ko po sinasadyang pagbintangan kayo,” naluluhang wika nito sa kanya.

Hindi niya inasahan iyon, subalit natutuwa siya at inamin na rin nito na mali ang ginawa nito. “It`s okay,” nakangiting sagot niya.

“Hindi na po mauulit,” tuluyan na itong napaluha sa harapan nilang lahat.

Naawa naman siya sa dalaga. Hindi niya alam kung ano ang ginawa ni Ohrys o ng mga magulang nito para maging ganoon na lamang ang pagsisisi nito sa ginawa sa kanya. Kung ano man iyon, ang mahalaga ay na-realize na nito na mali ang ginawa nito. Tumayo siya at nilapitan ito. “It`s okay, Arianne. Hindi naman ako galit sa iyo,” aniya upang patahanin ito.

Bigla siyang niyakap nito. “Salamat po.” Napayakap rin siya rito.

“O, siya, tama na iyan,” awat ng mommy ni Ohrys. “Kumain na tayo. Lumalamig na ang pagkain.”

Bumalik siya sa kanyang upuan. Ngumiti sa kanya si Ohrys sabay pisil ng kanyang kamay.

Masaya silang nagkwentuhan habang kumakain. Pakiramdam ni Mitch ay parte na talaga siya ng pamilya ni Ohrys at masaya siya roon.

THAT night was one of the happiest moment in my life. From then on, almost every Fridays ay sa bahay namin nagdi-dinner si Mitch together with my dad, my mom, and Arianne. And every Sundays naman ay kasama ako ni Mitch sa church nila. Mostly, kasama namin ang mommy niya, but there were times na hindi ito nakakasama kapag tambak ang orders na panahi.

On our graduation day – sadly wala kaming honors – ay sa bahay kami nag-dinner kasama si Mitch at ang mommy niya. My mom and her mom shared the same passion, ang pagluluto. They have been exchanging recipes, and been good friends.

As expected, dumalang ang pagkikita namin ni Mitch when we started working. But we fought it hard and made it happen na kahit papano ay mag-usap kami through phone every night, at magkita every other week.

Sa isang multi-national electronics ako nakapasok as process engineer, while Mitch got her first job sa isang kabubukas lang na telecom company. After just a four months, hindi pa natatapos ang probationary period, ay lumipat si Mitch sa kalaban at mas malaking telecom company – not a career move but simply to leave her previous company since her boss, may asawa at dalawang anak, had an eye for her.

I could say na naging maayos ang relasyon namin for the first two years after graduation. There were few disagreements, but we tried our best to settle kung ano man iyon before the day ends. Common na pinagtatalunan namin ay ang pagsama niya sa company outings – which was masyadong madalas – and gimik ng office-mates niya kapag may kasamang guys. Hindi sa wala akong tiwala kay Mitch, but it was just wala akong tiwala sa ibang lalaki, and I didn’t want na ipagkatiwala ang kaligtasan niya sa mga ito. There were times na wala akong magawa, at pumapayag na ring pasamahin siya with my full approval na may kasamang ngiti. But there were few cases na hindi niya ako nakuha sa kiss upang payagan siya.. But again, that was just usual, I think sa mag-boyfriend and girlfriend.

Mitch hated me much kapag nag-cancel ako ng date namin on the same day, or ma-late ako ng sobra, dahil sa demand ng work. Two years of being a process engineer sa isang multi-national electronic company was considered new, and inexperienced, and so I had to double my effort and time sa work to compete with my co-workers, and got a good appraisal. I hoped Mitch would understand – which seemed she had.

Some good relationship had to win a mountainous trial, and ours were not an expection. Dumaan kami sa matinding pagsubok.

 

ONE Thursday afternoon, ipinatawag ako ng department manager namin. Abot-abot ang kaba ko since it was the first time na ipinatawag ako ng boss ng boss ko, and I was clue-less kung ano ang reason. As far as I knew, I haven’t done anything wrong, and in fact, as I believe, maganda ang performance ko. To my surprise, I was given an off-review-period promotion – a special promotion. I was promoted to senior engineer. I was in cloud nine that very moment since I was the only one, and the first one na na-promote sa ganoong position in just two years and three months.

More often than not ay nag-i-stay back ako sa office to tender extra effort to complete any possible job for tomorrow. Ayoko kasing natatambakan ng gawain. But that day, I decided to clock-out at exactly 5:00 PM, at dumiretso kina Mitch. I didn’t call or texted her para surpresahin siya. I was expecting a tender kiss and hug from her sa magandang balitang ihahatid ko.

But I was wrong. Ako ang na-surpresa nang pagbuksan ako ng mommy niya. Nakaupo si Mitch sa sofa, still wearing her uniform: beidge blouse and black pants, and sa katabing silya was a guy that was not familiar to me. But, kinabahan na ako. Later, nalaman ko na tama ang kutob ko that it was Ritchie. A guy she had mentioned once na nanliligaw sa kanya.

