A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 15 (END)

This entry is part 17 of 18 in the series A Promise Not To Break

“YOU’RE waiting for him again, aren’t you?” nakangiting bati sa kanya ng orthopedic nurse na madalas niyang nakakasabay sa paglalakad sa hospital yard this past three months. Nginitian niya ito. “Yes.”

“Who is he, anyway? Your husband?”

“Oh, no, no. He’s my bestfriend.”

“Oh…Don’t you—forgive me for saying this, but, don’t you have any relatives here?”

Umiling siya. “They’re in the Philippines.:

“Oh…That’s sad.”

“A little. But I have my bestfriend with me, so I get by.”

“That’s good. When’s your operation, anyway? You’re from the oncology ward, right?”

“Yes. Next week.”

“They’ve found a donor for you? I’m so happy for you.”

“Thanks. I’m happy, too. I hate the tests they give me here.”

Tumawa ito ng malakas sa kanyang sinabi. “Believe me, nobody wants them. Not even the doctors. They actually have hospital phobia, you know. Hates being hospitalized themselves.”

“I know what you mean,” sagot niya rito. “My bestfriend, he’s a hematologist, and he hates having his own blood chem. Personally, I think he has blood phobia.

“So true,” answered the nurse when she heard Mael call her name.

“Mael,” she called to him as he made his way to her. Bumaling siya sa nurse. “He’s the hematologist,” wika niya rito. “By the way, what’s your name? I’m Priscilla. But they call me Prie.”

“Carrie,” sagot naman nito. “I think he’s got knews for you.”

“Hi,” bati ni Mael sa kanilang dalawa. Pinakilala niya ang mga ito sa isa’t isa. When the introductions were said, ipinagpaalam siya nito mula kay Carrie at hinila sa isang tahimik na parte ng yard at pagkatapos ay pina-upo sa stone bench.

“What is it?” tanong niya agad rito ng maka-upo siya. He was unusually agitated. Inabot nito sa kanya ang isang nakarolyong dyaryo. “Anong meron dito?”

“Read it,” utos nito. She did.

“What?” hindi makapaniwalang tanong niya ng mabasa ang nakahighlight na parte ng dyaryo. “Bakit siya nandito?”

“’Yan din sana ang gusto kong itanong sa’yo. May sinabi ka ba noong tawagan mo siya?”

“Wala. Ni hindi ko man siya kinausap. I just wanted to hear his voice.”

“Then, isang malaking coincidence ito.”

“He’s performing with Cecile Licad? Hindi ako makapaniwala.”

“Well, for once, we both feel the same,” may halong panunuksong turan nito sa kanya.

“Yeah,” sagot niya rito. Pagkatapos ay bigla itong nagseryoso.

“Bakit nga pala nandito ka sa labas? Masyadong malamig dito.”

“I’m okay. Bored na kasi ako sa loob.”

“Pero maputla ka na naman. Tignan mo,” pagalit nitong wika sa kanya at saka siya hinarapang ng isang maliit na salamin.

“Palagi naman akong maputla. Ayaw mong pansinin ang buhok ko?” nang-iinis niyang tanong dito. “Ay, mali pala. Wala na nga pala akong buhok, no?”

“Prie…”

“Hey, nagbibiro lang ako,” balik niya rito. Then, pareho silang natahimik.

“Do you want me to call him?”

“No.”

“Next week na ang operation.”

“So?”

“So you need all the emotional support you can get. I can give you my whole support pero alam kong hindi sasapat iyong kapalit ng suporta nina tita Mel at tito Levi.” Ginagap nito ang kanyang mga kamay. “Just say a word, Prie. I’ll get him for you.”

“I’m fine, Mael,” nakangiti niyang sagot dito. “It doesn’t matter. Maybe he’s finally moved on, at ayokong guluhin pa ulit ang buhay niya.”

Natahimik si Mael sa sinabi niyang iyon. Matapos ng ilang sandali, nagsalita itong muli. “Mom and I talked with Dr. Harlington yesterday. At ang sabi niya, based daw sa mga tests mo, there’s a 40-60 chance that the transplant will be successful. Sixty on the winning side.”

“That’s wonderful.”

“Malaki ang posibilidad na mabuhay ka, Prie. Are you sure you don’t want me to call him?”

Umiling siya. “He deserves more than someone like me.”

“Ano bang sinasabi mo? You’re worth more than twice of that kid!”

