“Bangin ka ba? Kasi nahuhulog na ako sa ‘yo, naman kasi… Hindi tayo tao, hindi rin tayo hayop. Bagay tayo, bagay talaga…”
– Nicole Hyala
Richard was Maya’s sixth grade crush. Back then, Bart admitted that he had a crush on Maya because of the latter’s kindness and thoughtfulness. However, she didn’t like Bart because she found him playful and childish. On their first year of high school, probably due to puberty, Maya didn’t like Richard anymore. Instead, she taught Richard on how to capture the attention of Alex, Maya’s childhood friend and their classmate. Sadly, Alex liked somebody else. Things changed when Bart returned to Northwest Hills on their second year in high school. Girls, including Maya, fell head over heels for Bart due to his unquestionable charm and good looks. He was the paasa type of guy, the reason why Maya’s heart was torn into pieces. The good thing was, she was able to move forward and get going.
As the days went on, Maya and Richard’s closeness grew much stronger. They shared stories about their family life and anything under the sun. Maya enjoyed talking to Richard not only because his words were full of wisdom, but also she felt at ease whenever he was around.
“Halika na, partner. Practice na tayo.” Maya offered her hand to Richard.
He smiled and took her hand. “Thank you partner ah.”
“No worries, Chard.” They were walking hand in hand. Unknown to them, their group mates were staring at them.
“Uyy, pag-ibig na ito.” Almira said in jest.
Emman gathered everyone in the group. “Game na, practice na tayo!”
An hour and a half of practice went by so fast. While on their way back to the classroom, Maya and Richard engaged in a small talk.
“Bakit ka nga pala absent kahapon?” asked Maya. She was quite worried about Richard because it was the first time he didn’t show up in class.
“Ah, nabuhusan kasi ako ng kumukulong tubig.” Richard scratched the back of his head.
“What? Are you serious? Okay ka lang ba?” Obviously, Maya was dead worried.
Richard touched her shoulders. “Don’t worry, okay lang ako. Naagapan naman kasi agad ni Mama and Papa. Si Raffi kasi eh, pinag-init ko ng tubig pampaligo. Eh ayon, nadulas ako sa banyo. Edi nabuhusan ako ng tubig na mainit,”
Maya felt a strong electric sensation coming from Richard’s touch. “Ah..” She was stuttering. “Eh, uh… Next time kasi mag-ingat ka ha?”
“Andiyan na si Ma’am!” Their witty classmate, Christian, shouted loud enough for his classmates to hear. He was the class “look out”.
Richard and Maya’s closeness didn’t escape the prying eyes of their classmates. Even their teachers were rooting for them for they thought they could make a good pair. Miss Cathy, their History teacher, was the first one to notice it in the library when Richard and Maya were reading books together. The old lady approached Maya when the young guy bade goodbye.
“Anak, siya parin talaga ano?” teased Miss Cathy.
Maya shyly smiled. “Si Ma’am talaga oh. Wala po iyon. Pang-grade six pa po ‘yan Ma’am. Luma na.”
Miss Cathy noticed that Maya was blushing. “Anak, mas bagay kayo ni Richard. Kesa naman kay Bart.”
“Ma’am, friends lang po talaga kami ni Richard. Wala na ‘yon si Bart. Ibinaon ko na po sa lupa ang nararamdaman ko para sa kanya. Na-gwapuhan lang po talaga ako, Ma’am.” explained Maya.
Liza butt in. “Wushu, bestie. Friends. Diyan nagsisimula ‘yan eh. Kitang-kita kaya ng dalawang mata namin ni Ma’am Cathy na close na close kayo ni Chard. Uyyy.”
Maya was thrilled but she was trying to hide it. “Kayo talaga. Wala nga po ‘yon.” She then bade good bye since her school service was waiting for her.
The next day, while making their art project, Maya unknowingly sang Mahal Kita Kasi cutely. She enjoyed it even though she was quite off key. Kevin, who was sitting two seats apart from Maya, pretended to massage Richard’s back who was sitting in front of him. He said, “Naks, dude.” Richard, on the other hand, seemed to be twitterpated.
Few weeks after, Maya and her mom, Teresita, received an email confirming their permanent residency in Canada. Maya’s beloved father, Arturo, has been working as an engineer in a fishing company and the management decided not to let go of him since his skills and performance were outstanding. As a result, the company offered help for Arturo to process the papers and in just almost ten months, their application was approved.
“Anak, ‘wag ka nalang kaya pumasok? Magbigay ka nalang ng letter sa office.” suggested Teresita.
Maya, of course, was delighted about the news, but she felt quite a bit lonely for she will be leaving her relatives and friends. “Ah, Ma, pasok nalang po ako. Tutal, naka-bihis naman na ako. Saka po, tapusin ko nalang ang week na ito, Friday naman na po bukas. Para din makapag-paalam ako ng maayos.”
Teresita escorted Maya to the door. “Ah, sige, anak. Give me few minutes, gagawa lang ako ng letter then submit it to the registrar and sa office ng administrators, ha?”
Maya smiled weakly. “Yes, Ma.”
