“You’re still the one I want for life. You’re still the one that I love, the only one I dream of…”
– Shania Twain
Maya tried her best to fight against her feelings, if there was any left, for Richard. She drowned herself into an immense amount of workload to the extent of exhausting herself. Her parents, who has no slightest idea what she was going through, tried to stop her but she didn’t budge. They only thought that she has been obsessed with work. True enough, she was able to get over her late night thoughts about Richard and resumed to her old, usual self. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon and an oh-so-called urgent meeting was held for resident nurses.
“Good afternoon everyone. I am very sorry for the late notice. Don’t worry, I am just going to hold you for few minutes and then you’re free to go.” started Mary, one of the head nurses. She continued, “I am just here to inform some of our nurses about the medical mission our hospital has been planning to conduct in the Philippines. Just to give you guys a heads up, everything has been settled and the trip will be pushed through by the end of the month.”
Bakit ba nila ko pinatawag, eh hindi naman ako kasali sa trip? Maya was wondering why her presence was needed in the said meeting. She wanted to go home badly and watch her teleseryes all ready.
“However,” Mary glanced at Maya, “there are some problems that we still need to solve. Well, we only have one, to be honest.” Mary sat down on the side table. “One of our Filipino nurses, Kristina, who is supposed to join the trip, will not be able to make it due to some family matters she needs to attend in Edmonton. So, our team has decided to have Maya join us instead. Will that be all right with you, Maya?”
Maya was completely surprised. “Me? Really?” She couldn’t find words to say.
Mary smiled. “Yes, Maya, it’s you. You’re still fluent in Tagalog, right? You need not to worry. Your shifts will be covered by Kristine as soon as she gets back from Edmonton.”
“But you said, Kristine will be back. So, would it hurt if you will wait for her?” Maya wasn’t prepared for this.
Mary explained, “Well, you see, the trip will be on Wednesday morning next week. Kristine will leave for Edmonton tomorrow evening and will be back on Tuesday evening. However, it would be so tiring for her and we understand how her family needs her right now.” Maya wasn’t able to respond so Mary asked her, “Why Maya? Is there seems to be a problem? You know if you can’t maybe we could—“
“No, no, Mary. It’s all right. I am going to go with you. I understand.” Maya paused. “It’s just that…”
“What, Maya?” Mary was starting to get concern about Maya.
“….it’s just… Surprising.” that was all she could afford to say.
Sizzams!!! Sabi ko na eh!! Uuwi ka rin! Di mo kami matiis, ano? Hihihi! Ang tagal na rin ah… Anyway, I’m excited to see you! Reunion ba ulit tayo? Love yah!
Maya imagined hearing Edselyn’s voice while reading the messages she sent her. She informed only her three bestfriends – Emman, Edz, and Liza – that she was part of the medical mission team to be sent to the Philippines. It was a great news for Maya’s cousins and relatives as well for they will be seeing her again years after. Maya thought it was also a good opportunity to seize for her to relax and unwind after the medical mission. The team was given two weeks to complete the task together with some non-government and religious organizations.
Maya’s team was assigned in some remote areas in the north and in public schools in Metro Manila. The line ups for general check-ups, child vaccinations, and consultations were non-stop. Despite of that, Maya has not shown any signs of fatigue and irritability. She continued to serve patients until she was replaced by another nurse to take a lunch break. As she was getting closer to the tent where the lunch was served, she was approached by one of the organizers.
“Ma’am Maya!” A lady in her late teens approached her. “Buti naman at naabutan kita.”
Maya smiled even though she could hear her stomach grumbling. “Ay, hello, Camille. Kumain ka na ba?”
Camille escorted Maya inside the tent. “Ay, opo, Ma’am Maya. Kakain na po ba kayo?”
Maya chuckled. “Naku, Camille. ‘Wag mo na nga akong tawaging Ma’am. Ate Maya nalang.” Maya was about to open the styrofoam food container she took when Camille stopped her.
“Ate Maya, duon ka nalang daw po kumain sa bahay nila Pastor. Duon din po pinakain ‘yung iba niyong mga kasama. Masarap po yung luto ng asawa ni Pastor. Tara, Ate Maya!” Camille tagged Maya along in which the latter wasn’t able to resist.
Not only Maya’s stomach was full but also her heart and her eyes. She was able to exchange stories with the Pastor and his wife. With that, she found out that the church coordinated with some Filipinos at the hospital she works. From there, the plans for medical mission started. Maya was also touched when a lot of the locals thanked her and her team for allotting time and effort for doing some charity works. After lunch, she bid goodbye and was escorted back by Camille to the basketball court where the medical mission was being held.