“Mael…Ayaw mo ba n’on? If I get through with this operation alive, may posibilidad na matuloy ang kasal natin,” biro niya kay Mael.

“May point ka d’on!” natatawa namang sagot nito. “Malay mo, after ng operasyon, ako na ang mahal mo ‘di ba.”

Natawa lalo sila sa sinabi nito. Pagkatapos ay muli itong nagseryoso. “Kung pwede ko nga lang ipaopera ang puso mo para ako na lang ang mahalin mo—gagawin ko.”

“Mael…”

“Pero siyempre walang ganun dito so, fine. Tanggap ko na na magkaibigan na lang talaga tayo. But at least ‘di ba, as of the moment, ako pa rin technically, ang nag-iisang lalaki sa buhay mo.”

“May point ka dun,” natatawa niyang ganti rito.

**

“Don’t worry, it’s still a normal fever.”

“But she’s having chills. And her blood pressure is way too low.”

“That’s still normal. Her body’s just reacting to radiation. That will cease in a few days. In the mean time, I suggest good company for her. She will need lots of support for the operation.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“I’ll see her again tomorrow morning,” sagot ng doktor, bago ito lumabas ng kwarto. When they were alone again, bumaling siyang muli kay Prie. Panay ang pagbiling nito na para bang hirap na hirap.

“Prie? I’m here, love. Don’t worry.”

Patuloy pa rin ang pagbiling nito. “Dave…Dave…”

His guts tightened. Humigpit ang hawak ni Prie sa kanyang kamay. “Dave…”

Kahit na masakit sa kanya, alam niya kung ano ang dapat niyang gawin.

**


“Good afternoon, sir,” bati sa kanya ng hotel receptionist. “There was a message left for you earlier this afternoon.”

Inabot nito sa kanya ang isang blue slip. We need to talk, M. Rm 1756.

“Ahm, excuse me,” tawag pansin niya muli sa clerk. Nang lumapit ito sa kanya, pinakita niya ang nakasulat sa slip. “Is this room number in this hotel?”

“Yes, sir. On the seventeenth floor.”

“Okay, thanks,” pasalamat niya dito as he made his way to the elevator. He pressed the number 17. Sino kaya ang nag-iwan ng mensahe na iyon para sa kanya? He should’ve asked the clerk. Stupid.

Nang tumigil ang elevator sa floor na pinindot niya, nagsimula siyang hanapin ang room 1756. After ten minutes ng pag-ikot, nakita din niya ang hinahanap niya. He buzzed. When the door was opened, he got the first surprise of his new life.

“Dave,” pormal na bati sa kanya ng lalaki sa loob ng kwarto. Iminosyon siya nitong pumasok. Wala sa sariling sinunod naman niya ito.

“Have a seat.” He did.

“I’m glad you came,” wika nito ng maupo sila sa magkabilang sofa. Nang tumango lamang siya, tumayo ito at nagpaalam na kukuha lamang ng inumin, ano raw ba ang gusto niya. He answered, “Anything will be fine.”

“Scotch?”

“Sure.” Inabot nito sa kanya ang isang baso ng scotch sa kanya. They drank in silence for a while.

“Why do you want to talk to me?” direktang tanong niya rito. Hindi na niya kayang magkunwari na wala siyang pakialam sa mga nangyayari. “At bakit nandito ka?”

As the words left his lips, kinabahan siya. Isa lang ang naiisip niyang dahilan kung bakit siya hahanapin ng lalaking ito. “It’s Prie, isn’t it?” tanong niya rito.

Nagulat ito sa sinabi niya. His chest tightened. Tama siya. After so long, magkasama lamang ito at si Prie? His Prie?

“She’s sick, Dave. Very sick.”

Para siyang nabinggi ng marinig niya ang sinabi nito. Anong sinabi nito? Sinong maysakit? Not Prie, right? She was so cheerful…So lively…So energectic… “What?”

“Prie is very sick. She has leukemia.”

He couldn’t accept what this man—this odious man was telling him! Hindi pwedeng magkasakit si Prie! Fueled by anger, pinitcherahan niya ang mas nakakatandang lalaki at sinuntok ng buo niyang lakas. How dare he! “Stop lying to me!”

