008 : RALPH’S POV
Life in college was hard. I was a nursing student and well, everyone knows how hard it is to be one. Duty starts at 6am and ends up at 2pm. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to have a 10pm shift to 6am. Then you can sleep all day. Pero hindi e, random masyado. But then it was fun kasi jologs kaming lahat sa batch namin, moreover sa section namin. We balance our study and fun. Minsan nga, may mga katropa ako na pag nagduduty eh ang pupula na ng mga mata.. yun pala nakainom. Ganoon. Di maiiwasan yun.
Wala rin namang girlfriend. May niligawan ako dati pero hindi ko siya masyadong gets kaya di ko rin tinuloy sa finish line. Then I met her..
The first time I saw her, I told myself, “She’s gonna be mine.” Not because she was pretty, nor because she smiled so sweetly, but because I saw something in her.. something I myself couldn’t define. We started hanging out until I knew I’m not just gonna settle with friendship. I had to do something and take a risk : even giving up our friendship. It’s that way or nothing.
I started giving her hints that I’m interested, but she didn’t respond to any of it. Until that day.. It was Saturday and we were hanging out at her place watching A Walk To Remember. She was almost in tears, talking about how lucky Jamie Sullivan to find true love in Landon Carter and to change him in her own special ways that would last a lifetime. How she wished she would find true love soon, then she would be happy.
I looked at her. I took a deep breathe. It was my chance. One confession: all or nothing.
“What if.. no. Can I somehow be your true love?” I asked. I felt my intestines turned upside down because of nervous and unwanted sensations.
She looked at me and blinked a couple of times. I felt my snot started to drop from my nose. I sniffed it back inwards, chuckled and bit my lip. “I’m serious though.”
That was, I guess, the most special night of my life. It will always be. Always.
After that, wala nang babae ang nakapagparamdam ulit sakin nun. Ang weird nga eh. It was the time where I felt everything was all good. Ang corny ko pero sa kanya lang ako nagplano ng future ko. Gusto kong ibigay sa kanya ang lahat-lahat.. kung pwede lang pati araw, buwan at bituin binigay ko na e. I thought everything was great until she rejected a wedding proposal from me.
“I-I-I can’t marry you.” She said, tears in her eyes. She closed the black square box and returned it to me.
“Bakit hindi?” I asked in confusion. Gulong-gulo yung isip ko nun.
“I-I-m too young for this. I can’t. I’m sorry.” She said and tumakbo palabas sa restaurant sa Tagaytay. Umuwi siya ng Manila ng mag-isa. I wanted to run after her, pero gulong-gulo yung isip ko. My heart was shattered. Hindi ko alam kung anong dapat ko maramdaman. And for the first time, tumulo ang luha ko.
Hamakin mo, hindi bumaliktad ang sikmura ko o tumulo ang luha ko sa isang tao na may bed sore sa ospital, o sa taong dumudugo yung kamay at paa dahil tinapunan ng bomba… umiyak ako dahil sa isang babae… dahil sa sinugatan niya ako.
“Are you sure pupunta ka na ng States? Sabi ng dad mo, pwede namang next year eh.” Sabi ni Mama.
“Ayos lang po. Buti nga ito e, makapaghanda ako ng maaga tsaka makaipon na rin.”
“Anak.. I’m so sorry about what happened to you and..”
“Ayos lang iyon, Mom. Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Wala akong magagawa, ayaw niya eh. Kungsabagay, maaga parin naman. I know her. She has so many things to do pa.” I tried to fake a smile.
“Sige, ibobook na kita for Sunday ha. Sure na talaga ito. Kasi ang mahal naman pag namiss mo yung flight mo, okay?”
“Yeah, thanks Ma.”
The remaining days were such a waste. I tried calling her so many times para lang masabihan ko sya na aalis na ako and maybe we won’t see each other na. Or maybe if kahit di na muna kami magpakasal, long distance relationship nalang muna. But she never answered the many calls. Until the operator told me that the subscriber cannot be reached.. and realized that maybe she changed her mobile number.
Pumunta ako ng States, nakapagtrabaho sa LA Gen Hospital, kumuha ng low-cost apartment and lived a new life. Parang bachelor lang ako dun. Walang may naghihintay sa bahay, wala rin namang inaasahang magtatanong kung san ako galing o kung san man ako.