Nakita ko sa mga mata ni Mitch ang pagkagulat nang nakita ako. Indeed, she was not expecting me. Nawala sa kanya ang pagtawa sa kung ano man ang pinagkukuwentuhan nila ni Ritchie. Agad siyang tumayo at patarantang ipinakilala ako sa kasamang lalaki. I shaked hands with the guy but I could not force myself to smile. I simply nodded and sat beside where Mitch was seated before.

Mitch didn’t sit beside me, instead she went in the kitchen. Pagbalik ay bitbit ang orange juice para sa akin. She went back to the kitchen and stayed there for a while – five…ten minutes, maybe. I could not remember exactly.

I could not think of anything to say to Ritchie. After few minutes ng pananahimik namin, I sipped a bit of the orange juice simply para basain ang nanunuyo kong lalamunan. It was totally out of my expectation that one day ay makakaharap ko ang isang guy na nagpaparamdam ng pagkagusto sa girlfriend ko. Mitch mentioned him to me before, but hindi ko pinag-ukulan iyon ng pansin.

In fairness, that guy was almost as tall as me, maybe an inch shorter. Not so handsome – sa paningin ko as a guy and as boyfriend ng nililigawan nito, but he is neat. I had to admit, umiinit ang pakiramdam ko and I wanted to sweat it out sa pamamagitan ng pakikipag-boxing dito. I was expecting na kiss and hug ang matatanggap ko kay Mitch para sa ibabalita kong pagkaka-promote ko, tapos sisirain ng mokong na kaharap ko ang mood at plan ko para sa espesyal na araw na iyon.

From the kitchen ay muling bumalik si Mitch, and sat next to me – not so close, and not touching my arm. I sipped another drink, relaxed myself, and stretched my arm sa likuran ni Mitch at ipinatong sa sandalan ng sofa.

“So, what’s up?” tanong sa akin ni Mitch. Bahagyang inilayo niya ang sarili sa pagkakasandal sa sofa, at lumingon sa akin with a smile. Alam kong ang ibig niyang ipakahulugan sa tanong ay kung bakit dumalaw ako sa kanya ng wala man lang tawag or text.

Hindi ko naiwasan ang mapabuntong-hininga sa nakita kong smile sa girlfriend ko. The good news I wanted to tell her was gone like a smoke. Paano na ang yakap at halik niya kapag narinig ang magandang bagay na nangyari sa akin? Matatamo ko pa kaya iyon sa harap ng aking karibal? Oh my… I couldn’t imagine, and could not accept, na mayroon akong karibal kay Mitch.

Nagkibit lang ako ng balikat and simply told her na na-cancel ang meeting ko and I suddenly had spare time – it was of course a lie. Mitch smiled blankly about it, then excused herself para pumunta sandali sa kitchen since she was cooking something in the oven.

Nang bumalik si Mitch bitbit ang tray with bake macaroni ay waring nagulat siya nang nakitang nakatayo na ako. I told her I forgot to lock my drawer in the office. I needed to go back and secure the drawer since it contains so many confidential and sensitive documents. Pinalungkot ni Mitch ang mata niya, and sinamahan ako hanggang pinto. She said goodbye to me without the usual kiss. Lumisan ako sa bahay without saying goodbye or even a glance to Ritchie. Sa labas ng bakuran ng bahay ay naroroon ang mommy ni Mitch and was trying to apologize for something. Something I could not understand…something I did not understand since nagmamadali akong lumisan. Hindi para i-lock ang naiwan kong drawer sa office, kundi upang huwag makita ng mommy ng girlfriend ko ang pagbagsak ng aking luha.

My tears were falling like a fountain while I was driving. As far as I could remember, I stopped crying since I was in grade four. And shame to myself, I was crying hard that very day that I was promoted.

That night, me and Mitch had a fight over the phone. I was shouting sa loob ng kotse ko, and I could hear her talking in a controlled-shout-manner. Kesyo nagmamagandang loob lang daw si Ritchie na maghatid since nahihilo siya.

“Ba’t di mo ako tinawagan? I am just a call away.” Sabi ko.

“Ohrys, you’re too busy. How many times na ba akong tumawag sa iyo noon para magpasundo sa office, but then laging hindi puwede. Kesyo may meeting. May evaluation kang tatapusin. May customer meeting. Etchetera-etchetera.

“Mitch…”

“And besides, wala namang masama kung magpahatid ako dun ta sa tao. May nangyari bang masama sa akin?”

“Mitch, you don’t understand.”