While walking, Maya and Camille continued to talk. “Ate Maya, sana po babalik ka ulit dito sa amin ha? Nag-enjoy po kasi kitang kasama eh. Kahit na four days lang tayo nagsasamasama, feeling ko close na tayo, hihihi.”
Maya held Camille closer. “Oo naman, babalik ako. Sobrang nakakatuwa nga kayong mga youth sa church. Very active kayo sa ministry. Pagpatuloy niyo lang ‘yan ha?” Maya was suddenly called by a colleague. “Ay, Camille, dito muna ako ha?”
“Sige po Ate Maya.” Camille was fixing the chairs when she saw a familiar figure. “Kuya Richard!”
“Oh! Camille!” Richard placed his phone inside his pocket. “Nandito ka rin pala?”
Camille was obviously excited to see Richard. “Si Kuya Richard talaga. Siyempre, naman. Eh, ikaw po pala? Bakit ka andito Kuya? Wala ka bang pasok? Kumain ka na po ba?”
Richard held his hands up. “Kalma ka lang, mahina ang kalaban.” They both laughed. “Maaga ako natapos sa site kaya napadaan ako dito. Papunta pa nga lang ako kila Pastor, para makikain eh. Samahan mo ko?”
“Naman! Ikaw pa ba?” Camille placed her hands over Richard’s shoulder.
“Ang tangkad mo na Camille! Akalain mo ‘yun, dati bulinggit ka lang sa church, ngayon, ang laking bulas mo na.” Richard commented. He noticed that Camille was looking for somebody. “Sino hinahanap mo?”
Camille continued walking. “Si Ate Maya, tinignan ko lang kung nakabalik na siya dun sa may court. Yung nurse na Pinay, sabi ko sa’yo, Kuya.”
Richard’s brow arched. “Maya?”
They finally went inside Pastor’s house. “Opo, Kuya. Yung sabi ko sayo di ba, may mga nurses na galing ng Canada.”
“Canada?” Richard wanted to know more.
“Ay, si Kuya. Paulit-ulit.” Camille notified the Pastor and his wife that Richard has arrived. “Kain ka na nga Kuya, gutom na ‘yan.”
Andito si Maya? Richard couldn’t stop thinking about what Camille told him. It took him an hour to finish his rice and menudo.
Richard excused himself after early dinner and decided to go to the basketball court to see what was happening. It was all ready forty five minutes past five and still the line ups were long. He looked around but he did not see a sight of Maya as he was expecting. Little did he know, she was inches away and was all ready chit-chatting with Camille.
“Ate Maya, pagod ka na ba?” Camille asked.
Unexpectedly, Maya yawned. “Ay, sorry.” She giggled. “Uhm, medyo. Kaunti lang naman.”
“Di bale, Ate Maya. Malapit na mag-six thirty. Uwian na!” Camille tried to wake Maya’s senses up. “Ate Maya, thank you po ulit sa pakikipag-partner sa church namin ah. Sa susunod po ulit ha?”
The wind was blowing Maya’s hair to her face so she tried to fix it. “No worries. I love what I do, Camille. Sana ikaw din, one day, makahanap ka ng trabaho na hindi lang makakapagpasaya sa’yo kundi nakakatulong ka pa.”
“Opo, Ate. Tatandaan ko po ‘yan.” Camille hugged Maya. “Alam niyo po, blessing po ang lahat ng ito. Sino po bang mag-a-akala na natugunan ‘yung request namin na sana may mga nurses abroad na mag-medical mission dito, saka po, may mga tao pong nag-laan ng pondo para po maisagawa ang lahat ng ‘to. Kilala niyo po ba si Engineer Richard Lim? Ka-churchmate ko po siya and isa po siya sa mga sponsors ng medical mission. Sobrang blessed po si Kuya Richard ngayon eh.”
“Richard Lim?” Maya said in disbelief.
“Opo, Richard Lim po ‘yung pangalan niya.” Camille confirmed. “May kakilala po kayo?”
“Camille! Tawag ka nung mga choir members, papatulong daw sa’yo.” Iza, one of the youth members and Camille’s bestfriend, interrupted their conversation. She turned to Maya to apologize. “Ate Maya, sorry po, ah. Pinapatawag po si Camille eh.”
Maya smiled upon the young girl’s acknowledgement. “Sige lang, gawin niyo lang gagawin niyo. Okay lang ako dito.”
Richard, meanwhile, waited for Camille to inch forward the court’s entrance. He wanted to make sure that it was really Maya that Camille was talking to. When he finally got a hold of her, he screamed her name.