Paulit-ulit niya itong pinagsusuntok pero ni minsan ay hindi nito ipinagtanggol ang sarili. Sa halip, tinitigan lamang siya nito ng mariin na mariin—daring him to hit him again. Hindi siya tumigil sa pagsuntok hanggang sa namalayan na lamang niya na pumutok na ang labi ng lalaking hawak niya at puno ng pasa ang mukha nito habang dumudugo ang ibang bahagi. Bigla niyang naalala ang mukha ni Prie na sabihin nito sa kanya kung papaano ito nauntog sa cabinet kaya ito nagkapasa. What if—?

Bigla ay tinakasan siya ng lakas. “Hindi pwedeng magkasakit si Prie.”

“Kailangan ka niya, Dave,” Mael said through bloodied lips. “I tried—pero ikaw ang kailangan niya.”

“Why didn’t she tell me?” Hindi siya makapaniwala. After many months… He tried everything to move on. To do what she wanted him to do. And all this time—all this time she was fighting alone an illness that he knew nothing about?  “Why? She should have told me!”

“Dahil mahal ka niya. She—she didn’t want you to suffer kung may mangyari mang masama sa kanya.”

He stared at him. Hindi—ayaw niyang intindihin ang mga sinasabi nito.

“Are you listening to me? Dave, pwede siyang mamatay. In two days, ooperahan na siya for bone marrow transplant and there’s a 60 percent possibility na mamamatay siya.”

Mamatay si Prie? Si Prie?

“Kailangan mo siyang puntahan. She needs you.”

He stared at Mael, uncomprehending.

**


She must be dreaming. Naririnig niya ang masuyong pagtugtog ni Dave. But it couldn’t be… Wala na si Dave. He didn’t know where she is. She must be hallucinating. Napangiti siya.

Maybe—siguro nga nananaginip siya. At isa iyong magandang panaginip. Panaginip kung saan naririnig niya ang boses ng lalaking mahal niya. Telling her that he loves her. Sana hindi na matapos ang panaginip na iyon. Dahil alam niyang masakit ang katotohanan.

**

Hindi niya mapigilan ang pagtulo ng mga luha. Bakit? Bakit itinago ni Prie ang paghihirap nito sa kanya? He would have done everything for her. Wala siyang pakialam kahit na masaktan pa siya. Mas masakit ang walang alam. It was like he was drowning in oblivion yet no one wanted to help him. No one wanted to enlighten him. Not knowing…was hopeless.

Muli ay idiniin niya sa kanyang pisngi ang kamay ni Prie. She was so thin. So pale. So lifeless. It took all of his courage just to enter her room. Kanina bago siya pumasok, napuno siya ng takot. Paano kung patay na si Prie pagpasok niya?  Paano kung hindi na ito magising? Paano—?

Pero itinulak siya papasok ni Mael at wala na siyang nagawa kung hindi tignan ang babaeng minahal niya buong buhay. But when he looked at the bed, he didn’t see Prie. He saw a pale, thin figure, fighting for every breath. And that shook him.This couldn’t be the woman who smiled at him more than three months ago.

“Paano siya ooperahan bukas kung ganyan ang kalagayan niya? Are you mad?”

“Nilagnat lang siya the other day, at pinagpapahinga kaya siya palaging tulog. But she’s perfectly fit for the operation.”

“Sinong nagsabi niyan?”

“Her attending physician.”

“Prie…Hon… gumising ka na. Ayaw mo ba akong kausapin?” paulit-ulit na wika niya kay Prie. “Para naman maaway kita. ‘Di ba? May utang ka pa sa’kin. Hindi mo pa sinasagot ang proposal ko.”

She didn’t respond. “Prie…I—I saw the letters. Andami mo pa lang sinulat, no? Bakit—bakit hindi mo man lang ipinadala? Not sending them was foolish. Downright stupid. Kung ipinadala mo lang kahit isa sa mga iyon, hindi sana hindi na tayo nagkalayo ng matagal. I would’ve come home to you kahit ayaw nina mommy. Sobrang mahal kita, Prie. So much. So please, bigyan mo man lang ako ng time para maka-usap ka. Ha?

“Ang sabi ng mga tao dito kailangan mo raw magpahinga…Pero hindi naman kita papagurin. I promise. Gusto ko lang makita na gising ka talaga. Naririnig mo ba ako? Oo nga pala, I brought my violin with me. Do you want me to play for you? Alam kong gabi na, but—but I want you to hear me play. I believe you didn’t finish hearing me play noong—I’ll play your favorite song.”