On her way to school, Maya thought deeply of what she was going to say to her classmates and teachers. A week ago, she even won as the secretary of the student council. She and Emman, who was elected as the student council president, had many plans to better the school. A part of her regretted that she won’t be able to help Emman anymore. When she arrived, she saw some of her classmates chit-chat while others were busy rushing their homeworks. She decided not to tell anyone yet for she didn’t want to let everyone feel sad. However, she was unable to hold it and she whispered it to Andrea, her favourite seatmate. They have been seatmates since sixth grade.
“Deng…” Maya called Andrea by her nickname. “Aalis na ko.”
“Weh. Yan nanaman ‘yang joke mo na ‘yan.” Andrea was used to Maya’s jokes, particularly about migrating abroad. Maya has been vocal about it since their third year in high school.
Maya heaved out a deep sigh. “Deng, totoo nga. This time, hindi na ako nag-bibiro.”
Andrea fell silent, then tears started falling from her eyes. “Ayoko ng ganyan. Joke yan.”
Maya tried to stop Andrea because their teacher might notice. “Deng, ‘wag ka ngang umiyak… Paiiyakin mo ako eh.”
Andrea squeezed Maya’s right hand. “I love you, Maya. Sana ‘wag mo kami kalimutan ha? Ang tagal na nating magkaibigan. Grade two palang tayo nu’n. Tapos ngayon, fourth year na tayo, pero iiwan mo naman na kami.”
Maya placed her hand on top of Andrea’s. “Oo naman Deng ano! Ba’t ko naman kayo kakalimutan? Dito lang kayo sa puso ko. Forever.”
At lunch time, before their play rehearsal, Maya whispered something to Liza’s and Edselyn’s ears which made the two ladies cry. This concerned Richard. Maya then whispered to Liza’s boyfriend, Gino, who also cried after. Richard was staring at them all the time. He badly wanted to find out what it was.
With a frown on his face, Richard gently grabbed Maya’s arms and asked, “Maya, what is it? Why are you making everyone cry?”
Liza knew that Maya wasn’t ready to tell Richard yet so she answered for her best friend. “Para talaga ‘to sa acting Chard.”
The reason didn’t convince Richard. “Seriously, bakit nga?”
Maya warmly placed her hands on his face. “Malalaman mo rin, mamaya.”
Soon after their play rehearsal, the class watched a sad film about a father and son. Everyone wept, especially Maya’s closest friends who were sitting beside her, but still, Richard felt that there was something really wrong. Out of nowhere, Andrea said when the teacher left, “Last week na ‘to ni Maya. Aalis na siya.” Everyone was shocked and fell silent.
Jonathan, one of her chinito classmates, went near to Maya. “Totoo nga Maya?”
Maya smiled weakly while trying to hold back her tears. “Yes.” Then she looked at Richard who was feeling heavyhearted.
That afternoon, Maya talked to the administrators, teachers, and office staffs to say her final good bye and also to thank them for being her second parents. Northwest Hills was her second home for eight years and she certainly had a lot of good memories with everyone.
Richard wasn’t allowed by her parents to have a phone yet, in addition to his old-fashioned ways. But since he wanted to communicate with Maya, he asked for Jonathan’s phone to text her and pretended to be Jonathan. Richard was waiting for their school bus. Maya was still in the country and was set to leave in a couple of days.
Richard: Hi Maya! Kamusta ka na?
Maya: Hello, Jonathan! I’m doing great, thanks for asking. May mga inaasikaso pa kami ni Mama before we leave. Eh, kayo? Kamusta? Miss ko na kayo!
Richard: Okay lang naman kami. As usual, aral and then mag-practice ng school play. Alam mo, miss ka na ni Richard.
Initially, Richard and Maya didn’t have feelings for each other. They were just close friends, but due to their classmates’ teasing, their relationship eventually developed – but not to the extent of having a mutual understanding. Well, let’s say, almost.
Maya: Talaga? Ako rin eh. Miss na miss ko na siya.
Richard: Sabi niya, sana daw, daw sumipot yung piloto sa airport. Para daw balik ka nalang dito.
Maya: Hahaha, grabe naman ‘tong si Richard. Ang kulit!
Richard: Ay, sige, nandiyan na ‘yung service namin eh. Text kita, ulit ha?
Maya: Sige! Ingat!
Few moments after, Maya received a message. This time, it was from the real Jonathan.
Jonathan: Hey, Maya! Hindi ako ‘yung ka-text mo kanina. It was Richard. Uyy, miss ka na daw niya. 🙂
Maya: I knew it! Yung pagta-type palang eh, hindi na ikaw. Ikaw kasi si boy emoticon. Hindi ko lang sinabi na alam ko, hehe!
Jonathan: Don’t worry, I’ll let him borrow my phone tomorrow. We miss you Maya! Wala nang tumatawa ng cute sa classroom. 🙂
Maya: Thank you, ha! Miss ko na din kayo. Hehe, pa-bluetooth ka nalang kay Kevin. Nirecord niya ‘yung tawa ko.
~~~~~ To be continued… ~~~~~