“Kuya!” Camille was startled. “Makatawag naman po, parang nasa kabilang bundok.”
“Ay, sorry.” Richard expelled a deep breath. “Sino ‘yung babaeng kausap mo?”
“Ah, ‘yung kanina? Si Ate Maya po. Andun po siya oh, sa may table sa tabi ng ring. Sige, Kuya, wait lang po ah.” Camille ran off immediately.
So, si Maya nga. He said. He wanted to approach her but there was an weird feeling that crawled inside his chest. Seconds after, he found himself striding towards Maya’s direction. She was talking to some patients and assisting their needs. There, he finally stood behind her. When she felt that someone was behind her, she turned around and meticulously placed the stack of papers on the table without looking who the next patient was.
Maya was slowly lifting her head up. “Saglit lang po ah, may isusulat lang po—“
“Maya…” “Uy!” They both said in chorus.
Her hands started to tremble and her feet to feel cold. “Ikaw pala.” Good thing the line up was over. He was the last patient. “Gusto mo magpatingin?”
Richard was loss for words. “Ah…” He was stuttering. “Uh.. O-oo, ba. Sige. Patingin lang ako ng blood pressure ko.”
Maya was looking at him closely. “Sige, ba. Pati blood sugar mo titignan ko na din ha?” Richard’s eyes was all over Maya while she was taking his vital signs. It was the longest check-up he had in his entire life. He kept on asking himself: Bakit ba parang kakaiba? Para akong kinukuryente.
Maya was busy jotting down the information. “Well, Mr. Lim, ay este, Engineer Lim. Very good naman ang blood pressure mo, 120 over 79, ‘yung heart rate mo, 61, okay naman ‘yun… ‘Yung blood sugar mo naman, ay 7.0, okay lang ‘yun since you just had your dinner, and ‘yung oxygen rate mo naman according to our pulse oximeter, 100% naman. So, very good ka ngayon.” **
Richard couldn’t help but to stare at her. “Thank you.” was all he could say.
“Sige, ipasa na kita kay Doc–” Maya was about to give the sheet of paper, where she wrote Richard’s information, to the resident doctor.
“Ah, no need na Maya.” He brushed his fingers against her arms. “Gusto ko lang naman malaman kung ano ‘yung blood pressure ko.” He reasoned out.
“Sigurado ka?” She got confused.
“Ah, oo. Sige, just finish what you have to do. I’ll wait for you outside.” Richard left her with his signature loop-sided smile.
Soon enough, the day was all ready over. The tents, chairs, tables and all equipment used were properly folded and stored. Maya’s colleagues went ahead to the hotel for they were all tired from the day’s activities. It was all ready 7:30 in the evening and Maya and Richard bade goodbye to the Pastor, his wife, and church members.
“Nako, Maya, salamat sa inyo ng iyong team. You don’t know how much you helped our community.” The pastor’s wife was full of gratitude.
“No problem, Mrs. Evanghelista. We are doing this because we love our job.” replied Maya.
“Akalain mo naman oh, small world. Magkakilala pala kayo ni Richard.” Pastor Perry commented.
“Ah, opo. High school classmates po kami ni Maya. After so many years, nagkita po ulit kami.” He looked at Maya so dearly.
“Sige na, baka gabihin pa kayo. Mag-iingat sa pagda-drive, Richard ha? Ingat, Maya!” The couple waved back at Maya and Richard.
While inside the car, Maya’s curiosity was starting to eat her up so she decided to ask Richard where were they going. “Saan tayo pupunta? I mean, wala ka bang gagawin?”
Richard stopped at the red light. “Wala naman.” He paused then looked at her again. “I just want us to have coffee. Bakit? Gusto mo na bang umuwi? Ihahatid na kita.”
Maya was quite disappointed upon hearing his reply. “Ah, hindi naman…”
“Edi, coffee muna tayo ha? Ang tagal na kaya nating di nagkwentuhan.” Richard proceeded on driving.
Shivers were sent down to her spine. How long has it been since she felt giddy? Maya sighed. “Oo nga eh.” Deep inside she kept on reminding herself: Maya, please, ‘wag kang aasa. Friendly coffee date lang ito!
On that night, Maya wanted to prove to herself that she has completely moved on with Richard. She thought that their romance was “so high school” and dismissed about the idea of rekindling it. However, as the night deepened, she found the answers she has been trying to figure out all along: Richard is still and will only be the one.
* A/N: If there are any discrepancies regarding the vital signs I typed, please let me know. I just googled these things, hehehe. 🙂