Maraming Pinoy na nurse dun. Isa na dun si Cathy. Sabihin na nating hindi gaanong kagandahan si Cath. Pero sweet siya. Ilang beses niya nang sinubukang makipagclose — not flirty type of close, friendly lang.. pero di ko sya kinausap. Malamang, takot ako na baka magkagusto ako sa kanya. Pero ayun nga, one night, I found myself knocking at her apartment door. Weird, yes? Christmas nun eh, wala akong magawa sa bahay, yung iba sa Pinoy community ininvite ako, kahit si Daddy, pero wala akong ganang lumabas. First christmas ko nun sa States, so medyo fresh pa yung nangyari. Sa pitong taon na magkasama kayo, biglang ikaw nalang mag-isa, diba? Weird yun. Ewan ko ba, lumabas ako ng bahay at naglakad lang, then nakita ko yung apartment building ni Cathy, sabi ko, might as well check for the fun of it.
“R-Ralph, what a surprise?!” Sabi ni Cathy when she opened the door. Nabigla din nga ako. I never thought na nandun lang siya. Potek, dyahe. “What brought you here?”
“Uhhh.. Ano ba meron dito? Wala saken eh.” Sabi ko and smirked.
“Hmm, wala lang din. Just myself. Pasok, Ralph.”
“Thanks.” I looked around kung mag-isa nga lang siya. Ayokong maiwan na kami lang. “Just you?”
“Yeah, I was supposed to sleep na. Bukas pa kasi yung Christmas sa Pinas kaya plano ko bukas nalang din ako magcecelebrate kasama yung family sa webcam.” She smiled.
“Tama.” I paused. “Hmm… tara, labas tayo.” I said out of nowhere.
Cathy looked at me puzzled. Sabi ko, “What?”
“Are you sure? Are you really Ralph?”
“Y-yeah.” I was confused. “Why?”
“Wala lang. It’s just a surprise. Wait, I’ll just get my jacket.” She said and disappeared to the other room.
Napatayo lang ako dun sa sala niya at napatingin sa bagay-bagay. May nakita akong picture and looked at it closer. Naman… batch ko sa college?! Di nga?!
At first it was awkward, kasi masyado akong tahimik and I swore to myself that I won’t get interested in her. But then later on, I realized Cathy talked a lot like Mariel. At first, ayun nga, when I talk to her, pakiramdam ko kausap ko lang din si Mariel, but later I realized they’re both different. Si Cathy, sweet na madaldal. Si Mariel, pilya na madaldal. May pagkakaiba naman diba? Then lagi na kaming magkasama after nun — sa work, tuwing day-off, or kapag may holidays. Kami yung magkasama, unti-unti nakakalimutan ko na din si Mariel. And I thought it was good.
Until after 2 years of dating, I proposed marriage to Cathy and opposite to Mariel’s answer, she said yes with tears in her eyes. Alam niyo, yun yung pangalawang pagkakataon na sobrang saya at special ng araw na iyon para sakin.
Cathy started to move in with me. Late-night cuddling at the bed or at the sofa, early breakfast in the bed, or sometimes, sunday general cleaning of the house with her. It was just easy and happy.
Then she said she wanted to have a wedding back at Philippines with her family and everyone she knows. I agreed naman to it. So we worked harder and saved money… most especially ako. Wala naman akong obligasyon sa pamilya ko e. Si Mommy okay naman dun sa Pinas kahit di ako magpadala, si Daddy okay naman dito sa States.. wala naman akong kapatid o pinsan na pinapaaral, kaya yung pera ko, akin lang talaga.
Malaki-laki din yung ipon ko. Idagdag pa yung mana ko (sshhh).
Sabi niya, may gusto daw siyang wedding coordinator sa Pinas kasi gustong-gusto niya yung mga design. Syempre yes lang ako, mahal ko e.
Nauna siyang umuwi kasi nagovertime pa ako para sa leave ko. Wala rin siyang nabanggit na pangalan ng wedding coordinator, may kutob ako na baka si Mariel, pero hasul naman yun kung papayag siya diba? Weird ata yun.
Then… to my surprise, si Mariel nga. JOKEE! Isang malaking JOKE! Ayos lang naman sakin, 3 years narin naman yun. Wala na yun. Pero awkward lang eh. Hindi mo parin makakalimutan kadali yung mga bagay-bagay. Hindi naman ako bitter. Good things come to an end so better things can replace it. Tama.
Mariel was good, Cathy was better. I think.