Marahan niyang binitawan ang kamay nito at kinuha ang kanyang violin na nakalapag sa paanan ng bed. Nang maiayos niya iyon, sandali niyang pinakatitigan ang mukha nito. She looked so frail. He closed his eyes and played the piece with all his heart.

When he finished playing, he tasted salt on his lips. Tears were flowing uncontrollably from his eyes once again. Sandali niyang itinabi ang violin at pagkatapos ay muli siyang naupo sa  chair na katabi ng kama ni Prie. There was a faint smile on her pale lips.

“You heard, didn’t you? Ano, maganda ba? I only play it for you. Para sa’yo lang.” Muli niyang ginagap ang kamay ni Prie at hinalikan iyon. “Why didn’t you tell me? I hated you, you know. Hindi ko maintindihan how you can hurt me so much when you just told me you love me. Bakit sa’kin mo lang hindi sinabi? Masakit ‘yon. ‘Yung maramdaman mo na ikaw lang ang walang alam. You promised me that one month dahil wala ka ng planong balikan ako, no? How dare you. I—how dare you. Bakit mas pinagkatiwalaan mo ang iba kaysa sa’kin?”

Naramdaman niya ang paggalaw ng kamay ni Prie. Natahimik siya. Muling pumitik ang kamay nito. Then like a flower slowly blooming, bumukas ang mga talukap ng kanyang mga mata.

“Dave?” she whispered so softly.

“I’m here, Prie. I’m here.” Ngumiti ito. “I—I love you.”

“I love you,” she answered softly. Silent tears flowing down her face. She stared at him so intently for a moment that he almost feared that she wasn’t seeing him. “Inaantok na ‘ko,” she said after a while. “Ooperahan ako bukas.”

“Yes—yes I heard.” Pinilit niyang ngumiti rito. “Everything will be okay.”

She smiled. “Don’t…be here okay?”

“What?”

“Hindi—” she took a deep breathe. “Hindi ba tutugtog ka bukas? Sabi sa dyaryo—”

Umiling siya. “No. I’ll be by your side. Hindi kita iiwan mag-isa. Hindi na kita hahayaang mag-isa ulit.”

Umiling si Prie. “Hindi naman ako mag-isa. I have you here,” turo nito sa dibdib nito. “At ayokong sirain mo ang operasyon sa kakaiyak mo…Maiirita lang ang mga doktor sa’yo.”

“Prie naman, eh.”

“Just—just play for me, okay? Mas magiging masaya ako kung tutugtog ka para sa’kin.”

“I—” she pleaded with her eyes. He nodded. “I promise. Basta promise me something in return.”

Tumango ito. “Don’t die. Don’t leave me.” She smiled.

**

As he stood before the audience, isa lamang ang nasa isip niya. Si Prie. As of that moment, alam niyang nasa kalagitnaan na ng operasyon ang mga doktor. He wanted to come before the concert but Mael didn’t let him. Ayaw siyang pumunta ni Prie. And even though it hurt him, mas minabuti na lamang niyang sundin ito. So he practiced and practiced and prayed, instead. Ayaw niyang mabakante ang kanyang isip. Dahil kapag wala siyang ginagawa, nauunahan siya ng takot sa maaaring mangyari kay Prie.

She couldn’t die. Oh, she couldn’t die.

So many faces. Expecting him to give them the ecstacy of music through his violin. But they didn’t matter to him. Para sa isang tao lang kaya siya tumutugtog ngayon. He closed his eyes and felt a single teardrop betray his heart. He started to play.

This is for you, my love.

**

Wala siyang maramdaman. Everything was a blur. So many faces over her. Wala siyang marinig. Habang tumatagal, palayo ng palayo ang mga mukha. Hinihigop siya ng antok. Suddenly, she was seeing a single light in the distant. It was so warm… She wanted to be near it…She was so tired.

“She’s going into anaphylactic shock—”

“BP’s going down—”

“She’s not responding—”

“Pulse is getting slower—”

“We need to proceed to plan B quickly—”

She was so tired. So numb. The light was so inviting—Dave, don’t cry.

QUESTION FOR NEXT CHAPTER: May soup na iniluto sa kwentong ito, ano iyon?
HINT: M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ soup. 🙂

Series Navigation<< A Promise Not To Break: Chapter 14A Promise Not To Break: Epilogue >>

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