“There you are again. Ako na lang lagi ang hindi nakakaunawa. Wala ka ng inisip kundi ang sarili mo. Hindi mo man lang inisip na pasalamatan ‘yung tao na nagmagandang-loob na ihatid ako. Eh, kung napano pa ako sa biyahe dahil sa pagkahilo?“

Gusto kong matawa sa sinabi niya. “Pasalamatan? Si Ritchie? Mitch, ikaw na rin ang may sabing nagpaparamdam ng pagkagusto sa iyo ang tarantadong iyon.”

“’Rhys, iba ang sitwasyon kanina. Walang kinalaman doon kung may gusto siya or wala sa akin. Ako ang nangangailangan ng tulong kanina, at siya lang ang makakatulong sa akin sa mga sandaling iyon.”

“Ah, ganoon. Kapag wala ako, okay lang na kung sinu-sino nakakapagbigay sa iyo ng pangangailangan mo?”

“Ohrys, huwag mong bigyan ng kulay ang nangyari.”

“Hindi ko… Hey! Hey!” Mitch hanged-up the phone.

That night nakipagkita ako sa bestfriend ko – kay Nico. We went outside, until madaling araw, and had a drink para i-celebrate and pagkaka-promote ko. I didn’t mention anything about what happened that day between me and Mitch.

The following day, I was hoping…or expecting a call or text from Mitch. Maybe, I was expecting na magso-sorry siya sa nangyari. But it didn’t happen. After two days, wala pa rin akong natatanggap na mensahe sa kanya. I started to worry and told myself na baka hindi niya akalaing nasaktan niya ako at meron siyang dapat ipagpaumanhin sa akin. Subalit sa tuwing dadamputin ko ang celphone ko to initiate a call ay naandoong naiinis ako sa sarili ko. Bakit ako pa ang magpapakumbabang lalapit sa kanya sa gayong ako na nga ang nasaktan.

After one month, wala pa rin akong natanggap na mensahe mula kay Mitch. I decided to lower down my pride. Maybe, she was not really aware na nasaktan niya ako. Or maaaring nagpapataasan kami ng pride and that she was just also waiting for me na magpakumbaba. I made an excuse with my boss para umuwi ng maaga. Diretso kina Mitch ang punta ko.

Napahinto ang kotse ko mula sa kalayuan since may black Honda CRV sa tapat ng bahay nina Mitch. The car was familiar to me. Pilit kong binalikan sa aking ala-ala kung saan ko nakita ang sasakyan – it was the same car na nakita ko a month ago na nasa gawing kaliwa ng harapan ng bahay nina Mitch. It was the car ng lalaking naghatid sa kanya noon – ang kotse ni Ritchie.

I decided to park my car few blocks away from the CRV and waited. At eight thirty, lumabas ang may-ari ng kotse sa gate, kasunod si Mitch. The guy bowed his head at hinagkan si Mitch sa pisngi before leaving.

That was the second time na bumagsak ang luha ko since grade four. And it had to be the last, I swore.

 

NANG mga sumunod na araw ay naandoong kusang umaalsa ang aking dibdib sa galit kapag kusang bumabalik sa akin ang ala-ala ng huli kong nakita si Mitch. I decided to spend my whole attention sa trabaho. Ang dating alas-otso kong uwi from office ay karaniwang naging alas-diyes or worst, alas-dose ng gabi.

I had more time sa work than sa bahay. I had more time with subordinates and bosses than my parents and sister. That was the time got noticed of Melba’s smiles. Why was it that for so long ay hindi ko napagtuunan ang mga ngiti at tingin sa akin ng department planner? Maybe, dahil sa mas madalas kong nakakasama ito dahil sa lagi rin itong extend sa trabaho dahil sa tambak ang processing at scheduling ng isang planner.

We dated once, as a celebration, nang makatanggap kami ng papuri sa isang big time customers kumpanya dahil sa magandang delivery ng products nila. It was an accidental date actually – bitin kami sa simple celebration ng department staffs, and decided na mag-end-of-the-day snack muna.

Makuwento si Melba. She told me almost everything sa almost two hours naming magkasama. At the end, she told me that I was unfair kasi hindi ako nagkukuwento. I simply smiled ang told her na saka na lang pag may pagkakataon since it was too late na.

We parted our ways at twelve. I had my car, and she had hers. After a week, ay siningil ako ni Melba sa utang ko – ang pagkuwentuhin ako about myself – which was nauwi sa another date. I had difficulty telling stories of myself, but she helped my by asking questions: like may naging girlfriend na ba ako, saan ako naka-graduate, and so many things. She even asked me very personal questions na nakapagpatawa sa akin ng husto. Questions that I didn’t expect from a serious-type of woman. Iba pala si Melba sa office, at iba sa labas. Enjoy akong kasama siya, and it helped me a lot para kahit papano ay malimutan ang tungkol kay Mitch.

We dated a few times more: kumakain sa labas, shopping, bowling…and even watching movies. She likes suspense movies. And we kissed without realizing what was really going on between us.

We crossed our boundaries on her birthday. The party was held in her condo unit sa Alabang, and she asked me na magpaiwan, which I did. And something happened between us. Bagay na nasundan pa ng ilang beses.

Minsan, after we shared the bed, I told her that I wanted to marry her. Melba laughed. She stood-up – naked – and lighted a cigarette. She went back at umupo sa gilid ng kama at hinaplos ang aking mukha. Sabi niya, gusto niyang patulan ang offer ko, but aaminin niyang hindi siya ang babaeng para sa akin. That she was simply buying her time with me…that she knew my heart belongs to somebody.

I simply smiled and shrugged my shoulders. Guiltily admitted, nakahinga ako sa sinabi ni Melba. My offer for marrying her was purely dictated by my conscience. I was glad na hindi niya pinatos.

 

FOUR months after the phone-fight I had with Mitch, ay nakatanggap ako ng text sa kanya. She was asking na makipagkita sa chapel. In the same usual place na pinagkikitaan naming noong girlfriend ko pa siya. Well, wala namang formal break-up sa amin.

Bigla ang pag-ahon ng galit sa aking dibdib at wala akong balak siputin si Mitch. But then I remembered that once ay nakipagkita siya sa akin doon, and that was dahil sa pakiusap ko. And now na siya ang nakikiusap, I had that sense of paying back the favour… so nakipagkita ako kay Mitch.

She cried silently nang nakita ako. We didn’t stay in the chapel. After a few minutes ay niyakag ko na siyang lumisan roon since walang humpay ang kanyang pagluha. There was no other place na puwede kaming mag-usap ng hindi naiistorbo, or hindi nakakaistorbo, aside from our house. My parents and sister were out of town.

I waited for so long habang nakaupo kami sa sofa bago naubos ang pagluha ni Mitch. Ang kinikimkim kong galit sa kanya ay unti-unting naglalaho habang ako’y nakayakap sa kanya, at siya ay lumuluha sa aking dibdib. Hinayaan kong mabasa ang puti kong polo ng kanyang luha.

She told me everything about her and Ritchie – everything. I wasn’t shocked, but it was sad to hear the whole story. Gusto kong pumatay ng tao that time. And how I wished na pinatay ko na ang taong iyon four months ago, noong bisita ito nina Mitch. But I couldn’t blame the guy solely, may kasalanan din si Mitch, which she admitted with great remorse.

Tuluyang nawala ang galit ko kay Mitch as she was in my arms. She was still my Mitch. Nawala siya, but heto at muling nagbabalik. I kissed her sa noo… sa pisngi, wiping her salty tears with my lips. Then I kissed her in the lips.

“N-No..” ani Mitch.

Natigilan ako. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang gagawin ko sa kanyang pagtanggi. She was still in my arms, at ayaw lumuwag sa pagkakayakap ang aking mga bisig.

“I am sorry, Ohrys…”

I didn’t know what to say. She said it several times already, and I accepted it as much as she had said. I kissed her in the forehead. “I love you Mitch. I still love you…”

“And you are still willing to…”

“Walang nagbago sa akin, Mitch.”

Muling umagos tulad ng gripo ang luha ni Mitch. I wiped her tears with my thumb, and kissed her in the lips. Nagpaubaya siya. Inihiga ko siya sa sofa, and we made love.

That was the first time na may nangyari sa amin ni Mitch. We stayed boyfriends and girlfriends for another two years. At sa loob ng dalawang taong iyon ay hindi na muling nangyari sa amin ang bagay na iyon sa kabila ng pangungulit ko. Sabi niya, mangyayari lang muli iyon kapag kasal na kami. Bagay na hindi naman natupad since a week before our wedding ay muling may nangyari sa amin – at halos araw-araw.

Oh how stupid I was. I didn’t know if Mitch was a virgin noong may nangyari sa amin sa sofa sa bahay namin. Of course the symptoms ng isang birhen ay hindi basta-bastang nawawala. I knew the possibility that there was something missing about her story regarding her and Ritchie.

Pero hindi na iyon mahalaga para sa akin. Ako man ay hindi na rin isang inosente. Ang mahalaga ay ang kasalukuyan… na mahal naming ni Mitch ang isa’t isa. And now, dalawa na ang anak namin – a boy (now four years old) and a girl (three years old). And Mitch is two months pregnant for our third child. Siguro last na.
EPILOUGE:
– After naming magkaayos ni Mitch, naputol ang anumang ugnayan namin ni Melba. Nag-resigned ito last year at sumama sa boyfriend niya sa Canada.

– Nag-AWOL si Ritchie 18 months ago for unknown reason.

– Bride’s maid sa kasal namin ni Mitch ang sister ko – si Arianne.

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